Today was another day for doing Locks, 19 of the pesky things. First we had a three mile cruise to do. We set off from our mooring and at the next bridge pulled in, whilst the crew popped along to a nearby bakery, which was advertising its wares. Once underway, we passed through the next bridge ‘ole, to be confronted by an Anglo Welsh hire boat wedged tight across the Canal. Apparently rubbish round the prop had stalled the engine, and now they were stuck solid. Despite heaving with a boat pole, it wasn’t moving, so we attached a line and towed them out. Did wonder whether to claim salvage rights, but I don’t think marine salvage law applies on the canals. We also had a few lift bridges to navigate, not the easy sort which work with a key, these ones the crew had to wind up and down.

Draw Bridge near Hockley Heath

Soon we were at the Top Lock of the Lapworth flight. We did the first four on our own, then for the next nine, we were accompanied by some volunteers who work the Locks. Have the next Lock set ahead, certainly sped things up a bit.

A vlockie helping

After 17 Locks we reached the water point. The tank needed a refill, and it was lunchtime. Forty five minutes later we descended the final lock on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, and navigated through King’s Wood Junction.

King’s Wood Junction

Right for Stratford-upon-Avon, left for the Grand Union, we turned left. Down the final lock for the day, we joined the Lapworth link, and at the junction with the Grand Union Canal, we turned right, heading towards Warwick. A mile and a half later, we found our mooring spot and secured the boat. Tomorrow we will wash the starboard side, and tend to a few other maintenance jobs, but for now we are just going to relax for the evening.

Mooring at Rowington

Mooring pins are required here, but the ground is very solid so I doubt they will move. One other point to note, we have now completed more Locks in the six weeks since leaving Yelvertoft, than we did in the whole of last year.

Totals 6 Miles 19 Locks

Running total 141 Miles 187 Locks 8 Tunnels

Wootton Wawen

Having had one longish day, it is rare for us to do it again the following day. But yesterday was different, we are on a bit of a schedule, and the weather was forecast to be turning. Therefore, we set off from a delightful spot at Rowington, for Kings Wood junction about a mile away. Here we branched left, leaving the Grand Union Canal for the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

Kings Wood Junction

As we made the turn, we left a wide Canal for a narrow one, small Locks and tight bridge holes. The Lapworth link joining the two canals, is only a couple of hundred yards long.

That looks like a tight squeeze

Once through the bridge, it is left for Stratford, and right for Birmingham, we turned left. Joining the Stratford Canal at this point, brings you in at the bottom end of the Lapworth flight.

Lock 22 Lapworth. Narrow Locks again

The crew now had 17 Locks to work, prior to our intended stopping point. The Stratford Canal is a very pretty Canal, with some unusual features. Many of the buildings alongside the Canal, have distinctive barrel shaped roofs.

Barrel roofed cottages

A further feature is the design of the bridges, which if you look closely, are made in two halves, and not joined in the centre. This gap of an inch or two, allowed the old boatmen to proceed, without having to remove the tow line between the boat, and the horse.

Gap for the towline

The other thing we have encountered on this Canal, is the fact that many of the bottom gates don’t open fully into their recesses. This means on occasions, exiting the Lock can be a very tight squeeze. The worst by far was Preston Bagot bottom lock, where on first attempt, we came to complete halt half way out. We stopped at Lowsonford for a quick top up with water, close to the Fleur-de-Lys pub, which is renowned for its pies. We have previously visited this pub, together with family on a hire boat holiday, a few years before our boat was commissioned. We carried on cruising until we reached Wootton Wawen, and found a spot just before the hire base.

Today we are having a day of rest and recuperation. We took four legs for his walk along the Canal and beyond the hire base, and located a Marina which does not appear in the guide books. It looks new, so must have been built since the books were last printed. We phoned to establish if they provide services to passing boats, and they do. When we set off tomorrow, we will need diesel and a pump out. Once back at the boat, four legs was left on guard, whilst we went into Wooten Wawen village, a short distance from the Canal. There is an antiques centre located at Yew Tree Farm, it was worth a visit, and I managed to escape without opening my wallet. Then it was onto the Bulls Head P.H for lunch, where I had a very tasty steak and ale pie.

Our lunch venue

On the way back to the boat, the rain forecast for two o’clock arrived at 1.15pm. We got wet.

Totals 8 Miles 17 Locks

Running total 42 Miles 76 Locks 3 Tunnels