Sunday, May 15, 2016

Up through beautiful Buckinghamshire

Leaving the conurbation of Milton Keynes behind yesterday morning, we moved out into the countryside. Willowbridge Marina and Stoke Road mark the change from suburban to rural.

The locks start to come closer together now as we start the climb up to the Tring Summit.

Stoke Hammond Lock.
The arch over the additional chamber, built to ease congestion in 1835, now goes nowhere as the chamber is filled in.

The Grand Junction Canal has two summit levels, most canals have only one. This is the highest point the canal reaches, and it’s where most of the water, needed to supply the locks running down either side, is fed in. Large reservoirs were built to hold and supply the valuable resource.
The Tring summit has four, built between 1802 and 1838. Holding around 2 million tonnes of water between them, they are fed by springs from the chalk beds of them Chiltern Hills, over which the canal has to pass.
It seems a huge amount of water, but each time one of these locks is used over 200 tonnes of water heads off downhill. But we’re not there yet…

Bucks coutryside

We caught up with a boat at Soulbury Locks, and there was another two coming down, so we took advantage of the pause to fill both boats’ water tanks. That done it didn’t take long to ascend the three close-together locks.

Soulbury Locks


Above the locks a mandarin was showing off his Sunday Best…IMG_9818

while the missus was in her drab housecoat, looking after the kids. IMG_9819

We needed to restock the cupboards and had to breast up in the only available spot outside the Tescos in Leighton Buzzard. Handy, but not a place to spend the night.

Wyvern Shipping’s hire base on the edge of Leighton Buzzard.IMG_9826

Tesco moorings, one out, one in!

We headed out of town, up Grove Lock and moored not far above. IMG_9833

Today’s trip was short, just 90 minutes or so. Vic was doing a Sunday lunch for us all, and there was the Spanish Grand Prix to watch.

Only two locks to do, the first, Church Lock, empty and open ready for us.IMG_9834
Over the far side can be seen the pumphouse. Several locks have these to move water back up in times of shortage. As well as the pumps, side ponds were used to conserve water, large and with two chambers and sluices to connect them and the locks.

Slapton Lock

Side pond

Slapton Lock now has a beautiful lawn where the extra lock chamber once sat.IMG_9837

We pulled in not far past the lock, and got the TV aerials up. Sunday lunch was superb, thanks Vic, and the GP was exciting but disastrous for the Mercedes team.

Tomorrow we’ll continue on up the hill to Marsworth.

Hi Malcolm, good to see you, have a good summer. Neil, thanks for that, I’m sure the town will get the status it deserves. Eventually!
Hi Sue. Seems we both have a good eye…

Locks 8, miles 10.

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