Stoke Hammond and Seabrook

We are on a short autumn excursion south along the Grand Union. The plan is to visit the Wendover and Aylesbury Arms. We have done both arms before but not for sometime. Water levels are critical on the Wendover so we shall have to see how we get on.

We left Yardley Gobion mid morning on Friday and made good progress through Milton Keynes. The weather was not too good in the morning but it was sunny in the afternoon. Great to be on the move again.
Autumn in Milton Keynes

Cutting through a carpet of floating Crab Apples

Had a little fun with the lockside swingbridge at Fenny Stratford when I forgot how to use the release mechanism. Over a year since we have been down this way. We moored up just above Stoke Hammond Lock - the day's are getting shorter.

We started with good weather today and it lasted well into the evening until it became drizzly. It was a day of meeting boats we know, although not necessarily encountering their crews. The first was Calypso Rose which for many years resided in Braunston but has recently appeared at Kingfisher Marina. It passed us at Stoke Hammond and we met up with the new owners outside Tesco in Leighton Buzzard - a popular spot to take on provisions.

The second boat was Balhama who we knew as fellow bloggers until sadly Mo passed away in 2015. The present owner was going north and passed us on the Soulbury flight. I will always remember their comments about our meeting on the River Nene in 2006 when we moored up at the Rushden & Diamonds football ground:

"Again, we heard them before we saw them as NB Albert pulled up behind us and squeezed onto the last mooring bollard. With two families and a couple of comics onboard they were enjoying themselves and their chuckling kept us amused."

That's boating with our friends the Winters - always good fun.

We then passed Imagine and Soup Dragon moored up by The Globe at Leighton Buzzard. They were our partners when we went on the Tidal Thames in 2007. They appear to have moored together for some years.
NBs Imagine and Soup Dragon

An unusual feature of this trip has been the extensive dredging that CRT are carrying out on the Grand Union mainline. Over the years we have come across dredging operations on several canals but not as extensive as this. It is welcome. The first section we noted being dredged was Jackdaw Pound (Soulbury to Leighton) but a section around Grove Lock had already been done and there was a section north of Slapton Lock being treated. A spin-off from this was the Land & Water operator who was chatting to a local resident about the "old days" at Slapton Lock. It turned out that he worked for Willow Wren in 1969 and had many tales of how they operated working boats from London to locations in the Midlands and the River Nene. Regretfully, having not joined the conversation at its start, I wasn't able to pick up his name.

Explaining the Work and its cost

Dredging in full swing

Dredgings being processed

Disposal of dredgings as bank protection

Blustery rain clouds started moving in from the west. At the second of the Seabrook Locks we found a service boat reversing down the cut to enter the lock backwards. He was visiting clients just below the lock and this unusual manovere was to avoid a long trip down to Slapton for the next winding hole. 

We called it a day just above the last of the Seabrook Locks and it rained more heavily.