Monday 17 August

The outside of the boat was suddenly looking quite dusty and in need of cleaning so I swept the roof and the decks and then washed one side of the boat. This took over an hour. I’ll do the other side another day when the towpath changes sides.

Afterwards we moved down to the waterpoint to top up and then we headed for the first of seven locks in the Buckby flight.   Just as we lined up to enter the lock, the pump system that pumps water back up the flight suddenly started up creating a strong flow in the canal which caused us to swerve dramatically across the canal and crash into the other lock gate. This didn’t cause any damage but was embarrassing as the beer garden of the New Inn was full of drinkers who weren’t aware of the true cause of the bump and gave us some funny looks. Anyway we smiled sweetly, opened the far gate and motored in.

John’s sister Jill, joined him as crew this afternoon. I’ve known Jill for a long time and it was lovely to see her and we had a lot of catching up to do as we’ve not seen each other for about five years.   As we chatted we worked the double locks which were really heavy and John came to assist us with some of the stiff paddles and heavy gates when we struggled.

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Both the M1 and the London Midland railway run alongside the Grand Union here and upset the normal tranquillity of the canal.

We headed to Weedon Bec. Storm and I were last here in 2010 and explored only the area to the east of the canal which we didn’t find too exciting. This evening we all headed along the embankment and down off the tow path and crossed under the canal and the railway to visit the old The Royal Ordnance Depot & Garrison that John had discovered previously.

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The security guard on the gate gave us special permission to walk around the site, provided we stayed on the main drag. It was an amazing place, a scaled down canal version of Chatham Dock Yard. Each building had a number painted on the end wall and we saw building number 95, which gives some indication of the scale. This site was once accessed from the Grand Union Canal but is now land-locked although the canal arm is still in water. The site originally extended to 125 acres but now only 25 acres remain, the remainder having been sold off for housing.   [The link above details the history of this real gem – the only shame is that it is privately owned and not generally available for the public to view – it would make a fabulous museum.]

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Weedon Bec is a very pretty village, but by the time we left the Depot the light was fading and so we promised to visit the village again in the morning.

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