Congerstone

Since our last post we have spent most of the time playing around on one of our favourite canals, the Ashby. After departing from friends at Polesworth on Monday 30/7. we set off towards the Atherstone flight of locks. Stopping for water at the service point, several boats passed by going the other way. This was good news as the locks should have been in our favour. So it was for the first five of the flight, however at the point the volunteers were operating everything came to an abrupt halt, and we joined the queue of about five. What the hold up was we never found out, but it added an hour or so to our ascent. Once at the top we pondered stopping for lunch, but we needed a pump out and wanted to make sure we reached Springwood Haven Marina in plenty of time. Pushing on we passed our intended mooring spot near bridge 28, and winded in the entrance of the marina. Following the pump out which is done for you by the staff at this marina, we headed back to our intended spot, a couple of hundred yards away. Now facing the wrong way, it was not a problem as there is a winding hole very close to this spot. The next morning, we winded and headed off towards Marston Junction and the Ashby Canal. Turning left, we soon arrived at Marston Jabbett where we stopped for the day. After securing the boat, we headed off to the nearby pub for lunch. Part of a well known chain of pubs, it was adequate but nothing special.

 

Moored at Marston Jabbett

 

 

Wednesday 1/8. we set off for Stoke Golding about 8 Miles away. We soon passed the spot of our collision with a hire boat earlier in the year, this time without incident. Approaching bridge 23 we decided to stop for lunch. It was also close to the farm shop we like to support, so the crew went shopping, not for very much it turned out as the stocks were low. After lunch we had about one more mile to go to our aimed for spot, just beyond the marina entrance at Stoke Golding. Later in the evening, we wandered up into the village for our appointment at the Mango Tree indian restaurant. Thankfully the walk back is all down hill. Thursday 2/8. We cruised to a new mooring spot for us, about a mile beyond Market Bosworth Marina close to bridge 46. Friday 3/8. We headed for the end of the canal at Snarestone. After passing through the crooked tunnel, we took a mooring on the 48 hour section and secured the boat. Unfortunately this area does not afford much shade, an important requirement for four legs with his furry coat. Walking up to the wharf to see if there was anywhere more shady, we spoke with Michael who looks after the area for the Ashby Canal Association. He pointed us towards a spot on the wharf beneath a large tree, and this was to be our spot for the next few days.

 

 

Snarestone Wharf mooring

 

Michael the warden operates a pair of working boats, Draco and Success. Success is an original horse drawn butty, and was built in 1893. It is the boat which is moored directly behind us on the wharf. The other boat in the picture is a Hudson like ours called Diligent Too. After securing the boat in our new spot, we wandered off to the village to reacquaint ourselves with the Globe P.H. for lunch. We also booked in for a Sunday roast. Later back at the wharf we got the comfy chairs out and relaxed in the dappled shade watching the world go by. Whilst here we met the owners of Diligent Too, who were undertaking some voluntary work on the wharf. The work being done was repainting some large beams, which had originally been located in the nearby pump house. Sunday 5/8. we went to the Globe for lunch and the roast was excellent. Back at the wharf, the owner of Diligent Too informed us he was leaving the next day, and that the beam painting would be unfinished. I offered to finish it off. Monday 6/8. I donned a pair of overalls, and began a day of scraping and painting. Unfortunately for me, the beams were not afforded any shade from the nearby tree. After about six hours of work, the paint finally ran out which my excuse for stopping for the day.

Hard at work

After a long day of work in the heat of the sun, it was only right to cool down, with a tub of ice cream purchased from the wharf. Quite what four legs had done to deserve his I don’t know, but he got one anyway, and after scoffing his down, he preceded with an attempt to scrounge some of mine. He was out of luck.

 

 

Ice Cream for Four Legs

 

 

Tuesday 7/8. We manoeuvred from the wharf onto the water point, to refill the tank, then after saying our goodbyes, set off for Shackerstone. Wednesday 8/8. We took four legs for a walk, and then took lunch at the Shackestone Railway Station tea rooms. After lunch, we purchased some cake to takeaway for later. Thursday 9/8. We had a run down to Market Bosworth Marina, for diesel and a pump out. The crew nipped up the hill into town for some supplies, then we set off on a return journey as far as Congerstone. On route we spotted a hare playing in the fields.

 

Hare playing in the field

 

Friday 10/8. We walked into Shackerstone to post some letters. Saturday 11/8. We cruised the boat up to the winding hole in Shackerstone, and then return back to Congerstone, to the same spot we had departed forty minutes earlier.

 

 

Mooring at Congerstone

 

Today, Sunday 12/8. The weather today is a bit wet so four legs only got a short walk. Then it was off to the Horse and Jockey P.H. for Sunday lunch. Tomorrow we begin our journey off the Ashby Canal.

  • Totals Monday 30/7.    6 Miles 11 Locks
  •         Tuesday 31/7.    5 Miles
  •         Wednesday 1/8. 8 Miles
  •         Thursday 2/8.    7 Miles
  •         Friday 3/8.         5 Miles 1 Tunnel
  •         Tuesday 7/8.       3 Miles 1 Tunnel
  •         Thursday 9/8.     6 Miles   
  •         Saturday 11/8.    2 Miles
  • Running totals 418 Miles 186 Locks 11 Tunnels

 

 

Hawkesbury Junction

Well, we made a good choice weather wise departing the Marina this week, on our seven month cruise. Monday 16/4. we visited the service pontoon for a pump out, and to fill the diesel tank to the brim. We said our goodbyes in the office, and to a furry friend who visits the bird feeder at the end of our pontoon.

A healthy looking rat

We turned left from the Marina and headed towards Crick. Our transit of Crick tunnel was unopposed, but we got a thorough soaking from the leaky roof all the way. Once beyond Crick tunnel, the countryside comprises of open fields, which are slowly filling with new lambs. On arrival at the top of the Watford flight of locks, we were pleasantly surprised to find no queues, and were able to commence our descent immediately. The first mate, (the furry one) stayed on board with me, whilst the second mate performed their lock duties. Once at the bottom of the flight, we cruised the final couple of miles to Norton Junction, and found a mooring in our usual spot. The next day, Tuesday 17/4. a gale was blowing. We decided not to move as it would have been decidedly unpleasant, and we did not fancy buffeting around in the six wide locks we would have to navigate. Four legs was taken for a walk, beyond the New Inn and on down the Buckby flight. This took us past the canalware shop, which has often relieved me of so many of my hard earned pounds. It did it again today. Wednesday 18/4. we set off after breakfast turning right at Norton Junction, and joining the main Grand Union canal. Today was the beginning of the reported heatwave. After cruising a couple of miles, we reached the entrance to Braunston tunnel just as a boat was emerging. We were informed there was nothing following which is always nice to hear, especially until after we have navigated the kink in the tunnel. Our transit remained unopposed, and significantly dryer than Crick. No sooner do you exit the western portal you arrive at the top of Braunston locks. Unfortunately there was nobody waiting to share the locks with. Descending always seems easier than ascending, especially when the locks are in your favour, as was the case for us. Beyond the bottom lock we had a short stretch to navigate before arriving in Braunston, and we found the landing outside the Boathouse Pub empty. It was clearly fate, so we pulled in and stopped for lunch. Following refreshments we resumed our cruise, and at Braunston Turn, we took the right hand fork joining the Oxford Canal heading north. We passed our usual spot about a mile out of Braunston, and found someone occupying it. Luckily we didn’t want it. We passed the newish Marina at Onley which is rapidly filling with boats, and then navigated the Barby straight passing beneath the M45. We found the spot we were aiming for vacant, and secured the boat. It was by now very hot.

Cruising beyond Braunston

  Thursday 19/4. was going to be another warm day. Setting off for Hillmorton locks about a mile ahead, we chuckled to ourselves about how it had taken four days to get here by boat, but only takes 10 minutes in the car from Yelvertoft Marina. Hillmorton locks was busy, but as the locks are in pairs, we were not held up. At the bottom of the flight we stopped for water. The tap here is well known as slow filling, but this suited our purposes today. About 40 minutes later, we were once again underway. Passing through Rugby, and navigating Newbold tunnel, we carried on towards our planned stopping point at All Oak Wood. Friday 20/4. started misty but soon the sun was up. Today we had a short hop to Hawkesbury Junction, with no locks, and only the small swing bridge by Rose Narrowboats to navigate. On arrival we found the mooring relatively empty, and so picked our spot. Once the boat was secured we took lunch at the Greyhound Pub, overlooking the junction.

Mooring at Hawkesbury Junction

Today Saturday 21/4. we took four legs for a walk along the Coventry Canal heading towards Nuneaton. This is the way we will be heading on Monday, as we aim for the Ashby Canal.

  • Totals Monday 16/4.      7 Miles 7 Locks 1 Tunnel
  • Totals Wednesday 18/4. 9 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel 
  • Totals Thursday 19/4.    8 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel 
  • Totals Friday 20/4.        8 Miles
  • Running totals              56 Miles 18 Locks 3 Tunnels 

Burton Hastings

So this morning after breakfast we pulled our pins and set off the short distance to the water point prior to the stop lock. We have now found a water point that seems slower that the one at Hillmorton. An hour and a half later the water tank was finally full. Then it was into the lock for the dramatic descent of about one foot, the difference between the two canals.

You can see from the water mark on the lock wall how much difference there is between the levels. Out of the lock it is a sharp right turn onto the Coventry Canal heading towards Atherstone.

Coventry and Oxford Canals

Either side of the bridge above, you can see both canals running parallel for a short while. The Coventry to the left, and the Oxford to the right. We now had a couple of miles to cruise before reaching Marston Junction, and the Ashby Canal. Before that though we passed Charity Dock, a boatyard, scrapyard and mooring all rolled into one. A feature at this location are the many manikins, which have been dressed up in all kinds of costumes. There was even a Stig from Top Gear. My favourite though has to be the woman placed in the pillory, I believe an old fashioned punishment for nagging in the Elizabethan era, ah the good old days.

Charity Dock

Marston Junction was only a short hop from here. As we passed beneath the bridge just prior to the junction, it was apparent what a tight, blind turn this was. One long blast on the klaxon, and we made the right turn onto the Ashby Canal. This is now new water for us, and the boat.

Marston Junction, Ashby Canal

Soon after making the turn onto the Ashby Canal it felt different. We had left behind the busy industrial areas, and were now heading into the rural countryside of Leicestershire. Our first stopping point, was to be just south of Burton Hastings, a small village on the outskirts of Hinckley.

   
Four legs checking I have secured the boat at our mooring

The Ashby Canal is one of the canals reported to be very shallow. As yet we have had no problem, however there are still 20 miles to go to the current terminus at Snarestone, so plenty of time yet to run aground.

  • Totals 5 Miles 1 Lock
  • Running total 63 Miles 19 Locks 3 Tunnels 

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

Hawkesbury Junction/Sutton Stop

We departed All Oak Wood at 9 am ready for our planned visit to Rose Narrowboats. We needed gas and a pump out of the holding tank. On reporting to the office I was given the news that no pump outs would be done today, this despite the fact we had arranged it, and delayed our journey by one day to accommodate them. I was therefore not impressed, especially when the excuse was that the three people there did not know how to use the machine, we even offered to do it ourselves to no avail. Moral of the story, don’t rely on Rose Narrowboats again.

We decided that it would be better to return to Brinklow Marina and get the services done there, rather than carry on and take a chance, so that meant a three mile round trip. Brinklow Marina were friendly and even offered us a free night mooring, but we wanted to push on. It all worked out well as the sun, which had been a bit intermittent in the morning came out fully in the afternoon, and the temperature rose accordingly.
Our journey took us beneath the M6 and M69 motorways, and on arrival at Hawkesbury Junction we were able to moor about 100 yds prior to the stop lock. This junction is sometimes called Sutton Stop, named after the family that used to operate the lock in the past. We are now at the northern end of the Oxford Canal and only a few miles from Coventry City Centre. Once we pass through the lock tomorrow we will be on the Coventry Canal.
Although so close to the city it still feels rural here. One benefit is that the mobile phone is connected to  4G here so we have taken the opportunity to download some films using Three all you can eat data. Each movie is taking about 15 mins to download so by the end of the evening we should have quite a few stored on the sky box.
       
The photo above shows the silhouette of the chimney for the old engine house, which was built in the 1800s, housing an engine to pump water from deep wells into the canal. Tomorrow we turn right at the junction and head towards Nuneaton. Once the boat was secured it was off to the Greyhound PH. which has prime position at the junction for refreshments.
Totals 11 Miles

Ansty

Today we set off at a more leisurely 10 am. We past through Nuneaton without stopping and continued on towards Marston Junction. This is the junction of the Coventry canal and the Ashby canal. We were planning on an excursion up the Ashby before continuing our journey south. This week however there is a festival on this canal so it will likely be busy. We will visit it probably early next year.

                   Ashby canal which is rural to the left and the Coventry canal straight on.
We continued on the Coventry canal now heading towards Hawksbury Junction. This is where the Coventry canal meets the Oxford Canal which we will join. There is a lock at this junction where the rise in level is only a matter of a few inches. The junction was fairly busy with three other boats going our way and two opposing. There is also a nice pub overlooking the junction so plenty of opportunity for onlookers to witness any poor boatmanship.

                    The approach to Hawksbury Junction left turn towards Oxford Canal

                            Waiting our turn to pass through the stop lock.
We had considered stopping near here but the moorings were quite full so we carried on to the next village Ansty. On route we paralleled the M6 and passed under the M69. Old transport versus modern I know which I prefer. On arrival at Ansty sufficiently far away from the motorway we found a mooring and settled in for the afternoon. This evening we went up to the village and visited the Rose and Crown P.H. for a belated birthday meal. It was very busy and we were lucky to get a table but now we have the number we can book next time.
Not sure what the plan is for tomorrow but possibly a shortish cruise to a nice rural spot and a bit of fishing.
Oscar seems to be learning the ropes well and is now quite happy laying down on the rear deck by the steerer.
Totals 11 Miles 1 Lock