AD – My experience on Electra was part of a complimentary press trip.
Milton Keynes is home to some pretty cool stuff. We’ve got delivery robots, e-scooters and now we have got our very own all-electric community boat! I was invited aboard Electra, which is a brand-new fully-electric, 54-foot narrowboat that can accommodate up to 12 guests and runs trips on the Grand Union Canal. Electra is a Community Boat because it is run entirely by volunteers and it is open to everyone. If you are looking for something a bit different to do in Milton Keynes, then I think you will love this.
Electra is the very first all-electric community trip boat on the Grand Union Canal. Based on a traditional narrowboat design, she can carry up to 12 guests although, following government advice to ‘proceed with caution’ with regard to COVID-19, only 8 guests are allowed on board at the moment. She is designed to be as accessible as possible, with a lift down to the cabin and a lavatory that can accommodate a standard size wheelchair.
Electra operates out of the new Campbell Wharf development in Milton Keynes. There are public cruises, private charters, seasonal specials and ‘park & parish cruises’ for local communities. Depending on the cruise, you will either head northwards toward Linford Wharf, or south towards Fenny Stratford.
The boat is run entirely by passionate volunteers from the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust. The charity aims to create a nationally recognised Waterway Park linking Bedford and Milton Keynes for the social, economic and environmental benefit of the communities.
Cruises on Electra
There are some great cruises on offer which include ‘Fish & Bubbles’ on a Friday night, where you’ll enjoy a glass of prosecco on arrival and take a trip along the canal enjoying the lovely scenery followed by a fish n’ chip supper! Cream tea and art trail cruises are also some of the other cruises available. As this is the first season, more cruises hope to be added next year. I am of course, like you, probably most interested in the foodie cruises! But if you have kids, the family ‘Eye Spy’ cruises which run on Tuesday mornings in the school holidays would be ideal. The ‘Walk One Way’ cruises would be great fun if you’re part of a bigger group and love the outdoors.
One thing I loved about Electra was how the project evolved to become more focused on sustainability. If you’ve ever been on a canal boat, you will know how noisy they are and how much vibration there is from the engine but with Electra being powered by electricity, there is little to no noise at all! The team are also trying to source as many local suppliers as possible to keep food miles down and the MK pound in Milton Keynes. I was super excited to see that Concrete Cow Brewery has brewed a special beer named after Electra which you can buy from the galley bar on board. I’ve managed to put the team in touch with some more local businesses, so look out for some new indies aboard Electra!
My experience on Electra
I was invited on a press trip on Electra and it was so much fun. All trips begin at Campbell Wharf. You’ll need to park by the canal by Campbell Park in this car park. It’s about a 5 – 10 minute walk along the canal to the marina. Our trip was towards Linford Wharf and we were on board for about two hours. Tea, coffee and biscuits were served from the galley bar en route! Alcoholic beverages are also available to purchase.
In true British summer fashion, the weather left a lot to be desired but as the boat is totally enclosed, you won’t get wet! There’s space at the bow (front) of the boat if you’d like to get some fresh air.
My favourite thing about the trip was the different perspectives you get of Milton Keynes along the way. The Grand Union canal is over 200 years old and was built to provide a transport link between London and Birmingham. The stretch of the canal through Milton Keynes is 11 miles long, from Fenny Stratford in the south to Cosgrove in the north and is lock-free between these two locations. The Grand Union truly runs through the heart of MK and en route on Electra, you will definitely get a greener, different view of MK. I was constantly asking the volunteers where we were!
As Electra travels almost silently along the meandering canal, you will almost certainly see plenty of wildlife. Unlike a traditional canal boat where the noise and vibration will disturb birds, Electra will allow you to get closer. In fact, we passed two or three herons, baby coots and moorhens and plenty of ducks who just carried on with their day, not even slightly perturbed by the boat passing by. It was so relaxing and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something to help you slow down.
The team aboard Electra were so lovely, accommodating and passionate about the boat and its plans for the future. I think it’s such a fantastic idea to have something like this in Milton Keynes, particularly as it celebrates and brings awareness to the canal, something that isn’t always under the spotlight. It is a great day out for everyone and would be a great activity to do with the kids.
This is the first year of Electra running and due to COVID, they only started up recently so if you haven’t checked out the cruises and trips available, make sure you do, it will be well worth your time.
To find out more about Electra and find availability for cruises and hire, head to www.bmkwaterway.org/mkcommunityboatelectra. Electra is based in Campbell Wharf in Central Milton Keynes. Cruise and opening times may vary depending on availability and government guidelines. If you book a trip, please be sure to mention that Sophie etc sent you!
Have you booked a trip aboard Electra yet?
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