We woke up on Tuesday morning to another frost. It was quite a light frost where we were moored as we stayed over in Wolverton between blocks of flats and old railway station sheds.
Whilst we were seeing Matthew off at the coach station on Monday a woman was making a big fuss of Buddy. It was a while before we actually looked at each other and realised we knew each other; she was Julie, a girl we have been camping with in the past and also a good friend of Judith and Nigel’s. Julie was seeing her daughter, Athena, off to Leeds. Both Judith and Karen were surprised I hadn’t mentioned this on Monday’s blog – sorry!
The first lock came up after a couple of miles at Cosgrove which is at the junction of the disused Old Stratford canal.
We stopped to top up with water and Karen asked a local where the best boat yard/wharf was to buy coal on this stretch. It was at a place called Yardley Gobion.
Soon we were right out in the Northamptonshire countryside. It felt really remote and we saw no boat traffic at all. We had forgotten how rural it was around here. We often smile when we have the radio on and hear the traffic reports, especially the M25 and M23 problems – it seems an age ago since it had an impact on us. In fact today is the first day of Karen’s twelve month career break; the last three and a half weeks were taken as holiday.
We went over the Great Ouse on an iron trunk aqueduct. This was built in the early 1800s to replace nine locks that went down, across and up the valley. The aqueduct was built as the lower locks kept getting washed away by the Ouse when in flood.
Soloman's bridge is one of the finest we been under.
We entered Stoke Bruerne by climbing the first five of seven locks. We have now been through 73 locks since leaving Slough just over a fortnight ago.
The locks on the Grand Union have steps either side of the lower gates so that we can step off and walk the boat in rather than having to climb the steps cut into the side of the lock chambers. Feels a lot safer, especially at these locks which are fairly deep.
We walked around Stoke Bruerne which is known as one of the canal system’s honey pots and gets packed out in the summer months. This in turn means the restrictions on mooring are a lot tighter but it seems the new restrictions introduced for this winter have backfired. We expected to see all the spots taken by winter moorers but it was practically empty. Winter moorers pay a fee to leave their boat for four or five months to avoid the rule where you have to move every 14 days. We popped in at one of the pubs, The Boat, with some friendly locals. They pointed out that winter moorings were not available this year in Stoke and it has really impacted local business as it is so quiet.
One of the girls we were chatting to suddenly said to me, “I really like your hair, it really suits you”. Give Karen her due, she wanted to throttle her as she has been trying to get me to cut it, but she laughed along with everyone else.
By the top lock is an Indian restaurant which is an unusual site by the canal so we decided to use my parent’s birthday money to treat ourselves to a good meal.