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 

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