Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Cheddington to Cropredy

Not much to say about Part 2; from Cheddington to a pub just north of Leighton Buzzard, local of Carol-on-grams, then to a pub just north of Milton Keynes, then a short hop to Cosgrove, mostly in the company of Glenys. I remember the unrelenting tedium of the canal around Milton Keynes whilst cycling, and minor excitements as leaving my debit card in a boatyard, and going to Tescos were just that. We did discover though that having your own kitchen with you when the pub is fully booked for food is good, as your party can then sit on the boat with the pub's beer.

I dropped G at Wolverton station and meandered on to Cosgrove, where I ended up spending ages chatting with another boat owner over tea & shared music (bands from 1971: I had the CDs, she'd seen them); that's the good bit about canals; everyone's great, more or less.

Part 3; then - due to disorganisation more than cancellation, I was on my own last weekend - a worthwhile experiment, as it's good to have space occasionally. I was persuaded that a party in Kings Langley on the Saturday night was on my way back up to Cosgrove (well, to be fair, it was exactly that) and was well the diversion (and missing gigs in London, sorry) - nice people, a bonfire in a field and lots of veggie sausages (although something did take exception to my bowels later, but you can't have everything). I headed north on the 11pm train full of drunk arsenal fans; I put my headphones in and stared into the blackness outside.

In the morning I found a gothic canal bridge to go under:


and followed all traffic signs:


had to put up with the view - one guy said 'it's like having 4,000 miles of garden':


I then went through Blisworth and Braunston tunnels. Extraordinary things - a brick lined structure with barely space for two boats to pass, each about a mile and a half long. It should be more akin to Hades than I felt it to be, although the build up of fumes wasn't great (despite regular vent shafts) - when the far portal came into view in Blisworth, it looked orange - and my brain knew it couldn't just be a colour temperature trick.


The canal was busy enough to have queues at locks; we managed to squeeze two short-arse ones in as well as a long hire boat (don't get me started on the hire boats) down the Braunston flight:


It's always nice to see boats smaller than mine; this one can actually be trailed like a caravan:


I carried on through Braunston, bit of a canal Mecca, and on to the Oxford canal heading south. The single locks are quicker overall, although can't be shared - well, not without any more short boats around. Working them on my own is fine, but slower than boats with crews; there's help and there's help, but most of it was useful.

I made it all the way down to Cropredy, just a few days late for the festival, not that I'd been aiming for it anyway. I'm not sure I'm moored where I should be, but she'll be OK until Saturday...

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