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.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Fazeley to Huddlesford (nearly)

Friday evening to Sunday afternoon were spent at Fazeley enjoying the BCF weekend.

We did make an early morning trip on Sunday to Fazeley Mill Marina for a pump out and to fill up with water. This also gave us the opportunity to turn round so we are facing in the right direction for when we leave.

After attending morning service at St Paul’s Fazeley and lunch at the Fazeley Inn, we said goodbye to our BCF friends and set out to continue our journey. 

There has been a lot of rain over the last two days which may have consequences for our journey, but for the moment we’ll carry on as planned.

We were aiming to get to Huddlesford today but the rain started again and Stephen was very wet, so we stopped a little short of Huddlesford Junction, mooring at about 4.30.

No photos – too wet.

0 locks  7.0 miles                                          Totals    14 locks                 30.25 miles

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Atherstone Lock 8 to Fazeley

A wet and windy night was followed by a bright and breezy morning. We set off at just after 9.00 in sunshine towards Lock 8 which was ready for us as an early boat had already come up the lock. Considering it was still fairly early, there were a lot of boats around. We didn’t have to turn any of the remaining Atherstone Locks, but it was slow going as we were following a boat and there were always boats waiting to come up. But it was good to talk to and help other boaters especially those working on their own like those on Thursday’s Child and The Cheese Boat.

River Anker overflowing fields

A very full River Tame
We passed Sonflower moored at Grendon – Fran and Peter will return to her and make their way to Fazeley by tomorrow afternoon. We, like them, are heading for the BCF Fellowship Weekend being held at Fazeley.

Glascote Locks were also very busy. We were behind Dutch Courage with Richard and Elizabeth Martin also making their way to Fazeley. The boat coming the way was the other Chyandour – a boat we come across from time to time as we cruise around the system.

We stopped for lunch after Glascote Locks and then carried on, turning at Fazeley Junction on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and mooring up with the other BCF boats.

Arriving at Fazeley
Later in the evening, about 15 of us invaded a local curry restaurant for a meal together – a very sociable gathering!

The weather today was sunny and warm, with a strong breeze at times and very little rain.
BCF boats 
I forgot to put locks and miles on the previous post, so here are the totals up to Friday evening.                                                       14 locks                 23.25 miles

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Wyken Basin to Atherstone Flight (btn Locks 7 & 8)

The first day of our autumn cruise. Following a very wet night and early morning, the rain was beginning to lessen and we were able to load the boat in the dry. We left Wyken Basin just before 10.00 and pottered through to Hawkesbury Junction. There were quite a lot of boats about including one coming out of Sutton Stop Lock as we approached.

Coffee on the move as we turned onto the Coventry Canal 

The Start of Autumn on the Coventry Canal

We stopped for lunch near Springwood Haven Marina – timing it very well as there was a heavy shower while we were moored.

Setting off again, we continued toward the locks at Atherstone arriving at top lock at 2.45. As there were VLKs there, I left them to help Stephen while I went down to help the boat in front through Lock 2 and then set it ready for us. There were several boats going up and down the flight, so we had help at some locks and had to wait at others. By now, the sun had come out and it was quite warm, so working down the locks was very pleasant.

Sunshine on Atherstone Locks

We moored above Lock 8 at 4.00 and the sun was still shining.

Moored above Lock 8

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Meadow Lane Bridge - Wyken Basin

Sunday 2 June

The best laid plans . . . I had hoped for an early start today so that I could get back to base in good time. As it was, I overslept and was not able to get away much before 6.00am.

I did, however, make good time and caught up with some other early birds as they started their ascent of the Atherstone flight. It soon became apparent that there was a singular lack of water in some of the pounds and this was not helped by us going up. By the time I was waiting to go into the bottom of lock 7 I had ground to a halt.

There was no way I would get to the side so stuck my nose into the gates as far as I could go, and that enabled me to walk the gunwale and get off up the steps at the front. Then a problem appeared round the corner from lock 6 in the form of a boat heading for the full lock!

I explained my predicament to the steerer of said boat and asked if he would mind me letting down a lock-full of water to assist movement in the pound. He was, however, not keen on this idea, unless his boat went down with it.

I had no alternative but to get back on Chyandour and endeavour to move backwards in the centre of the pound. With the extra water from the emptying lock it was just about possible but, when the descending boat came out of the lock I was pushed onto the mud and got stuck.

Fortunately I remembered a trick or two from those who taught me years ago and was able to free myself. Once in this lock water levels improved because of the extra held in Baddesley Wharf Marina.

I continued without further incident up the flight and, with the help of the Volunteer Lock-keepers, reached the top just after 11.00am.

It was coffee o'clock so I moored briefly on the Visitor Moorings for second breakfast!

After this refreshment it was easy going and I was able to ring Gwyn at Hawkesbury about 2.15pm to warn her of my imminent arrival. I had arrived and moored up in Wyken by 3.00pm.

What a trip! What next, I wonder?

Locks 12   Miles 15.9                                         Total Locks 221   Total Miles 330.25