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9. Inlanding to London – 1989

Grand Union

Day 9. Stoke Bruerne to Black Horse Bridge 

09.08.89
11 miles – 8 locks – 7 hours

Another slow rise this morning, a leisurely breakfast, and a walk to the water point. It’s a chatting-at-the-water-point kind of a morning. I’m enjoying the daily routine of readying the boat, and myself, for ‘getting ahead’.

To me the most interesting part of the journey today (with the possible exception of crossing the aqueduct over the Great Ouse – see below) was in the first hour, namely the seven-lock Stoke Bruerne descent. It’s amazing what physical labour can be expended in dropping just 40ft. down a hillside in the company of a bearded sage in a ‘Brummagen’ and an overtly cheery family offering cake and coffee at every lock… a wonderful morning!

And then on through a quiet rural stretch of open fields dotted with accommodation bridges and the double-barrelled villages of Grafton Regis and Yardley Gobion towards the ‘imposition’ of Milton Keynes.

Medieval field patterns nr. Yardley Gobion…
Cosgrove Lock in the 1970’s – photo by Ian J. Wilson
Across the Great Ouse aqueduct between Cosgrove and Old Wolverton…
The view looking out from the aqueduct…
The view from the River Ouse, looking up towards the aqueduct…
The ‘Black Horse’ at Great Linford…
An older view of the ‘Black Horse’

Milton Keynes seems to me a ‘Stepford Wives’ kind of place, rootless and over-planned, rigorous and rigid in equal measure. It’s not my kind of place really.

I end up mooring between the Black Horse pub and Linford Wharf. I’m attracted to the ‘Black Horse’ as, outwardly at least, it seems to be a little bit of authenticity in this odd stage-set of a developing new town. The pub is a lovely old building, but truth is the history of the old building is being squeezed and contorted to meet the demands of a brewery chain, and the place inside, though pleasant enough just didn’t feel genuine. It isn’t what I’m seeking as an antidote to the peculiar depression that has descended as I’ve neared Milton Keynes.

Approaching Linford Wharf…
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