Great Linford and Return

We are off on a canal adventure on the Grand Union canal. Leaving from Gayton Marina, we will be a party of four.

Setting off

We arrive on a Tuesday, taking a 4-night break as opposed to a 7-night stay and plan on going southwards towards Milton Keynes with only 16 locks in all.

Our administrator greets us and also introduces us to an engineer who explains to us the workings of our boat, which is called Capped Heron, including how to use the diesel-powered fuel stove.

The forecast for tomorrow and the following days is not as good as the weather today, so we decide that this first day we will not stop at Stoke Bruerne - which would be the normal first night stop.

We cruise very gently down the Northampton arm to Blisworth junction and turn left onto the main arm of the Grand Union. In about an hour, we are at the amazing Blisworth tunnel.

We have been told that this is wide enough for 2 boats, so we don't have to worry about bumping into anyone, so long as we keep to the right.

After around 45 minutes we come to the exit of the tunnel, where it is only a short walk from here to Stoke Bruerne with its 2 pubs, Indian restaurant and National Waterways Museum. A very good place to stop if you started travelling between 3 and 4pm.

There are two locks by the Boat House Inn and the Navigation, where a short walk down the towpath, there are another two.

At Bridge 54 by one of the locks, there are some rather colourful mosaics as well. We have quite an audience through the first few locks and offers of help which is nice but thankfully unnecessary. Once through the locks, we travel into countryside again and as the light starts to fade, we start looking for moorings.

The next day

The next morning, we are up bright and early. We take a look at the map and work out that we are at a village called Yardley Gobion. We think that if we walked over the bridge we would be in the village and according to our guide book, there is a pub there called the Coffee Pot tavern.

After a very hearty breakfast we set off again. We cruise slowly through miles of countryside passing lots of different wildlife - herons, pheasant and the occasional bicycle. We stop at Old Wolverton, there are good moorings, and a sign tells us a short walk to the shops.

We are aiming to be at the Plough at Simpson for this evening's meal, the plan is to moor there then tomorrow travel onwards to the lock at Fenny Stratford.

The overall feeling though is of countryside, but also there is an advantage of being near a major town where we are passing several pubs. The Galleon looks rather nice and so does the New Inn and the Black Horse.

Onwards we go there is always something interesting to look at whether it be an unusually named boat, an interesting garden, or spotting something of interest architecturally. Great Linford's a medieval village and you can spot Gothic style church turrets in the distance like mini castles.

We finally reach our destination at Simpson and moor up. The pub has been recently renovated and the restaurant is lovely, think stone floors and oak furniture, leather dining chairs and the menu is Italian.

Heading home

The next day we are up bright and early. Today is turnaround day, we have to go through the lock at Fenny Stratford and then use the winding hole just past Bridge 96. We have been told that this lock is quite unusual and when we reach it we can see why - there is a bridge in the middle of it.

Today we are planning on getting as far as Cosgrove to the pub we had been aiming for on our first afternoon.

Then we plan to get to Blisworth leaving less than an hour to travel back to Gayton. So, its back the way we came - the Royal Oak at Blisworth is great. A converted barn attached to the pub has been set up as a restaurant, would definitely recommend.

We cruised into Gayton marina at around nine the next morning and were home in Worcester later that evening. A smashing time was had by all.

Marina: Gayton Boat: Heron |  Blog written by Becky.

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