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Buckingham Arm
What is now referred to as the Buckingham Arm is two distinct canals. Firstly, the Old Stratford Cut was authorised to link the Grand Junction with Watling Street in 1793. Secondly, the continuation to Buckingham was included in the 1794 Parliamentary Bill that also authorised the Aylesbury and Wendover arms. The completed canal was opened to traffic in 1801, as a wide canal to Old Stratford and then narrow to Buckingham.

With problems from silting, sewage and competition the railways, the Buckingham basin was redundant by the turn of the century, the last boat reached Leckhamstead in 1932 and by 1944 the canal was derelict. The Buckingham section was formally abandoned in 1964 but from Cosgrove to the A5, even the de-watered portion, is still classed as a canal.

To gain access to the arm you have to cross Cosgrove Lock. There is then a line of moored boats, that frankly have seen better days, to where the water ends at a 'temporary' dam built during the last war to combat leakage. An attractive countryside stroll then ensues, along a de-watered section under restoration with Cosgrove Hall in the distance, that abruptly ends just over a mile from Cosgrove at the A5.

The canal now traverses private land and the walker has to get by whatever means to the A422 - Thornton road at Grid Reference SP 7499 3651, about 3½ miles away as the crow flies. From here, after crossing a rickety stile, the Ouse Valley Walk follows the path of the canal to Buckingham.

The tow path is still apparent under bridge 18, near to what was Thornton Wharf, and you go along the empty canal until reaching a fence. Climb a stile and the canal is still visible but overgrown. After negotiating nettles and brambles the canal is obliterated by the A422 for a short distance at Cattleford Aqueduct. However it quickly reappears and with a keen eye you can see its path crossing the fields.

An empty canal re-appears when you cross the lane next to stables occupying what was Leckhamstead Wharf. After the next stile the canal straightens and becomes increasingly overgrown but suddenly water reappears at Lock 1 (Hyde Lane) adjacent to a reservoir and weir. New hedging appears and the surrounding area looks just what it is, a nature reserve, until the muddy ditch ends at a five bar gate.

From here if you didn't know there was once a canal present, you would never guess it. Although there are one or two tell tale signs such as a large straight reed bed that is just the right width for a canal.

The walk gets very close to the River Ouse past Old Mill House. The fields are uneven and show signs of human activity but it is hard to imagine a canal here. After bending, the walk distances itself from the river until you reach the site of Bourton Lock at a distinctive white farmhouse. Here the empty canal re-emerges along a section under restoration until finishing just before the A413.

The Buckingham Canal Society has a tough job on their hands restoring this canal, much of which has disappeared from view, they can be reached via www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk




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Hyde Lane Lock in the middle of a nature reserve
The end of the canal is being restored but there's a long way to go
Although filled in, there are tell tale signs that the canal went this way
Starting again, the towpath is still visible next to a muddy ditch
The canal's path is easy to follow to the A5
Boats lining the start of the Buckingham Arm