Dashing down the Grand Union – days five and six

Days five and six saw us travel from Milton Keynes to the summit of the Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne with an overnight stop in Leighton Buzzard.

The trip to Leighton Buzzard was fairly uneventful and I didn’t take many photographs – just this shot of Fenny Stratford Lock with its central swing bridge. It barely seems worth the effort to raise the canal by just a foot!


We got there around lunchtime and spent an hour or so in Tesco topping up the supplies as the store is very close to the canal. This is the town that we use as our official postal address but it’s the first time we’ve actually visited it. I googled our ‘address’ and found that we were only a quarter of an hour away from it. Shame we didn’t have any mail waiting for us!

The next day, after yet another disgustingly early start, we were aiming to get to the bottom of the flight at Marsworth Junction. At the very first lock we met Mark and Jo and shared locks with them for the whole day. Double locks are so much easier when you halve the work!

LockingMarkJoAt one of the locks I saw this pair of doves, or as my friend Jane calls them ‘lovey doveys’. She keeps over a hundred of them at the delightful Jane’s Teas on the Oxford Canal and posts beautiful photographs on facebook. My shot is plain by comparison but I took it with her very much in mind.

LoveyDoveysWith Mark and Jo’s help, we reached Marsworth Junction at around 1 o’clock. The seven locks beyond this take you up, past a series of reservoirs, to the summit of the Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne. It’s in a lovely setting beside three reservoirs that were created to feed the canal and is reminiscent of the Tardebigge flight.


We decided to carry on and get to the top. There was a lock keeper on duty and we had lock buddies so it seemed to make sense.

Keith is an unusual volunteer lockie. He introduces himself by name saying ‘I’m Keith and I’m your CRT volunteer lock keeper today’ – very much like a waiter!


TopLockHe’s a mine of local information, happily answering any questions you have and throwing in little snippets that he feels might be of interest. He let us know, for example, that the Toll House at the top of the flight was used in the Harry Corbett film ‘The Bargee’. Worth googling the clip if you want to see the canal as it looked in the 60s.

This is what the toll house….

TollHouse….and the junction….

WelborneArm…look like now. As it turns out they’re still recognisable from the footage taken in the 60s.

Keith also told us that the bottom reservoir is a great spot for watching the sunset. We acted on his advice and took a walk down later. Unfortunately it was too cloudy for a spectaular sunset but the view was lovely and it was a great way to end the day.


If ever you’re going up or down the Marsworth Locks on a Saturday, you’re likely to encounter Keith. If you do, I’m sure you’ll experience the same cheerful courtesy that we did!

ByeByeKeithAt the end of day six we’d travelled a total of 74 miles and done 39 of the 107 locks leaving a very manageable 50 miles and 68 locks to do in 5 days.






This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s