canal

  • 7 locks
  • 8.6 miles

Model boat in the Canal museum

Laura and I woke up with the dawn chorus and decided to go out first thing for an exploratory walk. We headed up over the tunnel mouth where we found an air vent tower, a field with rabbits and a group of bee hives. It was lovely being the only ones about, with just the wildlife awake with us. Later the morning started properly with the only rain we had the whole week away, so we waited for it to pass before walking back into Stoke Bruerne to visit the Canal Museum.

There was a lot to see in the Canal museum and it’s well worth a visit. It’s fascinating to see how the Blisworth tunnel had been constructed and how before the days of motor powered boats the leggers would have walked the boat along from the legging boards off the sides of the boat, pushing against the tunnel walls with their feet.

Red kite

After a lovely morning at Stoke Bruerne, we started our journey down the lock flight to continue our journey south. The locks at Stoke Bruerne were different to the others we’d seen as they were overflowing with water over the tops of the gates - later I found out this was because these ones don’t have a mechanism to redirect the overflow around the locks.

Soon after the last lock we found ourselves a spot to stop for lunch before continuing on our journey. Along the way we saw quite a bit of wild life, including a sheep drinking from the side of the canal whilst her lambs were trying to get their milk from her and a fantastic Red Kite hovering above the fields to the side of the canal. We stopped for the night at Cosgrove, and went for a walk along the canal to the Iron Trunk aqueduct where the Grand Union canal crosses the Great Ouse River. Over the years there have been different ways of handling this crossing - this is the second attempt at an Aqueduct - built in 1811 and has lasted well unlike the previous one. In between and before they aqueducts, the approach was to have locks down to the river so the canal could meet it and then locks up again the other side - leaving a watery cross roads of a still canal and a fast flowing river in the middle which the towing horses would have had to cross. Below the aqueduct along the side of the River is the Ouse Valley Park which was a beautiful place for a riverside walk and looks like we only scratched the surface of what there is there to explore.

Our mooring by the tunnel mouth

Our mooring by the tunnel mouth

Our mooring by the tunnel mouth

  • No locks
  • 10.1 miles

View through the branches

Reeds

A couple of flying ducks

This day got off to a slow start as the engine wouldn’t start, although after phoning Calcutt Boats, Dad managed to get it going, so we arranged to meet the engineer at bridge 29, getting water on the way. Filling up the boat took so long with the water - they have huge tanks and the water seemed to take forever to fill so in the end the engineer met us at the next bridge after the water instead. The problem with the engine was the starter motor and the engineer had to go back and collect the part, so we were stuck in Weedon for most of the morning, but were able to have a nice walk along the towpath there.

Heron by bridge 44

Bridge 25 reflections

Reflections on the water

Even with the delayed start to the day, we managed to cover quite a distance as there were no locks and made it all the way through the Blisworth tunnel to Stoke Bruerne.

Lock at Stoke Bruerne

Old single Lock at Stoke Bruerne

Stoke Bruerne

  • 1 lock
  • 6 miles

Farm buildings

We headed to Napton to meet my parents and collect the boat - on the way we saw a blackboard advertising a cider sale at the Napton Cidery as they were clearing out their stock ready for their new lines. We got to Calcutt Boats at just the right time and Wild Burdock was ready for us to load up. We unloaded the cars into the boats, got kitted out with life jackets and then had our introduction to the boat and how things worked on it.

We then were able to start to set off, still under instruction for the first lock at Calcutt taking us south down towards Napton junction. The instructors stayed with us for a little way, showed us how to do an emergency stop and then jumped off to let us get on our way.

Braunston

On the first evening we headed along the Oxford canal to Braunston for our first nights stop. We started trying to find somewhere to stop before we got to Baunston junction and went on ahead on foot to scout out a mooring site. The cast iron bridges at the Braunston junction make for a spectacular entry into Braunston. We ended up mooring just past the Marina entrance which was the site of the original canal junction.