Barry and I are both away this weekend, on separate things. I'm off for another three days on my 'Diploma in Holistic Life Coaching' course in Auckland, and Barry is off to play in a 'Veterans' (over 50s) representative badminton match in Waihi, in the Bay of Plenty. On my return drive from Auckland, I'll be catching up with him at a friend's house in a little settlement called 'Bowentown' and we'll have a couple of nights there and with a bit of luck some walks along the beautiful beach. There may then be a couple of New Zealand scenes on the next blog, just maybe ...
Wednesday 13 October
After our chilly night, the priority this morning was to fill up with diesel. Barry walked along to Cowroast Marina to check if they had supplies, it would have meant reversing a little but he can handle that. As we were about to untie and try out some smart manoeuvres, Archimedes came by with Jay and Tom! Fortuitous indeed, we were very thankful to see you guys! They're such nice blokes, always chatty and happy, it's a pleasure to hand over our money to them.
Once filled up, we were about to set off when Mike came along, the friendly gentleman who'd emailed to say we could moor up alongside him if we needed to, and after a chat across the canal he invited us aboard his delightful boat so we moved over on Northern Pride and tied up.
Mike on his boat 'Albion Mills'
It was such a beautiful boat, obviously very pampered by its owner, with some very authentic, neat touches all around. He informed us that every xmas he and his family spend the day on board, and we could just picture the happy atmosphere.
The boatman's cabin behind the engine room holding his beloved 'Gardner'
Goodbye and thank you to Mike - what a lovely man!
We eventually set off for the Wendover Arm, with just one stop lock towards the end of the navigable part of the short canal, though the locks not currently functional. It was very shallow and narrow which we weren't used to anymore, the last time we'd been on a narrow canal was on the Oxford back in July. We moored up briefly after turning at the end, had a spot of lunch, then set off towards Aylesbury, our next destination.
Crossing the three mile summit from Cowroast to Marston Lock passes through this long wooded cutting
Peaceful and pretty countryside
Wrapped up warmly against the elements ...
... passing through some narrow bridges
... with picture postcard scenes
The Grand Union carries on ahead through the lock
Past Tring Mill which produces 76,000 tons of flour annually and employs 80 people, delivering flour throughout southern England
Tringford pumping station which pumps water from the reservoirs further down the hill, lifting approx four million gallons of water daily to the summit feeding it down the Wendover arm to the Grand Union
Little Tring Bridge No3 rebuilt by the Wendover Arm Trust in 2001 and opened by actor David Suchet (Inspector Poirot) - just beyond is the limit of navigation
An old stop lock which must have had something to do with water supply from the Tringford Pumping Station
Back to Bulbourne Junction to continue down the Grand Union
Bulbourne dry dock services and DIY hire beside Marsworth 45 Top Lock
Seven locks later and we turned again onto the narrow canal to Aylesbury, with a staircase of two locks to commence the journey, the only ones on the Grand Union. There were then 16 locks over about six miles to Aylesbury. It's reputed to be one of the most peaceful canals in the country, and it was idyllic despite the grey day. It felt strange to work the 7ft wide locks again - they're so much quicker to fill and empty, of course it helped that we were about the only narrowboat on that part of the cut!
After getting through eight locks dusk was falling and we had no choice but to moor up for the night. Barry set off to explore on his bike again, and discovered that we were very close to the last place where a witch hunt occurred in Wilstone Village.
Sandra trying desperately to hold the gates closed and not fall in!
Through the top lock
Probably doesn't look much different to 150 years ago!!
Marsworth Reservoir for feeding the Grand Union Canal
Marsworth Lock No 39
Lower Icknield Way Bridge constructed with two arches when the canal was built to accommodate another set of parallel locks which never eventuated
Marsworth Locks 1 & 2 are a staircase lock (the bottom gate of one lock is also the top gate of the lower lock) - similar to the Bingley Five and Three Rise locks, and Bratch locks
Now why are the lock gates hinged on the far side?
... and from the other direction
No shortage of water coming over the gates
Looking back over the Grand Union towards Marsworth Church
... and these will be our last taste of narrow locks for the remainder of our trip
Barry took a bike ride through Wilstone Village where in 1751 a dastardly act took place according to local legend at Dinah's pond in Watery Lane. Even today many old villagers would not stroll down there at midnight! An accused Witch was subject to a trial by ducking, the last to take place in the county, having been outlawed for 16 years. The unfortunate woman Ruth Osborne drowned and the inquest was held at the Half Moon Pub. The main perpetrator was tried at Hertford and condemned to hang in chains on Wilstone Green (The Witches Tale)
That evening there was an amazing autumnal sunset with an orange orb in sky, but sadly it was blocked by trees in the foreground so we didn't manage any photos. Happily, as our diesel tank was now full, we were able to enjoy a peaceful, cosy and warm night in, blogging and reading.