Saturday 30 June 2018

Another Factor 50 day

Monday 25th June; Clifton to just short of Braunston

The downside of having the shade in the evening is the likelihood of having none in the morning!  Normally that’s what we like but it’s getting too hot too quickly now.  The golf course behind the hedge was busy wasting water – why not water earlier or even the night before, as half of this will be lost to evaporation?  As I write, the first hose-pipe ban has been announced (Friday evening).  My lawn is brown now, but it will grow again as soon as it rains – can’t golfers putt on a brown instead of a green for a while? Winking smile

There is the ghost of a rainbow in the spraydrift.

1 waste of water clifton

Our dilemma was, as the starboard side was nice and cool, should we stay so Dave could touch up the coach lines, or should we aim to get past Hillmorton locks and find some more shade?  Boats had been passing on their way from Hillmorton, and hardly any were heading the same way as us, so maybe there wouldn’t be a queue for the locks.  We went. 

I thought that the major building project at Hillmorton was happening above the locks, but it’s not – the works on the offside seem to stretch most of the way from Clifton to the locks.

2 building work clifton-hillmorton

The water points were occupied and a boat was about to leave one of the bottom locks, so as we don’t need to fill up at the moment we went in.  There is a little patch of grass and wild flowers between the two bottom locks.  Boats were waiting, above and below, so I had no time to get the book out and identify this lovely orchid.

5 orchid sign4 orchid hillmorton bottom lock 

There was only one lockie, and he stayed at the bottom lock, but with boats coming down all the time we were quickly up, with just one short wait; the boat waiting to take our lock thought he had positioned himself perfectly, but failed to take into account the fact we had to get out first!  He was not pleased at having to manoeuvre to let us by.

It was very hot so we enjoyed the shady patches of canal as we passed the Barby moorings.  Of course, that is where we met most boats.  Here is Nuneaton with butty Brighton.

9 barby nuneaton and brighton

An alpaca is living at the new(ish) Barby marina moorings, but wasn’t in the mood to pose.

10 alpaca barby marina

We continued to meet historic boats on their way from Braunston.  Here is Tardebigge, who spotted us coming round the bend before we saw him, luckily for us.

11 tardebigge

Dunchurch Pools marina looks to have a lot of space still – is it still under construction?  There didn’t seem to be any electric hook-up pillars on the pontoons through the bridge. 

Hay was being baled into swiss rolls but we missed a good view of one being disgorged from the baler.  I do hope the driver’s cab had air-con.  The tractor was going at quite a lick as it scooped up the grass.

14 making big bales

We didn’t want to get all the way to Braunston today, as it’s likely to be busy still, and Dave thought he remembered a good shady mooring about a mile out.  Perfect!

15 some touching up

We had plenty of shade for some more painting jobs, and it was just cool enough for me to make flapjack and prepare our tea without getting myself baked in the process. 

Plenty of boats were on the move during the afternoon, including several more historic boats.

13 cepheus

 16 callisto

Cepheus and Callisto.  We had seen Cassiopeia earlier but didn’t get a photo.

A little family came prospecting for tit-bits while I was relaxing in the shade with some cake.  They didn’t get anything.

17 little visitors

It was still very hot after 6 when Corona went by towing Alsager.

18 corona and alsager

Dave took Meg for a walk towards Braunston later on.  We had been joined by just one more shade-seeker, but a few hundred yards further on was a busy stretch in full scorching sun.  The cattle opposite us didn’t seem to mind the heat.

19 the neighbours

7 miles, 3 locks

Friday 29 June 2018

The one main objective today ….

Sunday 24th June;  All Oaks Wood to Clifton 

…. was to get to Rugby to be sure of a TV signal, so we could watch the England v Panama match at 1 o’clock.  Before we left, Meg was delighted to go for some playtime in the fields accessible from the towpath.  One had been cut for hay or silage and the crop cleared, so we used that one, but we are always aware of the risk to stock of dog poo; we are sure to pick up if the need arises so the next crop is clean.  Apart from the risk of disease, if you were a cow would you like to eat silage with dog poo in it?

1 field behind all aoks hedge

It’s a lovely place to stop, but you really need to get there early to be sure of a good spot.  We hadn’t, but at least we didn’t have to moor close to the road.

3 and the mooring

The sun was hot this morning and half the other boats had gone early to avoid the building heat.  Newbold Tunnel was a cool relief from the heat.  On the approach to Brownsover, we were alarmed as we crossed the aqueducts to see that the moorings before the bridge were all closed.  The bank has been repaired but the rings removed and mooring is forbidden.  But there was space on the park, with a bit of shade too! and after a Tesco shop, emptying a cassette and dumping rubbish, we settled in for England v Panama in the group stage of the World cup.  It’s very enjoyable watching England play well and win; 6-1 today, long may it last ……. 

We find the roads too noisy to want to stay here long, and when we set off again we noticed that new mooring rings have been installed east of the park, to replace the ones lost to the west.

4 new rings brownsover

It wasn’t far to Clifton.  There is a hire base there and we expected the area to be busy.  It was, though not with hire boats – one was there, waiting to turn at the winding hole, but with the numbers of boats passing in both directions – perhaps everyone had been watching the footy?  it was very congested.  A boatyard employee was holding a hire boat out of the way while a digger was tidying up the overgrown offside, probably so they can use it for more moorings.  It would be good to reduce the numbers double- or treble-moored when the boats aren’t out.

5 clearing operations at clifton

We waited at the narrows for a boat to come through, and could see another appearing, then there was another, so we had quite a wait, though not as long as the couple on the hire boat to the right, patiently waiting to turn.

6 and busy with historic boats from braunston

Eventually we got through, and made it past the works where the towpath has been diverted.  The reason is for third party drainage works apparently.  I went on the CRT website to see what it was all about (having failed to update my preferences for this trip) to find the website has been gussied up with the new logo and generally has a totally different look – could I find the stoppages?  what a palaver.  I ended up using the search facility as the navigation was certainly not obvious.  But I did come across a new feature which could be useful – strong stream warnings all in one place, at least for the waterways managed by CRT.

8 towpath works clifton

It was extremely hot and we were keen to grab a patch of shade.  The boat was still in the sun, but we could sit out on the shady towpath, with an occasional historic boat going by from the rally at Braunston. 

10 shade at mooring

Gradually the shade came across, and at around 6 I left Dave painting the handrail on the starboard side (red is notorious for fading) and went for a run to Hillmorton as the towpath was now largely in the shade.  I went up the locks, which were still quite busy, before turning for home.  I closed up for a single-hander, then trotted back till a doggy wanted to say hello and I could have a welcome breather.  The dog’s boat had been at the rally, and its Dad owner was keen to chat.  He felt it had been quieter than usual, with fewer historic boats, fewer traders and fewer visitors.  He suggested that the historic transport festival at Lymm may have attracted some boats and visitors away, and thought that the £20 car parking charge for visitors may have been a mistake – regulars would have known where to park for free, but casual visitors may well have been put off.

It was a beautiful evening.  The canal stayed busy till after 7, and a couple more boats joined us during the evening.

6 miles, no locks, Newbold tunnel

Thursday 28 June 2018

And another ……

Saturday 23rd June; Anchor bridge to All Oaks Wood (North Oxford canal)

It was a sunny and bright start, though as the morning wore on a light hazy cloud cover came over, meaning the temperature was very pleasant – rather different from what happened the next day!  It’s a nice spot to moor, though you need to be aware the quarry away behind the trees starts work before 8.  They were even operating yesterday, which was Sunday.

1 anchor bridge mooring

We set off about 9.30 and cruised gently down towards Nuneaton. Mount Judd, the local name for one of the quarry spoil heaps, is visible occasionally above the trees.

2 mount judd

Along this stretch is the much photographed remnant of what must have been a huge network of telegraph poles along the canal and out to the various quarries.

3 unusual telegraph pole

Last time we came through Nuneaton, probably a couple of years ago, we thought the litter problem wasn’t as bad as it used to be.  Where we stopped to get the paper, at Tuttle Hill bridge (23), there were lots of small bits floating about.  The bridge sides had been strimmed, and the litter that collected there was obvious too – maybe that’s where the plastic bits came from.  Someone had been metal fishing at the bridge, and a couple of bikes and miscellaneous bits of iron had been dumped, but there was a piling hook which I snaffled.  It will need de-rusting, but it’s always good to have a spare.  

We carried on as soon as I was back from the shop, passing all the allotments which I love looking at whatever the time of year, and at last got a decent picture of the Tardis which has landed in someone’s garden.

4 tardis in nuneaton

Before too long we were at Charity Dock, keen to see what had changed since our last visit.  The Stig was still lurking in the willows

5 stig at charity dock

but we hadn’t spotted ET and the aliens before!

6 ET at charity dock

One of the Bedworth gardens used to have a gorilla keeping an eye on things, but he has gone and the house is for sale.  The creatures fixed to the retaining wall are still there though.

9 bedworth garden10 bedworth garden 

We moored for lunch opposite Bedworth school playing fields.  It was still quite early, so Dave repacked the stern gland before we ate.  We wondered about stopping at Hawkesbury junction for the night but decided to move on as it was still early in the afternoon.  On the way to the junction, we saw a boat moored in the ideal place if you need to touch up your blacking down to the waterline – alongside an overflow.

9 where to moor for near waterline touch-up

I hopped off the boat to dispose of rubbish at the junction, foolishly forgetting to put the camera in my pocket, so Dave’s elegant and perfectly controlled rounding of the junction was not recorded.

It’s a noisy cruise from the junction to Ansty, as motorways are close by.  As we left the village we got closer to the railway, but at least that noise wasn’t constant.  There were some lovely patches of wild flowers along the way – meadowsweet and the field geranium here.

13 meadowsweet and geranium past ansty

Along the way this afternoon we met Tom and Jan’s Waiouru with her new owners.  We are pleased to report that they are still thoroughly enjoying their new boat !

14 waiouru and new owners on N oxford

We knew by now we would have to keep going till All Oaks Wood and hope there would be space for us.  Moorings along this stretch are few and far between, so All Oaks Wood is very popular and we were lucky to get in on the end.  So out came the mooring pins and we had to put up with the gentle bumping on the submerged edge that happens when other boats go by, and a bit of a stride to get on and off.  Meg didn’t mind – she was keen to get off to stretch her legs.

14 miles, 1 lock

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Another long day

Friday 22nd June; Alvecote to Anchor Bridge, Hartshill

After yesterday’s cold and wind it was sunny and warm, but not yet the heat that has been forecast.  We pottered through Polesworth on our way to the Atherstone flight.  The canal was quiet and we had time to enjoy the flowers.  One of the gardens in Polesworth had this cascade of philadelphus to admire

1 cascading philadelphus polesworth

and out in the countryside we saw a swathe of poppies in a field.

3 poppies

But they were in a crop of thistles – brilliant for insects and birds, unlike the maize crop in the other half of the field.  I wonder what the management system is? 

Apart from two modern boats in the dry dock, and one old working boat nearby, it was quiet at Grendon.  We have always seen at least two historic boats here; perhaps some of the others are on their way to Braunston for the Historic Boats rally at the weekend.  

5 grendon dry dock

We stopped at the Bradley Green facilities for the necessaries.  We were just starting the water filling when two boats arrived together, each hastily emptying a cassette and dumping rubbish before rushing off to the first lock.  It wasn’t just us they wanted to keep ahead of – another boat passed us soon after they left.  So we were in no hurry and they had all gone before we arrived.  Two boats were just finishing the flight, so we started well, but then of course we were behind the others.  We worked steadily, admiring the flowering rush growing in the side ponds and listening to the birds.

6 butomus and grille in side pond atherstone

We have seen the side ponds being cleaned out and maintained, yet I believe there is no plan to bring them into use.  We pulled in for lunch between locks 7 and 8.  It was very quiet, unlike the pound above lock 6 which people prefer as it’s closer for shopping.  We walked up for shopping before we got going again as Dave needed some bits from the hardware shop and we also got a new water bowl from the pet shop for Meg.  We did buy her a small one for indoors as we kept kicking the larger one she had before, which we moved outside.  Unfortunately it wasn’t up to the job in this hot weather, so we’ve got another larger one and we’ll just have to be more careful with our feet.

By the time we got going again the tail end of the ‘afternoon rush’ was passing through and, for a while at least, we met boats coming down.  It was shady too, so we had an easy passage up.

7 lock 6

The two boats which had been so keen to beat everyone to the locks were moored opposite the least attractive view above the lock flight.

8 derelict factory

Rather than moor at the top, which we don’t actually like very much, we decided to crack on towards Hartshill.  It would be a long afternoon, but at Anchor Bridge there is a lovely walk for Meg, who was probably feeling a bit hard done by.  The sun was in the wrong place to photograph the much-featured BW Hartshill yard with its clock tower, so I snapped the cottage on the water point instead.

9 cottage at hartshill yard

It was almost 6 when we moored, which is rather late for us, and with our meal already prepared we went straight to the pub for liquid refreshment.   Poor Meg – she made for the gate that leads to the footpaths – but she had to wait.  As we strolled back we took time to admire the interesting extras on another boat.  Is this one to keep ducks off the roof?

10 not many boats have this

What about these rather wonderful swans?  They are made from car tyres.  Clever, and elegant too.

11 or these

Meg got her walk after we had eaten.  I didn’t go with them – too many locks today.

About 9 miles, 11 locks.

Sunday 24 June 2018

Round Fazeley Junction

Thursday 21st June; Fisher’s Mill bridge to Alvecote

This blog is getting a bit behind now …. it’s Sunday and we’re past Rugby on the North Oxford.  There were a couple of nights when we had no internet signal though so that’s my excuse.

Anyway, for Midsummer’s Day it felt jolly cold on the back of a boat!  Fleeces were the order of the day, hats (woolly for me, and gloves too) as we went crabbing down towards Fazeley Junction in a very stiff breeze. The foxgloves didn’t seem to mind the chilly wind.  Some were the usual pink, some were white, and some were pink below and white above.

1 foxgloves

I took the obligatory snap of Drayton Footbridge with its castellated towers;

2 drayton footbridge

and after we’d passed there was the defunct swing bridge too, called hereabouts a swivel bridge.

3 and defunct swivel bridge

We moored just before the junction, which was quite difficult in that wind.  I nipped up to the little Tesco, and on the way back snapped Tolson Mill from the road.  It was a couple of years ago a lovely wool shop with a little dog-friendly cafĂ©, but that failed and it became a gym.  I have no idea if anything goes on in the upper floors.

4 tolsons mill fazeley

On the other side of the road is a timber yard, which takes big tree trunks in and slices them up.  The main gates were open today.

5 woodyard fazeley

We had a cup of tea and moved on, and rounded the junction into slightly less windy conditions.  We went over the river Tame

6 river tame

and past some wonderful honeysuckle on our way to Glascote locks.  The air was filled with the scent.

7 honeysuckle

At Kettlebrook bridge, just before the permanent moorings, someone has written a little ode for passing boats.  I wonder if it was written by the author of the Ode of the Leaky Lock at Glascote?

8 slow down

Of course we crept by in the proper manner but received no smile or wave, nor even a stony stare.  We arrived at Glascote locks just as a boat had gone into the bottom lock.  Once the boat coming down had left, in we went.

9 glascote bottom lock

We swapped locks with a boat coming down the top lock, then with one coming into the top.  It was quite quick today – we have had to wait several hours in the past as these locks are very busy.

Here is a warning not to be too generous with feeding the ducks.  This one spent a lot of time looking in and turning herself round and round.  I hope she left no calling card.  The lady at the back of the boat blamed her husband for being too generous with the bread.

10 dont feed the ducks

We stopped for lunch on the plentiful moorings in the Amington area, then went on to the boatyard at Alvecote.  They are a Barrus dealer and Dave needed some information about a replacement alternator belt.  It transpired that the design currently on our engine is no longer made;  one that looks a bit different will actually work, so at least now Dave knows what to replace the spare with when the current one has had its day.  We moored a little further on by the woods, where Meg got her long-awaited walk.  We went up to the Samuel Barlow to eat at their Curry Night;  pleasant, and cheap, but nothing special.  On the way back, as it’s the longest day and there was plenty of light, we went over to see the ruins of Alvecote Priory.

11 alvecote priory ruins

It was a Benedictine Priory dissolved by Henry VIII.  It only ever supported 4 monks, so wasn’t a big or important one.  Not much remains, but it is scheduled as an Ancient Monument.

13 ruins

Wikipedia says most of the walls ‘have been eroded’ but I bet a lot of the stone was removed and used for other buildings locally.  It is unfortunately on the Heritage at Risk register because of vandalism and water damage.  The gate to the car park is padlocked, apparently because of vandalism.  The surrounding grass is roughly mown, there is no interpretation board and it doesn't really look cared for.

6 miles, 2 locks