Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Hatton Flight

Tuesday 27th July. 5 miles,2 locks.
Spent some time in Royal Leamington Spar. The buildings here are Victorian & Georgian. Like Bath it was a centre for the wealthy to indulge in the healing properties of mineral water. Then moved on to Warwick.

Wednesday 28th July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Time to revel in ancestry. My Grandmother emigrated, with her family, from Warwick circa 1907. They used to live in a well know Elizabethan house on High street. in 2006 we met the present owners and were shown through the house so we got in touch and were invited back for lunch. Spent a good part of the day with Shirley and a couple of her friends. It almost feels like going home entering that house. Shirley is a historian so is full of information about the house and previous owners. Since last visit she had discovered where my Granny lived before they moved to High street. I have been there to.
A quick look into the Warwick records office came up with a few more facts but not what I was looking for about my Great grandfather. More internet research required before next visit.

Thursday 29th July. 0miles, 0 locks
Hatton Locks (21 of them) were the challenge for the day but by the time the shopping & laundry was done and both of us with a few aching muscles were stayed in Warwick with a walk around Mill Gardens and a wander through the town. Warwick is an easy place to just wander around.

Friday 30th July. 4 1/2 miles. 21 Locks
Hatton flight of locks today.
Now how long will that take so how early do we start? When planning how long it will take to travel to any particular place you add the number of locks to the miles and dived by 3. 21 locks + 2 miles = 7-8 hours. So off we go. The locks are double and as we approach the first we ask a moored up boat if they are going up and want to join us. They do so now we have two on the locks and one on each boat. Part way up they are joined (walked in) by an older couple. He drives the boat, she makes the tea. Now we have 3 on the locks. Three hours after starting we leave the 21st lock. Had lunch the visited a farm park. Moved on a couple of miles and moored up in the country a few yards south west of CV37 7AA

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Monday 26 July. 3 miles, 10 locks.

Spent the morning looking around the village of long Itchington. Interesting variety of architecture with many photo opportunities. Thought we would be smart and team up with another boat to do the broad locks. We were second in at the top so thought we were made. unfortunately at the next lock there was only room for one boat so we ended up coming down by ourselves with no extra crew to help. Moored up just before Royal Leamington Spar next to a field of Poppies, much to Diana's delight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back into locks

Thursday 22nd July. 13 miles, 1 lock, 1 swing bridge.
Diana had to go shopping and I went on to the Herbert Museum expecting to see something on Frank Whittle but all there was was a reasonably modern Jet engine. Also at the gallery was a photo exhibition, from one photographer, of early working narrow boats. That was great to see as they had all been taken at Hawkesbury Junction which we passed latter on in the day.
As we left Coventry we had a phone call from the couple we had dinner with on Tuesday inviting us for dinner when we caught up with them. They had left Coventry on Wednesday. Consequently it was a long day motoring with a junction and small lock to negotiate, along with 5 other boats. I feel good when others on smaller boats have trouble and I luck in with a smooth turn, just like an expert. Doesn't always work that way. From the junction we are on the Oxford canal and back into rural peaceful motoring with the occasional motorway passing by to remind us we are travelling at the best speed.
About 1830 we catch up with our hosts to find pre-dinner drinks & a 3 course meal waiting. Great end to a long day. 1/2 mile east of CV23 oLN.

Friday 23 July. 9 miles, 3 locks.
Continue down the Oxford with a stop for groceries at Rugby. The locals surprised we weren't going to the Rugby museum. Went there in 2006. Met our first ignorant boat hirer who wouldn't move to let others get water. Stopped 1/2 mile south of CV21 4PW.

Saturday 24 July. 7 miles, 0 locks.
Today we go onto the Grand Union Canal. Stopped and went into the town of Braunston. While Diana waited for a wedding to come out so she could photograph it she befriended an old lady who later took us through the village and gave us the history of the buildings. From the village we walked down to the big canal centre. We had been to an Historic boats festival here in 2006. On the way down we looked into an allotment. Diana went in to take photos and met a lady who had a Doctor from Havelock North stay with her when they were buying a boat. We have not met the doctor but had heard of him. small world. From the canal centre back to the boat and through Braunston turn, down the Grand union to moor 1/2 mile west of CV23 8AT.

Sunday 25 July. 7 miles, 13 locks (wide ones)
Off in the morning turn right at Napton Junction heading towards Warwick. At first 3 locks we waited for another boat to join us to ease the workload as we went through together. A hot day so found a bit of shade where we put the chairs out for lunch on the towpath. As we approached the next flight of 8 locks we passed a moored up kiwi couple. Caused a bit of a traffic jam as we tried to come alongside to exchange contacts. That didn't work so he walked down the towpath until we could stop. Diana had had a brief encounter with them at the busy Fradley junction with no time to talk. Chatted to him for almost an hour before continuing through the 8 double locks. Time was getting on and the flow of traffic had almost stopped so was looking at close on 3 hours to go through the next 8 locks. Entered the first and about to close the gate when around the corner comes a boat. Great there is a crew of keen kids and 2 hours later we are through 10 locks and ready to stop for a pub meal at CV47 9QZ. Only 12 locks to Warwick then there is a flight of 20 straight after that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Tuesday 20 July 0 miles, 0 locks.
A day in town visiting the Cathedral. The ruins of the one bombed in 1940 is a very moving place.
The new one is such a contrast. A modern design but still having all the aspects of a big Cathedral. It will be an ancient monument one day. Had an evening out with a couple of Poms who moved to Melbourne 40+ years ago. They have a boat over here and are about to build an Art Deco house in the Dandenong's. Nice couple who we expect to see in Napier next Art Deco weekend.

Wednesday 21 July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Another day in town. The Coventry Transport museum took 5 hours to visit. Then a quick look at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. Will go back tomorrow and have a better look. Diana wants to check out the ribbon weaving and I will look at the display on Frank Whittle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Ashby

Wednesday 14 July. 0 miles, 0 Locks.
Went to do the daily checks on the boat and found the boat had developed a leak in the bit that is below the waterline. The packing that had been put in on Sunday wasn't enough after a good day motoring. I bailed out a couple of litres and added another layer of packing around the prop shaft which seems to have solved the problem. Weather not nice so did some washing and stayed the night again at Hinckley.

Thursday 15 July. 7 miles, 0 locks.
traveled on up the Ashby to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. There is a visitor centre with a good presentation about the battle. This was 22 August 1485. Last battle in the war of the Roses. Richard the 3rd was killed and Henry the 7th took the thrown. The first of the Tudors.
Spent the night at the battle site. CV13 0AD.

Friday 16th July. 2 m
iles, 0 Locks.
Spent the morning at a well known Antique centre at Shenton. CV13 6BZ. Nothing special here except for the village which had some interesting buildings. Moved on up the canal to Market Bosworth. The town is about a mile up from the canal. Went up to buy some groceries and sample their famous Fish & Chips. What a fascinating market square. CV13 0JW.

Saturday 17th July. 7 miles, 0 locks, 1 tunnel (twice)
Market Bosworth, the photographers delight. Back again in the morning with all the cameras as it was late when we were there the night before. Did the town walk and found many other places worth a photo. Chips for lunch on the way back to the boat then on up to the end of the navigable part of the canal. They are working on bringing the last 8 miles back into use. Turned around and back to Snarestone for the nightDE12 7DB. Other than a pub, nothing there.

Sunday 18th July. 12 miles, 0 locks.
On the return now. Stop
ped at Shackerstone where there is a vintage railway. The station is Victorian and they have a good selection of memorabilia, diesel engines and a couple of Steam engines. The train runs for just 9 miles. No steam today so didn't take the trip. We did see the train later in the day and it didn't travel much faster than a narrow boat. Spent the night at Stoke golding. A dormitory village. CV13 6EZ.

Monday 19th July. 17 Miles, 0 locks.
Nice warm day. The plan was to leave the Ashby canal & get back on to the Coventry. We did that with stops for washing and diesel. Once back on the Coventry we headed towards coventry until we were in the position of stop or go on the last 6 miles. Didn't want to stop on the outskirts of Coventry for personal safety reasons. Arrived 1930 ish tired and ready for an early night. Expect to stay at least 2 days. CV1 4LY.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

English summer weather has arrived.

Sunday 11 July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Robert and Mary left us this morning. Considering all the complications of taxi's meeting buses, walking between bus and railway stations in Birmingham with a tight schedule to catch the train, they took a Taxi to Stratford on Avon. We have forgotten how close places are. We travel all day for what can be done in a taxi in 10 minutes or so.
Soon after they had left Dave arrived to give the boat an oil change, fix a cable & repack the drive shaft. Thats the only opening below the water line so it's good to know its done. This took most of the day so spent the night outside The King Head.

Monday 12 July. 2 miles, 5 locks.
Provisioned up at the local supermarket and then headed up the last 5 locks before 90 miles lock free. Guess who's pleased about that. As we went into the 5th lock the drizzle of the morning turned to rain.
Stopped for lunch a couple of miles down the track and decided we didn't need to keep doing this in the rain. Stayed the night.

Tuesday 13 July. 10 miles, 0 locks.
An overcast morning enticed us to move on so down the Coventry and turn into the Ashby Canal. Back into the country now with fields, trees, animals & birds, just the way we like it. Stop for lunch, down comes the rain again. After a while it eases up so on we go knowing we come back this way and hopefully it will be fine on the return. Stopped tonight at Hinckley not far from LE10 3ED.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The crew leave.

Thursday 8 July. 7 1/2 miles, 2 locks.
Today it was through Fradley Junction. Not as busy as some days but with boats passing, one lane traffic, locks and turning traffic we made it through. Actually I felt like I had complete control of my 70ft. Even more control than others in shorter boats.
We have headed down the Conventry canal which in hindsight was the best decisssion as they are running out of water the other way we were going to go. Stopped in the village of Whittington, nothing special. or i'm getting used to what English villages look like. Nice church. Mr Spencer of Marks and Spencers is buried here. Moored for the night in a bush setting at Hopwas Woods. Nearest pub a little further on at Hopwas. B78 3AF.

Friday 9 July, 6 miles, 2 locks.
Moved on to Tamworth so Robert & Mary could find train/bus schedules to go to Stratford on Sunday. A surprising town with a heap of history. Castles dated from 1070AD. Moved further down the canal for a safer night mooring outside the Gate Inn. B77 3BY. Birthday dinner for Diana as not sure where we are tomorrow.

Saturday 10 July. 7 miles, 5 locks, 1 Birthday.
Walked back into Tamworth and explored/photographed the old buildings moving on to find a place where it will be easy for Robert & Mary to leave us and also where Dave can find us as tomorrow is oil change day. Best option was morred up out side The Kings Head CV9 1BB. Well it would be rude to moor up and not use the facilities so a nice pub meal again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

for who the bell tolls?

Sunday 4 July. 7 1/2 miles,3 locks.
I spent morning looking after the boat while the crew went into Stone for supplies and photos. After lunch we trundled on down and stopped for the night on a delightful stretch of canal at moo mill lock. Drinks on the tow path.

Monday 5 July. 2 miles, 1 lock.
A few domestics loading water, and clearing out the waste before mooring up at Great Haywood ST18 0ST. Spent the afternoon at Shugborough Hall & Park. Until recently the home of Lord. Lichfield. A big house and grounds. They also displayed some of Lord Lichfields photograph. Nice work. That evening Margaret Mitchell & Jim Taylor from Rotary joined us for a chat before they went off searching for some accommodation for the night.

Tuesday 6 July. 10 miles, 2 locks.
Had a wondered around Great Haywood taking photos, picking strawberries & Raspberries. Talked to a broker at the marina and headed off after lunch. Went into Rugeley and had a quick tea before heading on for a late stop just before Kings Bromley Wharf, not far from Fradley Junction the busiest junction on the network.

Wednesday 7th 2 1/2 miles 1 lock.
We had been told to time our run through Fradley junction at other than mid morning or mid afternoon. We had that about right as we approached the top lock the last in the cue was just going in. Then it all went wrong. Easing over to the side of the canal to let the crew off I put the boat into reverse to slow down. It went faster so I went back to neutral. Not looking good at this point so into revers again and we went faster towards the lock. It this point it dawned on me that something was wrong. this was confirmed as the crew gets agitated and leap of a speeding (2 mph) ship. all ropes try slowing her down and after hitting the lock approaches we finally stop the boat and I notice that it is still in gear. Back on the boat, kill the engine & take a deep breath. That was the end of our travels for the day. Gear box cable broken so it never did go into revers or neutral. Talked to the owner who travelled for 2 1/2 hours to come and fit a new cable. All's well now.

The reference to the bell is:
There is a bell in the cabin and we asked Dave & lynn what it was for. It is to let you know when you hit something hard Well it rang today.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Crew.

Friday 2 July.1200yrds. o locks.

Spent a good part of the day at the Wedgwood visitor centre. They have a small museum and demonstration area in the factory where we watched and talked to throwers, turners, slip pot makers, hand painters, jewellery makers, figurine painters and the makers of those raised areas on Wedgwood. A very interesting to do. Turns out that most of the skills demonstrated were being done by the last or the last of a few craftsmen left at the factory. Wedgwood is multi- national and not developing craftspeople for the future. There is also a big museum all about Josiah Wedgwood the founder of the company and important person in developing potteries at the start of the industrial revolution. The museum seems to have an example of every thing ever made at wedgwood. Too much to take in.
Late afternoon left there for the village of Barlaston as a convenient place to meet Robert & Mary. As you can see from above it was just around the corner. Had dinner at The Plume of Feathers (ST12 9DH) a bit of a walk through the village and that was it for the day.

Saturday 3 July. 4 miles, 8 locks.

Not an early start. Needed to introduce the crew into canal time. Typical country canal as we headed south. Diana passing on her knowledge on lock operations. At one lock she heard there was a market in Stone but it was 4 locks away so had lunch on boat instead. before proceeding. Turned out market was only a short walk away. Proceeded through the locks, all moorings full because of the market, eventually rafted up alongside another boat not to far from town. Walked in to see the last of the market being cleared away. The Star Inn (ST15 8UW) for dinner. This is the place where people gather to watch, advise & help boats through the adjacent lock. Great entertainment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Potty again

Thursday 1 July. 6 miles, 9 locks.

Went to the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory shop. They have re-established a pottery in the traditional hand made style. Emma is the business woman and husband is the artist. They are doing very well even though it is expensive. While talking to the staff about missing factory tours one arranged a tour even though they were on holiday and a lot of maintenance going on. Some workers were there doing hand painting & stencilling. Well worth the visit. After lunch we came off the Caldon and went to a boat yard to get some gas and had a nose around what Black prince had to offer. With the prospect of rain we headed south down tjhe trent & Mersey again and have made it past the industrial parts and parked up tonight by the bridge next to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre. ( ST4 3FB) Another day going potty tomorrow before we join up with Robert & Mary.

Picture: Caldon Canal ......Steam railway station at Consall Forge. Train platform hangs out over the canal.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

will a 70ft boat fit in a 68ft hole?

Sunday 27th June. 5 miles, 6 Locks, 2 lift bridges
Wandered on up the Caldon and pleased we did as it is a nice place to be. Still narrow and tight in places and in one place there is a big round thing in the middle of the canal that one squeezes past. Spent the night at the junction of the Leek branch, west of pub ST13 7JT. As part of the Leek branch was closed we walk into as far as we could motor and were happy that we had seen all we could and didn't need to go there again. Bit of a pitty as Leek is meant to be worth visiting.
Monday 28th June. 6 miles, 7 locks.
the Churnet Valley where we visited the Cheddelton Flint mill museum with working water wheels. Interesting to see how all the cogs connected to keep various parts going. The canal drops down into the Churnet river for a short time before a lock takes us back onto the canal. Arrived at Consall Forge which is the middle station on a Steam train line. The canal runs beside the station and as room is so tight the platform is cantilevered over the canal. Another tight fit but not the tightest. We knew we were close to the limit of our travels as we had been told the last place to turn a 70ft boat was at the next lock. Looked very tight but gave it a go. Didn't fit the way I tried it so back off and try another method. I'm sure the turning bay was 68ft with a little knick in it. Put the nose in the knick hop of the back of the boat and gentle pull it around. Yes a 70ft boat will fit in a modified 68ft hole. Now we are pointing back towards the way we came its back past the station again and par up at Consall Forge. Deserved a pub meal tonight at the highly recommend Black Lion.ST9 0AJ.

Tuesday 29th June. 4 miles, 7 locks.
As we couldn't take the boat to the end of the canal we walked the tow path to Froghall. they have developed a great place for mooring narrowboats but it is a bit untidy as it looks like no narrow boats can get there. There is a tunnel just before the end of the canal that is very low roof clearance. There are gages by the last lock to see if you can fit. There were about 5 boats at the tunnel that hadn't/couldn't go through so the mooring basin was empty. Great potential if they make the tunnel bigger. Sailed off from Consall Forge late in the day. Stopped at Cheddelton Station, the home of the Steam trains. One was in steam for Wednesday but they only do school trips on Wednesdays so I wasn't tempted to stay. Decided to make for another recommended pub but all moorings were taken so stopped where we had on Sunday night.

Wednesday 30 June. 8 miles, 5 locks, 1 Lift bridge.

Pretty much a trundle back through all those narrow bits, obstructions and tight turns to stop for the night near Hanley park with 3 locks left before we get back onto the Trent & Mersey.
Tonights post code is a factory shop 1/4 mile back up the canal. I guess we will visit tomorrow. ST13EJ.