Saturday, 6 September 2008

Day Thirty-Five - Moor trouble...

Soulbury Three Locks - Cosgrove

Grand Union Canal

15 miles, 3 locks, 2 aqueducts

We set off at a reasonable hour, having decided to descend the Soulbury Three Locks the night before. The first encounter of mention was with a large ex-BW inspection launch nb Pearl Hyde which had come adrift from its moorings and was blocking the entire navigation! We had been warned of the obstruction by a passing cyclist but it was still quite a shock to see the massive green boat diagonally across the canal. It was obviously aground so Jim and I went aboard, attached a rope, and then James tried to pull it off the canal bed. Alas to no avail. Since it was still moored at the bow, I tried to walk down the gunwhales with a rope, to try and pull it in. But the gunwhales became curved and impossible to walk on about halfway down, and it was far too wet and slippy to risk going any further. James moored the WarriorDuck, leaving my mum holding the boat (!) and then we were able to pull it in using ropes from the bank.

It appeared to be an incomplete project; although unlicenced, the detritus of an ongoing interior fitout were strewn about the boat (I was too scared even to look in the window for fear of what might be within, but James had a bit of a poke about, since it was unlocked). We moored it tightly back to the bank, and continued on.

Not soon after, we passed a boat whose helmsman said ' You'll be lucky to get past the next one, its a broad boat!'. This unnerved us slightly, and compelled James to run on and have a bit of a recce. But many bridges later and no sign of James or the mythical wide boat led us to believe that he may have been somewhat mistaken! We eventually found him sheltering under a hump-backed bridge (the rain was quite heavy at this point) and we never did meet a 'broad boat' coming the othe way.

The next stetch was through Milton Keynes, which is completely lock free, so after prising James away from the tiller I tried my hand at handling the WarriorDuck. I rather enjoyed it, and got us through several bridge holes without mishap. The guides claim that MK 'embraces the canal side' bt I have to say I found it rather dull. The aqueducts we crossed as we left the city were quite exciting though - I'll upload photos when I can find a) the correct cable and b) some more consitent internet.

Passing through MK, I couldn't help but think how great it would be for us Fenland boaters to have a link to the Great Ouse at Bedford. The proposed scheme looked like it might even go ahead, but that was before the Credit Crunch...

We moored up just beyond the disused Buckinham Arm, at Cosgrove, and all had dinner together on the Duck (my mum's delicious mozzarella pasta bake) followed by Jim's strawberries from Kent. Yum!

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