Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for April 22nd, 2010

The Odyssey 2010: Day 7

Posted by indigodream on 22 April, 2010

Sunday 18th April

Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne

This attractive bridge enhances the delightful waterscape in Cosgrove....

We had the laziest start to the day, luxuriating in a very long lie-in – we got up late enough to miss breakfast and pass straight to lunch. The dogs seemed happy to relax with us – Lou’s been a bit miserable over the weekend – she’s in pain somewhere, we’re just not sure where. I can feel a vet visit coming on.

The Cosgrove mooring is lovely – the water had a lazy sheen in the midday sunshine; the daisy-dotted meadow opposite was fringed with greening trees and all around were the mixed sounds of wild birds and the doleful clanging of the church bell – it’s quite idyllic here. We didn’t have any guests due today and much as we enjoy company on board, it was nice to have a day to ourselves.

We eventually got moving – Richard helped me to cast off before going off to do the car shuffle. I’m perfectly capable of casting off myself but I think he was wise to see me off – I might just have sat there all afternoon otherwise!

There were a several fishermen on the canal – apparently they’d taken part in a little competition in the morning but were now packing up. According to most, the fish just weren’t biting in Cosgrove. But one wag bragged that “you’ll need a lot of chips to go with the fish in my keep net” – dream on!!

There was a little flurry of boating activity just past Cosgrove – first a widebeam then five or so narrowboats – they said I was first boat they’d seen going the other way. I felt a bit sorry for them, there were a lot of locks ahead and they’d make quite a queue. After that I had the canal to myself, apart from the domesticated moorers going about their chores or simply sipping wine. The canal’s on quite a high embankment and the view over the surrounding farmland is great. It’s not just a landscape, there’s a rich soundscape as well – goldfinches twittering in the bushes, a cockerel crowing and the dull concussion of a bird scarer protecting the freshly flowering oilseed rape.

Looking back towards the 'Old Brewery' development in Cosgrove

As I came through Bridge 62 (in the middle of nowhere) I was hailed by three ladies on the bank wanting to know how far it was to the next bridge. I pulled over and showed them the map. They had a caravan in Cosgrove and had set out for a day’s wander while their menfolk were fishing. They wondered whether there was a pub nearby – they’d almost reached their point of no return as they’d have to walk back to Cosgrove later. The map showed a pub in Yardley Gobion, not far ‘inland’ from Yardley Wharf, so I offered them a lift. They were thrilled, even though they were only on board for 15 minutes or so.

Richard was busy cycling back from Stoke Bruerne and fortuitously rang just before I got to Bridge 60 to ask if I would pass anywhere for a pump-out. Perfect timing – Yardley Wharf was nearby. I dropped off my delighted hitch-hikers and sorted out a pump-out and a top-up of diesel with the genial owner (I think he was the owner) – it was 75p base price and a 60/40 split. Richard joined me in time to pay the bill! He’d done well – I reckon it’s a 4-mile cycle ride from Stoke Bruerne along some pretty bumpy towpaths.

Indigo Dream’s trim looked so much better as we set out from the wharf – with a full water tank at the front and an empty toilet tank at the back!

The landscape here is dominated by the ‘two towers’ – the tall spire of Hanslope church to the right and the uncompromising block of Grafton Regis church to the left.

The stretch up to Stoke Bruerne was characterised by another fishing competition. They were a genial lot – they thanked us for going past slowly  and we asked them where we should be cruising (straight down the middle where the water’s at its deepest) – it was all pleasantly co-operative. I was amused by one fisherman wearing a T-shirt bearing the unlikely legend “the party people” while he contemplatively prepared a roll-up and stared at the end of his fishing rod without interest or anticipation.

Such a fresh view from the embankment beyond Cosgrove....

We had thought to press on to Gayton but we decided to stop at Stoke Bruerne. The moorings in the long pound are more restrictive than we remember – they’re only 24-hour now – is that new? Anyway, we decided to stop between the  second weir and the bottom lock. There are about five boatlengths of 14-day mooring rings then another five or six boatlengths of 48-hour moorings. We took one of the two remaining 14-day spaces and slowly packed up the boat. As usual, it took ages, then another age to get home. We’ve been very impressed by the A-roads around here – first the A41 and today the A43; but the motorways are a trial – we avoided the queues on the M25 only to get snarled up on M40. Still, getting home later than anticipated meant that we had a plausible excuse for not getting on with our extensive house to-do list – there’s always a silver lining 🙂

Today’s Trivia…

I mentioned the ‘two towers’ at either side of the valley. Let’s start with the tall spire of Hanslope church, which is visible for miles to the right of the canal; by footpath from Thrupp Wharf it’s just over 2 miles from the canal. Of course, we rarely venture more than 100 yards from the canal on foot so for boaters like us here’s a useful virtual tour of the church. The gothic buttresses on the spire made me think that it was an ancient church , and so it is – parts of the building date back to 1160. But the buttressed spire is relatively modern – it was rebuilt in the early 1800s after a storm destroyed the previous tower. It seems unlikely that the church resembles its 12th century original – there seems to have been a lot of tinkering right up to the 15th century. It would be easy to assume that the church is the sum of the interest in Hanslope, but it sounds like quite a large village with a long history. On a more practical note, if you decided to make the effort to walk the 5-mile round trip then you’d be rewarded by several pubs and an all-important chinese restaurant – why not check out the village website before you set out!

On the other side of the valley, to the left of the canal is the village of Grafton Regis with its plain square tower – a complete contrast to Hanslope’s fanciful spire. I estimate that Grafton Regis is around a quarter of a mile’s walk from Bridge 57 and again, the effort will be rewarded with a pub!  The people of Grafton Regis are a canny lot – the only information available on their website is how to buy a CD of the village’s long history, including a virtual tour of the church. There’s plenty of information here, but I soon got lost in the detail as the church has been extensively altered over the centuries. I found a hint that the church tower is Norman (1066 and all that!), but then again I’ve also found hints that it was rebuilt in the early 1800’s. That’s enough of that – if we happen to visit Grafton Regis then I’ll see what information is available in the village itself 🙂


Thrupp Marina has filled up nicely....

Roses are red, violets are blue, oilseed rape? a'choo, a'choo' a'choo 🙂

I wonder what these structures are? They are between bridges 63 and 64 - maybe part of an old estate - I can't find any clues as to what they are/were.

Is this a bird scarer? There were lots of these cylinders dotted around the fields hereabouts...

Beautiful catkins (atishoo!!)


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