Posted 12th June
The day dawned grey again and distinctly chilly. Deb walked up to visit the man who looks after the fundraising to give him some of the multifarious knick-knacks which were on Chuffed when we bought her – let’s hope someone else can make use of them! He said that restoration work should start again next month, and the large pit just past where the canal ends at present is to test out a new kind of lining material.
The old pumping station just to one side has been sold and converted into a private house;
but the beams were rescued and will be mounted for display by a volunteer.
We didn’t leave till after 10. which was unfortunate as two boats pulled out in front of us at Shackerstone and we made slow progress all morning. It was cold enough for woolly hats and tea in insulated mugs to start with, but by lunchtime the sun had broken through and by the time we eventually moored for lunch the weather was glorious. We moored just before the Shenton aqueduct, where the books tell you there are offside moorings; they have unfortunately now been closed permanently, though it looked perfectly ok near the aqueduct end. When we walked down to go to the Visitor Centre we could see the old steps going up to the moorings, which looked ok too. Perhaps it’s a cost thing.
We walked a good mile along the road before we got to the Visitor Centre, but the effort was well worth while. The centre is on top of Ambion Hill, where Richard III is thought to have massed his army before the battle. There is an exhibition with mostly replica weapons and artefacts, and lots of questions for kids which are of interest to adults too – for example, if the enemy is only 100 yards away and charging you are only going to be able to take out one or possibly two with arrows, cannon, halberds, pikes, before they are upon you ….. your only chance (and that is a small one) is a short sword. There was replica armour to try on – padded waistcoats are heavy, but the chain mail is worse; they had one hung on a scale and it was nearly 20lb. Unfortunately no photos - we were so fascinated we forgot to take any till we were outside. We even had a go on a device which replicated firing a longbow (at kiddy height but we still had a go!) and told you how far you would have fired your arrow – Dave’s was the maximum, 220m (we think) and Deb’s the next one down, still over 200m – impressive, eh? Must be all those locks! Towards the end of the exhibition was a rolling film re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth, with an illuminated table-top display showing how the positions of the armies changed as the battle progressed, with a dramatic voice-over worthy of Dan and Peter Snow. Neither of us could remember any detail from history lessons, and we thought the whole thing was presented brilliantly.
Outside is a signposted walk around the country park, starting near this sundial which was erected as a memorial to all those who died in the battle. Hooked over the point of the gnomon is a replica of Richard’s crown.
The path led us down to Shenton Station, which is the terminus of the Battlefield Line from Snarestone. Steam trains apparently run at the weekends. When we realised how close we were to the canal we decided to take the short cut rather than climb all the way back up the hill and another mile by road! It was already nearly 5 so the tea shop would have closed too. If you ever want to visit the battlefield, we recommend mooring at bridge 35 and walking up through the country park via Shenton station, much more pleasant than trudging along the road.
We had hoped to moor at Sutton Wharf but the spot we wanted was taken, so we went on and found a quiet spot at bridge 32, which kept the sun till it set.