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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soulbury Three Locks to Cowroast.

Wednesday 9th April.

It was a sunny, frosty morning when we poked our heads out of the boat. Paddy enjoyed a lead free run a long the towpath before we thought about heading off for the day. On the BW notice board I could not help but notice their stoppage notice was way out of date, 2 years to be exact
Just as we were getting Hadar ready to set off NB Misty Blue was approaching us ready for Lock 1, so I wished them a good morning and asked if they would like to share the locks, which they were only to happy to do. So it was 8.25am and we were off to Lock 1.
Whilst operating the locks Bett and I enjoyed a nice chat whilst Keith and Rowl steered the boats.
Having down the Soulbury 3 we headed on to the next lock, noticing a large rabbit warren by the railway. There were dozens of rabbits eating breakfast; they were not at all bothered by us.
The views across the countryside are truly stunning. We past by The Globe Inn, which used to have stables for the horses, which towed the horse drawn boats, these days the stabling is now apart of the pub. We cruised towards Leighton Buzzard, passing through an old open Swing Bridge, and then through Leighton Lock. NB Misty Blue then left us as they moved on in front of us heading for a mooring at Leighton Buzzard outside of Tesco, which was our first port of call. It is great you can moor up right outside of the store. We arrived to find a space just right for Hadar, and having chatted to Rowl for a few minutes we then collected our rucksacks and headed into Tesco for a large food shop, at this point NB Misty Blue was on their way, so we said our goodbye’s. Having done a food shop we left Leighton Buzzard at 11.30am, I unpacked the shopping whilst Keith moved the boat, we were soon out into the countryside, where we had our first sighting this year of ducklings. Mum only had the two, which looked very young
We approached Grove Lock, where there was a boat already coming down, so that was handy.
The pub was new to Keith; he reckoned it was not there the last time he came through. Anyway I walked up to the lock to help with the gates, whilst the gentleman went into the pub with two of their own glasses to get them both a drink to have on board as they went along. Now how civilised is that hahahaha. Having let them go we continued up through grove lock and onwards. We now started to get a fantastic view of the Dunstable Downs and the Chilton’s, it really is truly stunning and no amount of photographs could do it justice.
On Dunstable Downs the Whipsnade White lion is visible from the canal.
The lion was cut into the hillside in 1935 and is over 480 ft long. It is really quite impressive. We got to see our second family off ducklings; mum was busy looking after 8 little fluff balls. Sadly Keith spotted one duckling that did not make it. With the cold nights we have been having, there was always going to be casualties.
I wrestled with the swing bridge at Great Seabrook, knowing that I had another 2 locks to do before our day was completed.
During the last few days we have seen numerous herons about. First thing this morning I saw 3 together flying up the canal, we have seen them on their own and this cheeky heron clearly wanted us to see him, as he sat on the lock gate whilst we approached.
Herons are normally solitary birds, but at this time of the year they get together for the breeding season, so it is not uncommon to see a few together.
We passed NB Misty Blue who had moored up before the locks. We would probably see them tomorrow.
We did the last lock of the Marsworth 2, and were looking to find a mooring before the next set of 7 locks, which would be tomorrow’s job. At the junction of the Aylesbury arm, finding a place to moor was not as easy as we thought. Keith said that there used to be plenty of moorings, but these days they are for permit holders only or residential moorings. We did eventually find a mooring near the White Lion Pub. In all there are around 6 visitor moorings and the rest are taken up for permit holders etc. So having moored up and done all the usual things when we stop, it was decided having down an 8 hour day and 15 locks we would eat out.
We ended up eating at the White Lion, where the food was lovely. We both had Spaghetti and Meatballs with Cheese, followed by Keith had sticky toffee pudding and custard and I had lemon Cheese Cake, they were both scrummy. It has been a hard day but a beautiful day. I did not wear a jacket all day that is how warm it was. So here’s to a busy day tomorrow.

Thursday 10th April.

Up early after a cuppa in bed to the sound of a wren singing its heart out. For such a small bird they make a huge sound, it was a joy to listen to at 7am. I took Paddy for a walk down the Aylesbury arm which looks really pretty, we will get around to doing that one day I am sure. I learnt from reading a notice board that Marsworth was known at Maffers by the working boatman.We left our mooring by The White Lion Pub at 8.50am and headed up through lock 1
Just another 6 locks to do lol.
From the locks in the Marsworth flight you can see the Marsworth reservoir, which is extremely large and very beautiful. We caught our first glimpse of a pair of Giant Grebe.There are a few mooring above lock one if you want to spend time walking and watching the wildlife, I know we will definitely stop there another time.
We did the flight of 7 locks and arrived at Bulbourne Junction at 10.30am,
We passed the house that was in the film the Bargee.
We took a diversion onto the Wendover Arm which is being extended. They started the Wendover trust in 1989 and they are restoring the navigation the full length of the arm through to Wendover. It is however very shallow and we were ditch crawling for most of the trip, until we reached the new part that was completed recently. The one thing that dominates the landscape is the Flour Mill.
Having made it to the end of the arm, they still have a lot of work to do, but we are looking forward to taking Hadar down the rest of the Wendover Arm. We then had to wind Hadar and ditch crawl our way back to the junction.Having turned back onto the Grand Union Canal we went searching for a mooring, we found one opposite the BW Bulbourne Workshops.
But having had bacon butties for lunch we decided as it was so nice we would carry on to Cowroast for a mooring.
Once we moored up before the Cowroast lock we were treated to some entertainment at the expensive of the local Tring School rowing club.
The girl’s pairs were actually pretty good. Unfortunately the coxed 4’s for the boys was not fairing so well.
They could not keep a straight line and were so busy shouting at each other, they were not listening to the Cox or the coach, and it was very funny entertainment whilst we cleaned the boats brass.
So a great day yet again and no sign of the rain which was forecast. So roll on tomorrow and the weekend.


Steve said...

Blimy guys.... your cracking on!
Good to see you're enjoying it. Catch up some time soon. LoL.

Maureen said...

Hah! Great photos; those boys DO look confused, don't they? I guess they have a lot to learn still.

Wow. LOVE the White Lion on the hill! Very cool.

And all the wildlife; never thought you had so many heron!

Wonderful job as always Jo.