Milton Keynes Sojourn

With the glorious weather, and a gap in our busy schedule as grandparents, we took a short trip through Milton Keynes over the weekend returning to Yardley Gobion on Monday.

The weather was a little overcast on Saturday but the cloud soon burnt off and by Sunday the heatwave had really set in. The trip south on Saturday was characterised by hire boats coming north and day boats behaving erratically. At one point, near Gifford Park, it got interesting at a bridge hole. We went through the bridge with no sign of a boat coming north but were soon greeted by a hire boat rapidly coming north. The over confident steerer promptly lost control as he put the boat into reverse. Maggie who was steering indicated to a day boat closely following us that there was a problem ahead but her advice went totally unheeded and the two boats then came together right under the bridge. They took some time to sort themselves out - after that the day boat decided to proceed with more caution. 

Day boats at New Bradwell

Several sections in Milton Keynes are being dredged (hooray) but the disposal of material is interesting. Land & Water, who are the contractors have constructed containment areas to take the sludge. In some cases this just replaces banks that have washed away, but in some places, notably near Wolverton where there is a defined edge to the canal it appears the original channel width has been reduced.


Membrane and supports

With several wide beams mooring nearby for long periods that can make navigation a bit difficult.

Tight squeeze near Wolverton

Having negotiate Fenny Stratford Lock and Swing Bridge we finally stopped for the night just above Stoke Hammond Lock - one of our favourite moorings.

The next day saw us go south and turn around to head back north for Yardley. There are few convenient winding holes along this section of the Grand Union so we went up the Three Locks at Solebury. We accompanied a hire boat from Weedon who was out for a week. Discussing their plans, as you do, we discovered that the hirer had advised not mooring in Milton Keynes on the grounds of safety!!! I couldn't believe this advice. We have boated through Milton Keynes for many years and moored up in a variety of locations and never had any problems. Indeed we don't recall anyone ever reporting problems. It could be that there may have been some isolated incident that we are unaware of that prompted this advice, but a quick search of Canal World Discussion Forum will show that the consensus among boaters is that Milton Keynes is a safe area for boating and mooring.
"Jackdaw" pound

Above the Three Locks is "jackdaw pound". We have moored up in the pound but when travelling through last time we found it very shallow. There were carrying out dredging at the time and suspected that they had dropped the water levels. Certainly this time the level was good and were were able to wind Albert in the wide near the Old Linslade bridge without any difficulty.   

The trip to and from Old Linslade was made interesting by the large angling match going on. It was a case of "dead slow and go down the centre". We had a chat to some of the competitors and one caught a sizable fish just as we passed.  He was quite pleased because he hadn't had much luck until then. 

Fishing competition

The journey back north was punctuated by a stop at Stoke Hammond for lunch - we just had to listen to England beat Panama to reach the last sixteen of the World Cup.

Quiet bridges in Milton Keynes

That evening we moored up at Great Linford, which is in the north of Milton Keynes and managed to find a spot on the Parks Trust visitor moorings. They are usually busy but being Sunday evening the area was quiet. We had a delightful evening visiting the newly refurbished Nags Head for a drink and then enjoying the evening sun on board.  

Nags Head, Great Linford

Moonlight over the park, Great Linford

The next morning, Monday, we strolled around the parkland at Great Linford enjoying the morning sunshine.

Pond Great Linford

Manor House, Great Linford

Visitor Moorings Great Linford

We made our way back through Wolverton and Cosgrove to Yardley Gobion where we took on fuel and had a pump-out - we know how to have fun! Baxter's Boatyard had just fitted a new cover to their poly-tunnel that covers the dry dock. It looked smart. A great short trip.

Wharf, Yardley Gobion