Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Oxford/Grand Union bridge 99

 The plan has been updated  https://canalplan.uk/journey/15178_igP9-O4RsrC

Another quiet night, This morning we were off just before 10am as far as Hillmorton water point. It was so slow that Diana walked the rubbish up to the disposal point and was back well before the tank was half full. we called it a day at that point and headed for the lock. There was just one Volockie on duty when we arrived who had the gates open ready for us. On the island between the two locks there are Orchids growing at the head of the locks. 

All three locks were with us and I spotted this finger post where the footpath runs off from the towpath at the second lock.

We had been following a new electric Narrowboat, Hunky Dory built by Ortomarine, its certainly impressive running on just electric but I didn't hear it with the generator running. The back pumping just above the locks was definitely giving some people a problem. 
The housing development as you approach the bend before the railway is well under way now, I wonder if they will demolish the old house that stands on the bend. The houses nearest the canal are being built on ring beam foundations on top of concrete piles.

I did manage a photo of a turtle today, if I remember correctly they are Red Eared terrapins, the ones I had never grew this big in the tropical fish tank but I do remember they like eating flesh, so keep your fingers away. I am not sure where the sheep were coming from or going to but they suddenly appeared on the top of this bridge. 

This is the largest gathering of young geese that we have come across on the canals this year, as you can see they are all of varying ages and sizes.

Anyone boating into Braunston will recognise this skyline instantly.

As well as large gathering of geese we have also seen this large gathering of caves, their mothers and probably their farther, the bull.
Once into Branston it was turn right at Braunston Turn along the Oxford/Grand Union canal, after a short time we passed this notice about wide beam vessels wishing to use the North Oxford canal.One wide beam boat made a passage along the canal yesterday having booked their passage with C&RT who in turn issued an alert to warn other boaters by email. We finally moored for the day by bridge 99 and since we have been here there have been many more boats moored ahead of us.

Todays Journey 9.2 miles, 3 locks in 4 hours

Monday, 14 June 2021


 An early start for us this morning as we were moored stern to stern with our friends and they push off about 8am. we in turn were away by 8-45am. The weather was slightly more cloudy  and a bit of breeze to keep things fresh. The canal was reasonably busy as we made our way towards Brinklow. A point of note is that about 200 yards south of Johnson's Bridge No.27 an offside Willow tree is in a dangerous state, it hangs out well over the canal but the lower trunk is split wide open, you could easily put your hand right through. I have reported it to C&RT so we will see what happens. 

I have never seen these signs on the towpath before, we only saw one cyclist  making his way along the towpath and needless to say he rode through. We had bit of a delay at Newbold tunnel as the boat ahead wouldn't go forward while there was a boat in the tunnel coming towards him. I must admit I wasn't very gentlemanly and overtook him, after that he did decide to follow me through even with yet another boat entering travelling north. 
Newbold reservoir is now a lovely shade of green, it looks like duckweed and not heavy algae, hopefully not the blue green type.
 We pushed on and found a nice piece of mooring just before bridge 68. However after being there for a short time we felt we may be inconveniencing other boaters being between the bend and the bridge. On the basis of this we decided to move through the bridge and moor a few hundred yards to the south of it.

Todays Journey 12 miles, no locks in 4¼ hours

Sunday, 13 June 2021

N Oxford canal bridge 11

 I nipped out last night and managed to snap this picture just as the camera batteries died, at least I could charge them overnight.

One of the two blocks of buildings in the basin is now fully boarded up on the lower level and the boarded windows covered with C&RT posters, I don't know if these have ever been open as retail outlets, how nice it would be if there was an evening eating establishment with a bar there.

This morning was a real holiday start with a full English breakfast take at the café the other side of the basin, sitting out in the warm morning sun. A most enjoyable way to start the day.
We met two boats on our way back to Suttons Stop who were heading for the basin. I seams the graffiti we have seen along the canal may not be graffiti at all, what ever it is the people doing it are far more skilful than me.

The old weavers cottages that were built by J J Cash are fully scaffolded at the moment for some reason.

Back at Sutton Stop we swung under the bridge to join the North Oxford canal, There was a boat in the lock and another behind waiting to go in, for some reason there was also a boat waiting who must have come through the lock so I could only get the bows in to let Diana off. The boat directly ahead of us tied the boat off in the lock, unfortunately they tied it to short to close the bottom gate behind it, so spent some time in the lock until they released the rope, I found out later they had no reverse. By now it was really warming up and we made our way along the N Oxford only to meet a rather smokey Springer towing a much larger Narrowboat backwards at a very slow speed, one of the boats following sad they had be behind them  for an hour like that. We were holing to meetup with old Ipswich friends on there boat around Ansty, but they had started early and were moored between bridges 11 and 13 so we dropped in behind them and spent the rest of the day/evening with them. We were lucky enough to watch a Water Vole swimming back and forth across the cut.

Todays Journey 8 miles, 1 lock in 3¼ hours

Tom asked about the mooring signs in Coventry Basin, these are new signs which have just been erected and later this month you actually need to book them as they expect the basin to be busy with the City of Culture.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Coventry Basin

 Well the bit of piling we were moored to last night filled up, I think there were 8 of us in the end. We pushed off this morning just before 10 am .and headed back to the Coventry canal. C&RT contractors, Rothen were not working today so I am not sure if they intend to fit fendering the whole length, I can't see it doing much good if they don't backfill the piling.

We met a couple of boats on our way to Sutton Stop and then had to sit in the narrows as a boat popped out from the Oxford, 4 people on the stern but no one bothered to go to the bow it see if anyone was coming. Then we waited by the services while a boat coming under the first bridge decided to moor in the first gap he came to with two good impressions of the Ever Given, with first his stern on the towpath and bows on the off side, a bit of hovering in the middle followed by bows to towpath and stern on the offside, at this point a crew hopped of with a rope and slowly heaved it in, Thanks for waiting would have been nice once we were passing. The boat behind him was actually moored under the bridge, not a spot I would fancy. The next one was moored directly opposite the mooring basin entrances, I was surprised his stern rope wasn't tied to the "no Mooring" sign. We had a good run down to the basin meeting two boats on the way and passing a very large turtle sunbathing, if he is there on the way back I will try for a photo. I am not sure if this is official graffiti or not but its quite skilfully done.

I have always admired the artwork on the end of this pub, I don't know how often they have it repainted.

We arrived at the basin and there were only two boats there both in the right hand arm so we slid in backwards down the left hand arm mooring at the very end. The mooring information is quite 

interesting, does that mean 2 abreast or just a single wide beam that they would have to crane in or just 2 Narrowboats on the moorings when there is room for half a dozen?
We took a walk into the City hoping to look around the old Cathedral but it was closed off for some sort of food festival that needed an arm band to get in. By now it was obvious that we wouldn't  be eating out tonight with all the people about so we settled for a takeaway from Jinseon, ordered on line to pick up and it was ready when I arrived for it. Not only was it very tasty but they were very good portion sizes as well.  

Todays Journey 8.8 miles, no locks in 3¾ hours.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Bridge 3 Ashby canal

 The plan this morning was to slide back onto the water point and fill with water while having breakfast, 2 boats already getting water scuppered that idea, so we had breakfast and slid back as soon as the first on moved off. 

Today has been much cooler and the sun has only just come through at 4-30pm. It has looked like it was about to rain all day, we have done about a mile more than planned as the moorings looked better. There was very little boat movement this morning but it picked up a bit as we got closer to the Coventry canal, one of the hire boats we met was from Weedon on the GU, I think it was Hawk Weed and looked very smart for what is probably a 30 year old hire boat, They have put a lot of the old Weed Boat fleet back together into hire fleet.

I have always been bit of a soft spot for the old French H van so when I saw this clock I just had to get a photo. The other day I mentioned that the mile posts on the Ashby are being refurbished, well there is only one  still waiting for the white paint on the numbers and that is 2/28, we met the chap who has been painting them as he returned from 1/29 with all his gear on a sack barrow.

Todays Journey 11 miles, 0 locks in4¼ hours

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Sutton Cheney Wharf

Well that was a turn up for the book, last night we were moored directly behind fellow Cutweb members Chris and his wife  so we had a short chat before going our separate ways this morning. He chugged straight off but we had to wind first. We saw him again using the services at Bosworth Marina. This photograph shows the profile of Snarestone Tunnel more clearly.

There was much less traffic on the canal today than the past couple of days but the weather was very overcast all morning. A long section of the canal north of bridge 44 is an SSSI and since we were last here C&FT have installed a nice new blue sign in place of the BW black and white one.

 We were hoping to moor on the restored moorings at Sutton wharf but they were all full, however as luck would have it the single mooring between the waterpoint and the long term moorings was free, so we nipped in before anyone else came along.Since we have been moored up I have wandered down and looked at the refurbished mooring pontoon, this time the recycled plastic decking has some anti slip compound built into it.

Todays Journey 10.7 miles, no locks in 4½ hours

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Snarestone terminus

 Well I got to see two Water Voles, one yesterday evening swimming across the canal and one this morning swimming against the far bank.

We were away a little before 10am this morning but there had already been 4 boats past. The visitor moorings at Sutton Cheney By the café have been rebuilt. I didn't know that the Ashby Canal Association actually supplied the materials to install these mooring and have now reused the removed materials to build seats and tables by their visitor center. Recycling recycled materials.

I feel sure this bridge at Gopsall Wharf was in this condition last time we came this way last summer it must be a low priority crossing.

I have not seen this before , where the fishermen of fishing club have cut the reed for their "pegs" they have also cut a hole in the hedge behind, which I assume is to poke their poles through when they catch a fish.
Snarestone tunnel is not very straight but it is quite broad, whether you could pass a boat I wouldn't like to say, probably the amount of tumblehome would make a difference I am sure there is someone here who knows, but it is a very airy tunnel. The canal was originally build broad all the way to the stop lock at Marston Junction.

When we arrived at the terminus there were already two boats there so we tucked in behind the second, we had considered if it was full, it sometimes is we would go beyond the swing bridge to moor, but that is not possible at the moment as the stop planks are still in following the breach repair. We did walk down to see where the breach was but not before buying ice creams and some more second hand books in the Canal Association shop.
Since we arrived a hire boat has left so there are just the two of us, there was a shared ownership boat came up but they just winded an left straight a way.
Todays Journey 12 miles, no locks in 4¾ hours.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021


 The Plan yes there is one of sorts and it can be found at  
https://canalplan.uk/journey/15105_cp  but of course that may change.

I had to walk to  the nearest post box this morning so it was 10am before we got away. C&RT contractors are still working on the piling opposite the entrance to the Ashby canal, they had just started last time we passed in April, It looks as if they are just attaching the top fendering now. Even with the work boat there, there is more room than you think, turning into the Ashby from the north is the easy bit. It must look quite intimidating as you noise out of the junction.

There use to be a stop lock as soon as you turned into the Ashby Canal but that was taken out of use many years ago, but in its place half way down the old lock chamber The British Waterways Board known as BWB installed a lifting stop gate to be used if ever there was a breach on the Ashby canal to save losing water from the Coventry canal. The northern end of the Ashby canal was very prone to mining subsidence which is why the present terminus is at Snarestone.

The Ashby Canal Trust  are at the moment refurbishing all the mile posts that require attentions, so some are nice and bright like this one, where as a few are all black still awaiting the white highlighting. This one is 5 miles from the junction with the Coventry Canal and 20 miles from what will be the terminus when restoration of the northern end is complete

We stopped for water by the above mile marker and by then we had already met 6 boats, while we were taking water 5 came past us as well as a couple more towards us. This canal is nowhere near as quiet as it use to be and in the 10 miles we have covered we have probably met 20 boat and as its only 4pm I expect there will be more. We moored for the night on a shortish length of piling at Dadlington, this is just beyond the visitor mooring by the road at Stoke Golding which were quite full. Since we have been here another boat has joined us, hopefully this evening when its quiet we will see some Water Vole.
The weather, in a couple of words, hot and sunny.

Todays Journey 10.2 miles, no locks in 4¾ hours

Monday, 7 June 2021

Marston Junction

 Yesterday afternoon and early evening there were a continuous stream of boats coming down the flight, no one going up. I did suggest to Diana we set off at 3-30am as it got light but it fell on deaf ears. Anyway about 8-30 this morning I am just putting the tiller on and a boat chugs out of the lock behind us, so a ride to the top with empty locks was scuppered.
We pushed off at 9am. the temperature was already 20°C, luckily the boat going up had moored above lock 6 so things weren't too bad after all.  By the time we reached lock 3 the Volockies were at work, a lady assisted at 2 by opening and closing the bottom gates before heading down to 3 in the shade.
As I sat in lock two I could see the 2 Volockies at lock one, as we ca
me up the bottom paddles ahead were drawn, then lowered again for a boat arriving from above before finally opening again. By the time we had worked the top lock the Volockie was peeling layers off. Just beyond the top of the locks there use to be a boatyard, this has now been taken over as some sort of community project, but if anyone is interested they are offering winter moorings. More details at https://rubysyard.org/.

The willows are now shedding their seeds which cover the water like scum, as you pass the trees its like boating through a snowstorm with all the white seed heads floating in the breeze.

I have seen one or two boats with Jebuses but as a rule they are shaped to fit the bows of the craft they are attached to, this is the smallest I have come across.

A little further on where Rothen use to keep there boats before they had the yard and still do have a couple of boats there, the Sand Martins have made good use of the holes in the wall to make nests, we counted three with chicks looking out. There is nothing to stop them falling into the canal.

As we passed The Anchor Inn someone has dumped all their refuse by the dog poo bin. I have already informed CRT, but why do people do it?

I have never seen so many boats moored towpath side in Nuneaton,  there was a row opposite the boat yard as well as some before and some after, is this an alternative spelling for Nuneaton?

Just as you are almost through Nuneaton you pass this house on the off side who, shall we say and an alternative view of landscape gardening. We stopped for a few minutes to chat with Peter, we met him and Hazel  on the Trent before we had our own boat and kept in touch ever since Hazel passed away about 3 years back and peter had a stroke, but he is making good progress on the road to recovery.

 Our target for tonight was Marston Junction and we are moored on the Coventry a short way before it but close enough to watch some of the antics as boaters leave the Ashby canal


Todays Journey 9.6 miles, 7 locks in 4½ hours

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Atherstone lock 8

 We rose earlier than usual for some reason  so we were on the road at about 9am. This was lucky as we heard on the radio there was a large transformer heading for Cambridge along the A14 and luckily we got to the A14 at Bury St Edmunds before it. We normally fill with diesel at Bury but this time we gave it a miss. I can just imagine joining the A14 right behind the rolling roadblock and then following it to Cambridge. Although we left home in bright sun as we drove west we ran into cloud and then very heavy showers. We went in and out of these on regular basis. As we turned down the road to the marina it started throwing it down so we sat in the Samuel Barlow carpark to eat our sandwiches rather than get out of the car to open the gates into the marina. It didn't last too long and we were soon unloading the car into the boat, this took a bit longer than normal as we have the floor tiles for the corridor that we took home to clean as well as new, second hand ones for the lounge.

It was 1-15pm before we untied and headed out of the marina turning right towards Coventry, we hadn't reached the first bridge before I spotted a boat belonging to friends from the Ipswich IWA so the next 20 minutes or so was spent talking to them, good job we don't have a schedule. Once the world was put to rights it was off in light rain towards the Atherstone flight just in time to see a hire boat going up in lock 11. On the way we passed this face on a tree, its the only one I have seen on the Coventry Canal.

Lock 11 now has a brand new set of balance beams attached to the  old gates. All the levels were good until between 9  and 8 but that is a very short pound and always loses a bit, but passable, Once clear of lock 8 we moored for the night, I must admit the stern rope has got a turn round the last lock bollard.

Todays Journey 5¾ miles, 4 locks in 3 hours