Today we travelled seven miles from Blisworth to Cosgrove via the third longest tunnel on the canal network (3057 yards). It is the longest wide tunnel though as it has space for two boats to pass. It is amazingly straight and you can see the exit before you enter, even though the exit porthole is just a tiny dot in the distance. We met another boat about half way through. Nobody followed us through though and this meant that there was no-one to share the 7 Stoke Bruerne locks with us . I steered today and Storm did the locks and he noticed how heavy they were. (I think these locks from Norton Junction are some of the toughest we’ve encountered since doing the Rochdale Canal back in 2011.)
Stoke Bruerne is said to be the best example of a canal village with the houses flanking the canal. Here you’ll also find the National Waterways Museum that brings to life over 200 years of canal history. [Actually this is one of three museums that claim to be a National Waterways Museum, the other two being in Gloucester and Ellesmere Port].
We visited this museum in 2010 and so passed it by this morning. Our journey took us through rural countryside with some wonderfully named villages (Grafton Regis and Yardley Gobion) lying about half a mile to the West of the canal.
It was cool this morning and we wore our fleeces but by afternoon the temperature had risen despite it still being overcast and we put on shorts and teashirts. By late afternoon the sun put in an appearance and it got even hotter.
We walked Max along the now derelict Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union. Volunteers are working hard to restore this to a navigable condition. Parts of it are now in water but there is still much work to be done.
We returned to Cosgrove over the Gothic style bridge. This was built in 1800 and its style is unique among canal bridges.
Our Nicholson’s guide says there is no obvious reason for its solitary splendour. In Cosgrove there is also an unusual ‘keyhole shaped’ pedestrian tunnel under the canal that was built to accommodate horses being taken from the towpath to stables on the other side of the canal.