We were up early and away by 6.30 this morning. Storm walked the first two miles with Max who was glad of the cooler temperatures for his walk.
We reached Gayton Junction (the turn off to Northampton and the River Nene to the Fens) by 7.30am and continued on towards Blisworth Tunnel. At 3057 yards long, this is the third longest tunnel in England. We passed one boat in the tunnel but otherwise had it to ourselves. It is amazing that it is so straight given the technology that the navvies had to work with – you can see the exit portal as soon as you enter, albeit a pin prick of light in the distance and even though we have a headlight to light our way, standing on the back of the boat you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
We powered through and after about half an hour we came back out into sunshine and hot temperatures. We apply suncream as we dress as its easy to forget once you get underway. In these temperatures you have to be very careful standing out on the deck all day. Storm and I take it in turn to steer and operate the locks so that neither of us gets over tired.
We’d hoped to fill up with water at Stoke Bruerne top lock, but the tap was out of action. While we discovered this another boat had arrived at the top lock and so we shared the seven locks with them. Storm undertook to work the first seven locks of the day today and it was the husband on the other boat who did the locks too. The guys got on so well, that at one point they had to be reminded that they were supposed to be operating the locks!
At the bottom of the locks the tap was working and so we filled up there. The pressure was excellent and filling up took no time at all and we were soon underway again.
We passed a couple of wide beams on the move. They take up most of the canal that when passing them we end up at the side of the canal where the water is shallow and invariably end up aground. This causes us to lurch sideways and most of our cupboard doors come open. Putting the boat into reverse usually rights us again once the wide beam has passed.
The canal was familiar to us as far as Cosgrove as we’ve visited here quite recently but beyond the village our memory is a little vague as we’ve not been this way since 2010.
Our progress round Milton Keynes was quite slow due to the number of moored boats It was nice to see that the local community have made efforts to address the canal with a good assortment of artwork.
We passed the site of the proposed Bedford canal link and work appears to have begun on this new waterway. It is hoped that once complete this will create a circular route for boaters around the fen waterways.
We spotted two green woodpeckers having an altercation – sadly I didn’t capture it with my camera.
The water quality must be good here as we’re seeing lots of Heron.
We passed through the Fenny Stratford stop lock that has a pedestrian foot bridge across it. This needs pushing out of the way before you can use the lock. Two gallant guys from the adjacent pub offered to work the bridge and the offside lock gate for me. I took up their offer of help.
We continued on again and I kept my eyes open for a suitable mooring. My memory of this route is sketchy. Many of the mooring spaces had already been taken. We finally moored up above Stoke Hammond lock and had our second boat BBQ with beef kebabs made from half of the Braunston butcher’s steak I bought yesterday. This lock is really pretty and I don’t recall this from 2010.
It has been so hot today that we were still sitting outside at 10pm and it isn’t any cooler outside than inside. The horse flies have left us alone now for two days.
(29 miles and 10 locks)