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The Odyssey 2011: Day 44

Posted by indigodream on 9 September, 2011

Great Lindford to Marsworth (Bridge 130)

Sunday 28th August

The park adjacent to the offside visitor moorings at Great Linford.....

We had another early start today, knowing that we had another long day ahead. We almost got away at 8.20am but got a bit distracted chatting to a man walking on the towpath with his two magnificent greyhounds – the one looked uncannily like Greygal’s Susie and was apparently a fine racer in his time. Our own hounds were tired after a day’s cruising and took no interest whatsoever! I’m happy to say that Lou was much more cheerful this morning and though she was a little stiff, the awful muscle spasms in her back had passed.

We expected to have the canal to ourselves but I was surprised to see an approaching boat. I was even more surprised when another boat (private not hire!) appeared, overtaking the first boat on a narrow bend and blocking the canal in the process – I had thrown Indigo Dream into reverse to avoid a collision. The skipper was cheerfully unabashed – we found out later that he’d dragged a fisherman’s rod into the canal when passing a different boat earlier. “What a prat” I thought, then for the good of my karma I tried to think charitable thoughts like he might have been in a hurry to comfort his dying granny in Milton Keynes General – yeah right πŸ™‚

It was generally quiet though, with few boats on the move, though there were plenty moored on the towpath. I can hardly blame boats for mooring here – this stretch is very pleasant and as it’s lock free to Fenny Stratford (“Lock free to Fenny” – wouldn’t that make a fine title for a novel) we could relax and enjoy the scenery. It got busier later, but the Grand Union was the motorway of its day and it seems to absorb the traffic without congestion.

One unmistakable feature of this stretch is the apple trees – every other tree on the towpath is a crab-apple, their branches so laden with fruit that in places they swept the path. It was agonising – I wanted to pick some – that would make a LOT of jam for charity, but I’ve already got more fruit than I can manage at home – what a waste. I had a wry thought that if we jam-making ladies (gents also welcome!) of the waterways got together maybe we could make jam from the towpath apples, sell it and donate the proceeds to the Bedford and Milton Keynes link – I wonder how many miles of canal we could pay for that way?

Lou made the best of the park's facilities πŸ™‚

But maybe there’s a more urgent use for the money – many of the brick bridges hereabouts are in very poor condition, with dramatic cracks in the brickwork that might have been avoided with a little bit of maintenance.

The dogs had some good rummages today as many of the locks are quiet. However I kept them on board at Soulbury – my nerves weren’t up to letting them loose so near to the road and with so many gongoozlers at the pub. This time we shared locks with nb Cleddau who had a relatively novice crew on board but did very well. One of their other crew members had never been on a boat before – he kept getting off at the locks with his windlass but he never did get to use it – the other crew members were too quick for him!

The Globe Inn was busy but there were a couple of mooring spaces directly outside and plenty of space further along the towpath. I was tickled by nb Bojangles, moored on the towpath by the pub – it had five small terrier types on the roof and a black labrador on the back deck. The terriers were having a wonderful time, defending their territory from their elevated position. I tried to imagine Lou, Lynx and Ty on our boat roof – I shuddered at the thought – they’re so leggy and clumsy we’d forever be fishing hounds out of the canal!

As predicted, there were no hire boats left at the base in Leighton Buzzard though there was one boat on the mooring – nb Ocean Princess – she had an unusual layout and Richard tells me that she’s famous for being a specially adapted sea-going boat.

We were fortunate enough to have locking partners for most of the way today – we left nb Cleddau at the Globe but were soon joined by nb Katie, a little boat being single-handed down to London by its young lady skipper, probably as a live-aboard. She was very efficient though for some indefinable reason we didn’t get on – she was rather posh and maybe I shouldn’t have insulted her by wondering what breeds had gone into the mix of her little dog – he was, actually, a very rare black and tan pedigree jack russell – oops! We didn’t grieve when we caught up with nb 4 Fun, crewed by more compatible middle-agers like ourselves πŸ™‚ (speak for yourself Sue!)

Tranquil moorings at Marsworth...

We exchanged greetings with nb Blue Moon in passing – they were our neighbours at the Engineers Wharf moorings. We were surprised to hear that they had moved on and were now moored at Packet Boat marina on the junction with the Slough Arm. It was lovely to see them – I think we were the first two boats to occupy the then brand new moorings at Engineers Wharf.

This stretch has some of my favourite locks – I love the peace and isolation of Ivinghoe and Seabrook. The pounds were low, as they were on our way out in April, but the water levels seemed ok and we were relieved not to have our cruising days curtailed by stoppages.

There were a substantial number of moored boats between Pitstone Wharf and Marsworth Bottom lock (lock 37) – we were a bit concerned that there would be no room for us beyond lock 38. We needn’t have worried – there were spaces before and after Bridge 130. We rang the Red Lion pub and found that although it is dog-friendly, it does not do food on Sunday nights. Never mind – we had supplies on board and watched the ‘new’ Star Trek movie again. It didn’t work for us on the second time of watching though it was just the right amount of fluff for the end of a busy day.

We had, amazingly, reached our target for the day and went to be feeling optimistic about meeting our London deadline. We looked forward to a good night’s sleep and a fine day’s locking up Marsworth in the morning…..

Sign at the Great Linford moorings....

We always admire the old wharf house at Great Linford...

This bridge is in such bad condition...

How many jars of jam would I need to make and sell to pay for this new waterway? I've love to see it opened during our boating lifetime....

Crab-apples - there was such an abundance along this stretch...

Another version of the dog-proof deck....

Working in tandem at Soulbury locks...

The Globe Inn - one of our favourite canalside watering holes..

The happy canine crew on the roof of nb Bojangles...

Lou and Lynx taking locking as seriously as usual!

The Whipsnade lion....

Oi you, no fishing at the lock moorings!

One Response to “The Odyssey 2011: Day 44”

  1. Hi ,have just come across your blog. It’s good to read that the novice crew on our boat “Cleddau” did so well with you at Soulbury. .Your story corresponds exactly with theirs! We have just done your trip in reverse, MK to Aylesbury and now are near Gayton Junction en route back to Macclesfield.
    Sue of Cleddau / Boatwif http://boatwif.blogspot.com/

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