Norton Junction Update

I just knew even entering the canalware shop by lock 8 would be a mistake, as I would be bound to see something I wanted, and so it was. Yesterday during our walk with four legs down the Buckby Lock flight, I was drawn in and purchased a brass oil lamp we had seen the previous day. I even knew where on the boat it was going to be installed. We arranged to collect it on the way back from our walk, once we had visited the garden centre at the bottom of the flight. Back at the boat armed with a bradawl and a screwdriver, the lamp was fixed in our back cabin.

Brass Oil Lamp

Today as planned we wandered off to the New Inn P.H. to reacquaint ourselves with their roast dinners. We were not disappointed. The afternoon will be spent relaxing, in readiness for the ascent of Watford Locks tomorrow morning. We expect to continue past our winter mooring at Yelvertoft, and end up somewhere near bridge 28, as we are not quite ready to stop cruising just yet.

Braunston

Last nights forecast of high wind and heavy rain, proved to be a bit of a damp squib. Apparently it happened, but I slept right through it. After breakfast we got underway and were soon passing Barby Moorings, a Marina which seems to be still unfinished, many years after it was started. Once we had navigated the Barby Straight, we identified a couple of alternative mooring spots for future reference, that would meet our criteria. Next to pass was the brand new Marina at Dunchurch Pools. This Marina looks vast, and now has a good few boats in it, despite being unfinished. I suspect very favourable introductory rates have been offered, to encourage boat owners to move in. The entrance which was closed when we passed by earlier in the year, is now open, and the bridge almost complete.

   
Dunchurch Pools Marina

It was not much further to our intended mooring spot, a favourite of ours located just outside the village of Braunston. The first clue you are getting close, is when the unique spire of Braunston church comes into view.

   
Braunston Church Spire

Passing under bridge 87, we rounded a final bend towards our mooring and it was empty. This allowed us to choose our spot, lining up the side hatch with a convenient hole in the hedgerow, granting us views over open countryside. The field opposite contained a herd of brown cows, that appeared interested in our arrival. 

  
Mooring Spot
  
The gathering herd

After securing the boat we walked into Braunston, a distance of about one mile and had lunch in the Boathouse P.H. The crew then popped up to the convenience store in the village, whilst I paid a visit to Midland Chandlers. My wallet stayed firmly in my pocket, this must be a first in a chandlery. Early evening, the view from the side hatch through the hole in the hedge paid dividends. We were treated to a stunning sunset.

Sunset at Braunston

Tomorrow we have a flight of wide locks to navigate and a fairly long tunnel. We could quite easily stay put but we have an appointment with a roast dinner on Sunday at the New Inn, Long Buckby.

  • Totals 4 Miles
  • Running total 225 Miles 45 Locks 10 Tunnels 

Barby

During yesterday evening the mooring at All Oak Wood slowly filled, all the way back to the Easenhall Lane bridge. This morning before getting out of bed we were aware of a constant stream of boats passing by, although with the porthole bungs still in we were unsure which way the traffic was heading. At nine o’clock the furry crew had his breakfast and stepping off the boat to allow him to stretch his legs we saw that barring a few long stayers we were alone. The boat traffic had all been heading towards Hillmorton, and we would shortly be following. The weather was fairly chilly but fortunately the wind speed had dropped substantially. We got underway around 9.30 and almost immediately began to encounter oncoming boat traffic. At Hillmorton there is a flight of three locks and we had decided to ascend the flight then stop for lunch. The plan was after lunch to head for a nice mooring just outside Braunston. First we had Newbold Tunnel and Rugby to navigate. On exiting the tunnel the canal is narrowed by overgrown bushes on the offside and with mooring and a water point on the towpath side, the bend is blind and ripe for chaos if boats meet head on. This time we were lucky. At Brownsover it appears that lots of new mooring rings have been installed, but again this short stretch of canal is overgrown and bendy, so not an ideal location for a line of moored boats, although handy for the shops and retail park. Safely through we arrived at Hillmorton to find two boats waiting in the queue for the locks. However, we were told by several people that our arrival was perfect timing as earlier the area had been chaotic with waiting times of two and a half hours. I felt smug taking that extra half hour in bed now. The only slight issue was the two boats ahead of us were hire boats, the crews of which did not seem to want to work other boats up and down the flight. This slowed our progress a little.

Hillmorton bottom lock

Hillmorton locks are set in pairs so working through them should be quick. Sadly the middle lock on one side has been out of action due to a broken balance beam, I believe for some time now. It seems as though for some reason the navigation authority are taking their time in repairing it.

The problem middle lock

If anyone is wondering where all the boats are, we have found them. Rugby, Brownsover was full up and so was the entire stretch above Hillmorton Locks. We have not seen so many boats here previously. This put paid to our planned lunch stop and we now had the prospect of getting to Braunston without a break. As we left Hillmorton behind and just prior to joining the Barby Straight we saw a single boat length of pilling. This is nice a rural spot by bridge 75, and opposite a Christmas Tree Farm. This will be our stop for the night and has been recorded in our guide book. The mooring is nice and deep, we have a sky satellite signal and 4G.

   
Mooring at Barby by the Xmas Trees

We plan to travel to Braunston tomorrow and maybe visit the chandlers. We won’t be making any purchases though as Midland Chandlers are holding a Freaky Friday event next week when we will get 20% off.

  • Totals 9 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel 
  • Running total 221 Miles 45 Locks 10 Tunnels 

All Oak Wood

Following our night at Hawkesbury, this morning we woke to a less windy, but slightly chillier day. After breakfast and disposing of some rubbish, we set about our departure. There had been a steady stream of boat movement, and just as we untied the boat another one appeared through the stop lock. We waited for it to pass. Once underway, we were soon travelling parallel to the noisy M6, and ahead of us the equally noisy M69. It seems so long ago since we left the peaceful tranquility of the Ashby Canal. It was about an hour before the drone of the motorways could no longer be heard, but just as we escaped their noise, so we began merging with West Coast Main Line, and its diesel trains thundering past. Rose Narrowboats was the next hurdle, here the canal is narrowed by the long lines of moored boats, and some triple parking of the hire fleet. There is a small footbridge to move, so the crew jumped off the boat, to facilitate our passage through a narrow channel. It was at this point we passed a boat on the water point that had been ahead of us leaving Hawkesbury. This was to prove to be very fortuitous for us a short while later. We travelled the final mile to our intended mooring spot just prior to All Oak Wood, and on arrival found it to be very busy. There was however one solitary gap in the line of moored boats, and as we slowed down it was just big enough to shoehorn ourselves into. We had the last spot. 

  • Totals 8 Miles
  • Running total 212 Miles 42 Locks 9 Tunnels 

Dadlington

Tuesday 26/9, we stayed put at Snarestone waiting for family to arrive on their hire boat. The weather was warm, so we decided to take four legs for a walk. We headed off towards Shackerstone, and on route decided that we may as well aim for the Rising Sun for lunch, a distance of three miles. On arrival we found the pub shut, so we ended up walking a total of six miles without refreshments, unlike four legs, who had regular drinks from the canal. Later in the afternoon the family arrived, and moored just ahead of us. In reward for our exercise earlier in the day, dinner was take at the Globe P.H. where I enjoyed an excellent steak and ale pie. We will be returning in the future. Thursday 28/9, marked a turning point for us. Each day we move now, we will be heading closer to our winter mooring at Yelvertoft. First stop was Bosworth Marina for services, during which time we we took lunch in the cafe there. After lunch, we continued heading south, and on reaching the village of Dadlington we found a nice spot to moor.

The mooring is a quite rural spot although a little shallow, and is nicely placed for our trip on Sunday, to the Dog and Hedgehog P.H. for our roast dinner. Saturday 30/9, we took a walk to the farm shop located by bridge 23 to top up with supplies, including meats, cheeses and bread. We also could not resist some of their savoury and fruit pies. Today we visited the Dog and Hedgehog and were not disappointed with the cuisine. Three courses later and it was back to the boat to relax. The weather is currently a bit wet and windy but hopefully this will settle down overnight.

  • Totals 12 Miles
  • Running total 192 Miles 41 Locks 9 Tunnels