Dawn’s canal boat holiday – Grand Union Canal

A member of our booking team at Waterways Holidays took to the waters again. Dawn, accompanied by friends, family and Meg the dog, booked a canal boating holiday on the narrowboat ‘Jade’ from the base at Linslade. We thought it might be useful to supply you with a day-to-day diary of a weekend boat hire from Linslade.

Hire Boat 'Jade'
Hire Boat ‘Jade’
Day 1 – We arrived at Linslade marina at 1 o’clock to collect the boat ‘Jade’. The marina is located 1/2 hour cruise north of Leighton Buzzard.

After studying our canal guide and chatting to the lovely staff at the marina, we took their advice and decided to cruise north from the Linslade marina with the hope of reaching the bottom locks before Stoke Bruerne and walking to the Canal Museum. This was the furthest that the marina staff advised for a weekend cruise. We boarded promptly at 1.30pm and set off with our boat instructor, Pete, after receiving tuition at the yard. After running through the lock tuition for the benefit of my novice boaters, Pete said his goodbyes. We started cruising at 3.50pm. The Canal navigates following the River Ouze and meanders much like the river up to Stoke Hammond. The landscape begins quite hilly with expansive woodland and then towards Soulbury flattens to reveal some very well maintained grounds.

Approaching Stoke Hammond
Approaching Stoke Hammond

We arrived at Stoke Hammond at around 5.15pm and cruised past what appeared to be an old pump house that was being used as part of someones farm grounds. Here we stopped off to pick up some freshly laid eggs for the following morning fry up. Just pass this farm is a connection to the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, if you fancy stopping off the stretch the dogs legs for a nice scenic walk.

We decided to stop for the night at 6.30pm stepping off our canal boat to eat at the Bridge Inn for some pub grub. Ideal for those with dogs and families, very accommodating.

Day 2 – Set off the following morning at 9.50am to begin our cruise towards Milton Keynes and Yardley Gobion.

We began by passing the outskirts of Milton Keynes with light industrial buildings to one side and a large nature reserve along the other, it’s a great route with ever changing landscape! We stopped at The Black Horse Bridge pub for a nice lunch at 1pm, we decided the weather was nice enough for eating in the pub garden with nice views of the canal. After starting off again we came across some professionally painted walls that appeared like graffiti and then passed over a main road on the Grafton Street Aqueduct with some impressive views.

Grand Union Canal - Aqueduct
Grand Union Canal – Aqueduct

We got a little way laid by the dredger boat on the water on the second day. A group of volunteers had dedicated their weekend to clearing up the waterways. Unfortunately their hard work did slow us a little, which meant we decided to turn an hour or so short of the Canal Museum. We came to the decision that it would be better to turn around rather than panic to get the boat back to Linslade on Monday morning! And of course, we knew we’d have to pass them again on our way back to the marina.  Just goes to show how tricky it can sometimes be to plan your route before hand.

We turned our hire boat at Yardley Gobion, a village just south of Stoke Bruerne, just past the pretty Solomon’s Bridge. Cruised back to Thrupp Wharf and ate dinner at The Navigation Pub. Here children and pets are welcome in the eating area or garden. There is a selection of real ales and bar food available, and it had a really friendly atmosphere.

Day 3- Departed Thrupp wharf at 10.30am to start heading back to the marina.

Heading back past Milton Keynes we noticed in the far distance what appeared the metal structure of a theme park ride, after further research we’ve determined this to be Gullivers Theme Park, featuring rides, splash zone and dinosaur area. If your travelling with the children and have a spare couple of hours, it looked at exciting place to stop! We cruised to a point along the canal an hour or so from the Linslade marina for our last supper- spent on board the boat. After our meal, we had a stroll up the tow path back toward the Soulbury Three Locks and enjoyed a nightcap at the lockside pub. By the way, the food looked great there too. Although you may choose to eat out at the Globe Inn on the last night, which also looked nice and served good food. (Mooring at the Globe in would have only left us 30 minutes cruising back to the marina, but we ran out of light!) Mooring just beyond the three locks left us with one hour’s cruising to get back on time.

We arrived at Linslade marina for 9am on Monday morning. Staff were ready and waiting for us. We were directed to our mooring and helped tie our boat up for the final time. We handed over the keys, off loaded our belongings and said a fond goodbye to our very comfortable home of three nights.

We all agreed, the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable as it was pretty active, but cruising along at 4 miles per hour, you get the relaxing feeling of watching the world go by. My novice boater friends fell totally in love with life on a narrowboat and have vowed to do it again… So the only question is where next?!

Linslade Marina
Linslade Marina
Facts about the Grand Union Canal:
  • link from London to the Midlands- once the busiest canal network in the country
  • constructed for transport from 1805
  • the 137 mile long canal is the longest single canal in Britain
  • the mainline Brentford to Birmingham consists of approximately 166 locks

More photos will be up for Dawn’s Boating Holiday on our Waterways Holidays Facebook page.

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To speak directly to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.