LNBP booking officer, Nigel Smith, guides us through another of his favourite trips – this time going from our base at Braunston to Wolverton..even onto London!

This article, I ask that it is read in conjunction with the route entitled Braunston to Milton Keynes submitted by my fellow skipper, Brian Tidbury, which you can find here. It involves a forensic look at the town of Wolverton which is located on the route.

Bordered by the Grand Union Canal to the North and East, Wolverton is a traditional railway town and today still sits astride the main London Euston to Birmingham rail line. With a proud medieval and industrial heritage, the town now manages to easily blend its heritage with a more modern outlook.

Though once a medieval settlement, the only visible remains are the Norman motte and bailey castle site next to the Holy Trinity Church. The town was chosen as the site of a major locomotive repair shop in the 1830s and the railway company built some 200 houses, a school, a church and a market for the hundreds of families that kept the trains running. A Farmers’ Market visits the town on the first and third Saturday of each month and offers locally produced and seasonal food and crafts.

In 2019, LNBP welcomed clients from outside of the UK and following conversations they chose to visit London using the town of Wolverton as a base. Wolverton is based approximately two miles south of the village of Cosgrove and is the start of the ‘clockwise’ flow of the canal around the town of Milton Keynes. It is described as a traditional railway town but let’s not forget that a good proportion of the West Coast railway follows the path of the Grand Union Canal.

This article is based on a five-mile stretch of the canal between Bridge 65 at Cosgrove for five miles southbound to Bridge 77, the suggestion for a mooring point is a few yards south of Bridge 71. Approaching from the north, the village of Cosgrove (Bridge 65) provides a combined sanitary station and the all-important watering point. Do not forget to top up the water tank here. After the water point, time to descend Cosgrove Lock, then approximately one and a half mile cruise to Bridge 71.

Just before Bridge 71, on the left-hand side of the canal (the tow path side) is a new development of canal side apartments with mooring rings. A metal footbridge at this location gives the escape from the canal into the town of Wolverton. The suggestion is not to moor here but simply cruise the extra couple of hundred yards to the south side of bridge 71. The murals on the opposite bank of old trains are the indication of where to moor.

When exiting the canal via the metal footbridge, you turn left or right onto the road, left takes you to the railway station, a walk of about two minutes (I will come back to this later). You can turn right and the town is about a three-to-four minute walk away, you are immediately met by Asda on the left and Tesco on the right but let us not forget the small independent shops, cafes etc along the main street.

As the title suggests, how is this connected to London? The train station provides a direct frequent semi-fast train to London Euston which is about 55-60 minutes away. Cheaper trains are available from 9.30am and our 2019 visitors managed to get some of their youngsters a £1 return ticket! You are asked to make your own enquiries into train times and fares. It is suggested that if you wish to purchase tickets in person, go to the booking office the evening before your intended day of travel.

Now getting back to Braunston. The first thing is check your water levels, if you have sufficient water, the first winding hole (somewhere to turn the boat) is about 10 minutes away to the south. Then make you way back to Cosgrove. Alternatively, you may wish to travel south about three miles to bridge 77. Here there are two points to wind the boat (either side of bridge 77). As you travel south, a water point exists on the opposite side of the canal just before bridge 77.

If the idea of London doesn’t appeal, Wolverton is also an ideal base for visiting the city of Milton Keynes. However the canal rotates around the town and the main centre of the town is a good walk away from the canal, consideration could be given to catching the train for a 2-3 minute train ride between the two stations. Located close to the railway station is a large ice rink that may be of interest.

Cycling in Milton Keynes

Treetop Extreme, Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Xscape Milton Keynes

Overall, Wolverton is a destination worth consideration on its own merits and maybe just not a town to be cruised through.

Bridge 65 to Bridge 71 – two miles and one lock.

Bridge 71 to Bridge 77 – three miles and no locks.