Cheddington Bridge to Cowroast
One of Oleanna's mushroom vents started playing a one note tune last night. We had a sudden downpour in the early hours, which is our first overnight rain since we’ve been living on Oleanna. One of the domed tops must have just been catching the heavy rain at the right angle to be rung like a bell. It sounded like the rain had set in and that today would be a wet one, but when we got up all was dry.
The hirers we’d met yesterday came past in the opposite direction just after we’d had breakfast so our continued journey up hill would not be slowed down by them today. At 11.30 we finally pushed off and waved goodbye to the Margees house, a swan was happily sitting on her nest in the corner of the garden.
Lock 37 and 38 were empty and the pound between them was very low, almost two foot down by the time we’d made our way up in the first chamber. They both had bottom leaking gates and the top gates of the first lock really wanted to stay open, this would gradually empty the pound even more, so I stayed and persuaded them to stay put whilst Mick moved Oleanna up to the next lock. The long pound above was also low, water was being back pumped to try to lift the level.
The cottage on the outskirts of Marsworth reminded me of an upside down version of Le Corbusiers Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut.
We pulled in opposite the services at the bottom of the main flight of Marsworth for a bite to eat and empty our yellow water tank. There was a boat coming up the staircase lock at the beginning of the Aylesbury Arm so we took our time in reaching the next lock, however they didn’t follow us so we went up solo. Here the gongoozling started. Two young lads raced up to the lock beam and leaned against it in readiness to push, this they did expertly and they closed it after us too, they said they were regulars.
Round the side of the reservoir to the next lock, we pulled in as two boats were about to come down assisted by a volunteer. As they left Keith introduced himself fully asked how far we’d be going today and then asked if it would be alright for him to go ahead and set the next lock for us. Of course it was. He was one of those chaps who gives you very useful information if you’ve not been that way before, and if you have he still gives it to you.
Here we were joined by NB Book and Spud. They had family with them for the weekend who were novices. I worked one side whilst they all chatted and worked the other. With Keith setting everything ahead we made good progress up the flight. It being a sunny Sunday we had quite a lot of people watching as we went. Keith offered us more advice at the top on journey times before he picked up his bag and headed for home. He’d said that there had been lots of space on the moorings at Bulbourne this morning, but as we made our way along it was the busiest we’ve ever seen it, not a space to be had anywhere.
So we continued on through the cutting and decided to try our luck at Cowroast. Just as the cutting was diminishing a bird flew straight towards us, skimming over the full length of Oleanna and just lifting to within a couple of feet of our heads. It’s orange breast and the fish in it’s mouth gave it away before we turned to see the flash of electric blue dart just above the water. One of those moments when we wished we had a webcam on the front of the cratch.
When we pulled in our depth was a problem again, but we really didn’t want to carry on any further, so we tied up with the stern slightly out from the bank (we really must get a plank sometime soon). Because we were sitting on the bottom Mick decided to see what depth we were. Around 2ft 6” or 7”! In the bible that came with Oleanna it says that we should be 2ft 3” fully laden, the water tank isn’t full but we will need to loose some ballast to sit at that depth.
9 locks, 5.02 miles, 1 swan sitting, 2 very low pounds, 6 hirers waving goodbye, 2 keen beam pushers, 4 on a boat, 7 locks shared, 1 Keith, 2 leftish straight ons, 1 deep cutting, 2 grandparents 1 grandchild playing Boo! very badly, 1 low flying Kingfisher, 30” deep! 1 large leap for a cat.