Sunday, 22 May 2016

Up the Motte

Friday 20th May  Barby to All Oaks Wood

It was bright but quite cool as we set off around 9.30.  The motorway at Barby was noisy but only really visible at the bridge – the burgeoning hedgerows do a pretty good concealment job I think.  Just a field away but you wouldn’t know there was a motorway there (apart from the noise of course and the tops of the lorries). 

2 M45 behind burgeoning nature

We held back a little as we neared the linear moorings at Barby to wait for motor Aldgate and butty to come past.

3 motor Aldgate towing unnamed

This is the third time in a row we have met a towing pair here – once it was a new lock gate for Hillmorton.  Only one of each pair of locks at Hillmorton was operating today.  The middle one’s wall had started bowing in and was being repaired.

4 middle hillmorton under repair  4a niddle hillmorton

The top lock will be done next - I had noticed that the brick surround was coming away from the grass by the towpath.  Lucky they are paired locks!  The bottom lock on the towpath side is also closed, but that is to control the numbers of boats going up – if two went up the bottom pair of locks a queue could easily build up below the next lock, where only one can go up at a time.

The newly positioned water point at Brownsover was vacant, so we stopped to fill and empty as appropriate.  The tap has a good pressure and we only needed a top-up so the water tank was filled by the time I had emptied the cassette. It was a bit early for lunch so we went on to Newbold before continuing to All Oaks Wood.  On the way we saw a swan family with seven cygnets

6 seven cygnets

and our first moorhen chicks too.  The lovely moorings were busy as they often are but we managed to moor on pins at the northern end, though we couldn’t get right in to the side.  We took Meg and went to see the Motte and Bailey at Brinklow, taking the road from bridge 34 and picking up the footpath that leads to the village.  We approached the motte from the ‘back’, and climbed a narrow path which will be swamped by vegetation before long. 

8 dave ascending brinklow motte

At the top it was obvious we had approached from the wrong direction. The ‘village’ side is all mown (or rabbit-nibbled – there were plenty about) as is the the bailey, the flat area on the other side of the moat at the bottom of the slope.

9 is that the bailey below

The sides of the motte are steep and it must have been quite a good defensive position.  There would have been a wooden or stone keep on the top and other buildings within the bailey below, which was also surrounded by earth banks and ditches.  It was constructed in the 11th century, soon after the Norman Conquest.

10 dave descending motte

We walked down to the village and came back via the lane that leads to the car park in the woods.  It was so warm we sat at the stern with a beer for an hour till it got chilly.   Later, two stag party boats roared by far too fast and as we weren’t moored on the piling we were bumped against the rocky bottom.  Most annoying. It rained later on but the revellers probably wouldn’t have noticed.

3 locks, 11 miles

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