It rained during the night, but neither of us heard it. We set off before 8.30, in blustery conditions, grey skies, and rain in the air. The first of the remaining Stoke Bruerne locks was full, but the others were empty. The pounds in between are quite wide, and Adrian had to fight to stop the wind taking Briar Rose over to the far side. There was a boat coming up the bottom lock, which meant it was ready for us.
By the time we reached the foot of the flight, the sky had cleared and the sun was out -- but it was still extremely windy. At times, steering and direction of travel had very little in common. However, the Northamptonshire countryside is charming, and the Grand Union has some fine bridges.
One of the finest is at Cosgrove, where we stopped to fill up with water.
We had to fight to get away from the bank at Cosgrove, and there were waves on the water on the approch to Cosgrove lock (where we had our photo taken by a woman who thanked us for coming through at just the right time!) Shortly after the lock comes the Iron Trunk aqueduct over the Ouse.
We stopped at Wolverton for lunch and to visit Tesco. We struggled to moor up because of the strength of the wind -- a boater who came to help said he'd needed five people to get his boat in earlier in the day; they'd come from the surrounding flats to help him. Since we were last here, the new flats have been completed, and the old railway building has been converted into houses and offices.
There's a modern aqueduct over a dual carriageway a little further on. The winding hole just beyond is where we turned when we came this way on Debdale four years ago, so the rest of the Grand Union is virgin territory for us. At Great Linford there's a pretty church and a lovely wharf house.
We stopped for a while at Giffard Park, tired of the wind. But having had a look around we decided to carry on into Milton Keynes proper, and went another half an hour to Campbell Park. We moored opposite the park, and walked up into the town centre. It's quite a long walk, but the park is full of interest, with a cricket ground and a band stand, each with natural amphitheatre seating. We achieved our main goal: buying a new kettle. What's more, the famous concrete cows have been relocated to the shopping centre.
It's still windy, and will continue to be so tomorrow, if the forecast is to be believed.
14 miles, 6 locks. (46 miles, 24 locks)