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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

We make a move in the rain

We decided to brave it and to set off even though its still raining, we are dressed for the weather so its not to bad, we take on water and then go to operate our first lock but a family of swans decided that they liked to swim in the lock so it was frantically waving a towel at them and trying to coax them back out with the promise of a bread treat, eventually we managed to get them out and we are on our way.

Farmland and open field are either side of the canal, but can't say we are hanging around to look at them as the rain has become heavy. We pass the villages of Castlethorpe,Yardley Gobion with its canal side wharf, and Grafton Regis where Elizabeth Woodville mother of the Princes in the tower who were reputedly murdered by Richard the third, use to reside in the nearby manor.

We then reach Stoke Bruerne bottom lock the first of five locks to negotiate before mooring for the afternoon and night, luckily it has stopped raining.




Typical Bank holiday weather

Today it p,p,p,p, persistently raining its chucking it down so we decide not to move,and just watch all the hire boats with their crew all soaking wet drift by. But we did get wet as we were challenged in aid of charity to tip a bucket of cold water over our heads, it a fad that going on Facebook in aid of Mcmallian Cancer charity.

So after the bucket of water over our heads we showered and settled down for the day.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Plenty of miles but only one lock

A lovely sunny morning greeted us as we awoke today, so off we set and straight away we notice an increase in boats, maybe because of the bank holiday. Again its open countryside till we reach the outskirts of Milton Keynes, though the canal still feels its going through countryside as it skirts the outside of the town and mostly in parkland making it a pleasant journey. At New Bradwell the canal crosses a dual carriageway on a splendid aqueduct.

Not a concrete cow but a metal rhino in Milton Keynes

And then we are reaching Cosgrove where we moor for the evening as the canal,was very busy up ahead, we moor not far from Cosgrove Caravan Park, and they are having a concert this afternoon so we sit on the boat,shandy in hand and listen to the bands in the sun, then it dinner and you guessed it a night in front of the television.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

On to Three Locks

This morning is sunny but cold, so off we set and its a clear run of open countryside till we meet our first lock and then it is not to long till we reach the second,Grove lock with it pub right on the lock landing, a little bit of drama as my throttle controller, the thing that makes the boat go forward or reverse came off, so I had to switch the engine off, then I jumped onto the bank with the middle rope in hand and pulled the boat to a stop.Luckily it was only a screw that came loose so I tightened it up and we were back on our way.

We reached the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard, here we top up with water, and then paid  a visit to Tescos for our weekend shopping.

We are on they move again and the canal enters the valley of Ouzel,and the canal now feels more like a river as it meander sharply,with steep hills rise on both sides as the canals continues its steady fall towards Bletchley.

We then reach Solbury three locks and luckily for us we meet up with the boat and crew from yesterday with so many willing hands these lock are easy and soon we are at the bottom of the flight were we moor up for the night

We pay a visit to the lock side pub, "the Three Locks" for a couple of shandies as we sit outside and watch other boats and there crews operate the locks. Old working boat people insisted the locks were haunted by a woman and her baby, and maybe on a still night you may hear the squeak of pram wheels as she walks by.

Also There is a public house in Soulbury called The Boot. Its pub sign features a boot of the Duke of Wellington, but the tradition of the Soulbury Boot is said to be much older than that. It is said that the Devil himself once came to the village, but the villagers came together to fight him off. One of them took his sword and cut off the Devil's foot and as it fell to the ground it turned to stone. The stone came to be known as the Soulbury Boot. This story is said by some to have been made up by a previous pub landlord in order to attract visitors.


Friday, 22 August 2014


Up early this morning for a change and straight into a lock one of eighteen which we have done today although  with some help, after the first lock we take on some water and then the canal cuts through the wooded Tring cutting with it spectacular array of trees. Then we pass the entrance to the Wendover arm and we join a hire boat "the long eared owl",with a friendly family crew that are on holiday to share the next seven locks wich are a breeze as the other boat has ten willing hands to help with the locks.


The canal now passes through open farmland with views to the Chiltern hills before the views of the Reservoirs that were established to keep up,the water to feed the ever demanding canals come into site.

We pass the villages of Marsworth, Pitstone and Ivinghoe which was the inspiration for Walter Scott's famous novel Ivanhoe and the setting for Scenes for feature films, such as Quatermass 2, Batman Begins and The Dirty Dozen have been shot at Ivinghoe Beacon. Ivinghoe village, meanwhile, once served as a set for the children's TV series ChuckleVision.

Our helpers a big thanks to them .........

back into open farmland again, and then our eighteenth lock at Slapton here we moor up and with not a pub in site, so its a shower, dinner then a relaxing night.

A bit of haunting in Slapton according Wikipanion.

In 1993, an Exorcism was conducted at one of the village's older cottages following reports of a multiple haunting. The occupants at that time had suffered increased and violent poltergeist activity over a 5-year period, ever since moving into The Court, in 1988. The worst reported incident was when an ‘invisible force’ reputedly picked up one of the occupant’s by the neck and held them, suspended, a few feet in the air. It is believed that one of the ghosts was that of former tenant, Jesse Healy, who lived in Horton Road circa 1940. The entity responsible for the violent outbursts was thought to be of demonic origin and it was assumed that someone must have used an Ouija board at the premises prior to the occupants moving there, which ultimately ‘invited’ the evil spirit in. This, however, remains unconfirmed to date. An article published in the Herald & Post, on 25 November 2003, referred to this haunting.

In another old cottage in the village the sounds of children crying can be heard, but with no mortal source. There is also the story of a ghostly apparition in the Churchyard. It is said that the glinting of moonlight off the buckles on a rector's shoes can be seen as he rushes to an ancient affray. This is all that is seen of him. The pub is also believed to have its fair share of spirits! The bar area is believed to be haunted by a monk-like figure who was killed whilst trying to break up a fight. There is also a ghostly woman who lurks in the kitchen until after closing time, which is when she ventures out into the main part of the pub and can be seen wandering around, from outside. The Luton Paranormal Society and the Paranormal Database both list some of the ghostly goings on, on their websites.


Someone's poor boat :(


Thursday, 21 August 2014


We leave our mooring to a bright cold day and straight away we have a lock to operate, once we through the lock running adjacent to,us is The River Bulbourne which is a chalk stream that rises in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Cow Roast and flows through the centre of Berkhamsted. It used to support a vibrant watercress industry and remnant watercress beds still remain. The river runs beside the Grand Union Canal for seven miles to its confluence with the River Gade at Two Waters.

Next we are travelling through Berkhamsted, unfortunately the Canal and river Trust has issued a map of the canal as it runs through the town which looks like a penis.


As we go through the next lock we pair up with another boat, which normally make things easier as both boat crews normally help, I say normally because the crew on the other boat did the minimum amount , so after three locks with Denise and I doing most of the work we decided to ditch them so we moored up for lunch and let them go by there selves to operate the locks

After lunch we carry on for a few more locks before we reach tonight's destination Cowroast, which has nothing to do with cooking, but derives from cow rest, as it was popular overnight stop for cattle drovers heading to the London markets.

We sample the local pub the Cowroast Inn and then dinner and a night in front of the TV.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Back to Winkwell

Don't know what happened but we didn't wake up till 10.00 am this morning, so it was a quick breakfast before setting off , it not long before we pass the village King Langley, here In 1865, Dr. George Wander, a Swiss chemist based in Berne, established the high nutritional value of barley malt. He then began to manufacture malt extract and launched the food drink, ‘Ovomaltine, and a factory producing Ovaltine was created,and it continued to employ local people until its demise in 2002.

The canal follows the course the river Gade, the channel is wide bordered by fields and market gardens, with the sound of the A41 which is never far away, next we are travelling through Apsley with it museum of a Victorian working paper mill. On through Hemel Hempstead with its magic roundabout and Boxmoor where many rare breeds of sheep and cattle can be seen which belong to Boxmoor Trust. Also in 1802, the last highwayman to be hung and buried at the scene of his crime robbed a post boy on the turnpike on Boxmoor meadows. His remains are interred in Boxmoor meadows near the place where he was hung and the likely spot is marked by two stones

And on towards our overnight mooring Winkwell, with its canal side pub which we have a few pints after our hard day of going through locks,.



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Heading towards Hunton


Up early this morning , with Firkin the Cat meowing for her breakfast, its a beautiful sunny but a crisp morning so all is not bad, we pass Black Jack lock with no nudes walking around today saying that there is such a chill in the air that I wouldn't blame them. the next lock is Copper Mill no canoes to navigate around today, we pass a lonely stretch where scars of old industry, quarries and flooded pits oppose lightly wooded farmlands like two faces on a coin.

We now approach Batchworth where we moor up at the handy Tescos and do a little bit of provision shopping. When we leave we go through Batchworth lock, where on the right is a second lock which links up with the River Chess .

We pass through this stretch at tick over as we pass an endless line of moored boats, a hotch potch collection of crafts, and visitor mooring are far and few between.

We now travel a picturesque part of the canal through Cassiobury Park, its a Mecca for those who enjoy walks and picnics while watching boats passing on the canal. At the lock we have an audience of Parents and children while we operate the lock, at Ironbridge Lock whih is haunted by a man who keeps opening the bottom lock. Onwards we go pass the pretty Grove mill , which have been converted to luxury flats,and  under the A41 and the A405 bridge we travel, here a plaque honours two men who died during work on the Gade Valley sewer 1970.

We have a couple more locks to contend with till we moor up just before Hunton Bridge,with its quite village nestling the canal, we visit the local hostelry, the Kings Head for a couple of well earned drinks, before going back to the boat for some dinner, a shower and a night of telly.




Monday, 18 August 2014

To the end and back again

A beautiful sunny morning greets us this morning, we break our mooring and head on down the Grand Union, we pass the very exclusive area of the Home Counties the village of Denham with its host of celebrities that reside or have reside there, including Roger Moore, Cilla Black, And Sir John Mills. Here is Denham lock, the deepest lock at 11ft 1 in.


We then pass the town of Uxbridge, where during the Battle of Britain the late Air Marshall Lord Dowding directed it from the RAF headquarters. The town has a lot of new modern buildings of which some hug the canal.


We approach our last lock of this trip number 89 but it will also be our first of our return journey, it operated by a Canal and River Trust volunteer Richard Wynne who is also an author of a few books on the subject of the Grand Union Canal.

We then approach the end of this journeys navigation, the arm to Slough, which we won't do this time around, so a quick turn around and back to retracing our steps and all 89 locks back up the Grand Union.

We then return to last nights mooring for another night Justin time as the heavens open and tips down with rain.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Black Jacks Ghost

We leave our mooring after a night without television,try as I might I just couldn't get a decent enough signal, we then go through Stokers lock with its 16C farm buildings nearby. The canal borders a few lakes which were originally gravel pits and now are nature reserves, and its not long before we approach Copper Mill Lock which is an interesting canal settlement, once a paper mill, but turned tomaking copper sheets for the bottoms of boats, a little way on is Troy cut now unnavigable but once led to Troy mill. We pass a club of children in their canoes and kayak navigating a course that caused from the flow water by the lock.


We now approach Black Jacks Lock which occupies a chocolate box setting beside the old corn mill, now an Italian restaurant.Black Jack dates from the early days and was a coloured chap that was employed by a local land owner to harass boatmen passing through at night, wether thrown at him or stolen it is not clear he collected a vast number of wind lasses, before being murdered by an irate victim.The haul was discovered in the hollow of a nearby tree, but Jack, now with a genuine grudge still haunts the lock.

Whilst we were at the lock, there was a group of people walking around naked in the grounds,which is quite odd, we were then informed by another boat owner that a party had been going all night, with a lot of noise, not sure if would of been a good place to moor, with lots of naked women wandering around oh and the noise.

We were going to moor at the pub. But it unfortunately it has fallen victim to the present economic climate and has been closed, so we moor opposite Harefeild Marina which occupies a lagoon that once was gravel pit, here in 1958, 24 working boats were deliberately sunk, oblivious to the enthusiasts and collectors keen to save them.

It's a good mooring with nice views over the marina and as a bonus a great television signal, whoopee .


Saturday, 16 August 2014

On towards Watford

We left last nights mooring and headed toward Watford, the canal passes Grove mill with its famous ornamental stone bridge ordered by the Earl of Essex before he would allow the Grand Union Canal company to cut a navigation through his park.

Cassiobury park all 190  acres of it,with its golf courses and its avenue of limes planted by Moses Cook in 1672, many of its trees are over 300 years old. We then pass the village of Croxely Green and the outskirts of Watford, we carry on for a little while before mooring just below Batchworth locks and by its canal centre, opposite this is a model canal layout, complete with radio controlled locks and boats which unfortunaley for us it was not operating today.

Just a little way on is a handy Tescos with ample canal side mooring on its frontage, we have a lazy Saturday afternoon, and struggled to get a telly signal so no telly, just reading tonight.....