Monday, 8 December 2014

Sunny Hillmorton, chilly Rugby, muddy Braunston

Tuesday 2nd December

After yesterday’s gloom it was a lot brighter this morning with tantalising shreds of blue sky.  We watched a flock of starlings having their breakfast in the field opposite while we had ours inside in the warm before pulling pins, well wrapped up in the icy wind.   The starlings came too, and were soon joined by a flock of redwings and fieldfares, diving into the hawthorns for the few remaining berries before we chugged along to disturb them.  Eventually they all took off over the hedge and back the way they came, leaving us alone on the cut.

It was deserted all the way to Hillmorton locks, unlike last time we came this way when we had to wait as a CRT work boat brought the new Hillmorton gates slowly through the Barby moorings.  At the locks I had to turn the first two, then we met the first boat of the day rising up the bottom one.  I only took a couple of photos today – this bunny on the towpath.  An escapee?

1 towpath bunny  2 towpath bunny

We carried on in sunshine to get to the Brownsover moorings in time for lunch.  We were able to moor on the park side so, to Meg’s great delight, Dave took her out for a great game of ball. 

Then we walked into Rugby, which we’ve never visited before, as we’ve always found the moorings chocker when we’ve wanted to stop before.  It’s a fair trek, and in spite of the  freezing wind we were glad we’d removed the thermals before we set off!  We weren't terribly impressed with the town centre, though I’m sure it feels more welcoming in summer.  We aren’t great rugby football fans (Dave’s a dyed-in-the-wool Spurs supporter) so didn’t want to visit the Webb Ellis museum, nor look at the school, so we went to the town museum and Art Gallery instead.  We only looked at the art bit – an exhibition of Japanese wrapping cloths (a bit specialist) and the local art group’s show.  But it was warm, and we did manage to get a couple of Christmas presents in their shop.

We went back via Tesco and it was nearly dark when we got back to Chuffed.  Fire lit, we settled down for an evening in.

6 miles, 3 locks

Wednesday 3rd December

In spite of the racket from the road we slept in and the frost had long gone from the park by the time we got going.  We went past the next bridge to turn, passing Waiouru who must have arrived while we were out yesterday afternoon.  No-one around unfortunately.

1 waiouru at brownsover

It was lovely cruising in the glorious sunshine.  Meg was quite comfortable without her little coat, even in the occasional shady bits. 

 7 no coat today  

At Hillmorton we went up one side while the tug ahead of us went up the other.  A local liveaboard helped us both through the middle locks, retrieving a floating tyre as we waited for the lock.  He had been having trouble with the lower pound dropping overnight and was grumbling that the lower lock leaks hadn’t been fixed while the other work was going on.  We left him running another lockful through to the lower pound.  There was still frost on the beams where they were in shadow, even at lunchtime.

5 leaving hillmorton

As the canal goes round a bend Rugby Cement works (which we’d seen on our walk into town) came into view on the horizon.  How much of that plume is dust I wonder?  or is it all steam and wasted heat, as at power stations?

8 rugby cement works

About 100 geese were grazing in the fields on the offside.  To start with we thought the greylags had segregated themselves from the canadas, but the last group was a mixture of the two.

9 grey lags  10 canadas too

We had a quick glimpse of a kingfisher too.  As we approached Braunston the sun was very low, in our eyes a lot of the time, and the shadows it cast showed up the mediaeval strips.  I’ve never managed to get a photo to show them clearly before.  According to WIkipedia the strips are called selions and were typically one furlong (660 ft) long and one chain (66 ft) wide, giving an area of one acre.

11 strip farming `   12 strip farming 2

A slightly different photo of the church anyway!  We moored before the main road bridge in case there wasn’t room further along, and went off to the chandlery for some insulation strip for the hopper windows and then for a walk round the village and back past the marina.  There was space to moor but by now it was too dark to move safely.  We passed Milly M but didn’t see Maffi, and then picked our way back through the mud to Chuffed. 

9 and a half miles, 3 locks.

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