Well, we are not quite at Marsworth Junction but very near. We only have two remaining locks to navigate and then we go past the junction with the Aylesbury Arm ( we may take a look along this on our way back up) and through a flight of seven locks to take us past Bulbourne Junction (connecting with the very short Wendover Arm which again we will take a look at on the way back). But this gives you an idea of our whereabouts. We do hope the maps help those who are interested.
We have moored here for the past couple of days to sit out a large storm front caused by the remains of Hurricane Bertha. We have had fairly heavy rain and strong winds which make cruising very uncomfortable so we took the opportunity to have a rest day (Sunday/yesterday) and catch up on cleaning and maintenance. It is surprising just how much there is to do in keeping a narrowboat ship shape!!!!
After our lovely visit from Julie and Phil we set off on Thursday morning with the goal of getting supplies in Wolverton (outskirts of Milton Keynes) and getting as far through the city as we could. Its not that there are not lovely parks around these cities, its just we like the countryside much better!! After passing over the Great Ouse river via an aqueduct, we found easy access to Tesco and filled the fridge with fresh supplies – choices for dinner now!!!! We always keep plenty of dry and canned foods enabling us to create nutritious meals in the absence of fresh food (especially if we add a few fresh herbs from the garden) but much prefer the few days after we get in fresh supplies.
We found a lovely mooring – the last 48 hour one left! – beside Campbell Park and it was good to see so many of the locals out using the facilities. Unfortunately we don’t seem to get much sleep when in such close proximity to civilization!!!
Having cast off in very good time on Friday morning, with the mission to get as far as we could, we firstly needed to find a chandlery that stocked the motor oil we needed. Bob had changed the oil and came up just short of enough oil to feel confident for any length of time. We found a very helpful person at the Willowbridge Marina near Water Eaton and they managed to get us the right oil so we could top up the motor, additionally selling Bob a replacement engine bay cover lifter (he trod on the last one and broke it making it fairly difficult to safely lift the cover) and (at last!) an automatic bilge pump which he is currently fitting. Due to a design fault with our roof (lack of drainage holes toward the stern) we have a problem with water getting into the engine bay when it rains. Our interim measure is a large bucket either side to collect as much as we can but we still have overflow. The automatic bilge pump should kick in when water gets to a certain level and remove the worst of the water particularly when we are away from the boat. Of course we do need an engineering solution also – additional drains created -, and the fitting of a pram cover to the stern area will help. But we have made a start!!
Getting through the Soulbury Three Locks – adjacent to the Three Locks Pub which is very popular on a Friday afternoon – was our aim and Bron was never so happy to see a Canal and River Trust volunteer available to help out. A number of hire craft were on their way down the flight but we were the only boat heading upward. He was able to keep us away from any dangers posed by inexperienced holidaymakers. Not to mention halving Bron’s workload!!!
And another pleasant mooring awaited us just around the corner.
We awoke to a misty morning on Saturday after rain overnight and again started early to try to find a good mooring before the predicted storms hit sometime on Saturday night. Along the way we made note of the easy access to shopping at Leighton Buzzard, service facilities and potential mooring spots for our return journey.
As the clouds began to gather darkly we decided on a sheltered spot just before the two Marsworth locks near to the junction. The train line is far enough away to be no problem and there are few neighbours apart from a field of sheep grazing. Of course the blackberrry supply adjacent to the canal is also a bonus. As was the vista of a full moon rising on Sunday night (photos in gallery!!!)
A number of cruise boats travel this section and we had a near miss when one party boat seemed attracted to Celtic Maid and almost hit us with the crew being very apologetic, very well oiled and promising to keep to the other side of the canal on their return journey. Not sure how they navigated the locks but there was no further mishap.
So here we are on Monday with the ever present washing and cleaning tasks done maintenance tasks undertaken, blog and photos updated and hopefully a subsidence in the wind enabling us to head off again tomorrow – with a working automatic bilge pump!!!