Stoke Bruerne Bound – 2nd July 2019

Considering we were wedged in between the M1 and rail line last night, we slept remarkably well. First order of the day after breakfast was to take Toque for a walk down to the bottom lock and check out the lay of the land.


On our return it was time to water Marlene’s beautiful flowers which we are currently taking all the credit for. Have had a few fellow boaters pass on their compliments but we are unable to set the record straight as to the true ownership as the boats whizz by one another.


Another magnificent morning as we set off to do the final three locks of the Buckby Flight and in some ways it felt like we were being set free from our prison of last night. The gates were not unlocked until 10.00am so we got to have a leisurely cup of tea and read the latest “Towpath” newspaper. This is the bible for any canal boater.


Update as to how Toque is going. She is still nervous of any loud bangs or bumps but she has the cute factor on full throttle. Sleeping arrangements are still in discussion but toilet issues are well under control. We let her off on the towpath when we are stopped waiting for locks or whatever and she has now discovered the English delicacy of bunny Pooh!! The stinging nettle is out in full bloom and are just waiting for her to acquaint herself with the peril.


From now to London it will be double wide locks all the time which really are not our favourites. Give us the single width locks anytime but if we want to see the south of England we just have to suck it up.

 


We found this date stamp on a lock stone of 1882. Certainly not the earliest of dates we have seen but it reminds you just how old the canal system is and that it is still working 200 years later with very few modifications and mostly just upkeep.


We have hit a milestone today when we came up to Gayton Junction. In 2017 we came this way on Ange De L’Eau after completing the Warwick ring and went down The Northampton arm and onto the River Nene. Therefore, anything south of here on the Grand Union we have not seen before. In general the Grand Union is a very wide canal and almost the width of a small river.


The mile post showing the distances along the stretches of the canals. During the Second World War all mile markers and directional signs were buried so as to confuse the Germans should they invade England.

This was the old Blisworth Mill which has since been converted to housing. Rather than pull old buildings down they have done some great repurposing of them in the UK.

It was pretty much after the mill and straight into the Blisworth tunnel. This is the third longest navigable tunnel in the UK after the Standedge and Dudley at a distance of 3076 yards. It took approximately half an hour for us to navigate our way through.


Straight out of the tunnel we got a mooring at a gorgeous little town called Stoke Bruerne which had a great collection of thatched roof cottages. Look closely on the top of the house and you can see a few animals made out of straw. The purpose for these animals in the old days of thatching was all about whether you paid the thatcher or not. Once the job was complete the thatcher would put an animal made of thatch on the roof and once you paid the bill he would return and remove it. Nothing like good old public shaming.

A short video of a couple of the houses near the local village green.


The Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum that we hope to visit tomorrow morning prior to heading down the Stoke Locks.


We were not aware there were any crocodiles in the UK but apparently there appears there is. We certainly had to do a double take until we realized a gentleman near the canal was looking a little sheepish and holding his jumper in a rather peculiar manner. It became apparent very quickly that he had a remote control and we enjoyed watching him as he sent the croc across to the pub alongside the canal. There were at least twenty people sitting outside on the table and chairs and it was most entertaining to see their reactions. The chap told us he made it himself and he has a rat and a shark that he loiters around the canals with. He said that he had to do something to entertain himself in retirement.


We dropped into one of the local pubs for a quick pint before heading back for a much needed sleep as all this fresh air and exercise is doing us the world of good.


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