Monday 30 September 2013

Napton Monday 30 September 2013

Well its the last day of the month and the last day of our trip.Not a bad start to the day, warm and dry but quite cloudy to the north of us which just didn’t seem to move all day.

We set off just after 10 am and I have never met so many boats in so many bridge holes, well over 50%.

I do think CaRT or BW as it was then made a rod for their own backs when they installed the soft piling on the off side at Lower Shuckburgh between bridges 107 and 108 as the backfill they used now supports a forest of willows which are starting to encroach on the canal. The growth on the left is just the overgrown towing path.DSCF3814

I think BW had the right idea when they designated the visitor moorings by The Bridge pub at Napton, it might have been worthwhile drawing the date forward by a month to October.DSCF3817 The 48 hr moorings by The Folly were empty but all the 14 day taken again with a boat half way across the “No Mooring” for the winding hole.

As you approach The Folly the fields on the offside, Hillanhi Farm, use to be full of ponies and sheep with one lone deer among them. They have now all gone, the pasture has been mole ploughed and it looks as if its all changed hands, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a mooring go in by bridge 112.

We filled with water at The Folly and while we were doing so a boat came down the flight, so we had a good run up only tuning a couple of locks that had leaking top gates and meeting several boats on the way. Near the top of course there were the Buffalo complete with calves. The mother from this pair wandered off while the calf was asleep but soon came back when it woke up.DSCF3826

At the top of the flight CaRT still has not done anything about the walkboard on the top lock, the wood below the nonslip surface is rotten and the nonslip surface cracked so it you step on the end there is no firm footing. Once through the lock it is only a short way to the Engine Arm where our new moorings are. A hard turn to the left and lots of welly to drive through the mud. Diana had walked from the lock and had the swing bridge open ready for me and then into our new mooring.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Wolfhampcote Sunday 29 September.

Last night we walked round to the Boathouse to eat, its a Maston’s chain pub. We did consider walking up the Nelson but being Saturday if they were full it would have been quite a hike back to eat, The Old Plough had music on so we guessed they would also be busy. What we hadn’t bargained on was how busy the Boathouse would be. We had to wait about 20 minutes just for a table and even longer for the food. Just as well they do food until 10pm. The have a large menu and two, two course meals came out at under £19 Probably one of the cheapest places we have eaten and it was all fine with nice fresh vegetables.

This morning we set off about twenty passed ten down to the marina to wind, I think its the first time Diana has ever done this. On the way I took a photo of the old cast iron water point asDSCF3786 they won't be around much longer. CaRT has decided they don’t comply with regulations now so are spending a fortune replacing them all with stainless steel ones. I don’t know of many regulations that are retrospective. More gold plating with our money.

It looks as if Tony Redshaw has moved out since we were last at Braunston, another traditional skill gone. At Braunston Junction we turned right towards Hillmorton, we don’t want to be back in Napton until tomorrow so it was a choice of Hillmorton or Fenny Compton for today and Hillmorton won.

When ever we come this way I am surprised that this old railway signal is still standing on the dismantled railway line. DSCF3792 They knocked down most of the rest including bridges across the canal, but this got left

At bridge 77A there is an interesting piece of artwork, I think it must have been done with a stencil and I’m not sure why someone would go to so much trouble.DSCF3807 Just passed this we came to a boat that was adrift at the bows. It had a good thick line attached to the bows and the other end was ashore but not attached to anything, so I donated one of my old mooring pins to it and moored it up, unlike the boat we met just before it who just ploughed along.

We stopped at The Canal Shop, Hillmorton to fill with diesel at 87p/Lt and also looked round their chandlery/shop which is very well stocked. I was interested in looking at the Air Head composting toilets after hearing so much about them.

Once this was done we were off down the locks to wind, the official winding hole is below the bottom lock but I winded with ease outside the Bistro just above the bottom lock known as Grantham’s Bridge where a short arm runs off. It was then back up the next two locks again and on to the level all the way to the Napton flight.

I think the owners of the old stables at Tarry’s Bridge have done a wonderful job saving and converting the old stable block. It lay derelict for years waiting to fall down or for someone to do something, thankfully the latter.DSCF3800

As we continued to chug in the bright sunshine towards Braunston turn we met NB Sirius coming towards us with Cath and John onboard, boaters we know from our time on the Fens, unfortunately due to moored and following boats we could only shout greetings as we passed. They had come up the Nene with NB Leo fellow bloggers.

At Braunston turn we turned to the right towards Napton Junction and the boat following who we locked Hillmorton with turned left to Braunston. Although Hillmorton Locks are narrow locks taking only one boat they are laid out on pairs side by side and its very useful if both crews help each other closing gates and drawing paddles etc.

We are now on a broad canal again where the South Oxford and the Grand Union share the same route. We carried on for about a mile before mooring for the night just before bridge 99. Once moored up the sun went to sleep the other side of bridge 99.DSCF3810

Saturday 28 September 2013

Braunston Saturday 28 Sept 2013

last night as planned we had a meal in the Blue Lias, its a pity they don’t offer WiFi as the 3 signal was about zero. When its that bad and you try to send anything like a blog it uses loads of data and gets nowhere.

This morning was sunny and warm, I was fiddling about on the boat until almost 11 hoping another boat may come along but no, so it was off up the Stockton flight alone. DSCF3767 We met one or two boat including two boat loads of Cubs, there seemed to be hundreds of them just out for a weekend on two of the London Narrowboat Project boats. They told me that next weekend they are bringing scouts.


At lock 6 on the Stockton flight on of the stones below the cooping stones has been badly misplaced somehow.DSCF3768

Kate Boats in Stockton Marina have constructed a very useful looking cover over 3 of their mooring pontoons making a handy covered wet dock.DSCF3771

A short way above The Boat pub, maybe quarter of a mile is where Willow Wren have plans for their new training centre up one of the old disused arms.DSCF3774

The next thing to bless our journey was 3 Buzzards overhead in the blue sky, one of them conveniently  coming over the canal for a photograph.DSCF3778

At Calcutt locks I boat was just coming down and there was a single boat in the pound above waiting to enter lock 2 so we locked up and joined them for the final two. At Napton Junction or Wigrams Turn they went off to Napton where as we turned left to Braunston. As we approached Braunston things started getting busier and a boat overtook me as I slowed for the moored boats on the Puddle Bank, as there was a boat coming the other way at the time I stopped to let him get by and on his way. One of the moorings along the Puddle Bank has an impressive scarecrow in their garden, well it would keep me off their peas.DSCF3781 We moored in Braunston just passed The Boat  on the towing path side, one mooring before the A5 bridge.

Since we have been moored here its been non stop boats in both
directions, some much faster than others.

Blue Lias Friday 27 Sept 2013

Yesterday we had a stowaway all day, I was hoping to get a photo of him today in the daylight, but he must have jumped ship overnight. I guess he must have hopped on at Rowington and spent all day on the weather station. So here is a shot I took last night with flash.DSCF3759 The church clock at Radford Semele is working again chiming out the hours and its spot on time. It doesn't chime overnight which is good.DSCF3763 It was a sunny start to the day and while we were having breakfast a boat went passed. We decided not to rush and join him up the locks but set off at 10 as planned. Just as we finished breakfast a hire boat from Braunston came by so we tagged on behind. It was a good move as they had a crew of 4 men and 2 ladies, not only that but the steerer could handle the boat. At the first lock not a word was said as we waited for our crews to turn the lock and then we slid in side by side as if we had been boating together for years and so it continued with one or two people working ahead. At Fosse Wharf services the boat that went up earlier was tied up, so if we had have joined them we would now been working alone. After this we met a few boats but the locks leak so badly that most of them were half full before we arrived.

Two boats entered the top of the Bascote staircase while we locked up in the lock below. When they were ready to leave the staircase we moved forward and split, me to the offside. Unfortunately for me the pound was well down and I went well into the mud from which it took several minutes for me to extract my self. The only way I could move was backwards and that sucked me closer to the side, eventually I managed to get the bows out and drive forward.

It turned out that although it was a hire boat, it was a sponsored one and it was the very experienced owner steering have a weeks holiday on his boat. We said goodbye to them at Bascote Bridge where we stopped for water as they were stopping at The two Boats for lunch. CaRT have changed the old cast iron standpipe out for one of the new stainless steel ones, I noticed they were doing the same at Hatton top lock. I don’t know if this is something they are doing right across the system or just as the old ones reach the end of their useful life.DSCF3764 Once full of water we continued on our way passing our locking partners of the day enjoying a well earned pint outside The Two Boats. We did the next two locks alone to get us to The Blue Lias for the night. Just below Shop Lock, lock 12 there is a bridge that servers Warwick Fly Boats yard known as new bridge. As you can see they didn’t build the new bridges as well as they did the old ones.DSCF3765 It now has a metal collar round it to hold it together, DSCF3766you can easily slide your hand in the cracks in the concrete between the face and the sides.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Radford Semele Thur 26 Sept 2013

We were off just after 9 this morning, 1 boat had already gone passed and the boat behind us, Lady Esther was also getting ready to set off.  As we made our way along the pound we passed this pair of old wooden boats on the off side, looking as if they need a bit more TLC.DSCF3747

Shrewley tunnel was very wet, its a very long time since we have been this way and I had quite forgotten how bad it is. The tunnel is unusual in that it has a separate horse tunnel running through the hill at a higher level. The norm was for tunnels without a towing path through them to walk the horse overtop of the hill.DSCF3748

I could just see the boat ahead through the tunnel, I thought they would be well gone by now, behind Lady Esther was closing on us. As we arrived at Hatton top lock the boat ahead was just opening the second top gate and waved us in, by now Lady Esther was close behind. We worked down with the two chaps on the boat we caught up with but they were only going to the Dry Dock, 3 locks down, so I called to Angie from Lady Esther that we would wait there for them, Just to improve things a boat was leaving the third as we did the second, so that was one less for them to turn. We waited in the forth lock for them and turned the third ready and then spent the rest of the flight with them.
We had a fair run meeting a single in the next lock and then a tug with work flat breasted in the next. This was followed by two more pairs of boats that had decided to breast up to come up the flight. Easy for them but a pain for us in the very short upper pounds. After that all the locks were with us, but most had leaked about a foot so it wasn’t plain sailing. This carried on until 3 before the end which were all against us and no one coming up.

At the bottom we both went into the Saltisford Arm Lady Esther to moor for the nigh and us to get a pump out. They were in luck and we weren't. The chap that does pump outs is off on a Thursday afternoon, so we backed out and carried on down the GU. Luck was with us again at Cape locks as a single boat was just coming into the top lock from below,so they were both with us. We winded at Kate Boats and dropped back to their yard for a pump out. The chap did a very through job with 4 rinses but it cost us £20. Now the interesting bit, we needed to reverse back to the winding hole, another boat was reversing back to the service moorings and a third boat was reversing back to wind in the same hole as we wanted. So that was three Narrowboats reversing in both directions in 100yards of canal. Needles to say when it was our turn to wind there were two boats coming down the cut.

That all sorted it was off to Leamington to arrange a car hire to get us home, our car is still in Brandon. Enterprise Car Hire are in one of the railway station buildings so very handy to the canal.

Now for somewhere to moor for the night, Radford Semele is always a favourite opposite the church. This is the first time we have been this way since the scaffolding was removed from the church roof following a bad fire in 16 March 2008. Restoration has taken over 5 years and you can read about it at http://www.stnicholasrestoration.com/

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Rowington Wednesday 25 Sept 2013

Last night we went out to eat, just over the bridge at Catherine de Barnes there is “The Boat” pub and directly opposite is Longfellow's restaurant. We chose Longfellow's. They have a set price two or three course menu. We chose the 2 courses, main and dessert for £20.95 each. They also do a cheaper menu of the day up until 7-30pm.

We had a quiet night and very little noise this morning until the builders started work at 8am on the house opposite. Again it was a misty start to the day with the sun not breaking through until the afternoon.

We set off at 10am not expecting to see another boat for some time. As we passed the old BW so I expect its now CaRT yard at Henwood Bridge it set me wondering what they intend to do with the old swing bridge or even if they know they still have it.DSCF3735 We passed Copt Heath Wharf with the moorings and yard on the right and the house on the left. the house has had a lot of work done on it since we were last this way and they have a pair of very smart day boats to hire.

As we approached Stephen Goldsbrough’s yard at Knowle we saw a hire boat ahead so we would have someone to share the locks with after all. Stephen Goldsbrough’s yard which is partly floating seems to stick a long way out into the canal but actually there is loads of room to get by.DSCF3738

They were a young couple with a dog on the hire boat and she was doing the steering while he worked the locks, they were already going in through one gate when we arrived and she drifted across to let me in beside her, this to me was a real good sign. This was the forth time they had hired. All the flight was against us and we didn’t feel they were experienced enough for Diana to work ahead so we had to wait at the mouth of each lock. For those that know the Knowle flight will know that the water swirls in the pounds between the lock and this can easily catch you off guard and nearly saw her turning broadside. I suggested she came close to me and put her bow into the mouth of the lock. By the bottom lock we both crossed the pound together and brought the boats to a standstill just before the bows touched the top gate of the last lock. At the bottom of the flight we stopped together just below the gates so that our other halves could step aboard, I think by this stage she was feeling quite proud of herself. We left them and pushed ahead alone meeting a few boats on the way.

Yesterday we had seen a hire boat with an all male crew, it was the one that left the services ahead of us. One of the chaps was cycling ahead and doing a bit of fishing until the caught him up again. Today the boat was tied up at The Black Boy’s pub but we passed the lone fisherman with his bike just before Kingswood Junction. He was so busy watching a boat steam straight out of the junction that I ran over his line braking it between the float and the hook. I told him his mates were all in the pub which explained why they were taking so long to get there.

The “Tom O The Wood” pub is looking very smart again and the water point at the visitor moorings has now been replaced by a stainless steel enclosed one. So maybe it works at long last.

We carried on to moor on what must be my favourite mooring in this area overlooking The Cock Horse pub at Rowington.DSCF3744

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Catherine de Barnes Tue 24 Sept 2013

When we looked out this morning I was surprised we didn’t get an early call as there was a field of geese opposite and they only took off when I kicked the mooring hook to release it. We hadDSCF3699 already had several boats go by including the ex-working boat Dove when we pushed off at 9am. The canal was extra busy today and we met 3 boats in 8 hours cruising.

Just below the first of the Minworth locks CaRT have carried out temporary repairs to the bank, lets hope it holds until they fix it DSCF3701properly. As we worked up the lock we could see Dove in the distance and by lock three we had caught them up. I offered to close the gate for them as they left, mistake, it wouldn’t close so I poked around with the boat hook and pulled a branch out which had us moving again. There were some very shallow sections in the pound above the locks.

One of the more unusual things floating around in the cut above the locks  were packs of toilet rolls, some individual and some larger bags, lots had been fished out and were in the skip at the top locks and some were on the towing path but there were still lots floating around.DSCF3703

I always find this building fascinating, I am not sure what theyDSCF3716 use to do here but there are three bricked up doors where I DSCF3710 guess they would have loaded boats as you can see one of the rings beside it, it also had electric light at some point but these are now all smashed. Its not overly dark going through as all one side is open.DSCF3706

It wasn’t long before we were in the shadow of the M6 and DSCF3721heading for our first junction of the day, Salford Junction. We would turn sharp left up the first arm we came to, to join theDSCF3722 Grand Union canal. As you can see the angle is much greater than 90°  but there is plenty of room to swing in, however coming the other way boats are often going to fast to get their bows round which has lead to this notice being put up. You can plainly see all the lumps knocked out of the concrete by the bows of boats hitting it.DSCF3723

Just as we turned in we met our first boat of the day, did he come from the moorings at “Star City” or did he come all the way down the flight putting the locks in our favour? It was immaterial as just before the locks we met a second boat, we must be in luck, but there ahead of us in the first pound was Dove, so we had to turn every one. A lot of work had been done on the old lock cottage at the first lock, but somehow its now been burnt out, whether it was an accident or vandalism I don’t know.DSCF3724 

One of the locks in the flight was leaking well passed the bottom gate, with a boat only a couple of locks ahead it had drained when we arrived.

Having cleared the flight Dove was nowhere to be seen but another boat pulled out in front of us, it turned out to be the single hander who was moored behind us at Huddlesford at the weekend.  At Bordesley Junction he turned left, the same way we wanted to go, so I walked up and gave him a hand and telling him to just leave the top gates open and we would close up as we arrived. We met our third boat of the day as we approached the top lock they were entering from above. It was a hire boat with a very novel set of drink holders attached to the taff rail supports.DSCF3727 As we were just about to leave the top lock a hire boat pulled out from the service block on our right ahead of us. We have never used these facilities but they look very smart, however I couldn’t see anywhere to moor overnight which is a shame as its a large basin.DSCF3729

A little further along the canal opposite the Ackers Trust Basin there is now a large climbing wall and zip wire.DSCF3732

We were soon passing history again with the old loading sheds at Tyseley, A couple of them still have their roof on but most are just now a concrete  skeleton.DSCF3733

The canal was wide and in the main deep from here onwards and we made good progress mooring at Catherine de Barnes at 4-30pm.

Monday 23 September 2013

Minworth Greaves Monday 23 Sep 2013

The first old boat went by this morning before it was light and by 8am it had been followed by many more. We pushed off about half ten and stopped at the CaRT Fazeley Offices to fill with water and dump our rubbish. It was just on 11am when we reached Fazeley Junction. There have been semi derelict buildings on this junction for years and work seems to start and stop periodically, more stop than start.DSCF3678

We turned right at the junction onto the Birmingham and Fazeley canal. One of the things that people probably remember best about this end of the canal is Drayton Swivel Bridge with its high level the foot bridge as well as the swing bridge. DSCF3683This bridge is normally left open, but today as they were working in the fields to the left it was closed. We had just gone through and Diana had closed it when a single handed boat came along, so Diana opened it again for him.DSCF3685 

Along this stretch of canal BW spent thousands of pounds installing miles of coir sausages to grow reeds along the edge of the piling in the water, It was a complete waste of money with about 1 plant growing per length, its suspended by being wired to strips of flat steel hanging over the piling just waiting to rot off an catch round someone’s propeller. However today this little chap found a use for it, so all that money hasn’t been in vain after all, but I suspect he would have managed without it OK.DSCF3688 

Last time we came this way there was a conveyor running parallel to the canal and towing path carrying gravel. That has been removed and they are putting a road in its place with access from the towing path. New hides have been erected around the lakes so I am guessing that quarrying is now finished and the site returned to nature with access roads.

As we approached Curdworth locks the canal was like a mirror DSCF3693with not a ripple to be seen. Behind the towing path they are constructing what looks like a flood defence. I am not sure if this is to keep water out of the canal from the flooded pits of water from flooding from the canal to the pits. It cast concrete with brick facing and runs right up to the bottom lock.DSCF3696 

The top gate of Curdworth bottom leaks quite badly, the sealing strip down the hinge side of the gate has come adrift leaving a quarter inch gap for some distance.
We met a couple of boats in the flight but we later found out that Skylark was running up ahead of us, so there were several to turn. We also found some really sweet Damsons at one of the locks, all the low ones were gone but with the aid of the boat hook some were removed from the upper branches.
What I find strange is most of the weirs running but the short pound around lock 4 was a foot off the mark. Something must be leaking badly. CaRT must know as that is where they park their truck.

Salvation did come before the top when we met Copperkins coming down, with no other traffic on the move we were able to leave the boats in the locks and have a chinwag.

Curdworth seemed to erected some interesting signs on the towing path to show you are in the village, with a little more thought they would have made nice seats. The name Curdworth is in the tiles.DSCF3698 Leaving the flight we passed through Curdworth Tunnel, luckily I remembered the bulge at the far end on the offside, last time I clipped the handrail on it. We carried on just passed the long closed Kingsley Pub to get a bit further from the road before mooring up for the night.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Fazeley Sunday 22 September 2013

We decided to push off at 4 pm as boat and canal wise things seemed quiet. We followed the trip boat north to wind, I was expecting to have to go to Streethay to wind but then the trip boat indicated he was about to turn, Kings Orchard Marina didn’t exist last time I came this way. We followed the trip boat back to the festival site and then continued through the rows of mooredDSCF3672 boats that were each side in front of the club. It was quarter to five before we cleared the last of the boats visiting the show.

We were not really sure where we were going to moor for the night but we wanted to get away from the railway so that was somewhere south of Hopwas.

Passing through Willington one of the gardens has a grand display of gnomes in their garden.DSCF3674

At one point I thought I was back in the Fens, there lots of the farms have large piles of wooden boxes to put potatoes into when they harvest them, this pile matched any we saw there.DSCF3676

I was rather taken with the farm weather vane in the form of a Grey Ferguson Tractor, this was not just laser cut from a piece of plate but was in 3D and also coloured.DSCF3675

At the Tame Otter two boats pulled out ahead of me, the first was an old working boat running light and the second a converted boat, but as they were travelling a bit faster than us it didn’t give us a problem. I think I probably slowed more than them passing moored boats as we passed one resetting his pins. As  we came into Fazeley we tried to moor up but could only get within about 2 foot of the bank, so we continued on and joined the end of the line of moored boats that ran to the visitor moorings. The only down side to where we are is that we are under oak trees and every now and then they shed an acorn and it sounds like someone on the roof with a small hammer. We moored up a little after 7pm and about an hour later I felt the boat surge, looking out the front doors not a ripple, so no boats had been passed ether way, but looking back I could see a head light coming our way, it was Panther the Coventry Canal Trust boat on her way home.

LHRT Day Huddlesford 20-21 September 2013

The weather was very good to us this weekend, bit of a cloudy start on Saturday but them warm sun shine with very little wind. We were moored on the aqueduct to the North of the site and boats were moored from here to bridge 80 in the south, just on a mile.

I had a new leather belt made by the same man that makes and sells the home made chocolate from his little push butty. The butty is only for the chocolate, every thing else is done on the motor.DSCF3668

  We also topped up our cheese supply from the Cheese boat. Black Bomber is my favourite as its a bit on the warm side, but today we bought a pickle onion, ginger and brie type cheese.DSCF3664 The entertainment on Saturday night was by a very young band, I would think they were all in their teens called “Wildfire Folk” There were 13 of them on stage and the energy was out of this world. To go with the entertainment the boat club laid on a two course hot of lasagne and apple pie all for £12 a head.

The show also hosted a very large vintage car rally and I have never seen so many vintage cars in one place before, English and American. Sports cars and salons. even a kit car.DSCF3663  The MG club were there in force on the Sunday arriving in quite a large convoy.DSCF3661

Part of the official entertainment for the weekend was demonstrations by a dog agility club, but some of the unofficial DSCF3665entertainment was provided by 4 Narrowboats meeting under the footbridge by the junction, two of them crewed by young ladies, but they all sorted themselves out OK, well the route was quite challenging for experienced boaters with working boats moored both sides of the cut.  DSCF3672 DSCF3669

On of the down sides to our week end was the mooring spot we were in, the boat behind started his engine ay 7-15 on Saturday morning and then Saturday night ran it until after 11pm. he had a lie in on Sunday and started at 7-45 am. but that is our only grumble over the weekend.

The organisation was wonderful, the members involved worked their socks off. Attendance was well over what was expected and on Saturday evening they had to go out for more rolls for the burgers on Sunday. The ladies went in their full boat costumes including bonnets and were asked if they were some new religious sect. The beer was cheap and the welcome in the Litchfield Cruising Club very warm and friendly.

For Sunday lunch we went to The Plough just across the cut from the club. They only do Roast on Sundays and it is essential to book, we booked Saturday mooring and the earliest we could get was 2pm. again there due beer at a very reasonable price compared to what we have got use to over the past couple of years.