Saturday, 4 June 2011

Whitsun Break - Mostly Lock Free

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Emu passing through Yardley Gobion
We were a bit slow getting ready to go (again!) and several boats had already passed.  But not to be missed was the totally distinctive beat of an approaching Bolinder engine.   We managed to find a camera just in time to capture the passing of South Midland's "Emu".  Truly magnificent, as so many of their boats so often are.

Emu heads on towards Stoke Bruerne
I know this fleet are very much part of the historic boating scene, but I am not close enough to it to really understand the circumstances under which so many are able to operate in such a well turned out manner.  Perhaps someone can explain South Midland" and their boats to us over a pint at some stage - I'd be interested to learn more.

Mike Askin's "Victoria" loaded with 17 tons of I'm not sure what!
Much of this part of the trip is featured by the many near lock-less miles, and the trip around and through the Milton Keynes area.  You get a small lock at Cosgrove, and a really small one at Fenny, but real locks don't kick in until a few miles before Leighton Buzzard.  What we did see were about half a dozen different boats that passed belonging to Canal World members.  Most seemed bemused by those waving at them, and in only one case whilst tied up for a Wolverton shopping stop did I actually manage a conversation.

There are useful rubbish, water and toilet emptying facilities here too.
Fenny Stratford lock has a rise of only just over a foot.  It's other unique feature, in Grand Union terms, is a swing bridge that actually crosses the lock chamber, and which has to be left swung shut, on leaving the lock.  It seems to confuse the hell out of some boaters, and could do a lot of damage if you try and enter the lock before you have swung it!

Their tent did rather look like a Police forensics site!
Once at "Three Locks" the Milton Keynes branch of the Inland Waterways Association were raising money with a "lock ambush".  They work you through, and take a donation from you.   We played the game, but I jokingly remonstrated with one of the paddle winders, (who were very reluctant to lock us through at anything approaching our usual speed), that I actually quite like working locks, and hadn't really had a crack at many others that day.  His riposte was to "apologise for ruining my day".

We tied up part way along the "Jackdaw Pound" towards Leighton Buzzard.  It was fairly windy by this stage, and we had no particular need to carry on into Leighton and Linslade on a Saturday night.

Yardley Gobion to Old Linslade
Miles: 20.7, Locks: 6

Total Miles: 86.7, Total Locks: 36

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