Old Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne Along the Grand Union
Disclaimer: Photo Heavy post
Beautiful blue skies stretched out across the Northamptonshire countryside as we stepped out on the path down to the River Ouse, and our crossing over into the Cosgrove fields, beside the converted mill buildings, the Grand Union Canal laying beyond the distant hedgerows.
Old Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne Along the Grand Union
As regular readers will know I’ve walked a fair chunk of the Grand union canal this year already, having had long walks from Fenny Stratford to Old Wolverton and Tring to Milton Keynes, well the next stage in my efforts to eventually have traversed the entire canal, logically is the stage from Old Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne, shorter than the previous walks but still a challenge.
For once my walk would not be alone, this time I was joined on my ramble by Zoe and Bubs.
Bubs “Vlogging” as we walked (not sure how that is a comfortable position for someones feet).
Zoe Crossing the River Ouse.
After filling up for our walk at our usual breakfast spot (Wolverton House), we decided that rather than walk along the canal and cross the Aqueduct (a spot Zoe is not hugely keen on walking, due to its height) we would instead cross the Ouse by the old mill buildings (see photo above of Zoe), and then head out across the fields, thankfully not full of cattle today, and meet up with the canal as it branches off onto the, now disused, Buckingham Arm.
As we walked across those grassy fields, the colours of autumn were brought out beautifully by the deep blue skies, the rich browns, deep reds, and luxurious yellows, of the slowly decaying leaves, the lush greens of fresh grass and the muddy browns of the ploughed fields all looking splendid.
Green fields and blue skies
Walking the small wooded area before the canal was a feast for the eyes and ears as the dried leaves crunched under our feet, old conkers, and their now empty shells littered the floor of the well worn path, while Grey Squirrels chased each other around moss covered tree trunks, or bounded from leafless branch to ivy covered shelter.
Bubs was as excited to try and capture these furry critters on her action camera as I am to use my long lens at times.
Bubs trying to capture the energetic squirrel on her action camera
Soon the canal was stretching out before us, a careful crossing of one of the more rickety locks and we were bimbling along the towpath passed walled gardens with hidden Alpaca, Campsites shrouded by tall hedges and trees, and public houses with welcoming “pub gardens” alive with families in the summer months but abandoned to the mallards at this time of year.
As we walked on along the canal, overhead small flocks of Golden Plover wheeled in the lightly clouded sky, at times tough to pick out as their pale undersides disappeared against the fluffy white clouds, large groups of Lapwing also flew through, often accompanied by small parties of Jackdaw or Starling. A single Raven croaked loudly from the top of a distant fir tree, and all the while the electric buzz of Skylark could be heard, either flying through or climbing high up int the azure blue singing like it was back in spring.
It’s odd how you can associate a landmark with one place, there is an old water tower, along the railway, that I can see from the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, I always associate it with there, so to see it from well beyond Cosgrove totally threw me when Zoe talked about climbing it as a kid, I was convinced it was a different tower for a while, and yeah I don’t get how she can climb a water tower but can’t cross a bridge if it is too high!
While talking of Landmarks, there was one constant on our walk, beside the canal of course, and that is the church tower at Hanslope, we never got very close but nearly the whole walk it can be seen in the distance looming over the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire countryside.
The distant spire of Hanslope Church
It gets to a point in any long, solo, walk where the head drops and the scenery seems to blend into itself, it usually occurs as you begin to tire and are in need of a little food. For once though I had company, and that inevitable drop was held at bay by round after round of 20 Questions or the Alphabet game, encouraged by the smallest member of our group.
Having an 8 year old with you can throw up interesting questions, today’s was the curiosity as to why the, obviously male, sheep was wearing an odd harness? Explaining tupping while walking the Grand Union canal is an experience all parents should have.
Sheep fields along the Grand Union Canal
Arriving at Stoke Bruerne
After much walking we soon arrived at Stoke Bruerne, an exciting moment, elation upon realising that we had made it, a few snapshots at the welcome sign, and then the realisation that there was still quite a way to go!
Welcome to Stoke Bruerne
We picked our way passed what I can only assume was a fishing competition, as double figures of older men were packing up long poles, and small boxes of maggots. And headed towards a long line of Locks. As we walked we watched the canal boat owners opening and closing lock gates, or stood with fascination as boats appeared out of nowhere, or slowly sank without trace, rising and sinking on the green waters of the canal as they moved up or passed down the canal. Crisscrossing the complex of locks ourselves as we chased the remains of the towpaths on our final few steps.
Eventually we did arrive at the canal museum, cafe and the end of our trek. Sitting down for a cold drink and an icecream, before eventually finding a local bus to whisk us back home, a long walk completed a sense of pride in ourselves and each other found and an ache or two in our weary bodies.
Barge exiting the lock complex at Stoke Bruerne
Zoe tentatively crossing the final lock of the day
The end of the road
Old Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne Walk Stats
The final route from Old Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne was 7.83 miles, and took us, a very slow, 5 hours 44 minutes, but we were Geocaching and walking slowly.