Monday 25 May 2009

Flecknoe back to Napton Mon 25 May

In view of all the moored boats and visions of half of them trying to go up the Napton flight we set of a 7 am this morning and we were not the first away. We arrived at the bottom of Napton at 8 30 with one boat just leaving the first pound and going up ahead of us. We met boats in half the locks so things weren't to bad and it didn't take very long to reach  our mooring. At the top lock there was a lull in the traffic and we were able to transfer most of the junk in to the car before a boat approached from above. We were packed up and on our way before 11.30 hopefully ahead of the Bank Holiday traffic.
There were quite a few Elton Moss boats about this morning, it seems they now change on a Sunday, but I am not sure where they are based. One steerer said Napton and another said Calcutt. 

Sunday 24 May 2009

Ansty to Flecknoe 24 May 09

We started in good time this morning and by 10 am we were winding in the mouth of the Coventry Canal Cruising Club to head back south. We met a few boats but things were much quieter than yesterday and there were even mooring places in Rugby.  There were a few boats leaving Rose Narrowboats as we arrived and this gave us quite a slow run to Newbold where they stopped.  When I say slow they went at a constant speed wether on the open cut, to slow, or passed moored boats, to fast. All the visitor moorings at Newbold were full today but several long term ones were empty. We arrived at Hillmorton Locks just as a boat was coming out and had empty locks all the way up.  Once at the top of the locks things for some reason started getting busy and we met lots of boats between here Braunston.
We went into Braunston Marina to do a pump out and then stopped at the Stop House to fill with water. The mooring Warden seemed to have a full time job telling boats they couldn't moor at the water point overnight.  The first vacant moorings were well along the puddle bank but as we were eating onboard we carried on towards Flecknoe.  I have never seen so many boats moored along this section of canal, There were boats almost nose to tail all the way along any piling until we past through bridge 102,  Here there were only a few boats so I pulled in a little after 8 pm. as looking forward along the canal to the straight section ahead all  I could see was moored boats.
The water level in this pound is down by over 4" this evening which is a bit worrying for this early in the year, we have noticed this week that most levels have been a bit low.

You will find our latest position at

Saturday 23 May 2009

Braunston to Ansty 23 May 09

First job this morning was to back up through the bridge, past the boat selling fenders and things to the water point to top up the tank. While we were there Roy who we spent a bit of time with on the BCN last year wandered past and stopped for a chat.
We finally set off at about 10 30 and headed up the North Oxford canal. There were a lot of boats about but we didn't meet any in awkward places so had a good run to Hillmorton.  One boat going into the near side lock and one leaving the off side lock closing the gates behind them even though there was a boat coming up.   The back pumps were running flat out putting an awkward current across the cut for boats trying to pull in to the near side lock moorings. As the boat was coming up in our lock another boat came behind us and got it completely wrong ending up on the offside.  I think they were a bit put out when I crossed in front of them to go into our lock.
It was very busy  all the way down the flight, but nothing compared to Rugby, there were boats going all ways and boats moored both sides all the way round the bend didn't help.  We plodded on slowly through until the road bridge where I held back for a boat coming through the bridge but he then had trouble getting round my stern as I couldn't go forward as another boat followed through the bridge.   We eventually sorted it to every ones satisfaction and then as we passed the boats moored along the straight, still with boats coming towards us the boat in front went aground, I had to stop and promptly slid across the cut in the way of the oncoming boat. O the joys of Bank Holiday boating.
Once passed rugby things quieten down again. I have never seen so many vacant visitor moorings at Newbold, it a shame we didn't want to stop. As we cleared the tunnel I was aware of a boat catching me up. We had to stop for a boat coming very slowly through the next bridge so I invited him to pass me. I thought he would have waited until the oncoming boat had gone, but I was wrong again so he passed me with a boat coming towards us.  About a mile later I caught up with a very slow boat and followed them at tick over all the way to Rose Narrowboats where they pulled in at the end of a weeks hire.
After this we had the cut to our selves mooring for the night at Ansty opposite The Rose and Castle where we have just been to eat. They serve food until quite late but if you want to eat around 7-8 ish then you need to book. I would recommend this place as they have a very varied menu and the mash potato I had with my Ostrich was real mash potato not out of a packet.

Friday 22 May 2009

Elkington to Braunston 22 May 09

A late start this morning setting off at 10 30, we saw several people and boats that we knew as we made our way to Crick. There were very few boats moored in the area compared to when we have attended the show in past years. There is a long section where mooring is banned due to Water Voles taking up residence, considering that they moved in while mooring was allowed I think it unlikely they will leave if boats moor there now, they may get more upset about large bright orange buoys and a length of blue rope floating on the water surface a couple of inches from the bank that they have to negotiate every time they leave home. Last time we visited the show by boat we moored at the tunnel mouth and then boats were breasted all the way through Crick. When we passed today there were 5 bank side moorings free between the tunnel and the first bridge and no breasted boats other than on the reserved moorings.  We had bit of a wait at Watford lock, the lock keeper instructed us to drop through the first lock and then wait for two boats to come up,the last one being "Water Ouzel" Just as well we checked as "Water Ouzel" came into the top of the staircase as another boat had just entered at the bottom.  We were soon on our way again passing lots of vacant spots on the visitor moorings just before Norton Junction. Here we turned sharp right to Braunston, it wasn't long before we were dragging the bottom a good 6 feet from the towing path where they have rebuilt it with sand bags, I wonder how many they managed to drop of the boat while they carrying out the work. We didn't meet anything in Braunston tunnel but there was a boat entered behind us when we were half way through. As we approached Braunston Top Lock a hire boat was just leaving but the crew hung around to close up behind us, so I had to point out to them that we would be waiting for the boat behind. We didn't meet anyone in the flight and apart from the first two locks they were all against us.  By the time we cleared the flight it was 6 pm so moorings were at a premium and the first vacancy was just through the A 45 road bridge opposite the Mill House pub.
We decided that as we were here we would eat at the Mill House, entering didn't exactly fill us with confidence and reading the chefs specialities, all day breakfast, chips with Mayo, didn't improve things. When we finally found a full menu we decided that may be the Old Plough would be a better bet. It didn't look very busy especially compared to some of the occasions we have visited. I asked the young lady if we could eat and was taken aback when she replied, "No, we have just taken a large order and can't do any more" it was about quarter to eight. That's another pub crossed off my list to visit in the future and it was half empty, I've eaten there when its been heaving in the past. We carried on to The Wheat Sheaf, ordered an excellent Chinese Take a way for two, had a pint of Pedigree while we waited, the service was to good for a second pint and returned to the boat to eat it.  From our experience this evening the Nelson should do a roaring trade if they handle it correctly.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Thursday 21 May Smeeton to Elkington Bridge 27

Yesterday afternoon turned in to a very pleasant evening and we took a walk to the top of the tunnel. We set off this morning at about half nine in bright sun, our first stop was Debdale Wharf where we filled with diesel at 50p lt plus the duty for traction. The next stop was the bottom of the Foxton flight where Diana went up to find the lock keeper, it is essential to book in with the lock keeper before starting up the flight, he in turn tells you where you are in the queue, we were right by the lock gates but still third in the queue. Diana bought ice creams while I helped the other two boats through the first lock before we followed them up. There were only two boats coming down, the first came down earlier and we met the second between the two flights where there is room for two boats to pass. Half way up it started to rain and this was the pattern for most of the day. We didn't meet any boats on the move today but there were a couple already moored up. We passed under the A14 road and moored at the next convenient vacant piece of bank just before bridge 27 at about 5 pm.

Now that I have a usable 3 signal you can see our latest position here

Foxton to Smeeton 20 May 09

Last night we went into the Locks Pub to watch Mikron Theatre again, performing another play, Tales of the Thames. We set off this morning tat 10 am to have lunch in the restaurant in Union Basin, Market Harborough, unfortunately its still closed and in receivership, so we walked into town and ate there. We moored on the visitor moorings at the entrance to the basin and took on water, this is the slowest tap we have used for some time. After lunch we set off again retracing our steps to Foxton. We had just negotiated the first swing bridge when the skys opened, we both dived into the boat and sat there for 5 minuets until it stopped. Soon the sun was back with us and we continued on and up towards Leicester until we reached the winding hole at Smeeton, here we winded and dropped back a few yards to some very good moorings with rings. I put the 3 dongle on top of the TV mast but still couldn't get a signal so this will get posted on Thursday some time.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Welford to Foxton 19 May

We heard Tysely the Mikron boat go by at about 8 am and we set off a little after 9, winding at the end of the arm. BW were hard at work cleaning the stone edging with a yard broom. There is a rather smart wooden foot bridge over the canal that goes nowhere. It's a shame they can't move it to replace the rotten one over the marina entrance where it would do some good. We met several boats between Welford and the top of Foxton including Sue Day with a horse drawn boat. We stopped at the top of the flight for lunch and moved on to work the flight at about 1 30. Diana went down to speak with the lock keeper and we were told we could proceed when the next boat left the flight, it would be about 40 minuets as they were still in the bottom staircase. While we waited for our turn it poured down with rain for the sun to reaper just as the boat coming up reached the top lock. The sun stayed with us down the first flight where we had to wait again for a boat coming up and then the rain returned mixed with hail and accompanied with thunder. By the bottom of the flight it was back to drizzle. We turned right down the Market Harborough Arm and moored at 3 30 just beyond the swing bridge.

Monday 18 May 2009

Monday 18 May Yelvertoft to Welford

A fairly bright but windy morning as we set off about 9.30 Most of the boats we met all seemed to be on bends or in bridge holes. One we met between a bridge and a bend looked behind him just before we passed, what he failed to do was to tell me there was about behind him that I met right on the bend as I slid back to the middle of the channel after passing him. If you read this, thank you. The wind didn't give to much of a problem and it stayed dry. At the Welford Arm we turned right and headed into Welford, luckily there was a gap on the visitor mooring quite close to the end which was about 6 feet longer than us so we have tucked in there at about 1 30 pm for the night. The mooring rings are slightly unusual here as they are set in the face of the bank piling about 6" below the bank level.

Tonight we are going to watch Mikron Theatre in the pub, tomorrow they are at Foxton and then Hillmorton and Napton.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Sunday 17 May Braunston to Yelvertoft

We woke to a very sunny morning but it quickly dulled over, as we took the dog for a very short walk we noticed a boat up by the locks, we had heard one go through before 8 but weren't ready to leave. We pushed off and caught up with the other boat, an Ownerships boat called "Silhouette" who were just closing the top gates, as we were to discover later the early boat had left all the top gates open. We met boats at all the locks except the one above the Nelson Pub and that also had the top gates open. With the steady flow coming towards us we made good progress up the flight where there were 4 boats waiting to come down. We met 2 boats very early in the tunnel and then nothing until almost the other end. Silhouette followed us in and I would suspect she is quite a confusing boat to meet in a tunnel, she has two headlight mounted in the top corners of the cabin, so from a distance it looks like a breasted pair coming towards you. We met a third boat when we were almost through the tunnel, they had an interesting way of steering  about 15 degrees to the right with the bow bouncing on and off the tunnel wall and the stern about 18" out.   By the time we cleared the tunnel it was raining steadily and this didn't clear until about mid day. Between the tunnel and Norton Junction BW/Morrisons are rebuilding the bank and towing path, do we really want miles of surfaced towing paths running through the country side? At Norton Junction we turned left onto the Leicester Branch and stopped just through the foot bridge for water, The service moorings are quite short and the tap close to the bridge so if your water filler is near the bows like ours, your stern ends up almost in the bridge hole. While we were taking water n.b.Herbie came passed, they only went as far as the marina and then winded so we passed a second time. There was no queue at the Watford flight and we just had to wait for one boat to come down the last 2 locks before we could go up. Diana had a bit of trouble at the top lock as the bottom gate kept blowing open, she went back twice to close it so I told her to open the top paddle a couple of clicks, this resulted in the lock keeper shouting at her for opening the paddle with a gate open. I told her to ignore him and just walk back an close it. He didn't say a word, as he was obviously watching it would not have hurt him to have just walked over and opened the paddle when Diana went back for the second time. At the top of the locks we passed n.b. Caxton just as they were about to push off and they followed us all the way to Crick. We continued on passed the new marina that is going to be dug at Yelvertoft, if the miles of plastic fencing are anything to go by it will make Wigrams Turn Marina look like a fish pond. We had just got through Yelvertoft village and past the long term moorings when my umbrella blew inside out with the squally rain so we have moored right in the far end of the visitor moorings

Napton to Braunston 16 May 09 Saturday

We arrived at the boat yesterday evening and though about going for a Chines takeaway but by the time we had unloaded the car it was raining quite heavily and we decided that walking back down to the car in such weather was not a good idea. The rain continued most of the evening and into the night.

This morning things had improved with the sun trying to peek through although it didn't actually manage it until this afternoon. We set off about 10 am just as a boat was coming up the top lock and things continued in this vane all the way down the flight meeting a boat at every lock and leaving all the gates open as we left for the next boat. We did have a little drizzle on the way down requiring us to put coats on, it was very light  but accompanied by a stiff breeze. We met a couple of boats we knew between Wigrams Turn and Braunston stopping for a short chat with one of them.  We spotted our first family of swans today, mum, dad and 5 signets, we have also seen several families of ducks on the cut. There were quite a few mooring spaces in Braunston opposite The Mill House but we decided to push on to see if there was any space near the marina, we could always come back if it was full. Once in the centre of Braunston we couldn't find a space anywhere but we were in luck as one chap said he was about to leave and if we hung about we could moor there. As soon as he backed out we backed in, we had not been here long when NB Caxton came by and headed up the locks but I didn't recognise anyone on board. Later that evening we went to The Old Plough for a meal, it was a bit more expensive than we remembered but very good, Diana had Lasagna with salad and garlic bread where as I had Lamb hot pot with new potatoes and a bread roll. Bother were a good size portion, hot and tasted good. They also had 4 beers on, two Adnams, Black Sheep and the other I cant remember.

Friday 8 May 2009

A Trip with a Difference Bank Holiday Monday

We left home about 9 am and travelled south on the A12  to just south of Ipswich where we turned off to Nayland.  Once over the river Stour we parked in the layby and waited for Sue to come and pick us up. From here she took us to the Granary at Sudbury   where we met up with her husband Roger and picked up a two man canoe. We then made our way in two cars with two canoes to a small village called Bures.  By now it had started to rain so we decided it would be a good time to eat our packed lunches while still in the car.
The weather was kind to us and as we finished eating it stopped raining and we were able to unloaded the canoes and carried them down to the River Stour in the dry.  At the small wooden jetty where we were going to launch, sat mother duck with her clutch of very young chicks, they were all amazingly tame and just stayed there as we launched the first canoe, the one that Diana and I were going to use , they only moved a few feet as Sue and Roger launched theirs. Now you must remember that it must be at least 40 years since I have been in a canoe and I am not sure that Diana ever has. The first problem was was getting in, feet in the centre of the floor, hands on edge of combing and drop down on the seat, well pad in our case. The deck flexed under my weight and I dropped smartly down, my hips squeezed through the combing and I was down. Getting out would be another problem.
Diana and I drifted about in the river while Sue and Roger stepped leisurely into their open Canadian canoe and we all set off down stream. The first stop was only a short way down stream at Bures Mill and thanks to Sue and Roger's efforts I was extracted from the canoe, sitting down to within an inch of the floor is one thing, getting up was another. This was the first of four weirs that we had to carry the canoes round, Each has a small wooden landing platform above and below the weir,  Some of these are on private property and have very polite notices telling you its private land and asking you to respect their property as you cross.   We carried the canoes round the weir, this was not without its problems.  The EA are raising a bridge beside the river that you have to pass under carrying your canoe as its very low. While the work is ongoing they have put a temporary bridge in and also temporary steps to the lower level to get under both bridges. They are full H&S steps down a bank with scaffolding handrails. The end result is you can't use them with a canoe in your hands so have to slither down the bank beside them. We were soon back on the river and on our way. Here I heard the Cuckoo for the first and only time this year and also watched a pair of Mandarin Ducks flying round, I have only ever seen them on the water before.  It wasn't long before we got the line wrong and were aground on the gravel, but a bit of abuse with the paddle had us on our way again.  The canoe we had, a 30 year old two person Kayak was not the most manoeuvrable craft in the world so we did take a couple of excursions through the overhanging branches and a patch of reeds.We were a bit apprehensive about passing swans that may be nesting, in the end we only passed one swans nest and the cob was more interested in the two white plastic drums supporting an irrigation pump hose than he was us.  At Wiston Mill we met three canoes coming upstream, this is most unusual as most people travel with the flow like we were. A short way before Nayland weir the river passes under the A134 in a tunnel, this is of a corrugated iron construction and is completely circular in cross section and 30 meters long.  Like all waterways the EA is quick to put up signs, the most useless one was about 35 yards before the landing stage at Nayland Weir saying "No Boat beyond this point" how do they expect you to land and take them out? Once past Nayland weir we only had about another 100 meters to the end of our journey.  We landed outside The Anchor pub in Nayland, here we pulled the canoes out and went for a welcome half of Adnams before Diana took Sue and Roger back to Bures to fetch their cars so they could come back and retrieve the canoes.

The six miles had taken us just on three hours to complete and the weather stayed fine for us.

You can see photos of our trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brian-and-di