Yardley Gobion

Sunday saw us return home to Kingfisher Marina. The weather was fine and sunny for the short journey. We met NB Billy Wizz at Cosgrove Lock - our first shared lock of the trip which indicates how quiet the Grand Union was. 



Crossing the Iron Trunk Aqueduct

Great Linford and more dragging along the bottom!

Saturday morning started bright but was windy. We had water under our hull, but only because we were at the lock moorings. We set the locks and descended the flight but met a couple who were trying to drop some water down to the Stoke Hammond pound because they were "on the bottom". When we got to the bottom of the flight we could plainly see the problem. The water level was around 18 inches down and it was going to be difficult getting to Stoke Hammond Lock.

Most permanent moorers in the Stoke Hammond pound were well aground with no prospect of moving. Many boats showed the bottom of their hulls (uxter plates). We crawled along at tickover and in a couple of places we went aground in the centre of the channel. A boat passing us caused us to heel over and we also found it difficult passing moored boats.

Stuck on the bottom!
We met a Wyvern Shipping manager who was investigating why he had received so many phone calls from disgruntled hirers. He was in touch with CRT. I looks like the dredging process was in some way responsible but I will not speculate how.

I measured this drop by Stoke Hammond Lock - 18 inches below the waterline

After Stoke Hammond the water depth was good and the weather fine so we had a good cruise through Milton Keynes. At Campbell Park we met up with our daughter Emily, and grandchildren Hugh and Matilda.
Matilda wearing her new strawberry hat knitted by Maggie

Steve steering with Hugh's help

They came on a trip with us to Great Linford where we spent the night. We decided to moor up near The Black Horse and take our family for an early dinner. This was also the idea of the members of the Taverners Boat Club who were out for an autumn cruise. Around ten boats turned up and moored nearby. We had good food and enjoyed being out with the family for an early dinner. Just before we left the pub the Taverners party arrived for their meal. The pub was quite busy.

Soulbury with low water

On Friday night we went to the Red Lion at Marsworth for a meal. They have a good selection of beers and the homely food goes down a treat. Maggie had a huge ham hock that defeated her! On the way back to Albert, in the dark, we passed some CRT waste bins. It was clear from the rustling inside that something was going on. We shone our torch towards the bin for a few moments and then saw a large rat pushing open the lid and escaping to the hedge. There were obviously a number inside!

The morning started fine and sunny and it continued so for the rest of the day.

Thatched cottage at Marsworth

We travelled north towards Leighton Buzzard passing only a few boats. It was great boating. We took lunch (soup) on the move and stopped outside Tesco's in Leighton for some late supplies. One key supply was gin - we had paused at Lock 33 to pick sloes from trees by the defunct side ponds and were on a mission to make sloe gin. Tonight, Monday, we are pricking the fruits before we add the sugar and the gin.
Operating a Grand Union lock

Dredging team at Slapton Lock

The end to what had been a perfect boating day came after we left Leighton Lock to look for our night's mooring. We didn't particularly want to moor near The Globe but there we no vacant berths. I noted that bloggers Derwent6 and Freespirit were moored up along with Parisien Star a boat that also used to be owned by active bloggers; the former owners now appear to post about their other interests.

After The Globe we tried mooring up. On our way south we had noted that CRT contractors were dredging the Jackdaw pound so we expected to find some moorings with good depth. How wrong could we be! After numerous, possibly more that six, attempts at getting Albert somewhere near the bank, and light fading, we gave up and decided our only recourse was to moor on the lock moorings at the Three Locks at Soulbury. The whole of the three-mile pound was at least one foot below its normal level and this was after dredging. I have no idea what was wrong but it appeared to be serious. Several moorers had called up CRT to complain.

A quiet Aylesbury Arm

We spent last night in the town basin at Aylesbury and were buffeted by winds. We had managed to get satellite TV reception but once the wind got up signal quality kept coming and going as the dish vibrated and the boat moved. Fortunately, it didn't manage to spoil our viewing.

Rural Aylesbury Arm

This morning the sun was shining and we had delightful journey back up the arm. It is one of the most rural of canals and in early autumn it can look its best with the hedgerows full of sloes, rose hip and crab apples. At Red House Lock the lock-sides were littered with fallen damsons - it made it difficult to avoid slipping.

Rural Aylesbury Arm

The journey from Aylesbury to Marsworth starts by a sludgy section that needs dredging and further up some other pounds are slow going, particularly if, like Albert, your boat has a deep draught. 

The town residents impression of the canal

We stopped at Wilstone for lunch and reached Marsworth around 4 o'clock.  When we went down the arm only three boats passed us, but coming back up the arm we didn't see another boat on the move -what a quiet waterway.

UPDATE:

NB Chance has just passed us going south along the Grand Union Mainline with its new owners.

Aylesbury Arm

After our two nights at Marsworth we left for Aylesbury. We took on water at the junction and then started descending the first of sixteen locks. The first two locks are a staircase and require some thought. The ground paddle is situated a little distance away from the chambers.

Maggie closing a lock gate at Marsworth

Taking on water by the new development at Marsworth

Passing Bates Yard at Puttenham

The locks on the Aylesbury Arm are straightforward but being close together they can be good exercise - still that's the joy of boating.


Anaerobic Digestion Plant near Buckland Lock

We moored up for lunch just above Buckland Lock where there is the massive Arla Super-Dairy which is powered by a biodigester.  It appears the local Parish Council are not too keen on the odours from the plant.

Unusual style of parish council notice

Buckland Lock collapsed in 2013 and took some time to be rebuilt. 

Buckland Lock with rebuilt wall



Warning plate at Buckland Lock

It is interesting that Buckland Lock still appears to have some issues with water permeating the brickwork.

A maintenance gang at work near Bierton

Close to Aylesbury we found the new, at least to us, base of the Aylesbury Canal Society at Circus Fields. A bit different from the old facilities at the town basin when we came here a decade ago.

Aylesbury Canal Society Base

We moored up for the night at the new basin in the town which is now the home to a Travel Lodge, a Waitrose, a college and The Waterside Theatre. The moorings are functional and useful, particularly if you need supplies. Only a couple of boats were moored up and we chose a pontoon near the centre. To bad that our duck friends had left their marks - a lot them. The pontoons appear to be their overnight roosts. Our first job was to scrub the sh*t off - we didn't want to drag it in all over the boat!

Scrubbing the pontoons at Aylesbury Basin

We took on supplies at Waitrose and enjoyed coffee in their cafe. Amazingly we saw a kingfisher in the brook which runs between the store and the theatre. Not often you see a town centre kingfisher.

With Ronnie Barker looking towards The Waterside Theatre

Couldn't resist sitting next to the Ronnie Barker statue. Ronnie started his acting career in Aylesbury. We contemplated going to the theatre but we didn't fancy a tribute to Dirty Dancing!