A Weekend around South Milton Keynes

Being busy with lots of other social occasions (significant birthdays and wedding anniversaries) and holidays not on Albert, we hadn’t been boating for some time. To rectify this we went south from Yardley Gobion towards Leighton Buzzard for a long-awaited long weekend. The last time we went this way was about this time last year on our Thames-based holiday.

It is amazing how things change in short time. The proposed marina at Cosgrove is now coming on rapidly with the contractors digging furiously and currently piling the supports for the landing stages. The owners appear to be calling it Thrupp Marina. In local terms this is correct since the Navigation Inn and the Taverner’s Cruising Club are based at Thrupp Wharf. Thrupp comes from the nearby village of Castlethorpe across the Tove valley which locals call Thrupp (a corruption of the latter part of the village name). However, I can imagine boaters from distance away becoming very confused with the village of a similar name on the Oxford Canal!

The New Thrupp Marina

Going through Wolverton we were also very impressed with the new housing on the site of the former Railway works. This is the former home of the Royal Train. Wolverton Park, as the development is called, is now occupied (in part) and proudly boasts some interesting vertical wind turbines. It was pleasing to see boats on the mooring rings by the development.

New housing in Wolverton

Our journey southwards on Saturday was very pleasant and it was made more enjoyable by picking up our friends Keith and Sue Weatherhead from Willen Park in Milton Keynes. Keith has often remarked to Steve that they hadn’t been boating on the canal. We entertained them for lunch by Bridge 81 and then had a pleasant trip in very good weather down to one of our local favourite mooring spots just below Stoke Hammond lock.

On Sunday we went up Stoke Hammond lock and, after passing through a fishing match, we went on to the Three Locks at Soulbury. Just below the lock we passed motor Nuffield and butty Raymond returning north after Saturday’s canal festival at Linslade. Steve Miles was acting a lock wheeler. Their crew remarked that the pound above the lock was shallow and later we found out that it was indeed.

The eponymous inn alongside the Three Locks (as Pearson calls it) is no longer eponymous. The pub has undergone a well-needed facelift but they appear to have decided that a name change is also in order and called it the Grand Union at The Three Locks. They have also gone decidedly upmarket. The prices don’t appear to us to be reasonable for a waterside pub. Let’s hope that one day the old name will return, just as with the Black Horse at Great Linford which for some time was called the Proud Perch! Lets also hope they see sense on their pricing.

The former Three Locks Inn

We had intended to wind in the flight in the pound just above the second of the three locks, but the amount of through traffic put us off. As result we went on and chose to wind by Old Linslade bridge. The shallow pound made it “challenging” and we had to make two attempts. On the return journey we stopped off at Willowbridge Marina for some oil and then finally stopped overnight at Simpson. Steve likes to carry out oil changes with hot oil so he spent Sunday evening carrying out an engine service (oil + filter). Overnight it poured with rain.

On Monday we rose late and travelled in sunshine to Cosgrove. There was much less boat traffic throughout Monday and many of the moorings that were full going south were now empty. We discovered Nuffield and Raymond moored up at Cosgrove and also saw NB Miss Matty (of Cranford) moored up on the off. Last summer we spent some time with Miss Matty on the Regents Canal. At that time they were moored on the Slough Arm.

Motor Nuffield and Butty Raymond at Cosgrove

NB Miss Matty

After a thunderstorm over lunch we went through Cosgrove Lock and came home to Yardley. It was our intention to pick up fuel from Baxter’s at Yardley Wharf but they had just run out! Evidently their weekend had also been busy with boats. We did, however, manage a long awaited pump-out. Tomorrow Steve will change the fuel filters and fix a dripping tap!

It was good to get rid of the cob-webs from Albert, figuratively and literally!