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
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
This is our final day here. We would have moved today but we need to use the services at Rose Narrowboats tomorrow before we head off to Hawkesbury Junction. Over the last couple of days we have conducted a few walks around the local area, we also had a Sunday roast at the Bulls Head in Brinklow.
Yesterday, the wind nearly blew the satellite dish off the roof, so this has now been secured temporarily with string. During the day the mooring here has slowly filled, with most boats having at least one dog. Oscar has enjoyed himself with some new friends to play with.
The weather today also began to improve, which is a good omen for the next week or so, and the sunset this evening was worth a photograph.
View from the canal across the fields towards Brinklow.
This morning what had been a crowded spot last night had thinned out somewhat. We had to moor using pins yesterday, which can work loose as other boats pass. We now had the option of moving to where the piling was and using chains, but on checking the stakes were still secure in the ground so we are staying put. Our stroll today took us further along the Oxford Canal, we wanted to check out the boatyard services ahead. The boatyard is run by Rose Narrowboats who hire boats out as well as providing services, chandlery and repairs to passing boats. It is just as well we checked, we were going to depart on Monday, but this is a busy changeover day for the hire fleet and so they don’t provide the services we would need. On Tuesday however it no problem, so that is when we will go. The walk took us through a fairly dank cutting, although the sun is starting to reach the towpath it is yet to dry out fully.
It was in a particularly muddy stretch Oscar decided to charge up and down like a loony, covering both me and the first mate in slimy mud. He was not very popular for a while after that. The walk to Rose Narrowboats was about one and a half miles and roughly halfway we came across a disused canal arm that at one time would have served the village of Brinklow about a mile away.
Rummaging through the woods it was possible to see the remains of the old arm and a rather dilapidated bridge through the foliage.
Something else we saw today I thought was decidedly unsportsmanlike. Travelling along the canal dangling probes into the water to electrically stun the fish. Apparently it is a way of capturing fish to either count them or move them elsewhere.
Today we decided to abstain from our regular lunchtime activity so no pub reviews in this post.
Today we left the area of Willoughby and a little over an hour later we arrived at Hillmorton Locks. There are two pairs of three locks here but currently one side has been closed due to a lock cill being damaged. The water in the pounds between the locks was also very low so we travelled very slowly through the flight. At the bottom we pulled in for water and to dispose of some rubbish. The water tap was the slowest we have encountered, taking over half an hour just to top up a quarter of our tank. Whilst waiting we were provided with some entertainment. A couple of boats were moored in the winding hole by the bottom lock. Not ideal but the was still plenty of room. A boat entered the winding hole and during the process of turning proceeded to T-bone one of the moored boats at full throttle. After filling with water we continued on until we reached All Oak Wood. Whilst here we saw a boat passing, nb ploddinalong. They also write a blog which is now added to my blog list. We will probably stay here till Monday or Tuesday.
Totals 13 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel