Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Down Through Leighton Buzzard

Yet another fine sunny day took us onwards towards Braunston. It was 94 miles away when we left the Thames, now it’s about 42.

Not going very fast, are we!

The canal is still very pleasant, and quite quiet too. There are one or two hire boats about from the bases at Gayton and Leighton Buzzard, but there are a lot more still waiting for crews, at least at Wyvern Boat Services in Linslade.
I was just getting ready to pull out when a boat came past, an ex BCN tug heading for the boat show at Braunston this weekend.
We caught them up at Church Lock, and shared this and the rest of today’s locks with them.

Going down Grove Lock with Tug No 2

We both pulled in on the shopping moorings at Leighton Buzzard for a few bits and pieces, before setting off again to Leighton Lock.

Approaching Leighton Buzzard
Approaching Leighton Lock
We were warned against stopping in Leighton Buzzard, apparently it has a poor reputation. But the town looked fine to me, well kept gardens leading down to the canal edge, a good all weather surface on the towpath, and no more graffiti than you’d find anywhere. We wouldn’t have stopped here overnight anyway, even though there are good 14 day moorings. We much prefer to be out in the country.

There’s an excellent stretch between Leighton Buzzard and Soulbury, about 2½ miles long starting in woods full of birdsong and opening out into fields as the canal follows the Ouzel valley.

Wooded banks lead on to….
Open fields.
This pound finishes at the 3 locks at Soulbury. These are one after the other, dropping the canal around 20 feet. A main road runs right alongside, making it a popular gongoozling spot even in the week. The old Three Locks pub alongside the lower 2 has been renovated and is now a popular eating venue, part of the Grand Union Group

Soulbury 3 The lower 2 locks, gongoozlers and The Grand Union.
The short lead in the foreground was the entrance to the now filled in paired lock.

We parted company with our lock companions here, they chugged off while we took it steady, looking for a likely mooring spot.
We finally pulled in just before Bridge 106, near Stoke Hammond.

Moored for the night.
I took Meg for a long walk this evening, up the hill to the west to the village of Great Brickhill.

Cromwell’s Cottages, Great Brickhill.
During the Civil War, Parliamentarian forces under the Earl of Essex were billeted here.

I’m glad we’re not on the New Junction Canal in South Yorkshire this weekend. Much as I love anglers, I think 390 at one time would OTT….

Between Kirk Sandall and Sykehouse Lock Saturday 25 July 2009 - Saturday 25 July 2009 Angling Trust Division 3 Championships. Approx. 390 anglers will be taking part in the Angling Trust's Division 3 Championships along the New Junction Canal. Craft are advised to avoid the area if possible or slow down on approach where the competition is taking place. Marshalls will be on site to assist where applicable.

I hadn’t realised, but last night we were moored within ½ a mile of the site of one of the most momentous events in modern criminal history. In 1963 The Great Train Robbery took place just across the fields to the west.
Leatherslade Farm, where the gang holed up for a few days afterwards, is 18 miles away, towards Oxford.

Locks 6, miles 6

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