Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Whatever the weather

We get cabin fever when we've hung around too long in one place so a couple of days ago we decided that, damn the weather, we'd head off north from Milton Keynes.
We had a new plan - I like a plan - and that was to get through Buckby Locks before they shut for maintenance, then Braunston and up the North Oxford to Rugby. The only thing against us was the weather.
Yesterday, despite the forecasters tales of woe, was delightful - bitingly cold in the wind but bright, sunny. A perfect winter's day. We looped round the edge of Milton Keynes then through Wolverton where the old railway sheds that were cloaked in scaffolding when we were last here have re-appeared all redeveloped while retaining their original structures in an award winning £65m scheme, with blocks of modern flats built opposite.
Apparently Wolverton was the world's first railway town and the works were there because it was mid-distance between London and Birmingham. A rather sorry for itself looking and vegetation shrouded cast iron canal bridge was the original line into the works and built by Robert Stephenson. It's Grade II* listed - and deserves to be better kept than it is.
At Cosgrove the canal travels on an aqueduct over the River Great Ouse and the extent of the river flooding in all directions made us gasp.
Last night we moored at the foot of the seven Stoke Bruerne locks and listened to dire warnings of storm force winds and heavy rain. Well the winds were about this morning but where was the rain? Eventually we decided to chance it and went up the locks teamed with another madcap boater. They really were on a mission – aiming to reach Chester by the 17th. Of February.
Stoke Bruerne was shut (museum and cafe that is) so we pressed on through the Blisworth Tunnel. And still the rain hadn't fallen. In the end I got wetter in the tunnel than outside - huge quantities of water were cascading down from the tunnel ventilation shafts as well as pouring in through drainage holes in the walls.
Tonight the rain has finally reached us and the winds are fiercer still, rattling the doors and windows. But we are safely moored up somewhere in the countryside just short of Bugbrooke.
It's been quite a couple of days!

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