Stoke Bruerne is supposedly the archetypal “canal village”, and with decent pubs and restaurants, busy locks and a Canal Museum it is unsurprisingly busy. The morning weather was forecast to improve, so we locked up the seven lock Stoke Bruerne flight in company with an ex Naval Engineer and serious long distance walker plus his lady friend from San Francisco on an old boat, and moored right at the top in time for lunch, where it proceeded to get busy.
The Captain was duly examined again, and although bathing his scratches had helped, the inside of his ears were starting to look as though he was suffering an infestation of ear mites. He was clearly a bit uncomfortable, but didn’t seem too bothered, and the nearest vets were in Towcester and Northampton, both a significant taxi trip away, so procrastination was the order of the day.
Fortunately for the purser, the Canal Shop was closed for some reason. Let’s face it, we didn’t really need any Rosie and Jim knitted toys.
As well as the extra bridge hole. the narrow “second” top lock still exists, although it’s not in use.
The sun duly came out at lunchtime, everywhere got very busy, and the best place to watch the proceedings was from the upstairs door/window of the Canal Museum.
The original plan was possibly to stay in Stoke Bruerne for a day or so before mooring up in Gayton Marina (just up the water at Blisworth Junction) for the annual pilgrimage to Sidmouth. But with all the boats buzzing around, the possible need for a vet, the call of the River Nene, and promise of a decent and inexpensive marina mooring in the middle of Northampton for a couple of weeks, we decided to head off through Blisworth Tunnel, and give us a chance of reaching Northampton the next day.
At over 3000 yards, Blisworth Tunnel is third longest useable tunnel on the network, and surprisingly the first real serious tunnel we’d taken Song & Dance through (ignoring a few that were little more than bridges on steroids). Wide enough to allow two narrowboats to pass, it wasn’t as big a challenge to steer the boat through as some though.
Biggles was eminently impressed with the moorings in Blisworth, the other side of the tunnel: the towpath runs along a pleasant selection of back gardens with open fences just ripe for him to explore, while we went off to explore the town, and possible land based trips to a vet. Stopping at the pub (surely not!) we bumped into our companions from the morning’s locking exercises: they were looking at mooring up for a week or so at Gayton: we said they could have the space we’d tentatively reserved…