Travel north along the Ouzel Valley through the parks of Milton Keynes and over the Aqueducts at Wolverton Cosgrove and then on to the picturesque Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne. Take your boat up through the flight of seven locks and on through the nearly two mile long Blisworth Tunnel and on to Gayton Junction...
Your journey leads you through the valley of the Ouzel with its picturesque hills and open countryside. The surrounding countryside is very pleasant, soon you will reach the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Once you have passed through the city and it’s urban surroundings you’ll cross the Great Ouse Aqueduct and pass through Cosgrove lock. Once you have reached the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne locks, you can moor up and walk up to the Canal Museum which is a great place to explore the past of the canals. If you want to stretch your legs after all the cruising, there are a number of footpaths that lead away from the Museum, which are well worth exploring.
Take in the interesting Stoke Bruerne canal museum and go up the additional 7 locks to reach the 2-mile long Blisworth Tunnel. Once on the other side, the picturesque village of Blisworth is well worth a visit before this route reaches its turning point at Gayton Junction.
Once you are ready to leave the hire base, turn South on the Grand Union Canal and head towards your first lock, Grove Lock. There is a great number of locks to be tackled on this short stretch of waterway, so this is your first opportunity to get used to the procedure. The canal winds through open countryside, which appears quite empty and isolated at times, but gives a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Leighton Buzzard. The locks are well spaced out here and most of them have a nice, picturesque setting.
Once you have reached Marsworth, turn right and enter the Aylesbury arm. While you are here, you should definitely pay the Marsworth Reservoir a visit. It doesn’t only supply the Grand Union Canal with water, but is also a great nature reserve. Especially in the evenings a stroll around the nature reserve is perfect for spotting the abundant wildlife, including a variety of birds, here. It’s time to carry on along the Aylesbury arm now. You’ll find a number of narrow locks here. These are only a little bit wider than your boat, in contrast to the wide locks you have encountered on the Grand Union Canal so far. However, you’ll soon get used to the limited space and slowly but steadily approach the turning point of your short break on the Grand Union Canal. The Aylesbury Arm is very much remote for most of its length until it reaches the outskirts of Aylesbury itself. There are nice moorings at Aylesbury Basin, with the town center only a 3 minute walk away. The basin is a perfect place to stay for the night and give you plenty of opportunity to have a meal and perhaps a drink before you head back towards the hire base in Leighton Buzzard.
Head South from the hire base in Leighton Buzzard through the beautiful Chiltern hills until you reach the pretty settlement of Marsworth. Can you spy the lion cut in the chalk at Whipsnade hill? Nature lovers will enjoy a stopover at one of the reservoirs at Marworth, which have been turned into Nature reserves. Don’t forget your binoculars and try to spot Herons, Swans, Dunlins and Common Sandpipers. Once you are ready to carry on, you need to work your way through the 7 Bulbourne locks. Now you cruise along a 3-mile cutting which is usually teeming with Kingfishers, so don’t put your binoculars away just yet. The canal starts to descend towards London now and passes pretty villages and even prettier countryside until you reach Cassiobury Park, which is also the turning point for your canal journey this time.
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