Wednesday took us from near to Grafton Regis to near Bridge 75, on the northern edge of Milton Keynes.
Our Canadian neighbours turned out to see us off…
This is a remote stretch of canal, what villages there are stand aloof from the canal. Yardley Gobion is the nearest, but even that relies on the wharf to indicate it’s presence.
It was a grey, damp day again, not pleasant for cruising, so it was good to have something to do when we got to Cosgrove. Our only lock of the day sits here, at the western end of the long embankment and aqueduct over the River Great Ouse.
Soloman’s Bridge just to the north of the village
It’s decorative form is due to an agreement between the landowner and the canal company. It was part of the deal to allow the cut to come through here.
A couple of boats arrived at the bottom the same time as we arrived at the top, but the lock was more empty than full so we brought them up first.
Just above the lock the canal arm to Old Stratford and Buckingham head off to the south-west. Only a short stub remains, now used for moorings, but the Buckingham Canal Society intends to change that…
Probably best to click to read the text.
Below the lock there’s another stretch of canal that has completely disappeared. South of Cosgrove the canal builders encountered the Great Ouse valley, nearly 40 feet deep and above half a mile wide. Rather than tackle the daunting prospect of trying to bridge the gap, it was decided to lock the canal down into the valley, cross the river on a conventional aqueduct and then lock back up again.
By 1805 it was recognised that this double lock flight was expensive in terms of water and time, so long embankments were constructed to carry the canal to a brick-built aqueduct over the river.
This wasn’t without difficulty. One of the embankments collapsed just a few months after the opening, then the aqueduct itself failed a couple of years later.
Luckily the lock flights hadn’t been dismantled and were pressed back into service while a new, cast iron sectional channel was designed by the canal engineer, Benjamin Bevan. Made in Coalbrookdale, it was transported by canal and installed. Opened in 1811, this is the channel still in use today.
The Iron Trunk from the top.
Our first cygnets on the southern embankment!
After Cosgrove the remote, rural aspect of the canal is replaced by an suburban landscape as it starts it’s long semi-circumnavigation of Milton Keynes.
Another aqueduct, this time over Grafton Street
We pulled up for the day between bridges 74 and 75, in a fine spot with a large meadow nearby for the dogs. We were on dog-sitting duties yesterday as Sue and Vic were off to Liverpool to check on progress on their new boat. They were full of smiles when they returned (as were the dogs) delighted with how things are going. Have a look here…
It was fine, though cool in the breeze, so the dogs and I were able to spend a lot of the day, between walks in the meadow, outside on the towpath. They missed me when I came in…
…or maybe it was just the smell of the shepherd’s pie cooking!
Today was overcast and quite cool, with the wind sweeping in from the north, now. But at least it stayed dry. For those who’ve not done it, the cruise around Milton Keynes is quite an eye-opener. Most urban centres have industry on the canal banks, but MK has parks! This is because it was built after the canal and never used it as a transport route. In fact the town (city?) is basically a group of old Buckinghamshire villages with the bits in between filled in.
It’s a bit tedious at times, though. Anywhere there’s access to transport at the bridges you’ll find a cluster of moored boats.
This is another of those areas on the canals that CRT is having to manage. People working and having children in local schools in the area have adopted the canal lifestyle, but without permanent residential moorings.
CRT are trying, with varying degrees of success, to get the boat owners to comply with the rules under which a Continuous Cruising license is issued, but there is opposition. A protest rally was held by boater owners last Friday.
I wonder when we start to count down to Brentford?
Now then, around here somewhere…
The intention is to create a broad-beam link from the canal network to the Great Ouse. At the moment the only connection, apart from a coastal route, is via the narrow-gauge Rothersthorpe Locks into Northampton. All the info here.
We only had one lock again today, and at only 13 inches deep it didn’t take long. It does have a swing bridge across the middle of the chamber to make life a little more interesting, though.
Fenny Stratford Lock
We pulled in at Water Eaton, just before leaving the built-up area again. Parkland alongside again for the pooches.
We’ve had it easy these last few days, but now the works starts as the locks come more regularly. At least the forecast indicates dry weather for a few days.
Oh,and not a concrete cow to be seen!
Locks 2, miles 16½