Thursday, 14 June 2018

Milton Keynes

(With both boats - posted by Alan
(Retrospective Post for Friday 1st June)

Latest boat found drifting in the middle of the canal
Some canal boaters like long lock-free pounds, where you can travel maybe 10, 20 or even more miles without working through any locks. Other canal boaters like working through locks, and prefer stretches of canal where they come fairly regularly.  Generally I fall into the second of these groupings - I like taking the boats through locks - though I will admit that with the passing of years, and me not getting any younger, trying to knock off thirty or more fairly heavy locks in a days boating no longer holds the appeal it did when I was in my teens or twenties!

One of CRT's this time - at least there was some (just) usable rope!
Even now I like to take things a bit easier, though, I am not a huge fan of travelling relatively local stretches of canal that I know well, but which have no locks and which I need to cover on a regular basis to access destinations further afield.  The stretch of the Grand Union that takes a fairly circuitous route around Milton Keynes is such a stretch.  (OK, strictly the canal didn't exactly choose to be routed around Milton Keynes because it was there getting on for 200 years before most of Milton Keynes was - it just happens that Milton Keynes has been built so it now looks like the GU passes around much of it!)

Quiet passage through "Three Locks"
There is nothing really wrong with this stretch of canal as a cruising route, in fact much of it is quite pleasant, and some of what it passes through is very nice indeed.  But once you have left Leighton Buzzard and the locks at Stoke Hammond behind, it is all one lock-less stretch, other than the very shallow lock at Fenny Stratford.  Even as you pass out of Milton Keynes through Wolverton, there is still only one fairly shallow lock as Cosgrove, before several more miles to Stoke Bruerne, the first point at which you get to start working again.

We find that for overnight stops in Milton Keynes it is well worth getting to know the "best" bits near some of the old villages it swept in as it grew.  Favourite overnight moorings with us include Stantonbury - still very rural, with a walk out to a derelict church, although new housing is now changing this area.

However even better is Great Linford, particularly if you can get on one of the very few "Parks" 48 hour moorings on the non tow-path side.  This time we couldn't, and consequently struggled to find anywhere deep enough on the tow-path side to tie up our deep draughted ex working boats. without having to get the dogs to walk a plank to get on and off.  However once we were finally moored, we were still able to walk a circuit across two different bridges, so the dogs got to enjoy the rather nice park anyway, (even if Odin was a bit miffed at not being allowed to swim in a pond that looked like more mud than water!)

Leighton Buzzard to Great Linford
Miles per boat: 14.3, Miles both boats: 28.6, Locks: 6
Total Trip Miles: 214.5, Locks: 130

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