Saturday 27 November 2010

Friday 26 November 2010 Napton Top Lock

Last night we walked up to the Red Lion to eat returning to the boat at about 10 pm in quite a sharp frost. I had to get up during the night and I could see that the canal was already frozen over.When we got up this morning it was still minus 5.5 after dropping to minus 6 last night and the canal was covered with half an inch of ice. This was much lower than was forecast.
We set off at 1030 stopping for water at the services, I had to breast up to a BW flat which had the new lock gates on ready for Broadmoor Lock which are due to be fitted on Monday. We were breaking ice all the way but all the locks were with us. The short pound on the Claydon flight was down about 30 inches, by looking at the ice line I think this may have dropped this morning. As we approached the top of the flight a lady appeared behind us with a windlass, I asked her if she was following us up as I had not noticed a boat behind, but she said she was meeting a friend who was on her way down, they had left Fenny Marina 15 minutes earlier so we should meet them on the way. We bit her farewell at the top lock, but we didn't meet her friends until just south of Fenny tunnel so I expect she was quite chilly by the time they arrived. The day was very bright but I don't think the temperature ever got above freezing all day.
Once we got to Fenny Marina we were breaking ice again, but not for long. Half way along the visitor moorings the channel was again broken which made life much easier, we followed this channel wondering if some one had been daft enough to go to Wormleighton to moor for the night, at Wormleighton we met the kind soul who had made this channel especially for us, it was a boat called "Helen of Troy" who had been all the way to Napton, turned and were returning to Fenny, so Helen of Troy, if you are reading this, a big thank you.
We arrived at Marston Doles locks in the dark and they were both against us and once below them I was unable to find the cut channel again. We wasted the best part of half an hour trying to get onto our moorings but the pound was so low we had no chance, so we have moored on the towing path opposite. By the time we had secured the boat the temperature had already dropped to minus 4 and things were freezing fast.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Thursday 25 Nov 2010 Cropredy

It wasn't quite so so cold where we were moored last night at the bottom of the locks and there was only a light bit of frosting about when we set off this morning at 10-30.
I go 60 years without seeing a Kingfisher catch a fish and then I see three in two days, that's DSCF5158right, the only Kingfisher I saw today dropped into the water and came out with a fish. The good thing about this is that once they have caught something they have to go to a branch and kill it before eating it, so stick around giving you half a chance to photograph them before departing into the distance.

DSCF5151 There are still some very good crops of Sloes about if you are into making Sloe Gin, we picked and jared ours last time we were on the boat, we will probably bottle it over Christmas and keep it until next winter.

We didn't see another boat moving until we reached Banbury where we met Mark Paris heading back to Thrupp, we were also in the pub with him at Thrupp just like the boater Mark who we met yesterday. The first job to do in Banbury was to visit Sovereign to fill up with diesel at 70p/lt. If you need diesel and are in the area best hurry because he is closing on the 1st. December for 2 months over Christmas. After taking on 140 lts we reversed back down into town to eat lunch and for Diana to do a bit of shopping while I did important things like talk to local boaters.
When Diana came back we pushed off northwards, by now it was quite overcast. Just above Hardwick Lock we came across our first bit of ice on the canal just before the motorway, it was very thin and already broken. The lock cottage at Bourton Lock still looks the same as it did 12 months back, I fear that if there is no progress soon it could well get vandalised again which would be a great shame.
As we approached Cropredy there was a large section of visitor mooring free so we pulled in in the glom at quarter to five with a view to visiting the Red Lion tonight, we hope this will be quieter than the moorings by the lock where we could hear the church clock well into the night.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Wednesday 24 Nov 2010 Kings Sutton Lock

It was quite surprising how much we heard the trains last night, when we moored here going down we didn't hear a thing.  By the time we went to bed it was below freezing with frost on the grass, by this morning it was almost down to -4. For those of you that have travelled this way over the past few years you may remember the Collie that use to insist you threw sticks for it, well I can report she is still going and now 18 years old and lives at the Mill. She doesn't go out to the lock any  more but she still enjoys a stick.
We pushed off at 10-15 in DSCF5133a very bright day and we saw several  Kingfishers in the first few miles and we were even honoured to see two kingfishers catch fish, something I have never witnessed before and needles to say I was unable to catch it on camera. I did get a blurred shot of him sat eating his catch.  I think the reason for all this extra kingfisher activity on this section of the canal is that they are taking advantage of the clear canal water   to catch fish. I suspect they would normally be fishing and moving up and down the River Cherwell that runs close by.

DSCF5148 As we passed through Heyford British Waterways were hard at work cutting the offside trees and scrub, they have already made a big impact around bridge holes by clearing around the base of the bridges, but there is still an awful lot to do. We also saw other teams walking the towing path cutting the hedges with petrol hedge trimmers

We were a bit undecided where to moor for the night, we thought that we would like to get beyond Aynho where we moored on the way  down, so we carried on to finally stop for the night just below Kings Sutton Lock about 4-30 pm. We only met one boat on the move all day and that turned out to be Dave who we had been to the pub with on Sunday night, he was just dropping down in Allan's lock as we approached. As I type this at 5-30   pm it is already freezing outside.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Tuesday 23 November 2010 Pigeons Lock

Last night we ate a nice Thai restaurant just over the from the  canal terminal called DSCF5107Bangkok House. There were surprisingly few people walking past the boat late at night, but we were woken in the early hours by a lot of shouting up on  the main road and we hoped that they wouldn't venture in our direction. On e of the best thing about  the moorings was that you didn't have boats coming passed.

DSCF5108 This  morning we set off at 10 am reversing back to ISIS lock and then dropping down the lock to wind. Since they have put the new floating pontoon below the lock there is insufficient room to swing the stern to the left when leaving the lock to make the tight right hand turn to the Thames and I couldn't even get Harnser round in one and we are only 57 foot, I hate to think what it would be like getting a full length boat round. The pontoons actually take up 11 feet of water, right where you need to swing the stern. If they had just piled the bank and lowered it a couple of feet it would have been fine.
We continued on back to Thrupp with Diana working the lift bridges this time. At Thrupp we stopped to fill with water and pump out the toilet tank. Thrupp Boat Club now have a pumpout machine that is card operated and costs £12 for 9 minutes, you could probably pump to boat tanks in that time.  Once this was all taken care off we were off yet again, by now the sky was very clear and the temperature was starting to fall even with the low sun. We continued on up the River Cherwell and into Bakers Lock which still stinks of diesel and there is still quite a bitDSCF5122 floating on the water. By the time we reached Pigeons Lock it was getting dusk and as I dropped Diana off to operate the lock the bottom gate opened and shortly afterwards a boat emerged, we were soon through the lock and moored in the same spot as Saturday night, the light was going fast and turning cold, only 2 Deg.C and it still wasn't quite 5 O'clock.

Monday 22 November 2010

Monday 22 Nov 2010 Oxford

Last night we wandered up to The highwayman for the Folk night, this pub use to be called The Wise Alderman and is right by the canal with room for one boat to moor against their gardens. It was a full moon but we didn't see much of it with the thick cloud cover.
We set off this morning at 9-30 just after a hire boat had gone by to ensure all the locks were against us. We were in desperate need of water, no showers this morning and we stopped at the waterpoint just through  Langford Lane Bridge opposite The Highwayman but unfortunately our hose connector wouldn't fit and I couldn't find the adaptor ring. It is the first connector of this size that I have come across in over 10 years and I have probably not seen more than 5 in all the time I have been boating, so we pushed on to the next water point. We remembered to hake the chimney down before we got to Yarnton Bridge which is quite low with a bump sticking down from the middle of it  and stopped for water just after Drinkwater   Lift Bridge. This is another bridge that BW have attached a locking mechanism to and when Diana opened it after initially rising it just hovered half way up, at this point Dust was coming the other way with his coal boat and we let him through first.rato While we filled with water I spotted a brown rat making his way along the hedgerow about a foot from the top, I managed to get a photo of him, but you need to look hard to spot him as he was well camouflaged when he kept still. Once full of water we carried on under the new A 34 flyover to Perry's  Lift Bridge the last locked lift bridge on the South Oxford canal, here we were held up for about 10 minutes as a tanker was emptying the Elsan disposal holding tank and his lorry was to heavy to cross the lift bridge, so he was parked on one side and had his pipes laid out over the bridge to access the tank on the towing path side. When he had finished I opened the bridge for Diana to bring Harnser through, this time the bridge didn't lift at all and I had to cross to the far side and open it by pulling the balance beams down, when Diana had cleared the bridge when I tried to lower it it balanced out about half way up, so I had to walk on the platform to close it, surly this cant be any safer than they were before modification. After this it was a straight run to the very end of the South Oxford Canal, mooring at the end just before the rain started at 2 pm. We have been for a quick walk round the area and there is a nice looking Thai restaurant just by the bridge that we will probably try tonight.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Sunday 21 Nov 2010 Thrupp

We were just catching up on the Archers this morning when a boat came up Pigeon lock. That's lucky I thought, it will save us having to turn the lock, wrong. before we could do anything a boat came passed us and went straight into the waiting open lock, so we still had to turn it.
As we passed through Enslow a Crayfish pot came to the surface near the bank, I checked that it was tethered and not just floating around waiting to catch someone's prop and saw that there were three Red Signal Crayfish in it, I wonder how often the owner empties it?
There was a lot of diesel in the water at Bakers Lock, we timed this one right as a boat had just come up and was leaving as we arrived.  Again the Cherwell was hardly moving, but the indicator boards showed it to be just in the amber, I would have thought it hard for it to be any lower. At Shipton Weir we met yet another boat and as the lock was with them Diana helped them through. They said they had come from Sheffield mainly weekending and were making there way back.
Just after this there was a new experience awaiting me, as we approached the lift bridge the anglers not only took in their lines, but one of them, followed by two young lads crossed the bridge and opened it for me to pass under.
There were several vacancies on the visitor moorings as we entered Thrupp but we really wanted to be at the other end, so we went as far as the lift bridge and while I waited for a boat to leave the services Diana walked along the canal to see if there were any spaces by The Boat or The Jolly Boatman. By the time the other boat had left the services and I had come along side Diana returned as said there was a space by the Jolly Boatman and the boat that passed us at Pigeons lock was moored in the middle of 160 ft gap outside The Boat. On the strength of this information we aborted the service stop and made our way to The Boat where I was just able to squeeze in between the bows of the boat moored in the middle of the gap and the stern of a boat on the first Long of the Term Moorings. Since we have been here there have been several boat passing through looking to moor, so I was just as well we moved up when we did.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Saturday 20 Nov 2010 Pigeon lock

Last night we both ate too much in The Great Western Arms, or table was right in front of the fire so I was rather pleased they hadn't made it up and that the embers were dyeing away.
This morning was a bit overcast which was a shame following the lovely clear night last night. We walked the dog to have a look at Aynho Railway Station, It's quite a pretty building but unfortunately the station platform has been removed as has the canopy, which had been rater brutally just chopped away.
We set off at quarter to eleven with still no sign of the sun coming out to play. DSCF5094 One of the first obstacles we had to overcome was Chisnell lift bridge. Since we were last this way BW has seen fit to lock it in the closed position, Luckily Diana didn't have her BW key on string round her neck as the key goes up with the bridge. The bridge is designed to open when released and to be pulled back toDSCF5096 the closed position and locked after the boat has passed. I think this was all set up in the summer when the deck was dry, because Diana actually had to lift the deck and push it as high as she could before I could pass under it. 
It was anther very quiet day on the cut and we only met one boat all day, but we did see 7 Kingfishers including a pair or two flying together because I can't tell the difference between male and female.
We moored  for the night just above Pigeons Lock at about 1530.

Friday 19 November 2010

Friday 19 Nov 2010 Aynho

Well our plans have changed very slightly, we had planned to spend a couple of days going up the Thames, but I downloaded their stoppage list and all we would be able to do would be to go out at Sheepwash and come in at Dukes Cut. I don't think its worth buying a days Thames licence just to do that, so now we will have to terminate at Oxford before heading back to Napton.
Last nights moorings were good and quiet, the moon managed to show its face a few times but mostly the evening was thin cloud, so it never really got dark. When I looked out early this morning there was very light mist and by about 9 the sun was out and it has carried on that way.
After carrying out minor adjustments to the Dickinson, I find the calibration screws creep slightly, so its not been burning at maximum this trip, we set off. As we approached Grants Lock there was a boat following us, they had been moored about a quarter of a mile behind us last night and then as we came round the bend to Kings Sutton lock there was a boat coming up, so that's 2 boats in one day. 
BW have a large pile of rubbish at the Nell Bridge yard whit what looks like aDSCF5078 half decent inflatable dingy and loads of bicycle parts, a bath and all other sorts of stuff, I guess they must have cleared it all from the towing path. I was most impressed with their stock of stop planks with all the ends colour coded. I have still not been able to find the colour coded strong flow indication board below Nell Bridge. There is the useless height indication board between the lock and the bridge telling you what the bridge clearance is, but not the useful one.  DSCF5090 When we arrived at Aynho Weir the indicator board showed we were well into the green, but I would like to know before I get that far if it was in the red. Once through the lock we continued on to moor for the night opposite Aynho Wharf. Once tied up at about 1330 I wandered over the bridge to The Great Western Arms to book a table for tonight. Whilst in there I noticed that not only are they open all day but they also offer a free WiFi link.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Thursday 18 November Banbury area.

Last nights moorings are not the quietest in the world as the church clock strikes every 15 minutes. I think it may stop in the depth of the night because the last hour chime I recall hearing was at midnight.  It didn't help that we are both going down with colds so the nights sleep was not that good. The end result was us crawling out of bed late this morning.
We set off at 10-30 and stopped just through the bridge to fill with water, while there I dumped the rubbish and noted that they now have recycling facilities there. Once the tank was full we were on our way again, as we left I was aware of a commotion in the trees behind the old coal yard, it turned out to be a Rook with pure white wings, the rest was black just like the rest of the noisy flock.
DSCF5068 A BW chap on a bicycle accompanied up all the way to Banbury, he had his data logger on his handlebars and was inspecting structures as he travelled, he was also entering information about trees growing along the towing path.
As we came past the Spice Ball long term moorings, half of which are empty we saw our fist boat on the move in the entire trip. Passing Sovereign Narrowboats I noted that his diesel is 70p/lt. We moored for a bit by the shopping centre, first to eat diner and then so Diana could visit the shops. We had considered stopping here for the night, but as Diana returned at about 3 pm. the sky brightened up and it turned into the best part of the day, so we untied and moved out of town to moor for the night just before bridge 172 at about 4 pm.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Cropredy Wed 17 Nov 2010

Last night the pressure continued to fall and this morning it was down by over 10mb, as it did the wind freshened and the rain arrived.
We pushed off this morning at about ten to ten in cold windy rain and after an hour or so I was beginning to wonder why we were doing it. As we passed Fenny Marina I noticed that there appears a lot of vacancies now, I can't imagine they are all out cruising as we haven't seen a boat on the move in the two days we have been out.  As we entered Fenny Tunnel Diana came to drive while I went below for bit of a warm. At the Claydon flight the locks were all against us and of course there was no one coming up, so it was turn each one. The same was true for all the locks as far as Cropredy. As we started down the Claydon flight the weather brightened and the rain stopped which was nice. At Cropredy Lock the lock side cottage has a white board and marker pens hanging on the fence, written on it was an invitation to help yourself to apples which were laying all over the grass, Diana picked up half a dozen nice red ones as the lock filled. The people who live in the cottage seem quite boat friendly which is quite unusual these days, lots of them seem to be owned by people who would like the lock filled in and go out of there way to make life unpleasant for boaters with notices and fences.
We moored just below the lock for the night at ten past two, just as it started raining again.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

A trip down the Oxford 16 Nov 2010

As you have probably guessed we are back on Harnser again. We arrived back on board around about mid day after stopping at the new Southam Tesco for supplies. We normally bring them from home but this time we have been grandson sitting for the weekend and came to the boat straight from theirs. 
The first job when back on board was to fit a new oil seal to the hydraulic filter head the old one had started weeping so I bought a replacement O  ring while at home, until this job was done  I was not able to run the engine as even out of gear the oil circulates through the filter.    The other important jobs were to light both the back cabin stove and the Dickinson in the galley to warm the boat up.
Thankfully the day was bright and in the sun quite warm, however there was still ice on the puddles and frost on the grass where the sun had not caught it. DSCF5058 We were able to walk Magic right to the boat as British Waterways have put a bridge across the head of the lock while the lock is drained for repairs.
Once Harnser was in a fit state to run we winded in the engine arm and ran backwards to the lock moorings where we tied up and transferred everything from the car to the boat, then still tied to the lock moorings we had lunch, I then went to the Post Office in the village while Diana took Magic for a walk, it was only then at 1420 that we left the lock moorings, it something I have never done before and will probably only do  it once more when we return. With the stop plank in and the lock drained it was very unlikely that anyone else would want to  use them.
The pound between the two Marston Doles  locks was quite low which is not unusual and we got  through with no problem however the summit pound was right on weir, even so the going was quite slow and with no other boats on the move the water has cleared and you can see just how shallow it is in places and how narrow the channel is. 
We continued on not seeing another boat on the move in bright sunshine, however it was slowly getting colder with a clear blue sky. Looking up it was possible to see what looked like very faint rainbows high in the sky.
We decided to moor for the night at about 1630 by the Wormleighton disused DECA radio mast.  Just after we had tied up a mink came swimming by bold as brass, straight down the canal on the surface. In the past when I have spotted them the slightest movement caused them to dive out of sight, not this chap he just ignored Diana, Magic and me out on the front deck watching and talking about him going by . I didn't bother to go for the camera as the light was fading and him being black and moving away at quite a pace I didn't think the photo would be worthwhile.
As I type this the outside temperature is only 3.4c   but the pressure is falling steadily indicating black clouds and rain is on the way, hopefully it will be back on the rise by the morning to give us another fine day.    

Saturday 23 October 2010

Saturday 23 Oct 2010 Napton Engine Arm

Last night just as we went to bed it started to rain, this carried on most of the night giving us about a quarter of an inch in total. The good news was that it had stopped before we were about this morning, the bad news was that the front slide got left open all night so we have wet carpet tiles and a wet chair.
We set of at 10 am.  several boat had already been by the time we set off and when we arrived at the Napton locks there were three boats ahead of us. There were several boats coming down the flight and it wasn't long before it was one for one and we made steady progress to the top. The rain held off although it looked threatening at times, but we made it in the dry. We moored just above the top lock and had lunch before unloading the boat to the car,including the poor old dog who would have problems crossing the lock gates. Once that was all done we winded in the Engine Arm and slid into our moorings and after picking a couple of bowls of sloes headed off home. By the time we had driven to the road it started to rain and this continued all the way home.

Friday 22 October 2010

Friday 22 October 2010 Napton Brickworks

As planed,last night we ate in The New Inn at Buckby Top Lock http://www.gillies-inns.com/ and we weren't disappointed, they had a good range of beers on and we were offered a taste of one we had not tried before without asking, there were several specials on the board including chili beef with chocolate. The pub also offers free WiFi  which I didn't know about before we went so didn't take the laptop. To top it all they had a raging fire going that opens into two rooms. We will visit again sometime.
This morning we woke to the sound of next doors diesel heater doing an impression of Heathrow at about half seven, we were moored stern to stern and we sleep in the Boatman's Cabin. We took the dog for a walk in the very warn sunshine, probably the warmest day this month. 
We wandered down to Norton Junction and over DSCF5016the food bridge, on the off side you can still see the iron work in the ground from when this use to be a swing bridge. The small cottage on the corner at one time was connected with the Salvation Army. They now have a very nice living wagon in their garden.
Once back on the boat it was a case of reversing back to the junction and then heading off down towards Braunston. We met one boat in the tunnel called Pin Mill which is a place in Suffolk, needles to say the steerer came from Suffolk as did the original owner. As we approached the top lock a boat was just leaving which was handy,also I knew a boat was following us through the tunnel so I tucked into the lock and waited for "nb.Tranquility" to join us. We had to turn all the locks except one as there was a boat running down ahead of us, the water levels in the lock pounds were the best I have seen them for some time with them all on weir.
We stopped for a bite of lunch in Braunston and also to visit both Bottom Lock and Midland Chandlers, I still didn't get what I wanted.
We set our goal for this evening as The Bridge Inn at Napton, but as we approached it we could see the moorings were somewhat busy with 13 Narrowboats moored before the bridge and one after with a second arriving as we passed. The sight of this lead to a change of plans and to eat onboard, the next decent piece of mooring is just passed the old brick yard where we finally moored for the night at 5-30 pm overlooked by the windmill.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Thursday 21 October 2010 Buckby top lock

We woke to another bright sunny morning and by 10 am were on our way. We met several boats today, mostly in more convenient spots.  DSCF4990 Coming through Yelvertoft just Crick side of the road bridge on the bend I have often noticed some old brick ruins on the off side and wondered what they are. Today I managed to get a photo of them as we passed, could they be old lime kilns by any chance?

DSCF4994 Approaching Crick the  towing path visitor moorings opposite the marina are now all turned over winter mooringsDSCF4995 and are for use by permit holders only. I wouldn't mind so much if they were all in use but there are very few boats there at the moment and the sign forbids you to moor there as a visitor.  It would appear that these moorings are administered by Crick Marina as there is also another BW notice telling you to contact the marina for a mooring.
We had a lonely run through Crick tunnel not seeing another bout until the bottom of the Watford Flight. As we arrived at the Watford flight I pulled over to the lock keepers hut and Diana went ashore to book out passage, but as usual if you go to the top the lock keeper is at the bottom so Diana walked all the way down and back again to say we could carry on down. We finally met a boat in the bottom pound which saved as both a bit of work.
Once clear of the locks we stopped to fill with water, this is a very good tap with good water pressure and we were soon full. DSCF5005 BW are repairing the drainage sluice between the bottom of the locks and the road bridge by the Thai restaurant, they were installing a temporary around the outlet when we passed last week, this is now all in place and work was being carried out on the sluice even through the water has not been drained behind the dam.DSCF5007 
On the off side opposite Watford Gap Motorway Services one of the householders is selling homemade products at the bottom of their garden and we pulled over to buy some more rhubarb and ginger jam, we bought a jar on the way up and it lovely. We were soon at Norton Junction and instead of turning right towards Braunston and home, we carried on a couple of hundred yards to moor for the night so that we can visit The New Inn to eat tonight.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Wednesday 20 October 2010

The dog decided that he would like to go out at 6 am this morning in the cold and dark. As I opened the front door I was aware of a keen frost with ice on the outside of the boat. When I returned to the boat I was unable to open the slide at it was frozen solid and Diana had to come and let me in.
When we got up it was bright sunshine but still decidedly chilly when we set off at 10 am. We made our way down to Debdale Wharf to fill up with diesel at 68 p/lt and to have a chat with John the boat painter about redoing our roof for us early next year. While we were there we also had a coffee with friends on their boat in the marina and introduce ourselves to the owner of nb.Lilly Pad.  Once this was all done we were on our way again and heading for Foxton Locks. Diana went up the flight to find the lock keeper to book our place in the queue,there were no other boats waiting at the bottom and one had just gone up the first lock.
There is a new sign post at DSCF4908the junction, the strange thing is that it says its 15 miles to Leicester. There was a GU mile post right beside where we moored last night at Smeeton Aqueduct saying that it was 15 miles to Leicester from there as well, but the 2 signs are about an hours cruise apart. I think there is a cast iron mile post adjacent to the new wooden one that says its 18 1/2 miles to Leicester, so which one is right.
Diana returned and we were clear to follow up the flight,after about 3 locks a family with 2 small girls came along and opened and closed all the offside gates for us, which saved me walking up to open it and Diana crossing the bridge to close it. When we reached the top there were 3 boats waiting to come down so our timing was spot on. 
We carried on it the bright sunshine which at times made it almost impossible to see if anything was coming towards us as it got lower in the sky and shining straight  along the cut into our eyes. Passing through Husbands Bosworth tunnel Diana was steering and I was standing on the front deck examining the inside of the tunnel, although this tunnel has no ventilation shafts there are several borings in the roof of about 2" diameter, some of which had water running from them. As it was such a pleasant afternoon we carried on until a few minuets to six when we moored for the night just before bridge 27 by Yelvertoft Fieldside Covert.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Tuesday 19 October 2010 Smeeton Aqueduct again

Last night just as we got back to the boat from taking the dog out it started to rain, this gradually got heavier and we went to bed listening to it drumming on the roof. I got up during the night and the rain had stopped the sky was clear and the stars were out, this morning it was sunshine. We were right about it being quieter below Double Rail lock and we never heard the train once all the time we were there. Our walk with the dog took us up passed Double Rail lock where the top was open and the pound above down by the best part of a foot. I closed the gate and overnight the level recovered. The gate on this section of the GU tend to swing open after you leave the lock, in some cases they do that after you enter the lock as well, you just get to the top and look back to see the bottom wide open.
This morning we were away at 0945 hrs and met boats at both the first two locks, we pulled over at the services at Kilby Bridge to top up with water, we haven't spotted a water point since we passed here on Saturday afternoon. Just as we were leaving another boat came down and took our place so the omens are good for some locks being with us. In the end we met 9 boats coming down and apart for some locks that had partly filled they were all with us except the last one.DSCF4956
Around lunch time it started to rain and this continued for the rest of our journey so I was quite pleased to enter Saddington Tunnel. As we passed through I noticed some structures attached  to the roof and wondered if they are bat boxes, they seem to be situated about 300 yards DSCF4964in from both ends of the tunnel.
We only had one area of concern as we made our way up the locks today and that was above Taylor's Turnover Lock where the pound was so low that the mud was exposed at the sides, maybe half a meter or so, but I kept to the middle and chugged slowly up to the next lock, Diana walked as its only a short pound so if I had of got stuck she could have let some water down. We moored for the night on the straight stretch of concrete  just to the south of Smeeton Aqueduct at 3 pm.

Monday 18 October 2010

Monday 18 October 2010 Kilby Bridge

While I took the dog out this morning Diana visited the Co-op to do a bit of shopping and we set off at ten past ten to the first lock which was full, we noted that the top paddle was 2 notches up, it was also like this last night when we went down, This is a very popular dog walking area and I am guessing that the lock is left like this to ensure its always full to make it easier to rescue anything that fell in.
Today was quite overcast andDSCF4947 nowhere near as warm as yesterday but at least we didn't get any rain. I have seen more Little Grebes in this area than I have ever seen anywhere else. We also saw several small patches of Floating Penny Wort but nowhere as much as in previous years.

DSCF4953The river carries much more rubbish  to the north of the town than it does in the higher reaches through the town centre, Things brightened up for a short time as we passed the Space Centre which gave some nice reflection on very smooth water. 
We saw a few more boats about today, 2 moored on the BW moorings in the centre of Leicester and then we met 2 coming out of Freeman's Lock, just after we had locked up we met a third coming towards us. The first assured us we were the only boat they had seen all day but within about 3 locks they were all against us, so someone must have been going up ahead of us.
We moored for the night about 300 Mts. from where we moored 2 nights ago, this time we are below Double Rail Lock, on Saturday we were above the lock.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Sunday 17 October 2010 Birstall


Last nights moorings were very quiet, the railway line was just a little bit further away than in Kilby Bridge itself. When we took the dog out the sky was clear and half a moon was well up. This morning or early morning alarm,about 8 am reminded us we were not that far from the real world as a two tone siren was hurrying along somewhere the other side of the railway. When we got up it felt decidedly chilly with a temperature of -1 outside and white stuff on the cut grass, yes it was our first frost of the season. The morning was very bright and sunny causing the temperature to rise quite fast.DSCF4937
We set off at 10 am to the first lock of the day,  Double Rail lock, as we passed through the lock it became obvious why its called that, the bottom gate has a double hand rail as opposed to the normal single rail making it much safe for pedestrians to cross, this is quite important because two footpaths seem to cross the canal at this point. There were very good moorings below the lock and I think I would moor there another time as its even further from the railway.
From here several of the locks were full thanks them overflowing the top gates, There had been a boat going down yesterday evening and on one had come up. Kings Lock saw us lock down onto the river section which was barely into the green from the bottom of the scale, at the next bridge I managed to pick up a plastic refuse sack round the prop, the water was so clear that I could easily see what I was doing and had it off in minutes.DSCF4944 At Freeman's Meadow lock by the football stadium, when Diana drew all four paddles on the lock the weir stopped flowing completely , there was so little flow on the river. Here we saw our first moving boat of the day, a rowing boat with 8 first timers on board, A chap ran forward and asked to please pass them slowly with care as they had never been in a boat before. As we passed the cox called to say that there was a road barrier in mid channel under the next bridge, right where I would have been travelling. We met the first Narrowboat of the day at North Lock, they were about to leave just as we arrived.
North Lock is right beside Frog Island, is this where the beer comes from by any chance? 
We carried on, the river now had much more rubbish floating about than earlier in the town. The town always looks very inviting but I have never seen anyone mooring there, no CC's, no bridge hoppers, not a boat to be seen, even the BW floating moorings were empty, we did consider stopping but it was still quite early in a very sunny day. We arrived at Birstall Lock just as a boat that we had been following was leaving, we caught sight of them at the last lock so I have no idea how long they have just been ahead of us. Just below the lock I winded in the stream that feeds the lakes and moored on the Birstall visitor moorings facing back upstream ready to retrace our steps tomorrow.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Saturday 16 Oct 2010 Kilby Bridge

We woke to a lovely sunny morning after yesterday evenings rain, unfortunately it didn't last and we even had a few showers.
We set off at 10 am and met a boat just before Saddington Tunnel which ensured all the locks as far as Newtown Top lock where we started to encounter bottom gate open, but a couple of locks later saw us meet two more boats that put us right as far as Kilby Bridge, here we took on water and moored for a short time while a rain shower passed through, we then continued on through one more lock to moor for the night just below bridge 89.
As we approached Kilby Bridge I noticed the BW notice telling boaters travelling east that they were entering an SSSI and reading it a little more closely I see you are only supposed to moor at designated moorings. I don't recall seeing any notices indicating designated moorings and there definitely are not any where we moored last night at Smeeton Aqueduct or anywhere else we saw boats moored. What we did see was yet another Buzzard getting a very hard time from a couple of Crows, for some time it was just a single one before his mate gave him a hand, I often wonder why such big birds put up with this treatment and don't just turn on their attackers.
I have just visited Natural England's web site and found the SSSI information for the canal,

Friday 15 October 2010

Friday 15 October 2010 Smeeton Aqueduct

DSCF4887a Last night as planned we ate at The Water Front in Union Wharf and it was as good as we had expected it to be. We last visited here in March this year, just after they opened. There were quite a few people in there, several of them from Canal Boatclub boats who were turning round first thing today. The food in there is not cheap, it cost us £50 for the two of us having 3 courses and a bottle of red wine.  A nice touch is that they bring a carafe of chilled water to your table when they bring the wine without being asked, the also brought us each a small orange liqueur with the bill. Would we go there again,to true we will. 

This morning we were in no great hurry to move as the stoppage just beyond the junction at Foxton was not due to be lifted until 5 pm.so after taking the dog for a walk and then having a wander around the basin we set off at about a quarter to eleven andDSCF4901a chugged very slowly the five and a half miles to Foxton arriving about 1-30 pm. On the way we spotted a couple of Kingfishers, one sitting quietly in the hedge before darting off down the cut, the other like most of them just shot off as we passed. We moored up just before the swing bridge and had lunch.
After lunch we decided to walk down and see how work was progressing on the stoppage, lo and behold it was all complete, the contractors had cleared up and most of their plant was already gone, I wonder when BW will remove the "Canal Closed" notices? Seeing this we returned to Harnser and set off. Just as we were leaving I could see the first of this weeks Canal Boatclub approaching and Diana held the swing bridge open for them. As they passed through the bridge they got their centre rope ready to stop and I expected them to swing left towards the locks, wrong, they turned right and stopped right where you would expect a boat to stop if going up the locks.DSCF4911 We carried on past the site of the stoppage which was just beside the foot bridge. They had to lay several hundred feet of temporary roadway to cross the field with their plant to reach the work site and in a couple of weeks there will probably nothing to show that they were ever here.
Just beyond Debdale Wharf BW have erected a large noticeDSCF4915 informing us that we are now entering a SSSI and to take care that we don't damage the plants with our propellers. Does anyone know why this is an SSSI and what magic plants exist here that we must take so much great care not to damage, or is it just the case that the area is a SSSI for some other reason and the canal just happens to pass through it just like the lanes do?
We pushed on to Smeeton Aqueduct  where we hoped to moor for the night but another boat had just beaten us to it and not wishing to moor fender to fender in this lovely open countryside we continued just round the bend to moor at about 4 pm.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Thursday 14 Oct 2010 Market Harborough

I had a chat with a couple of chaps in the Incline Plain museumDSCF4877 about the cast iron 1/4 1/2 3/4 posts and they assured me they were originally placed every quarter of a mile along the canal with a mile post every mile. These replaced the trees that were originally planted every half mile, alternating between Elm and Willow. In those days unlike today, there were no other trees along the line of the cut. This morning I received a very interesting comment that these markers were also used on the Stratford canal (Added to the bottom of this posting)

Last night while walking the dog at 1030 the Canal Boatclub boat moored a few boats down finally shut their engine down.
This morning we set off at 10 am. reversing along to the lift junction and winding to head down the Foxton flight. The lock keeper was in the old lock cottage and said we could carry on, there was no one using the flight. At the bottom of the flight we turned right, Diana had walked behind the pub to open the swing bridge, it was just as well she did, because moored on the moorings reserved for bridge operation was yet another Canal Boatclub boat. The next swing bridge which has been a pain to operate for some time is undergoing repair by May Gurney and they have lifted off the bridge and were chopping away at the foundations on the off side, lets hope the repairs take some time and when complete are very successful.
Just beyond the bridge I was passing the long term moorings at tickover when a fish, somewhere between 6 and 8 inches long torpedoed out from the off side bank, breaking the surface several times and swam straight into the side of the boat with a very audible thump, it obviously didn't stun its self as it didn't float to the surface. I have never experienced a fish strike before.
We continued on to the end of the arm and winded in the basin before mooring on the visitor moorings just outside the basin entrance. These visitor moorings are quite unusual as there is a water point every 150 feet so it is easy to water up while moored for the night. Again quite a short day as we were tied up and finished by about 1-30 pm. I am not sure what we will do tomorrow as the stoppage is not due to be lifted until 5 pm. so the best we can hope for is to get to the bottom of the Foxton flight and maybe eat in The Locks pub.

Mile posts on the Stratford
The Stratford canal has ¼ and ¾ posts along its route. I have never checked that they are all still there but the majority seems to be. They are very easily missed as they are just rusting upright pieces of rail in the hedge – perhaps put in during Great Western Railway ownership days. When SONCS installed mileposts as a millennium project the location markers were there but BW still used a wheeled ground measure to confirm the distance from
Kings Norton junction to get them checked. Unfortunately the man doing it must have nipped off to the pub one lunchtime en route so he ‘resumed’ one ¼ mile out of synch. SONACS then installed to his plan. Then a SONACS member spotted the error so BW came along and had to relocate 10 11 and 12 as I recall a further ¼ towards Stratford. [the midpoint 12.5 mile was known] BW did this by wrapping chain around them and simply lifting out of the ground by crane with concrete surround attached. Hence the fact the beautiful paint was scratched and they now need a major repaint exercise.  There should be 26 mileposts in total over the 25 mile length to Stratford as there is an additional 12 ½ mile marker at the midpoint by Kingswood junction beside lock 21 outside the old BW offices (former Stratford Canal Company carpenter’s shop and as used by David Hutchings during the
restoration). However, the 2 mile marker would be in the tunnel so it was never installed and before you ask the wheel measure was not taken through the tunnel along its wall to measure it so far as I am aware.
Clive H

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Wednesday 13 Oct 2010 Foxton

Yesterday after touching up a few more rust spots on the roof  and a scratch on the cabin DSCF4877side with white primer/undercoat I spent a couple of minutes and a brush full of paint on the 3/4 notice next to where we were moored. I have also seen 1/4 and 1/2 signs on this canal but cant remember seeing them anywhere else, anyone know what they were for?

This morning I started off at 1030 hrs while Diana was walking the dog.The first job was to reverse to the junction and wind. There was no one watching so it went like clockwork. Then on towards Foxton, I picked Diana and Magic up just past the first bridge as they had decided to walk back to meet me.
Husbands Bosworth tunnel was quite dry but I didn't see any bats which I understand live in there. Not long after that we caught up with a boat that we had followed for a couple of hours yesterday, Teasel flying a New Zealand  flag from the tiller. They arrived above Foxton locks a few minutes before us as we had to wait for a boat to come through the last bridge and moored in the only gap available. We winded in the entrance to the inclined plain and then moored in behind them taking up the last spot. The reason for winding was the same as last night an I was able to get a bit of blue gloss over the white under coat so the scratch is a lot less noticeable and hopefully wont rust. An early finish for us at 1330 hrs and the batteries not fully charged.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Tuesday 12 10 2010 Welford Junction

We made a late start this morning not getting away until 11 am. The first bit of interest was meeting a boat just before Crick Tunnel who hailed me for assistance. He had only bought the boat 15 minutes earlier at Crick and now it wouldn't go, could I help. The reason it wouldn't go was because it was hard aground about 3 foot from the off side. I went aboard and tried to pole the front out but it was solid, so I snatched him off backwards into deeper water but it was only second before he was back where in the mud, so I snatched him back a second time, this time pulling him well to the middle. He said the boat yard had not told him he might run aground, when I left him he was on the end of the pole yet again.
Diana steered through the tunnel which started very dry andDSCF4873 ended wet at the Crick end, we didn't meet any boats but as we emerged from the tunnel a boat was holding back waiting for us before going in.
The moorings by the tunnel were packed solid as the moorings opposite Crick Marina are now winter permits only and had 3 boats moored on them. They seam to be administered by Crick Marina so I don't know if they hire them from BW of letting them on BW's behalf. I do know that the best moorings in Crick are closed to visitors from 1 Oct onwards.
The new marina at Yelvertoft looks quite full, they have big signs advertising diesel with a large price display, unfortunately they have forgotten to write on them so I don't know the cost of their diesel and I wont sail in to find out. We stopped to fill with water by the bridge in Yelvertoft, its the first time I have stopped here and its quite a fast tap.
We continued on our way seeing a couple of Kingfishers, these were the first we have seen this trip and I would have expected to see a few more on this route, we normally see 2 or 3 before Watford locks and more on to days section, I expect the hard winter must have given them quite a hammering, maybe things will pick up next summer.
When we arrived at the Junction there were several boats moored to the rings but they all had one or two unused rings between them so we have ended mooring with our stakes. Prior to mooring I winded in the Welford arm, not because we are heading back but because I wanted to touch in a couple of scratches on the right hand side. We will wind again in the morning before continuing to Foxton.

Monday 11 October 2010

Monday 11 October 2010 Watford

Last night Guy and Connie picked us up at Bottom Lock and took us to The Boathouse to eat. The food was fine and after a main and sweet we were all topped up. We followed this by coffee back on Harnser.
This morning we were awake a bit earlier than planned, the boat behind left at about 7-30 but only after sitting with his engine running for about half an hour.
Once about Diana walked Magic while I visited the Chandlery to buy some 5 mm brass screws. On the way back I came upon Dragon Lady with Terry and Sally on board waiting for the locks so we pushed off and joined them for a slowish run up the flight at 10-30. While waiting for the second lock we had the pleasure of watching some aerial acrobatics as a couple of crows gave a buzzard a hard time. We met a few boats in the flight but turned most of the locks.
We met one boat in the tunnel which was very dry, I only noticed one patch of roof rain in the S bends. Just by the first bridge out of the tunnel there is a boat moored about half a boats length from the bridge hole, there must be three quarters of a mile of moorings here and they chose the bridge hole as a mooring.
At Norton Junction we turned left up the Leicester arm and stopped just before Welton Station Bridge and bought some home made jam from a stand on the offside. Not long after this we caught up with another boat and followed them to Watford Locks.
After checking with the locky we followed the boat ahead through the first lock. They were supposed to go up the second and the boat ahead up the staircase, unfortunately the Canal Time boat coming down failed to stop at the top of the staircase, as they didn't see anyone coming up, so the front boat had to back out of the staircase and we had two boats in the short pound waiting to go up. At this point the lady locky asked me if I would take a plank of wood up the flight for her,I think it was probably and old bottom board from an old working boat discovered in the side pond when they dredged them last year.
Once clear of the the flight we deposited the board at the lock keepers office and then continued to moor for the night between bridges 7 and 8 at 3-30 pm.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Sunday 10 October 2010 Braunston

We had a good drive to the boat taking just over 3 hours with very little traffic. Once at the moorings we pushed just on 2 pm. and moved down to the lock to load up as the lock filled. Just as the lock filled another boat came down the cut and as we had not completed loading I gave them the lock, mistake, we met about 5 boats in the flight and were still waiting for them to exit the bottom lock.
The weather was wonderful with warm sunshine right through until sunset. Or plan was to moor in Braunston and go to The Boathouse to eat as we thought that would be the only place doing food on a Sunday evening, we even considered mooring to their moorings right outside the pub, however Braunston was packed solid and the first and only mooring we found was almost at the bottom lock by the second marina entrance. The Elsan tip and the water point in the centre of Braunston is out of order and I tried to moor there but there was insufficient length as another boat was already right by the taps.
There are one or two ex working boats moored in the village ready for the Jam Hole run.
We finally moored at 6-30 pm. and I have just heard that Guy and Connie will be picking us up at the bottom lock when the Archers finish.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Monday 20 Sept 2010 Napton

Our first task this morning was assisting Jannock and Enseabee up the flight, on route we tried to assist a boat following by drawing a bottom as we left, but we watched them walk forward, wind down the near side paddle, cross the lock and draw the offside one, so they were doing more winding than they would have if we did nothing. Nearing the top of the flight we caught up with Pilgrim and Levic so I moved on and gave them a hand.
Whilst walking back down I spotted that the boat that had followed us had left an offside top gate open and also an offside paddle up. We were later to discover that they had in fact left three offside top paddles up.
We returned to Harnser and started to make our own way up the flight. Just as we left the first lock a chap walked up with a windlass so I offered to wait for them, but they said they had a second boat with them so we carried on. Looking back at the second lock I could see they were alone and the lady walked up and explained the other boat had changed there minds and they would be very grateful if we waited, which of course we were more than happy to do and it turned out they were very good partners to lock with.
At Calcutt locks there was a queue of 4 boats waiting to go up, but we were only doing two of the locks before stopping to fill with diesel and empty the holding tank which required me to turn round between operations.  This completed it was off up to Napton with very little traffic about, however we met boats inmost pounds which eased our passage.
We had a rather unfortunate incident two locks before the top. As Diana approached the top lock an approaching boat stopped above the lock moorings, the lock had about 2 feet of water in it so Diana raised the paddles to open the gates to let me in. I suspect the other boat thought she turned the lock in his face and as I entered the lock he put his windlass on the top paddle and took the slack up, I though I know what you are going to do but I was wrong. Diana closed one gate and as she stepped across he whizzed the paddle up with the other gate still wide open. I shouted ah him to drop the paddle until the gate was closed which he did and Diana had the sense to keep away from the gate that slammed shut, the then wound the paddle up again. As we left the lock I just thanked him for his help.
We stopped below the top lock to unload the boat into the car as Magic can't cross the gates now and then returned to our mooring before driving home.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Friday 17 Sept 2010 Blue Lias

We were ready for the off at 9 30 am just as Josephine was coming up the pound, but our joy was quickly dashed bay a hire boat following them. The hire boat did offer to hold back and let me go, but we were in no hurry and declined the offer, however they did tell me there was a single following. I followed them to Welsh Road lock and after they had gone, turned the lock, went in and waited for the following boat. Ten minutes later there was still no sign of it so we assumed they must also be waiting for a second boat to join them and went up alone.
At Bascote we could see Josephine and the hire boat in the staircase, but they had left the top gate open of the lock bellow so we rightly guessed that there was a boat coming down. When the downhill boat arrived he asked if we minded waiting 5 minutes for the single boat following him, which was no problem to us. and the locks would still be with us.
The pound above Bascote was well down and we passed Josephine who had just managed to moor below the Two Boats, it had taken them all that time to find somewhere to get in, the level was probably 10" down and things didn't improve above the next two locks. We arrived at the Blue Lias for the CIBC (Cutweb Internet Boat Club) annual rally about mid day, there wereDSCF4835 already boats moored 2 abreast for most of the pub frontage. Those that were there indicated that we should nose in at the back of the line on the 3' of hard edging available which we did, but due to the levels we could only get within about 18" at the front and because of the way the bank drops away the stern was a good twelve foot out but almost in line with the channel. As the afternoon progressed I slowly tightened our moorings drawing us in.
By the early evening the level had risen sufficiently for us to come along side at the front giving easy access for the dog (and us).
DSCF4833 In the course of the afternoon more boats arrived and by the end of the day there were 15 of us moored 3 deep along the front of the pub. Some of us have put bunting up to brighten things up, we have also had members join us by car returning home at night and 3 lots camping for the weekend.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Thursday 16 Sept 2010 Above Wood Lock

We had some very heavy rain last night and quite low cloud but by this morning things had cleared out. A hire boat Harry came by and waited for a second boat in the top Cape lock so we thought we would wait a bit before setting off, mistake. The boat Harry waited for stopped at the water point, Harry still waited and then they backed up onto the moorings and tied up, so Harry went down alone, he was just entering the bottom lock as we were dropping down the top one. We turned the bottom lock and just as we entered we spotted someone drawing the top lock paddles so we waited. It was Josephine who had overnighted in the Saltisford arm.We then shared all the locks up to the top of Fosse where they moored for the night. As I approached the bridge by Tesco I was completely on the wrong line and unable to see through the bridge hole, I put my bows inline with the hole and put the power on to bring the back round, it was then that I saw another bow entering the other side of the bridge. I hit reverse which stopped us, but as the back was already heading over to the left it just continued. I was almost sorted out when the other boat backed up so I continued through the bridge, thanked the chap for backing up only to get reprimanded for going to fast round the bends. I had indicated to Josephine to hold back and told the oncoming boat he was waiting but by now he had no time for me, so he pulled his boat into the side and waited for Jennifer who was waiting on the other side of the bridge. Eventually Josephine stuck her nose round and crept through. After Jennifer moored up we continued up one more lock alone and moored for the night at around 2 pm. This gives us a bit of a chance to charge the batteries in the morning before we arrive at The Blue Lias for the weekend.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Wednesday 15 Sept Cape Locks Warwick

We set off at quarter to ten to a fine but blustery and cool morning. The first stop was for water and then Bascote Staircase locks, we expected these to be ready for us as we had just met two boats midway between the locks and the water point, but it was not to be. When we arrived we could see several paddles up, we then spotted the BW man who was letting water down to fill the next two pounds, but he didn't keep us waiting long and once cleat of the three locks we met a boat coming the other way and it continued like this for most of the day. We caught up with a boat who was about to enter the bottom of the Fosse 3. They had just had a domestic and weren't to talkative but they only did the one lock with us and then pulled over, so we continued on alone.
We stopped to eat lunch (unusual for us) in Leamington Spa before continuing on to Tesco to buy more dog food and some other odds and ends.
Once stores were replenished it was off up the Cape locks, we had to turn the first but as we left to head up to the second a boat came down and carefully closed the gates behind them, at first we thought it was a hire boat, but no it was privately owned, they were quite happy to go into the lock we had left open for them and the locks are probably less than 150 yard apart. As we passed the Cape moorings I noted that there were quite a few spaces so we continued to the Saltisford Arm and winded at Budbrooke Junction returning to the Cape moorings to tie up for the night at 5 30 pm. The day had been mostly dry with a bit of drizzle mid afternoon.
As we wee sitting eating dinner there was a tap on the front doors, I looked round to see Mrs. Duck on the front deck tapping on the door, when she got no response she wandered off down the gunwale and tried the clear side hatch for attention.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Tuesday 14 September 2010 Long Itchington

It was quite a windy night,but this morning it had moderated to blustery and quite warm. About half ten there was a boat waiting to go down the locks but Di had just taken the dog for a wander while I got ready to push off. We expected the boat at the locks to be long gone before we were ready but it turned out he was delayed by two slow boats coming up the flight so we were able to share the flight after all. We carried on down towards the Stockton flight passing a very slow boat on the way. As we arrived at the top of the Stockton flight there was a boat just setting the top lock so we slid in along side them, the boat we had been sharing with followed us down with the boat that we had both overtaken who had a crew of 4 onboard, so they were soon catching us up, we met a couple of pairs of boats coming up the flight so things ran quite smoothly. The boat we shared with stopped for water at the bottom of the flight and we continued on into Shop Lock where we waited for one of the boats behind to catch up, we knew one was stopping at The Blue Lias, but no one showed up and when two boats arrived to come up the lock we went down alone. In the pound below we stopped for a chat with Guy on Virgo, I don't know how long we were there but the boat we shared the Stockton flight with dropped down alone and we continued on together.
We stopped outside the Two Boats for Diana to nip to the shop for a couple of things for tea, but it was a wasted walk and she returned empty handed, by DSCF4818now it had started to rain so we decided to wait until it stopped, the light rain grew heavier until it was pelting down, it finally stopped a little after 5 pm. we thought we may as well stop here for the night and see what the food is like in The Two Boats .

Monday 13 September 2010

Monday 13 Sept 2010 Calcutt Locks

We returned to Harnser this afternoon and set off at about ten past three. There was a continuous stream of boats coming up the flight which made life easy for us. There were a few spits of rain as we neared the bottom lock but nothing much. Quite a few of the visitor moorings were free by The Folly as there were by The Bridge Inn.
Moored by the bridge we again saw our old boat Water Witch and again exchanged a few words, They were hoping to eat at The Bridge, but as it was Monday the place was shut, so there option was to walk to The Kings Head along the main road.
We continued on to Wigrams Turn where we took a sharp left north along the Grand Union canal and moored for the night just before the three Calcutt locks at quarter to six.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Saturday 11 Sept 2010 Napton

The meal in The Boathouse at Braunston, formally known as The Mill House was quite acceptable, typical chain pub but OK and two main courses, two sweets and two pints of Pedigree came out just under £25 as the cheapest main course is free. The only off putting thing was to have the Christmas Tree flashing away behind us. Is this the first decorated tree of the season?

This morning we woke early,like 5 am. to the sound of a Bolinder engine starting and then the ex working boat that had arrived in the dark and moored outside The Boathouse departed just as it was starting to get light, he slit past without a ripple just the uneven beat of his engine breaking the silence.
We finally left Braunston at about mid day after first filling with water and then winding in the Marina entrance, we then chugged round to Midland Chandlers who were having a 20% off day . So we are now facing north on the North Oxford and we want to go south on the South Oxford, not a real problem, just back up passed the junction and then off where we want to go. However just then a boat comes into the waterpoint opposite, another boat comes from the Braunston direction backwards to also use the water point. A second boat comes from Braunston, the boat who was at the waterpoint only dumps his rubbish and pushes off, I set off backwards and a boat comes down the South Oxford to turn round in the junction,so there are now 3 of us going backwards, 1 going forwards and 1 stopped in the midst of the mêlée.
We soon all get our selves sorted and we are Napton bound following the boat we thought was stopping for water.
The sunken boat is still causing an obstruction on the Puddle Bank with a tug across the end of it and a mud hopper on the outside complete with orange mesh. We met boats in nearly all of the Napton flight so left all the gates except one open and had them all opened for us except 3 which were with us, a good run in the sunshine arriving back at our moorings at 3 pm.

Friday 10 September 2010

Friday 10 Sept 2010

A pleasant evening last night on next doors boat chatting until about 11 pm. and then off to bed. I woke to the rain during the night which sounded quite heavy but had packed up by this morning. Our friends were off at 8 30 this morning but we didn't make a move until 10 30 am. We only planned to go as far as Braunston so it was just a slow chug meeting lots of boats on the way. DSCF4800  
The Barby marina is coming on at quite a rate and we could see a lot of progress has been made in the last 3 weeks. They have even planted hedging and sown grass which to me seems a bit premature with all the heavy plant moving about the site. They are still advertising that it will be open in Autumn 2010 but even with the present rate of progress I doubt it. There is still a lot to do on site let alone the leak testing and breaking into the canal. I don't know if its on the BW stoppage list yet.
At Braunston Turn we turned left on to the Grand Union canal heading south. We only plan to go into the centre to turn and fill with water etc. before heading south (the opposite direction) up the Oxford canal tomorrow. Braunston looked pretty full but just past the junction we pulled along a boater we know who told us he was about to leave so we nipped into his space, since then several boats have departed and others arrived.
We were sitting in the boat having just finished our lunch when there was a knock on the boat. It turned out to be a couple who live in the next village to us, boat wise our paths have crossed several times but we have never actually met each other before.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Thursday 9 Sept 2010 top of Hillmorton Locks

Taking the dog for a walk this morning I think I saw a pair of Ravens. I heard the call first which alerted me and looked up to see a large black bird land in the top of one of the electricity pylons, this was joined a few minutes later by a second bird. The spent a few minutes together on the pylon before flying off. I had been told that Ravens have been spotted in the area and the call is a bit deeper than rooks, so I am fairly sure I am right.
We set off at quarter to eleven, just after a couple of boats had passed us so it looks as if it will be a slow run into Braunston as the one ahead doesn't slow down as much as I do passed moored boats and doesn't go as fast on open water. We saw this boat out on the South Oxford last trip where the hires thought it was sinking, obviously they were wrong.The canal is quite busy again and we have met several boats, mostly on the straight. The hire boat waved me passed as we went under the M6 and we had a clear run from there until we arrived at Lime Tree marina. Here we spotted old friends on their boat and stopped for a chat, I bet we had not been there for more than 15 minutes when the hire boat came passed. We again followed the hire boat to Hillmorton locks where we locked up side by side. At  about 4 pm we moored for the night just at the top of the locks and out friends are breasted on the outside of us as all the moorings are full as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Wednesday Sept 8 2010 Sutton Stop

Last night we ate at Weatherspoons and what can I say, 2 steakDSCF4783 meals, 2 deserts, a bottle of red wine and change out of a twenty pound note. The moor in the basin was very good with no disturbance over night.
This morning we were off to the Transport Museum, followed by the Cathedral and then up the old Cathedral tower, this was followed by a wander round the Guild Hall. Two were free and two cost us to get in. It was the two Cathedral visits that we had to pay for.

We left the basin just after 4 pm. By then several boats had gone and others arrived so we left the only vacancy for any late comers. There were a surprising number of fishermen along the arm as we returned in bright sunshine. The old power station is now flats and units but a lot of the old industry along the line is now just heaps of brick rubble and open land. We passed through Sutton Stop and moored for the night at the end of all the moorings almost on the bend, by now it was 6 30 pm and still sunny.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Tuesday 7 Sept 2010 Coventry Basin

Yesterday evening it was raining when we arrived and was raining even harder when we went to bed. When I woke at about 3 this morning , the wind had died right away and the sky had cleared with the stars peeping out.

This morning we woke to sunshine and after a walk into the village we set off at 10 am. Most of the boats between us and the BW yard had departed by then and one or two ex-working boats had been by including the historic pleaser Narrowboats Elisabeth.
The weather was fine for most of the day and we met lots of boats coming towards us including Monarch towing a butty on cross straps who we met on a bend with a large weeping willow which made it very difficult to see them.
We topped up with water at Hawkesbury Junction before heading off down to Coventry Basin, well into the city centre. DSCF4781 Two boats passed just as we were about to leave the water point who also headed to the city and just ahead of them a boat came out from the Oxford canal who also went that way, so now there were 4 of us heading for the end.  We moored in the Basin at about 4 pm to find the place almost full including 2 boats from our moorings. There is room for just one more boat now and that will require another one moving along.

Once moored we went for a short walk round the area finding the Transport Museum and Weatherspoon public house.

Monday 6 September 2010

Monday 6 Sept 2010 Hartshill

We pushed off at quarter to ten and made our way to the Glascote Locks, there was a boat going up ahead of us and several coming down, the first was powered by a single Bolinder engine. The down coming boats gave us an easy run. From here we continued to the Atherstone Flight.There was a boat going up the first lock but he indicated there was a boat coming down. We turned the next lock but after that we met boats all the way to the top. Once clear of the flight it was not long before it started to rain so we planned to stop by the Hartshill services but as we approached bridge 33 we could see it looked pretty full so we pulled over and moored just prior to the bridge.
In the course of the day we have met several ex working boats and a fully loaded pair that are returning from the Shackerstone working boat festival down the Ashby canal.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Sunday 5 Sept 2010 Fazeley Junction

A slow start this morning as Diana walked into Fradley to post a letter and I tackled a few more rust patches on the roof, only 5 this time. I am scraping off the blistered/cracked paint and then sanding away the rust, I am then treating it with Kurust and when its dry covering it with an primer/undercoat. There are about 30 white patches on the roof now.

We finally left at 10-30 to a slightly dull but warm morning, unfortunately it soon changed to rain,quite steady at times. We decided to stop at The Tame Otter at Hopwas for Sunday lunch. We were taken aback by the number of moored boats that we passed before we reached the village, we expected the centre of the village packed but not this length. We moored two bridges south of the pub and walked back, by now the rain had cleared up. The pub car park was packed and although there were several vacant tables in the pub, we were told that there was a 45 minute wait for food and the only roast available was beef and turkey with the lamb being sold out and another joint in the oven. In the end our wait was much less than half an hour. The Tame Otter is in the same group as The Fox and Anchor that we visited a few days ago, the Vintage Inn Group.

After lunch we continued on our journey to Fradley meeting friends from out local IWA branch on there new boat just outside the town, so that necessitated a short stop for a nose round. At Fradley Junction we turned right up the Birmingham and Fazeley canal to visit Fazeley Mill Marina to fill up with diesel, taking on 100 lts. at 64 p/lt. We then returned back to the junction to moor for the night at 6 pm.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Saturday 4 Sept 2010 Fradley

We set off on a slightly chilly day at 10 am after doing a weed hatch visit, I thought there was a little something there which turned out to be a load of fabric, it could have been an umbrella or a kite as it was multi coloured pieces joined together.
As we needed water we decided to top up at Great Haywood Junction and as I stuck my nose out of the junction started to turn left, as I emerged I saw there were three boats at the water point so I spun round to top up later in the journey, at that moment both boats simultaneously switched of the water taps so I backed up and waited, little did I know what would unfold over the next 20 minutes.
The boat nearest the junction who was waiting for water had already run his hose out so I backed up and waited for the one at the other end to leave which he did a few minuets later, in the mean time the other boat who had taken water took the hose out of the tank and let go their front rope. We tied up and started filling from the other tap. At this point the chap who's wife had just filled up and dropped off the rope came back with the porta potty and then nothing. The waiting boat had undone his ropes and was holding his boat ready to pull it back to the water point. At this point nothing was happening on the boat that had just filled up, the crew disappeared inside and nothing. Then the chap came out and dipped the water tank, the water had been running out of the filler when we arrived, then he replaced the filler and started playing with the Porta Potty, this was followed by him disappearing back inside. A short time later he was back with his hose, then he unplugged the hose of the chap waiting and plugged his hose in again taking the end into the boat, 5 minutes later he was out again, by now another boat had arrived and was waiting. Said chap just stood there, doing and saying nothing, he then coiled his hose again. The chap waiting asked him how much longer he was going to be, to which the reply he received was "I've got all day I am not in a hurry". By now our tank was just about full and it had been 20 minuets since we arrived and the chap not in a hurry had filled his tank, The chap waiting pointed out that he didn't have all day and the chap thought it better that he left which for some one not in a hurry he did with some speed passed the moored boats just through the bridge. I found the whole episode almost unbelievable, how the other boater kept his cool I don't know.
We pushed off and were surprised not to find a queue at Colwich lock with no one waiting to come up, but two boats behind us. Then we met a whole row of boats coming towards us, we carried on through Rugeley stopping for a quick chat with Chertsey and Minnow at Kings Bromley Wharf, just through bridge 54 there is a new set of finger mooring for about 10 boats. Once we reached Wood End Lock we were following a boat but also meeting boat so the delay was very short for Fradley Junction.
We turned hard right into the Coventry Canal where we saw our old boat Water Witch moored for the night,so we breasted up to her and stopped for coffee and a chart, we hadn't seen them for over a year, then it was off to find somewhere to moor, after about 500 yards I went over something and the rudder went very stiff , at first I thought it had jumped out of the cup but then got a bit easier, we carried on to just through bridge 90 where we moored and I had a poke around with the cabin shaft, I could feel something between the skeg and the rudder but couldn't move it so I tried via the weed hatch, a combination of vigorous rudder moving and poking with the shaft eventually got rid of it, it felt like wood as I poked it but the main thing is, its gone!

Friday 3 September 2010

Friday 3 September 2010 Tixall Wide

We set off this morning about quarter to ten,it was quite a bit cooler than of late, there was not much about until we reached Galley where a boat had just gone down the locks and another was about to come up. I slipped up slightly by stopping in the section just above the lock which made it a bit difficult for the boat coming out as I was slightly wider than the layby.
Just as I was leaving the lock a hire boat started his engine and was putting the boat in gear, luckily for me his crew was still holding his front rope so he couldn't push out. In the mean time the boat waiting to come up were all with their boat, no one came up to the lock at all to lend a hand with the gates or show their faces. Diana walked on to the next lock and the hire boat followed me. From here we met boats in most pound that eased us on our way and we didn't see the hire boat again until after we were moored up.
As we were exiting Park Gate lock the boat that had been moored on the lock moorings pulled away and we ended up following him for a couple of locks until he built up bit of a lead due to boat timings and the locks being in his favour. We passed him moored up, drinking wine just across from the railway line, I think I would have found somewhere quieter to stop.
At Deptmore Lock we suddenly started meeting boats again and we must have met 10 between here and Tixall Wide. We tried to moor to the first section of piling after Tixall Lock but could not get within 5' of the bank due to the mud so continued on to just before the wide section an came in behind the other moored boat at 6 pm in bright sunshine without a breath of wind.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Thursday 2 September 2010 Cross Green

Another bright sunny day and we were on the move just before 10 am. When we arrived at the bottom of Bratch locks there was one boat in the flight and one waiting. Diana walked up to speak to the lock keeper and came back to tell me to follow the boat ahead up the flight. Not only was there a lock keeper on duty but also a volunteer assistant so things were running quite smoothly.The boat that arrived just before we went in was not so lucky as they were told to wait for three boats to come down.
A had bit of a chat with the lock keeper about the flight when he came down to check out licence details.I seems that at one time they could have been a stair case and that the size of the chambers is very poorly balanced with the top one about 10 foot, the second only 8 and the bottom a whopping 13 foot so there is no where near enough water coming down the flight to maintain the chamber levels which is why side ponds were built between the chambers.
One of the effects of doing 3 up and 3 down was that there were now three boats travelling up the canal quite close together so the chances of meeting boats in the pounds to give one up and one down become less and although we met several boats we had to turn every lock we came to, the boat ahead of us had to turn most of them and the front one had them all in his favour.
As we passed Oxley Marina a motorised butty was about to draw away, it was half of an ex hotel pair and was motorised before it was sold on, is fitted with a hydraulic drive driving a propeller in the Ellm  (rudder).
DSCF4734 We moored for the night on the 48 hour moorings just beyond the Fox and Anchor pub at 5 pm. Just after we had made Harnser secure the motorised Butty moored just ahead of us so we were able to talk hydraulics.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Wednesday 1 Sept 2010 Wombourne

DSCF4710 Even though the barometer is falling and my weather station has black clouds we still woke to a bright sunny morning and set off backwards at quarter to ten,we only backed up to the junction where we turned up the 4 Stourton locks on the Stourbridge Canal. Just above the bottom lock there is what looks like an entrance to quite a large basin with boats moored in it. I had not realised it was there until last night when I was updating the Google map to show our position  ( http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route )
DSCF4723 We followed the canal up to Wordsley Junction on the way we passed a group of children complete with swimming dog who were having a great time swinging out across the canal on a rope,I was a bit concerned as I approached them but they were no problem and stopped swinging before I arrived, all that wanted me to do was bip the horn and I happily obliged.
where we turned right and carried on to the end of the Town Arm.  We had planned to come here last night to moor but were advised against it. The basin is surrounded by a fence topped with razor wire that does not  give great confidence in the safety of the area. In side the basin are all long term DSCF4721moorings and no visitor moorings at all,at the very end of the basin is the Trusts headquarters and a winding hole where we turned a little after mid day to retrace our steps to Stourton junction. We later found out from an acquaintance who had been moored there last night that if you enquire at the trusts headquarters if there is a space then they are very happy for you to stay.
We were back at Stourton Junction about twenty past two and again turned sharp right to carry on up the Staffs and Worcester canal. We met boats at most of the locks until  we reached Greensforge Lock which was not only against us but had the top gates open, Right in the middle of the lock landing was an elderly fisherman with two elderly ladies all sitting on their canvas folding chairs all over the towing path. He didn't look too impressed when I tied up right in front of him so he couldn't drowned his maggot. Just as we cleared the lock a hire boat pulled away just ahead of us so the rest of the afternoon was spent turning locks, to give them their due, they did empty one lock for us as they left which was very welcome. We followed them up the Botterham Staircase locks and as it was now 6 pm decided to call it a day.