Thursday, 17 September 2020

Merry Hill to Wyken Basin

Thursday 10th September

It was very chilly first thing today and it did not warm up very much all day.

We dropped off the rubbish at the facilities at The Waterfront, and then made our way to Blowers Green Lock – the only one for today. We took on water at the Pump House next to the lock and were able to dispose of most of our recycling (there had been no recycling bin at The Waterfront).

                                        Clean and Tidy Rubbish Disposal Area

We’d now moved off the Dudley No.1 Canal to Dudley No.2.  The next couple of miles meandered through the parish in which we used to live. We had hoped to have coffee at the Bumble Hole Visitor Centre, but, like so many places, it was closed due to Covid-19. We spoke to a local dog-walker who said that the volunteers were still actively looking after the area. We made our own coffee and moved on through Netherton tunnel. The towpath through the tunnel is in good condition and we met a couple of Nordic walkers on the way through.

                                     Netherton Tunnel (and the light at the end of it)

Right turn onto the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction, through Smethwick (lunch on the move) and into Birmingham. We moored at Cambrian Wharf and decided to take a short walk alongside the canals of central Birmingham. We visited the Lego Shop and had a chat with the couple on Good Enough who had followed us up Delph yesterday and whom we had followed through Blowers Green this morning.

                                                                                                 Lego Giraffe

There were very few people (and boats) around, presumably because of the recent stabbings and the rise in Covid-19 cases. There was no sound at all from The Flapper during the evening.

Miles: 13.00        Locks: 1                Total Miles: 162.50           Total Locks: 110

Friday 11th September

Another day of lots of locks lay in front of us so we made an early start leaving our mooring at 7.45 to start down the Farmers Bridge flight – this is yet another canal, the Birmingham-Fazeley. 

                                                               Farmers Bridge Locks

Another boat, La Dolce Vita, was before us though. They had started down the locks soon after 7.00 so were well ahead of us. Although we were having to turn every lock, we made good progress and caught La Dolce Vita up a couple of locks from the bottom. 

                                          Attractive development on Farmers Bridge Flight            

We paused to have a coffee before starting down the Aston flight. Then onwards working with the crew of La Dolce Vita, we finished the flight. La Dolce Vita stopped for water, so we overtook them and carried on to the Minworth locks. Here we met a couple of boats coming up the locks – there had been very few boats around all day.

We moored at Cuttle Bridge Inn – not the quietest of moorings being under the flight path to Birmingham Airport, but with an outlook on harvested fields. We had a late lunch – unlike on Wednesday when lunch was missed completely!

We enjoyed a walk through some of the fields opposite our mooring before settling down for the evening.

Weather was dry but cloudy and breezy for most of the day with some sunshine in the late afternoon.

We leant on the evening news that stricter Covid-19 restrictions had been announced for Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.

Miles: 8.00          Locks: 27              Total Miles: 168.50           Total Locks: 137

Saturday 12th September

We woke to a bright, sunny morning and it remained sunny all day, though a sharp breeze meant it was not always warm.

We set off just after 8.00, but were obviously following at least one other boat as most of the eleven Curdworth Locks were set against us (except for a couple in the middle when we crossed with a boat going towards Birmingham). This is a pleasant flight with planters of herbs and flowers at the side of many of the the locks, together with notices announcing preparations for wildflower meadows.

We stopped for coffee on the moorings between Locks 8 & 9 and then carried on as far as Fazeley Mill Marina. Parts of this stretch of canal are very shallow and we had slight problems when passing other boats. We were going to have a pump out oat the marina, but there were already a couple of boats wanting the same thing, so we moored up and had lunch while we waited.

After having the pump out, we moved along the canal and moored opposite David and Mary Litchfield’s home. We needed to post a granddaughter’s birthday card so walked round to the local Tesco Express for a stamp and some milk. We then found a post-box and returned to the boat.

Steve decided he needed to go into the weed hatch and remove stuff from round the propeller – nothing very exciting, just plastic bags and an unidentifiable ring of rubber and plastic.

We held a conversation with David and Mary across the canal.

Fish and chips for our evening meal and then coffee with David and Mary.

Miles: 6.50          Locks: 11              Total Miles: 175.00           Total Locks: 148

Sunday 13th September

We left Fazeley at 8.30 and turned on to the Coventry Canal. Even this early, we began to see more boats than we had done yesterday – it certainly looks as if people are avoiding Birmingham. 

Glascote Locks were their usual slow selves, but at least this time there was no queue (see 24th August).

                                                            Poem at Glascote Locks

We stopped for coffee near Alvecote Marina.

Today was sunny and hot – completely different from any other day this trip. We were glad of the gentle breeze.

We stopped for lunch before starting the Atherstone Locks, and then just did the first (or last, if you go by the numbering) four locks before stopping for the day.

The beam on the bottom gate of the bottom lock snapped a few weeks ago - the photo shows the temporary repair.

                                                Fields either side of River Anker

                                            The same area in September 2019

Miles: 9.00          Locks: 6                Total Miles: 184.00           Total Locks: 154

Monday 14th September

Another lovely day – warm and sunny. We met boats at several of the remaining seven Atherstone locks; some of them had made very early starts to avoid the heat of the day – one had left Hartshill at 6.30. VLKs at top lock helped us through. We got rid of our rubbish (but not our recycling) at the facility at top lock.

We had coffee on the move, but stopped at Springwood Haven to pick up a new gas bottle (and an ice cream).

We stopped for lunch in Nuneaton near the Cock and Bear Bridge and then made our way towards Hawkesbury. Through the lock there and onto the Oxford Canal and the last leg before our home base. We arrived back at the basin at about 4.00. We transferred our belongings from the boat to our car, and then had a last cup of tea on the boat before going home.

It wasn’t the trip we had planned, but it had been a good one nonetheless.

Miles: 13.75        Locks: 8                Total Miles: 197.75           Total Locks: 162

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Acton Trussell to Merry Hill

Saturday 5th September

Although the morning dawned bright and sunny, it definitely feels like autumn. We set off at 8.30 following another boat. We made slow, but steady, progress up Shutt Hill, Park Gate, Longford and Penkridge Locks before stopping at Penkridge for water, shopping and lunch in that order. We enjoyed our stroll round Penkridge which has a variety of shops and some interesting looking buildings.

Filance, Otherton, Rodbaston and Boggs Locks followed much the same pattern as the morning ones – not exactly a queue, but always following close behind another boat and more often than not, waiting for one to come down.

It looks as if it has been a good year for moorhens – we have seen several groups of young ones.

                                                 Teenage Moorhens

We moored after Boggs Lock at a surprisingly peaceful spot despite the M6 and the A5 being close by. We walked along to Gailey Lock and were told by the VLK there that the Canal Shop is closed as the mother and daughter who run it are still shielding because of Covid-19.

We have had several hours of welcome warm sunshine today.

Miles: 6.5             Locks: 8                Total Miles: 106.75           Total Locks: 61

Sunday 6th September

Another bright, sunny morning – we’ll see if it warms up as it did yesterday.

As two boats went past while we were still moored up, we thought we’d leave and join the queue. However, it turned out to be a cruiser and a narrowboat small enough to share locks with the cruiser. The narrowboat was Ark Wright which we had seen at more than one lock yesterday.

Most of the lock landing above Brick Kiln Lock cannot be used as it has sunk! On to Gailey Lock, following Ark Wright and the cruiser again. The top gate of this lock had been damaged recently and a temporary repair put in place which is supposed to last until a full repair is carried out in February. The VLK we spoke to yesterday doesn’t think it will last that long!

                                                   Sunken Lock Landing

                                                Chain forming temporary repair

Ark Wright and the cruiser stopped to use the facilities and we carried on towards Autherley Junction where we stopped for lunch. Ark Wright passed us while we were having lunch, so when we arrived at Compton Lock (the first for 12 miles), we found ourselves following him through yet another lock!

Ark Wright moored at Compton while we carried on and went down Wightwick Mill and Wightwight Locks, before mooring at Castlecroft. This is familiar territory for us as we lived just up the road for 7 years when Steve was vicar here – we left 22 years ago! We had a short walk past our old house and surrounding streets before returning to Chyandour and joining our church’s Zoom service.

The morning stayed cool, but the afternoon was warm and sunny until about 3.30 when we had a couple of hours rain.

Miles: 11.50        Locks: 5                Total Miles: 118.25           Total Locks: 66

Monday 7th September

We woke to mist over the canal and the morning continued cloudy and cool, but the afternoon was another sunny one.

                                            Misty Morning at Castlecroft

The Ark Wright team must have been up early as they went past our mooring at 7.30.

We left just before 8.00 which was early for us on this trip, but we had arranged to meet friends in Wombourne so needed to be there in good time.

It was not a good day for getting through locks quickly; all were set against us and there were no other boats around so we were working them alone. 

                                                        Bratch Locks

The exceptions were the Bratch Locks where, as usual, we had the help of a friendly lock-keeper, and then at Botterham Staircase Locks where the crew of the boat two in front of us (not Ark  Wright) had opened paddles in the wrong order with the result that their boat was sitting on the bottom of the top lock and couldn’t move. We (that is, us two, two from the boat in front of us and two from a boat waiting to come up the lock) opened and closed paddles for about 40 minutes and worked the stuck boat, the one coming up, the one in front of us and us through the two locks. We went down two more locks, Marsh and Swindon, and then decided to call it a day.

Before the chaos at Botterham, we had moored at Wombourne and walked round to our friends’ house for coffee. We have known them for over 20 years and after using their boat, Chyandour, for holidays for many of those years, we bought her off them about 5 years ago.

From our mooring in Swindon, we were able to join a Zoom PCC meeting from our church back home.

Miles: 5.50          Locks: 11              Total Miles: 123.75           Total Locks: 77

Tuesday 8th September

We left our mooring and descended the next two locks, Hinksford and Greensforge, then moored and walked round to Ashwood Nurseries where we had coffee before wandering around the plant displays and buying on or two things. By this time, the weather was sunny and very warm – much warmer than any other day of this trip.

Back onto the boat and two more locks (Rocky and Gothersley) on the Staffs and Worcs before we turn off onto the Stourbridge Canal. Up the four locks of the Stourton Flight before stopping for lunch.

                                                    Stourton Locks

The choice was then whether to continue on the main canal or to turn off and go into Stourbridge itself. This is what we decided to do, so we went right to the end, winded and then moored for the night. 

                                                Water Lilies on Stourbridge Arm

We walked into Stourbridge and picked up a takeaway from Cellars, an Indian restaurant – it was very good!

Miles: 8.50          Locks: 8                Total Miles: 144.75           Total Locks: 85

Wednesday 9th September

We had a busy day in front of us, so we left Stourbridge just before 8.00. Unfortunately, we met another boat at a bridge on a bend, and the ensuing toing and froing delayed us slightly. One result of this was that we arrived at the foot of Stourbridge Locks as a boat was already in the first lock. 

                                   Buildings old and new on the Stourbridge Flight

Following a boat meant that we had to turn every single lock so going up the 16 locks took 3¼ hours rather than the 2½ we’d expected. 

We had a very welcome cup of coffee and then carried on to the bottom of the Delph flight. There we discovered we would be following two other boats, each of them single handed. There are eight locks in this flight, but by the end we felt we had done more like 24 as we had worked up and down helping the two men on their own. And to add to it, as we worked the second man through the last lock, another single hander turned up needing to go down the lock. We told her to stay on her boat and we worked her through – our last good turn of the day! 

                                                 Overflow on the Delph Flight

                                                      Delph Locks

A few minutes later we moored up for the night on the embankment overlooking the Merry Hill shopping centre.

We had not intended this trip to be a tour of Steve's previous parishes, but from Merry Hill, you can see St Anfrew's Netherton where we lived before retirement.

                                          St Andrew's just visible on hillside

We had one brief shower of rain mid-morning but otherwise the weather was fine and there was a lot of warm sunshine in the afternoon and evening.

Miles: 4.75          Locks: 24              Total Miles: 149.50           Total Locks: 109

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Shobnall to Acton Trussell


 Sunday 30th August – Monday 31st August

At home.

Tuesday 1st September

Following a blood test for Steve and collecting medication for both of us, we retraced our steps from home to Shobnall Marina. We stayed in the marina while we had lunch and then we, very carefully, reversed out of our mooring spot. This was accomplished with no problem, avoiding the obstruction which had caused the trouble when we arrived.

The day had brightened and warmed up after a chilly start. Today’s plan was to make the short journey to Branston and moor near The Bridge Inn where we had booked a meal to celebrate our wedding anniversary. After mooring and having a cup of tea, I walked along to Tatenhill Lock and back by the water park path. Later in the evening, we enjoyed an excellent meal at The Bridge.

                                                            Branston Water Park

Miles: 1.25                  Locks: 1                    Total Miles: 74.50              Total Locks: 37

 Wednesday 2nd September

With rain promised for later, we were on the move soon after 8.30. A boat went into Tatenhill Lock ahead of us, but we were soon through ourselves. We had a very good run through the next five locks, (Barton Turn, Wychnor, Alrewas, Bagnall and Common), as there were a lot of boats coming down, so we were able to go straight into the lock, didn’t have to close top gates and there were always crew from other boats to help. Added entertainment was provided at Alrewas Lock, where the dog from the boat which had just descended refused to get back on her boat. Her owner moored up and came back to collect her, but she evaded him for some considerable time before he was able to catch her. 

We saw Wanderin’ Bark and the Jam Butty moored in Alrewas village, but no-one was on board. I hope we see them somewhere on our travels – I need chilli jam! The five locks at Fradley Junction took a bit longer than the previous five as there were boats going in both directions, but we had help from some VLKs so were not really delayed. Looking for a mooring above Shadehouse Lock, we were able to slide into a space vacated by a boat heading for the lock. Good timing as almost as soon as we had tied up, the rain started and continued for several hours.

 Miles: 7.25                  Locks: 11                 Total Miles: 81.75                  Total Locks: 48

Thursday 3rd September

Unlike yesterday, today’s weather is forecast to be better this afternoon than this morning. There was a lot of rain overnight and this continued until about 10.00. So we had a cup of coffee and then set off. I walked along the towpath to Wood End Lock. Considering the amount of rain we had had over the last 24 hours, the towpath was in remarkably good condition.

There was a boat waiting to go into the lock. So I helped the VLK work that one through and then set the lock for us. That was the only lock for today.

We stopped for lunch in Rugeley; as we boated through Rugeley, we saw 3 families of swans each with 3 or 4 cygnets. 

We made our way to the Taft where Peter and Julie Thorn were expecting us. They have set up a Covid-19 safe area for refreshments – either end of a big table in their covered barbeque area. It was lovely to see them and chat with them, and to be so enthusiastically greeted by Amber the dog.


                                                       Chyandour at The Taft

We went for a walk before our evening meal while there was still some warmth in the sunshine.

                                                Sunset at The Taft

Miles: 9.50                 Locks: 1                Total Miles: 91.25                        Total Locks: 49


Friday 4th September

Before 8 o’clock, a boat passed us on its way to Colwich Lock, so we thought we’d better get a move on and leave too before a queue built up. By the time we got to the lock, we were following one boat, one was coming down the lock and there were another two behind us. And all before 8.30!

We had booked a visitor’s slot online at Shugborough, so we moored at Essex Bridge and wandered up to the car park to get signed in. We had coffee and cake in their tea-room and then enjoyed a good walk around the grounds (the house is still not open) before returning to the boat to continue on our way. 


                                      Essex Bridge - 16thC packhorse bridge over River Trent

                                                        Shugborough Hall

We went up Haywood Lock and then turned onto the Staffs and Worcs canal at Great Haywood. Tixall Wide was crowded so we continued through Tixall Lock and had lunch on the move before stopping for a pump-out at Stafford Boat Club. We moored at a pleasant spot opposite fields above Deptmore Lock.

The weather for most of the day had been grey and cool, though the sun had come out briefly while we were at Shugborough.

Miles: 9.00                  Locks: 4                Total Miles: 100.25           Total Locks: 53

Monday, 31 August 2020

Summer Cruise 2020 Part 1 - Wyken Basin to Shardlow and back to Shobnall

 Sunday 23rd  August

We left Wyken Basin mid-morning and turned left towards Hawkesbury. It was a dry morning with sunny spells and was less windy than the last couple of days. It was very busy around Hawkesbury – good to see so much activity! We had lunch on the move, fortunately finishing before a sudden heavy shower. Arriving at Atherstone Locks, we were pleased to see a VLK ready to help us. In the end we had help from VLKs on the first five locks; we’ve never had so much help at Atherstone. Usually we manage to arrive either at lunchtime or after they’ve all gone home!

We moored below Lock 7, and while Steve washed the roof, I went for a walk. I’d seen damsons growing in the hedge, so I collected a container from the boat and picked a few. Cooked, they made a tasty pudding – though there a lot of stones!

Miles: 13.75                 Locks: 8                      Total Miles: 13.75                  Total Locks: 8


Monday 24th August

There had been rain overnight, but it was a bright morning, though with a definite autumnal feel. Water levels have been low all through the flight, but were particularly so between Locks 8 & 9. Boats coming up through Lock 8 reported having difficulty getting into the lock because the water was so low. We proceeded fairly slowly, but had no problems.

Our intention for today was to meet up with Chris and Terry Rigden at Glascote, but we began to get reports from passing boaters that there was a queue building up at the locks. As a result, we ended up just being able to greet C & T as they passed us and then we joined the queue. We were eighth in line, and given the rate at which Glascote Locks fill, we expected to be there all afternoon. However, the queue at the other side was shorter and, with Steve and others lending a hand with working the locks, we were through in two hours. We waved hello to Eric and Sue Lewis on Remus, then passed Firoza, but no sign of Derek and Judy. Credal Wood was on her home mooring with Doreen and Eric enjoying the sunshine in their garden.

We moored on the visitor moorings near Fradley Swing Bridge. When we went for a walk later, we found Ferrous moored a few boats along from us, not with Edwin aboard, but with members of his family in charge.

Miles: 19.75                 Locks: 6                      Total Miles: 33.50               Total Locks: 14


Tuesday 25th August

A very wet and windy night, and the weather forecast for the day promised no better. The rain had lessened by 9.00, so we decided we would set off.  (Ferrous had made the same decision and passed us going in the opposite direction.) We were surprised (but pleased!) to find a VLK at Junction Lock, so we were quickly through and then through Keeper’s and Hunt’s which were against us. Common Lock was set for us, Bagnall Lock next, against us again. We stopped at Alrewas for water and I went into the village for bread and milk. There was a heavy shower while we were at Alrewas, but then the sun came out and it was quite warm. Down Alrewas Lock, followed by Wychnor and then we stopped for lunch. The weather was due to get worse, so we soon moved off, went through two more locks, Barton Turn and Tatenhill before mooring at Branston near The Bridge Inn. We had hoped to have a meal at The Bridge, but they were fully booked. We were able to have a takeaway from there instead – it was very good.

                                                 New houses going up at Branston.

Miles: 5.25                Locks: 9                  Total Miles: 38.75                  Total Locks: 23



Wednesday 26nd August

Another wet and windy night, and water lapping against the boat added to the sound effects. It was more or less dry when we set off and we were quickly through Branston Lock as it was set for us. Then we came to a stop as there was a tree down over the canal. Workmen were already there dealing with it and after a delay of about half an hour we were allowed through, though they still hadn’t finished clearing the tree out of the way. 

                                                   Unexpected item in boating area.

We had coffee on the move after going through Dallow Lane Lock. As we went across the aqueduct over the River Dove, we could see that the river levels were quite high and the river was flowing very quickly.

                                                   Monks' Bridge over River Dove

We arrived next at Stenson Lock, the first of the broad locks on this trip. No boat going our way came along, so we went ahead alone. The gates on this lock are very heavy. I was unable to open the bottom gate until a helpful dog walker lent a hand and after Steve had taken the boat through, I couldn’t close the gate. The dog walker had gone on his way, so Steve had to come off the boat and help.

We moored up for lunch and then a boat came along, so we quickly got ready to join them to go down Swarkestone Lock. They turned out to be BCF members Tom and Sara Millward on a friend’s boat, Anya. It was good to be able to work the lock together, but they moored after Swarkestone so we went on alone to Weston and Aston Locks. We moored for the night above Shardlow Lock.

Miles: 17.50                 Locks: 6          Total Miles: 56.25                       Total Locks:  29


Thursday 27th August

Having looked at the Environment Agency website, we found out the Trent was in flood and after an initial fall, levels would rise again. We made the decision to go down Shardlow Lock and then wind and return the way we had come.

So we descended Shardlow Lock, and having enquired at the boatyard about a pump out (their machine was broken!), we winded and prepared to go back up the lock. However, there was a wide beam already coming down, so we were delayed a little. They were heading out on the river, but had not looked up any info about water conditions. Through Aston Lock and on to Weston where there was a VLK on duty – very welcome help with these broad locks.

At Swarkestone Lock, we were approached by the woman off Adagio who said they were winding as she had had so much trouble working Stenson lock that they were giving up, and could they pair up with us. Of course we agreed (though we had been going to stop for lunch above Swarkestone Lock). She and crew from the two boats following us helped us through Swarkestone. Lunch on the move – and it started to rain! We worked Stenson together (plus help from the following boats) and turned into Mercia Marina. The intention was to get a pump out, but we decided to see if we could stay the night. We were both thoroughly soaked by this time.

The rain finally stopped about 7.30, so we went for a walk around the marina. We were able to dispose of some of our recycling in their bins.

                                                           Mercia Marina

Miles: 11.00                Locks: 6                     Total Miles: 67.25              Total Locks: 35


Friday 28th August

We treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast at the Willow Tree Tearooms at the marina, and left soon afterwards hoping to travel in the dry. We just had the one lock to do – Dallow Lane – it was half full and we were quickly through especially as we could leave the gates open for an on-coming boat, 3 No Trumps (which had been in front of us at Glascote). We moored at Shobnall Fields at 12.00 by which time it was raining again. It continued raining for most of the afternoon and the whole of the evening. There was a useful recycling bin in the Field which took tetrapaks as well as plastic and cans.

Miles: 5.50                    Locks: 1                   Total Miles: 72.75                Total Locks: 36

Saturday 29th August

Brighter morning, but chilly for August. Left the Shobnall Fields mooring to move into Shobnall Marina to leave the boat until Tuesday. We had a bit of trouble getting into our mooring as the boat got stuck on something under the water in the basin. Lots of folk offered advice and help and eventually pulled us in. We walked to The National Brewery Centre and spent a couple of hours there on a guided tour. On the way back to the basin we did some shopping at Sainsbury’s – handily placed on our route.

                                            One of the Shire horses at the Brewery Centre

We had a late lunch, packed and left for the station. An uneventful journey home, Burton to Tamworth, Tamworth to Nuneaton. It was raining as we walked to the bus station, but had stopped by the time we got off the bus.

Quiet evening catching up on washing etc.

Miles: 0.50          Locks: 0                                             Total Miles: 73.25                           Total Locks: 36

Friday, 11 October 2019

Stoke Golding to Wyken Basin

This morning was greyer and cloudier than previous days and rain is forecast in more substantial quantities than just the occasional shower. However it was dry when we set off at 9.00 and still dry when we moored up half an hour later at Spinney Bank Farm Shop. We bought an assortment of goodies, returned to the boat, had coffee and set off again.

We only had another hour’s journey as we were meeting our friends Christine and Terry for lunch at the Lime Kilns. They arrived on their boat soon after us, so we sat and chatted until it was time to go for our lunch. Good pub grub as always.

The rain arrived while we were eating lunch, so we all went back to Chyandour for coffee/tea and cake and ummed and aahed about when to set off for home. In the end we left at about 2.15, and Chris and Terry followed a little later.

The rain stopped just as we set off and we only had one short sharp shower during the afternoon. We arrived back at Wyken Basin at 5.30.

1 lock      13.50 miles                                               Total Locks  2      Total Miles 51.50

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Snarestone to Stoke Golding

Yet another fine sunny morning. Just before 9.00, I walked down to the swing bridge to undo the bolt at one end and the padlock at the other end, and make sure I could open it. Stephen motored through and we were on our way again.
Strings of big bricks - Bridge 62
I took this photo yesterday, but I thought I'd include it here - it shows the use of old double sized bricks in Bridge 62; they were salvaged from the dug out canal bed. They were made in Joseph Wilkes'local  brick works over two hundred years ago with the double purpose of speeding up construction and of reducing the amount of brick tax he had to pay.

We did meet one obstacle en route - it had also been there when we went through yesterday. Steve reported it this time so hopefully it will be moved soon.
Obstructive Tree
We had coffee on the move as we wanted to stop at Shenton for lunch. We arrived at the mooring near Bridge 35 at 12.15, but it took us the best part of half an hour to moor up as the water was too shallow and our boat too deep. Eventually, we got the bow in and left the stern sticking out a bit. We walked over the bridge to Shenton Station – no trains today, but we did have a look round the glass gallery and workshop which is based at the station.

We then walked down the road, under the canal aqueduct and into the village of Shenton with its 17C hall and picturesque houses. We were heading for Whitemoors Antiques and Craft Centre. There is a lovely tearoom there so we had lunch before exploring the centre. We didn’t find much in the way of craft, but if you like rooting through small antiques and collectibles, bric-a-brac and knick-knacks, you could spend several hours here. We stayed nearly two hours and walked back to the boat taking a short cut on a footpath across a field back to the bridge.

(No photos of this section - I left my phone on the boat.)

We got going with no trouble (having feared we might be wedged on silt and mud) and made our way to Stoke Golding and Duck Corner where we had moored on Tuesday evening.

0 locks 12.50 miles         

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Stoke Golding to Snarestone

Just before 9.00 we set out on another sunny morning, though it was quite cool and breezy. 

We stopped for coffee near Far Coton and then went as far as Shackerstone where we moored and then walked to the Battlefield Line Station to have a look round and to have lunch at the Victorian Tea Room. Steve especially enjoyed visiting the Museum crammed with railwayana, including some equipment he remembers using when he worked on the railways some decades ago.

After walking back to the boat, we continued to Snarestone. Parts of this section are very attractive especially Gopsall Wood. 
Gopsall Wood
Although there have been a number of boats around today, nothing was coming through Snarestone Tunnel when we arrived there, so we went straight through.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Swans usually serenely move out of the way when a boat goes past, but we met this one which tried to outrun us. At about the fifth attempt, he did manage to take off and escape.
Spooked Swan
On arriving at Snarestone, we winded just before the swing bridge and moored up while Steve went to talk to the very nice people of the Ashby Canal Association. They opened the swing bridge, we reversed to the moorings on the other side of the bridge and were moored up by 3.00.

We wandered across to the base of the Canal Association for a cup of coffee, a chat and a look at all the stuff they have for sale, all to raise funds to extend the canal a little bit further.

We walked to the end of the in-water canal which ends in another winding hole, but as it is only suitable for boats up to 53’ in length, we wouldn’t be able to turn in it which is why we had to wind before the swing bridge.
53' Winding hole and the onward line of canal
The next part of the canal bed is infilled, but digging this out is a straightforward task in canal restoration terms. The next major obstacle is constructing an aqueduct to cross the Gilwiskaw Brook. Apparently funds are in place to start this work.

We retraced our steps to the boat noting the conversion of the waterworks building into a residence.

0 locks       12.25 miles

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Wyken Basin to Stoke Golding

Today we are starting a short trip along the Ashby Canal – a sort of recompense for having to cut short our planned trip to Lincoln. We left our mooring at Wyken Basin around 9.30 in bright sunshine, a lovely October morning. Just before leaving, Steve discovered he had forgotten his wifi router, but he thought he could manage by tethering his phone.
Leaving Wyken Basin
We went through the stop lock at Hawkesbury – the only lock on this journey - and turned off the Oxford Canal onto the Coventry. Steve soon had the idea that if we rang our friend Christine (who lives alongside the canal) she might be able to give him a lift home to collect the missing router. (Although it had taken us over an hour to arrive at Chris’ house, it would only take 10 minutes to drive back to our house.)
Not only was Chris willing to do this, she also gave us coffee and cake – what a star!

So a little later than planned, we turned onto the Ashby Canal which was its usual peaceful self, though there were a number of boats about. 
There are a lot of reeds .........

.......... but improvements are being carried out ........... some places.
The weather remained fine through the morning, but the clouds were building and the wind was rising. Sure enough just before 1 o’clock, it started to rain, but as it was lunchtime, we moored up at Burton Hastings for lunch. The rain soon passed and by the time we were ready to start off again, the sun was shining.

There was another shower around 3 o’clock, but again, it only lasted 15 minutes or so.

We moored for the night at Stoke Golding at 4.00. 
Duck Corner at Stoke Golding
After a cup of tea, I went for a walk up the hill to the village. The church, St Margaret of Antioch, was open, so I had a look round (and bought some jam). The church building is mediaeval and has some interesting features. 

The building needs some expensive work carried out, but meanwhile, the current congregation is actively involved in all sorts of activities in the church and the community.

Today’s totals:    1 lock   13.25 miles

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Atherstone to Wyken Basin

In complete contrast to yesterday, today was bright and sunny, though cooler than the last few days. 

We left Atherstone at 8.30. On the way, we stopped at Springwood Haven Marina, where Steve thought they might have an appropriate tool to extract the obstinate pieces of screw. They were very helpful and not only got rid of the old screws but also found him a couple of new ones. And they also gave him a battery which someone had left with them having replaced it with a lithium one in their campervan. This battery will be passed on to a boater Steve (wearing his Waterways Chaplain hat) has been helping.

We stopped for lunch after passing Charity Dock and then continued to Hawkesbury where we did today’s only lock.  We arrived back at Wyken Basin around 3.00

Totals for the trip                  28 locks           61.25 miles

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Polesworth to Atherstone

More rain early in the morning, but it was dry when we set out at 9.00. It stayed dry until we reached Atherstone Locks and then it started to rain again. We met boats coming down in all but one of the first six locks – all of us looking increasingly bedraggled as we got wetter and wetter. 

We stopped briefly for coffee between Locks 6 & 5. We know that you shouldn’t moor by just a centre line, but we thought we’d be OK for the short time it would take us to have coffee. Wrong!! A big, heavy boat going too quickly past us caused us to rock violently and the weakest point gave way. This turned out to be the fairlead which ripped completely off. As it didn’t fall in the water, Steve was able to rescue it. The fixing screws had sheared and although he managed to remove some bits, others defeated him for the moment.

On we went to the last five locks which were quickly done as they were all set for us except top lock which was kindly emptied and set ready for us by Ian, one of the team of VLKs. The rain had stopped while we were having coffee so these last locks were completed without getting any wetter. We moored on the Visitor Moorings above the locks while we had lunch (Gabriel with James and Hazel aboard are here too). The rain soon started again so we decided to stay where we were.

Later on, the rain stopped again and we went to the White Horse for a meal where we had excellent pizzas. And they packed up what we couldn’t eat – that’s tomorrow’s lunch sorted.

11 locks            4.75 miles                                     Totals    27 locks              48.75 miles

Monday, 30 September 2019

Huddlesford to Polesworth

There are a lot of ducks around Huddlesford! And they get up early!! And they like the algae on boats for breakfast!!! (And a dozen ducks pecking on the outside of your boat makes a lot of noise.)

Very annoying Ducks
After breakfast we had a discussion which resulted in a change of plan. We had intended going to Lincoln via the River Trent and Fosse Dyke, but the amount of rain which has fallen and which is forecast means this is not going to be possible as the river is in flood.

So this morning we went as far as Huddlesford Junction to wind and then began to make our way back home. The weather this morning was very pleasant - sunny and quite warm. However, more rain was expected mid-afternoon so we had lunch on the move after going through Glascote Locks. 
Approaching Glasctoe Locks
There were several boats around at Glascote, so we helped one down and crew from the boat following us helped us up. All very amicable as we all made what progress we could before the rain.

We moored on the edge of Polesworth near Br.51 soon after 2.00 and (for the first time this trip) lit the fire. The rain started at 3.00.