Hillmorton

We had a later start this morning allowing time for the rain to clear. Hawkesbury Junction had proved busy and we still had boat traffic moving at 10.30 pm last night. Today our aim was to reach All Oak Wood near the village of Brinklow. As we set off it was still cloudy, but breaks were starting to appear. After a couple of miles we were passing through the village of Ansty. Unusually, the visitor moorings here were empty, and a few miles further on we found out why. Everyone it seemed was moored at All Oak Wood. We reviewed our options and decided to push on to Hillmorton. As we had passed under the M6 and through an overgrown section of the canal we had seen another steam boat approaching. 

     

      

On this occasion it was the steam boat Adamant, an example of a steam tunnel tug. Just as we were passing the steerer gave a long toot on his steam whistle making the crew jump. I thought the camera would end up in the canal. We continued on through the swing bridge at Stretton Stop, and beyond Brinklow. Next, was the short Newbold Tunnel, and once through we were entering the outskirts of Rugby. We passed the short arm that leads to the Willow Wren hirebase, and the park at Brownsover with mooring on both sides of the canal. On the approach to Hillmorton Locks we found a spot to moor. The bank here slopes a bit and is concrete so it is difficult to get close into the edge.
       

       

Our plan for tomorrow is to ascend the three locks and travel a few miles on towards Braunston. There is a nice rural spot a couple of miles before the junction where we will turn towards Napton on Friday.
Totals 14 Miles 1 Tunnel
Running total 520 Miles 246 Locks 19 Tunnels

Hawkesbury Junction / Sutton Stop

Only a short journey of seven miles today. Departing Hartshill at about 9 am we were soon passing through the town of Nuneaton. It would appear that this town does not value its stretch of the canal, as we saw more rubbish and plastic bottles in this area, than we have, over the entire remainder of the canals we have travelled this year. Anyway, we were soon leaving Nuneaton behind when we saw evidence a certain ‘Time Lord’ was visiting.

     

Not long after passing the junction with the Ashby Canal, the skies clouded over and wind picked up. Rain was threatening again and it turned decidedly chilly. About two miles later we made the left turn off the Coventry Canal and entered Sutton Stop Lock. Once through we were on the Oxford Canal, which will now take us all the way to Napton for our appointment with Calcutt Boats next week. We moored a couple of hundred yards from the lock and secured the boat. Previously, we had only visited the Greyhound P.H. for a drink so today we sampled their menu.
      

Just as we left the pub the rain came, so it was back to the boat to plan tomorrow’s journey. It will be another short hop as far as the village of Brinklow and All Oak Wood.
Totals 7 Miles 1 Lock
Running total 506 Miles 246 Locks 18 Tunnels

Coven

We departed Brewood early this morning hoping to pass through the narrows prior to Autherley Junction, without meeting too much oncoming boat traffic. We succeeded in that objective however the queue at the stop lock by the junction would slow us up a bit. We filled with water whilst waiting, and in no time it was our turn. Passing through the lock we turned left onto the Staffs and Worcs Canal. At this point on the canal we are on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. It is easy to tell when near a city, as the canal water appears black in colour. We had one further narrow section to pass through and could see a boat ahead of us, so we followed them in. We arrived at our planned mooring location between bridges 73 and 74 at about 1.30 pm. We now have a timescale of sorts to keep to, in that yesterday I booked our visit to Calcutt Boats for the 1st September. This is have our diesel heater repositioned in the engine room, to a more serviceable location. Calcutt Boats are located on the Grand Union Canal south of Braunston so we have some way to go yet. Tomorrow the weather is reported to take a turn for the worse later in the afternoon, so we will aim for another early morning start.

Total 10 Miles 1 Lock
Running total 446 Miles 215 Locks 18 Tunnels

Brewood

Just before 8.30 am we moved forward the short distance to Norbury Wharf. The diesel price here is nearly the cheapest on the canal network at 59.9 pence per litre. Knowing we would be refilling here we had run the tank lower than normal, so took on 112 litres. Our trip today took us across the substantial Shelmore Embankment, before passing through the village of Gnosall and the very short Cowley Tunnel. At Wheaton Aston we had a single lock to navigate, then two more miles to our destination at Brewood. We have now left Shropshire behind and are well into Staffordshire. Tomorrow we will leave the Shropshire Union Canal, as we head along the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal towards Coven Heath.

       

       

Totals 11 Miles 1 Lock 1 Tunnel
Running total 436 Miles 214 Locks 18 Tunnels

Norbury Junction

Slipping away from our mooring at Market Drayton by 8 we soon arrived at the Tyrley Locks. This flight also consists of five locks, and as yesterday, all were in our favour. As can be seen from the photo below, the lock gates at this flight leak like a sieve. You would think the paddles were raised already with the amount of water flooding through the top gate.

       

The bottom of this flight is located within a wooded cutting, but as we ascended we emerged into bright sunshine. We have to keep an eye on the furry crew member. He has realised that if the hoop of his lead is simply placed over the small bollards he can with a bit of jiggery-pokery lift his lead off himself.
       

Having arrived at the top of the flight we now only have one more lock to navigate on the Shroppie. We met a couple of boats as we passed through Woodseaves Cutting so rather than rub sides with them we stopped at a wider section allowing them to pass. When about half way through the cutting we passed the location of a recently fallen beech tree. Reports were that a couple of weeks ago, chaos ensued as the cutting was blocked with dozens of boats stuck for a couple of days at the busiest time of the year. Little of the wood remained so we suspect a few liveaboard boaters have stocked up with fuel for the winter. Our next obstacle was a fishing competition, consisting of 75 fishermen spread out along a mile and a half of the canal. Boats coming the other way informed us they were very grumpy, but we acknowledged each of them as we passed and found them ok. It was like receiving a royal salute, as fishing poles were raised in turn to allow our passage. On arrival at Norbury Junction we were lucky to find a spot prior to the bridge and service yard. Our journey had taken five hours and it was now lunchtime. The Junction Inn was serving a Sunday roast and also had a decent selection of vegetarian options for the crew. We plan to fill with diesel at Norbury Wharf at 59p a litre. It is a penny a litre dearer than Wheaton Aston but the fuel filler is on the correct side here. Tomorrow we are aiming for Brewood.
Totals 11 Miles 5 Locks
Running total 425 Miles 213 Locks 17 Tunnels

Market Drayton

After yesterday’s torrential rain, this morning we woke to blue sky and sunshine. We were glad we stayed put for the extra day, as the crews on the few boats that did pass us did not look happy to be on the move.

We were underway by 8 am and quickly navigated the final two locks of the Audlem flight. We have now left Cheshire behind, as we continue our journey south. About a mile further on we approached the Adderley flight of five locks. We were expecting today to be busy due to the lack of movement yesterday, but all the locks were in our favour and we only met one boat on our trip. As we passed through the top lock the local farmer was restocking the small stall with fresh and homemade produce. We like to support these local businesses so we purchased an apple pie and some toffee fudge cake. About an hour later we arrived at our destination at Market Drayton, filling up with water before finally mooring. We visited the town to stock up at the supermarket and had lunch. We are only staying here tonight, heading for Norbury Junction tomorrow.
Totals 5 Miles 7 Locks 
Running total 414 Miles 208 Locks 17 Tunnels

Audlem

Yesterday afternoon back at the boat, we heard someone knocking on our roof. It was the crew of nb Sarah Kay, another Hudson boat that was actually at the Crick Boat Show, along side us in 2014. As both boats are a similar age it was great to be able to discuss service and maintenance tips. It was also a good excuse to visit the Shroppie Fly P.H. for an evening drink.

This morning we were up with the lark and underway by 8 am. Nb Sarah Kay had got away even earlier. There was a fairly heavy mist hanging over the canal. 

       
       
Today we were planning a short 1 mile journey to the pound between locks 3 and 2. We found ourselves following another boat closely up the flight, meaning all the locks should have been set against us. The lady on the boat ahead however very helpful, lifting a paddle on the bottom gate as they exited their lock meaning it emptied for us by the time we got to it. We arrived at our destination  two hours after setting off, just as another boat was departing. We had timed it to perfection, by lunchtime the pound was full of moored boats. 
After lunch we walked up to the top lock, and the canal side cake stall that we knew was there. I chose raspberry and almond slices, whilst the crew opted for melt in the mouth shortbread biscuits.
Two boats ahead of us was nb Spirit of the Wind. We have played leap frog with the crew over several months. Today we had tastings of boat brewed elderflower wine and sloe gin in the afternoon sun.
The day has remained fine with a clear sky, which will hopefully help in viewing the Perseids Meteor shower tonight. The sky will be quite dark where we are so hopefully it will be a good show.
       

       

We will stay put for a day or two depending on the weather, which is reported to get a bit rough on Friday. Our next destination will probably be Market Drayton due to the need for services.
Totals 1 Mile 9 Locks
Running total 409 Miles 201 Locks 17 Tunnels