Thursday 10 June 2021

Partial solar eclipse and an old lock at Cosgrove

I have some catching up to do as I have neglected this blog for quite a few days - oops! First, did you see the partial eclipse of the sun today? We had enough sunshine in Bletchley for me to project the sun onto a white card using a pair of cheap binoculars.
Nothing like as impressive as a total eclipse (which I was fortunate to see in France in 1999), but it's nice to see the moon nibbling away at the sun. There was no discernible darkening of the surroundings - that only happened when the odd cloud passed in front of the sun.
Now back to the business of catching up.

Thursday 3rd June 2021

Josiah was raring to go, having put on his lifejacket, so we set off immediately after breakfast.  The canal was covered in places with furry seeds.
I think they came from willow trees.
At Cosgrove we stopped to explore the horse tunnel under the canal and looked round the church.
And here's Josiah in the mouth of the horse tunnel.
Back on board, we continued down Cosgrove Lock, across the aqueduct and tied up just before the Galleon.  Ally came to collect Josiah leaving us to have a quiet evening on our own.  We walked through the Ouse Valley Park to the Iron Trunk Aqueduct over the Great Ouse.  The footpaths here, as in many parts of Milton Keynes, are of very high quality being smooth and wheelchair-friendly.  It felt odd walking on these paths through fields of grazing cattle.

There are some nice photos to be had of the aqueduct leaping over the river.  But here are mine.
Having walked through the horse tunnel immediately to the south of the aqueduct we looked for evidence of the former locks which led down to a crossing of the Great Ouse on the level. Here's what we found: a gate and a lock chamber, still in remarkably good condition given the length of time since it was last used. The current iron trunk aqueduct was opened in 1811 and I can't imagine anyone wanting to use slow and wasteful locks when they could go straight across, so perhaps the old locks fell into disuse from then. (I suppose they might have been used if the aqueduct was closed for maintenance.)
Jan noticed a strange phenomenon in the sky while we were at the lock. I don't think I've seen a red rainbow before.
The sun was setting and turning deep red, hence the apparent lack of other colours in the rainbow.
After looking at the sunset over the aqueduct we returned to the boat.

Wednesday 2 June 2021

He'll make a fine lock boy

After Stowe Hill (was it Flore?) there was work going on around an overspill weir.
That's what it looked like, anyway.
We had a salad lunch in shifts on the move, and stopped at Blisworth just past Candle Bridge for grandchildren Josiah and Micah to join us, with their parents Ally and Ben. It's a good job we stopped at the first available mooring as there was easy car parking there, whereas opposite the mill a new development has blocked access.

We all enjoyed the trip through Blisworth Tunnel and went straight on to the locks, where there were plenty of gongoozlers at the top lock.
Micah mostly stayed on the boat with Ally ...
... but five-year-old Josiah got stuck in, helping with opening and closing gates.
After tying up at the bottom I cycled back to retrieve Ally and Ben's vehicle, then we all ate at the Navigation. Josiah is staying with us overnight; we will rendezvous with his parents at Old Wolverton tomorrow.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Exploring the Royal Ordnance Depot, Weedon

Until today I had never seen inside the former Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon. I shall write more about this below; meanwhile here's a picture to be going on with.
I wrote yesterday about the cow parsley footpath - this is it, running from Butcher's Bridge to Nibbet's Lane.
From the path, looking towards Braunston Church, the field is a mass of buttercups.
As we had breakfast a stream of boats went past in the direction of the locks, so we delayed starting until they had had a chance to get through. Eventually the traffic seemed to ease, so we waited for a boat coming along behind us and then set off.

We had to wait for a pair of boats in front of us to enter the bottom lock, then it was a slow process as we waited for oncoming boats to use each lock as we left it.

I watched a pied wagtail flit back and forth across the tail of the bottom lock; then further up the flight I managed to photograph a yellow(?) grey wagtail on the lockside. (Thanks to Adam for the correction.)
Our passage was calm and orderly, but it took an age.
It was a similar story down the Buckby flight. At last we reached Weedon, where we tied up and had tea on board. Then we walked to the former Royal Ordnance Depot where we found we could actually get in to the site.
It's amazing! We could walk through the open gates, past an unmanned security cabin and all round the area. The buildings were made to store small arms, cannon and gunpowder.
It all looks rather decayed, but the buildings themselves look in good condition. Many now house industrial units.  Where the tarmac and concrete have crumbled away a railway line is revealed.
Running through the middle of the site - indeed, the focus - is the former arm of the Grand Union Canal. The level has dropped and it is obviously silted up but, thankfully, it has not been prettified. It is almost as if it hasn't been touched since the last boat left, probably several decades ago.
There is more information on The Depot's website here. Look - here's a lovely old-fashioned lift with those rattly cage-like doors!
And, finally, another view of the Ordnance Canal.
Updated for correction