Monday 23rd May; to the (new) end of the Ashby and back to Sutton Wharf
After a quiet night it dawned bright and sunny, although when we set off it was into a nagging cold wind especially when the sun went in. So the shorts had to stay in the cupboard. We couldn’t see much difference in the sections of canal out of or within the SSSI, though we did notice that all the fields had about 15 yards of uncultivated field edge all round. As long as this escapes the sprays it will provide a home for all kinds of insects, which will lead to birds and other creatures moving into eat them. One lovely moment was a short but super view of a beautiful hare, sitting bolt upright quite close to the canal. I hadn’t realised how much bigger they are than rabbits. We were too busy looking to even pick the camera up and the moment didn’t last long enough anyway.
We bimbled along through fields and woods till we came to Snarestone tunnel. It is crooked and the roof is uneven but it was dry and you could see – just - right through. The photo shows the bend quite well.
Once through the tunnel we were soon at the terminus – or at least the winding hole (turning point where the canal is wider) where the navigation ended last time we were here. We winded and moored up before going to explore the new section which has been in water for about a year I think. Several hundred yards has been re-opened and if we had wanted to we could have swung the little footbridge and brought the boat up.
The towpath has been created on the left of the cut although the original one as shown in Nicholson’s was on the right. The end is just the other side of the bridge.
One day this will be in water …..
There was a wider section at the end but I think Chuffed would have been too long to turn and would have had to reverse back. We aren’t purists when it comes to covering every inch of navigable waterway – we were quite happy to walk it! On the way back we spotted a Green-veined White butterfly.
Dave had the wrong lens for a proper close-up unfortunately but it’s better than my camera would have managed. The old engine house, which had a beam engine in days gone by, has been converted to a private dwelling.
The beams were salvaged and have now been mounted to show them in a working alignment.
We had run out of bread so decided to have a pub lunch as the Globe at Snarestone wasn’t far away. So we started back, passing this interesting landing stage on the way to Snarestone tunnel.
A few yards away was a narrow and very decorative mooring. I’m not sure whether you could get a narrow-boat in there though.
Nicholson’s shows a Manor in this area so this probably belonged to that. Looks a little under-used now though doesn’t it?
We had a pleasant enough lunch in the dog-friendly Globe, nothing special though. The chips came in a little basket (smaller than a bowl, boo) which was lined with a bit of ‘newspaper’. Just a bit of printed greaseproof paper though ….
When we got going again I took the tiller and even managed to take some photos while steering. There is a particularly lovely stretch through some woodland on the way to Shackerstone. At this point the sun was still showing its face on and off.
If the bike hadn’t got another puncture I would have cycled up to Market Bosworth for some shopping. It’s a long uphill walk and we have been there before so we opted to carry on down to Sutton Wharf, where we moored on the offside pontoon. It’s just as well we didn’t go up to the town – there was a sudden quite heavy shower and we would have been caught out without waterproofs! But by the time we moored the sun was out again. We got our spot at the start of the pontoon just by the way onto the footpath which leads up through Ambion Woods to the Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre. Meg said it was time we looked after her needs for a change so we went straight out for a lovely walk up through the woods to the park around the Visitor Centre, which you can go into without paying. We have been into the Visitor Centre before and we thought it was excellent.
There is a large sundial in the park which has some key facts about the course of the Battle of Bosworth at the relevant time points around the dial.
Behind the gnomon (the bit that sticks up and casts the shadow) is a sort of seat. There are three of these around the perimeter – one each for Richard III (who met his end in the battle), the victorious Henry Tudor and the Earl Stanley who was supposedly on Richard’s side. Richard held Stanley’s son hostage to make sure he kept to his oath. On each seat was the crest of the man. When we went into the visitor centre you could make yourself a bookmark impressed with a facsimile of Richard’s seal, which was a boar. I think it was meant for children but I’m still using the two I made!
Flying above the sundial were the banners of Richard and Henry Tudor. Henry’s was twisted but you could see Richard’s boar although it was difficult to photograph as it waved about in the wind. You can see the boar if you adjust your screen and squint a bit!
We took the footpath down to Shenton Station, where a steam train is run on the Battlefield Line up to Shackerstone, but unfortunately not today. Then we followed the now disused railway line and came across an interpretation point overlooking the probable site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last battle of the Wars of the Roses. It had been thought the battle was fought on Ambion Hill, but the discovery of cannonballs across this field changed this view.
Dadlington Windmill was apparently in this calm and peaceful field and the battle would have raged around it. Hard to imagine now. The poor souls who were injured would have been lucky to have recovered I think. The body of poor old Richard was slung naked over the back of a horse and carried in triumph to Leicester where his bones were discovered a few years ago. We were fortunate enough to see the excavation site and visit the exhibition when we visited Leicester a few years ago. Good stuff, this history.
We followed the course of the railway as far as the canal, where it disappears into the undergrowth, and took the towpath back to Sutton Wharf. It was still warm enough to sit out at the stern for a while.
15 miles, Snarestone tunnel (twice).