Moist meandering through Milton Keynes

Cosgrove to Peartree Bridge: 8 miles

           “Big raincoat day,” the Captain declared this morning.  To put on heavy waterproof jackets (and rain hats) after weeks of cruising in sunshine felt, well, odd!  The rain came in different strengths – light rain, drenching rain, misty rain, varying its intensity frequently. From time to time the Captain deployed the big umbrella (to protect the engine room, of course!)
           After a rural start the arrival among the new apartments at Wolverton seemed rather sudden. These stylish buildings,

not there in 1999 (the last year of Cleddau’s Bletchley mooring) but definitely sighted during a trip down the GU in 2011, still surprise.  Smart high density living overlooking the canal – and now (an innovation since 2011?) a splendid figure has been installed. Is this Olympic inspired? Then, opposite in a rusted metal is another figure, this suggesting a railways link…

A Google search has revealed that they were installed in 2012, one referring to a velodrome that used to be nearby and the other to Wolverton’s railway town past.

           Just beyond the footbridge is an extensive wall mural: trains, trains, trains– with a few other historic modes of transport thrown in!          
          On the green watery corridor goes, interrupted only by bridges old,

relatively new and very modern.

            The Milton Keynes Corporation landscaped the burgeoning city beautifully: often there are children’s playgrounds,

there are sculptures, there are tall mature trees and flowering shrubs.

Pathways are well sign posted, seats are positioned on the towpath and calm well-tended parkland is easy on the eye.

Broadbeam boats become more frequent, some being smart homes,

others a dream umrealised.
            It was in the Willen Park area that the Captain had to mount a rescue operation – two of the three mooring pins of a boat had become loose and the boat was swinging across the canal.

While a coot coolly explored the towpath

and Boatwif hung onto Cleddau’s centre line the Captain deployed boathook and mallet to re-secure what seemed a wall of boat blocking the cut..
              On Bridge 82 is an important notice,

a reminder of the continuing efforts of the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust to construct a new broad canal between the two towns – as was being planned two hundred years ago in 1811. Read the Trust’s website  for the latest updates on this major project and on the launching of the new community boat on the Great Ouse at Bedford.
             On past green open spaces, past housing of different styles to the Milton Keynes Marina at Peartree Bridge.

To arrive at this marina as a visitor requires a degree of athleticism. There is a short (about fifteen feet) length of pontoon at right angles to the marina office. The pontoon (who knows why) is an island, the nearer end about four feet away from the land side. Slowly a boat has to be brought in, avoiding collision with the self-hire trip boat on one side and a moored newly painted boat on another. The bow must creep forward until a crew member can lasso a rope around a wobbly little bollard and then clambering  off (in Cleddau’s case), rope in hand, a sloping prow… all very easy for an Olympic gymnast or a person with long legs..
              Now Cleddau is tied up once again in Milton Keynes, enjoying some well-earned R&R after her venture onto the northern reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal at Chester and Ellesmere Port and her navigation of the Droitwich Canals. Plans have yet to be laid as to when the return to the Macc will start.  Just keep a lookout for an email or for a mainly red boat with a Welsh looking name and a Tudor rose on a canal near you…

           Captain’s stats: since departure in May – 303 miles, 364 locks and 9 waterways

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