Braunston Marina to Paddington Basin: August 28, 2012 - September 8, 2012 99.75 miles 90 locks 2 tunnels

Braunston Marina

Braunston Marina, Northamptonshire

Little Blue's base.

Weedon Bec

Bridge 24, Weedon Bec, August 28, 2012

Approximately 9.25 miles from Braunston Turn. This section included 13 locks in total: the Braunston Flight consisting of 6 and Buckby Lock Flight consisting of 7. The Braunston Flight is closely followed by the Braunston Tunnel which is 2042 yards. Quite an exhausting day.

Cruising hours:    7
Miles:             9.25
Locks:            13

Cumulative hours:  7
Cumulative miles:  9.25
Cumulative locks: 13

Stoke Bruerne

Stoke Bruerne, August 29, 2012

Approximately 12 miles from Weedon Bec. This section has only 1 lock (luxury!) and that's lock 14 at Stoke Bruerne. The big test on this section is the Blisworth Tunnel which is 3057 yards long - the third longest canal tunnel open to navigation in Britain. If you happen to go through the tunnel, be sure to wear a waterproof jacket and hat as freezing water poors through some sections just to add to the fun. Once through, you feel a sense of achievement - at least I did! Stoke Bruerne is a canal village and home to the Canal Museum.

Cruising hours:    5
Miles:            12
Locks:             1

Cumulative hours: 12
Cumulative miles: 21.25
Cumulative locks: 14

Fenny Stratford

Fenny Stratford, August 30, 2012

Approximately 17 miles from Stoke Bruerne. This section has 7 locks and features the Great Ouse Aqueduct - an iron trough standing on stone pillars - just north of Old Wolverton. The section through Milton Keynes seems to go on forever, twisting it's way south to Fenny Stratford.

Cruising hours:    7
Miles:            17
Locks:             7

Cumulative hours: 19
Cumulative miles: 38.25
Cumulative locks: 21

Old Linslade

Bridge 110, Old Linslade, August 31, 2012

Stratford Fenny isn't too far from Leighton Buzzard so before leaving I caught the train to there as I needed a laundrette - few and far between on the canal - and to do some food shopping. When I got to Leighton Buzzard I discovered Tesco has a wharf and I could have tied up outside the store - which is useful.

5 miles 5 locks, including Soulbury Three Locks. Ferry Stratford lock is different - it has a swing bridge going across it. You open the bridge before entering the lock.

Cruising hours:    3
Miles:             5
Locks:             5

Cumulative hours: 22
Cumulative miles: 43.25
Cumulative locks: 26


Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, September 1, 2012

8 miles from Old Linsdale and 10 locks to negotiate. I stopped at the first lock - Leighton Lock - to fill up my water tank. Cruising hours means the hours Little Blue's engine is running. I can't remember why it was running for 8 hours on this leg. Must have been difficult locks!

On my return journey I realised Leighton Lock doesn't have a water point. I'm not sure now where I filled my water tank!

Cruising hours:    8
Miles:             8
Locks:            10

Cumulative hours: 30
Cumulative miles: 51.25
Cumulative locks: 36

Northchurch Berkhamsted

Northchurch, Berkhamsted, September 2, 2012

7 miles and 12 locks made up the journey to Northchurch from my previous stop Cheddington. It was good going to do that in 5 hours. I'm writing this retrospectively and can't remember why I made such good time on this leg and not so good on the previous leg. I had company on some of the locks, in terms of another boat, which means more man power to negotiate them and as a result less time is spent passing through them. The tenth lock on this leg is Cowroast Lock, which I think is a great name, providing you're not vegetarian!

Cruising hours:    5
Miles:             7
Locks:            12

Cumulative hours: 35
Cumulative miles: 58.25
Cumulative miles: 48

Fisheries Lock Hemel Hempstead

Fisheries Lock, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, September 3,4, 2012

4.5 miles and 15 locks to get from Northchurch to Fisheries Lock Boxmoor. I struck lucky on this leg. A Canal & Rivers Trust workboat, with manpower specifically to do the locks, was travelling from Northchurch to Hemel Hempstead at the same time, so I doubled up with them through the locks until they went aground, which was when I thought my luck had run out. Fortunately, another boat came along that I'd met earlier on my journey and I continued down to Fisheries lock with them. A good day.

Cruising hours:    6
Miles:             4.5
Locks:            15

Cumulative hours: 41
Cumulative miles: 62.75
Cumulative locks: 63


Batchworth Lock, Rickmansworth, September 5, 2012

10 miles and 18 locks. That's my record. Must be downhill all the way! Again I was doubled up with other boats for many of the locks. I remember being so exhausted by the Batchworth I couldn't go further. It was just a question of finding somewhere ok to tie up. It was only later that I realised I'd gone through 18 locks which explained the exhaustion. Some nice countryside in parts of this leg.

Cruising hours:    8
Miles:            10
Locks:            18

Cumulative hours: 49
Cumulative miles: 72.75
Cumulative locks: 81

Denham Marina Uxbridge

Denham Marina, Uxbridge, September 6,7, 2012

6.5 miles and 8 locks. Large sections of the route are characterised by constant streams of boats tied up along the towpath, which isn't a problem but it does mean you should restrict your speed. With that in mind I made reasonable time to Denham Marina where I booked in for a couple of night's stay before continuing on to Paddington. As I mentioned before, laundrettes are few and far between on the cut (canal). Fortunately, while chatting with a man on another boat, I found out they'll do your laundry for you at Cowley Lock - drop off and collect next day. I did that and collected on Saturday morning en route to Paddington. Great service.

Cruising hours:    4
Miles:             6.5
Locks:             8

Cumulative hours: 53
Cumulative miles: 79.25
Cumulative locks: 89

Paddington Basin

Paddington Basin, September 8, 2012

The last leg of the journey to Paddington. 19 miles and just 1 lock - Cowley - where I picked up my washing. This is the only leg of the journey when I had crew. My friend Peter joined me at Uxbridge, Dave from the towpath at Hayes and Ian at Alperton. This made it a bit of a social occasion en route and in Maida Vale when we arrived and tied up in Paddington Basin.

I seem to have lost 1.5 miles somewhere (easily done!). Little Blue doesn't have a mileometer, just a meter recording total cruising hours and a rev counter, therefore the miles travelled each day are approximated from the Nicholson Waterways Guide: Grand Union Oxford & the South East.

Cruising hours:    8
Miles:            19
Locks:             1

Cumulative hours: 61
Cumulative miles: 98.25
Cumulative locks: 90