Monday 30 December 2013

S Banbury Monday 30 December 2013

Well as expected the wind got up last night and it rained somewhat. It didn’t start until gone 11pm and we just happened to be moored with the boat pointing right into the wind, so heard and felt very little. As it was still raining and blowing, although not so bad this morning we decided to stay put until it stopped. It stopped quite suddenly at about quarter to twelve and we didn’t get another drop, the sun even came out and the sky was blue for a time, as for the temperature well that went up all evening last night and today was around 10°C

Well before we were ready to go and it was still raining we had canoes going up and down the canal passed us, maybe they all take Seven Seas like they do on TV. We pushed off at ten to twelve and this flock of ducks came racing over to see if there was anything going, there is a real mixture of ducks in Cropredy.DSCF4304

There was still a bit of wind but not enough to be a major problem, just a bit of crabbing at times, there had already been a boat through while we were moored so the locks were with us all the way to Banbury, a couple had leaked a bit but not to bad.

Work is still ongoing at Bourton Lock Cottage, looking at it, it is quite obvious that it has been greatly extended some time in the past. I wonder how long it will be before its completed.DSCF4305

After dropping down through Hardwick lock and passing under the railway bridge we were surprised to see some trees with catkins on them already, have I missed winter, is it spring.DSCF4306

We moored up in Banbury, completely spoilt for choice, the only other boat moored on the 48hr moorings was leaving as we arrived. Our reason for stopping her was not to shop but for my daughter her husband and my little Grand daughter to visit and it wasn’t long before they were with us. We sent them packing a little before 3pm as we wanted to move on before dark. Arriving at the town lock the boat before us had left both the bottom paddles fully up, not that it made much difference, there was so much water above the lock it was flooding over the gates as usual.

We continued on for another half hour or so mooring for the night between the two lift bridges, last time we were here there was some construction work going on in the field on the off side, the safety fencing is still there but part of the site looks to be under about 3ft. of water at the moment.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Cropredy Sunday 29 December 2013

When we woke this morning someone had been sprinkling icing sugar all over the fields and the water wasn’t moving. This was quite surprising as the lowest temperature I recorded last night was zero.

We were ready to push off just after 10am, by now the water was free of ice opposite the boat but the canal was still covered behind and in front of us so it looked as if we would lose a little black. I had just dropped the ropes off and a hire boat came round the bend behind us, so like a gentleman I let him pass before pulling out and he continued on breaking the ice ahead of us. There wasn’t much and the canal was clear after the next bend. We followed him to Fenny where he winded to return to Kate Boats at Stockton.

I don’t know the official situation with the HS2 rail link, but this notice on the towing path at Wormleighton by bridge 128 gives information on the diversion of the towing path and bridleway for the line construction work to take place.DSCF4293

At Fenny we stopped to fill with water, the water points were a bit busy with 3 boats taking water in all.

We carried on to the Claydon flight where we were pleased to find the top lock full, we had met the second boat of the day a bit earlier. The joy didn’t last as the second and all the rest of the flight were empty, so we had to turn them all. I just rounded the bend below the flight and met a boat coming the other way, if only he had left an hour earlier. As we had met this boat I expected Elkington lock to be full, but no like the rest it was empty, so the boat must have left the Forge moorings.
From here down we found that a lot of the brick pavers were still covered in ice, especially where they were on the slope so a little extra care was required, it was quite warm by now and the sun had been out all day, but in the shade the frost was hanging around.

Below Broadmoor lock we were treated to the sight of a whole flock of birds taking a bath in the puddles on the field. I think they are Fieldfares but am not 100% sure.DSCF4296DSCF4297

Cropredy Marina is really filling up now, last time we passed they were just filling the second basin with water, now its almost full of boats.DSCF4302The first basin looks as if it already full. I must say they have had a very good take up, they must be feeling very pleased.

As we approached Cropredy lock we met a narrow beamed Dutch Barge style Narrowboat and then just as we were leaving the lock yet another boat showed up, this was followed by a third as we passed the Cropredy Long Term moorings. I can only thing that they are moorers from the new marina who have been to Banbury for the weekend. If this is the case then finding moorings in Banbury at weekends will become a problem.
We slipped into the first vacant visitor mooring that we came to a few minutes before 4pm, the sun had gone down and it was starting to feel chilly.

Saturday 28 December 2013

S Oxford B 126 Sat 28 Dec 2013

We drove over to the boat this morning in glorious sunshine but slightly chilly, the wind speed when we left home was around 20 mph and falling. We passed the Hunt out  some where near Cold Ashby, we didn’t see the horses or riders, just all the followers and horse boxes.

Arriving at the boat all seamed OK, the solar panels were still on the roof as was the chimney. on starting the engine it was obvious from the black spray that some water had entered the exhaust pipe. I screw a T on the top when we leave the boat but with the winds it must have driven into the T and run down, we also had water drive in through the side hatch in the lounge wetting the carpet tiles below.

I fired the old girl up and reversed out of the arm, not quite so easy this time as the water was a couple of inches lower than before, but not to much of a problem, just required a bit of pushing off fenderind as I made my way back to the main line, waited while a boat passed and then backwards down to the lock to load up, while a second boat came by.

It must have been half two before we were away catching the boat ahead up at Marston Doles bottom lock. There is now a notice on Marston Doles top lock requesting that you leave it empty with a bottom paddle open to try to maintain the level in the pound below.
e pushed on along the summit at times finding it almost impossible to see ahead looking into the low sun beaming down the water, a little later it was the Wormleighton Radio Mast that was standing out in the sunset. We only met one boat on the move before mooring for the night after the sun had gone to bed just passed bridge 126 about 4 miles and a couple of locks.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday 8 December 2013 Napton Top Lock

The service in The Boathouse at Braunston last night was much better that the last time we visited and as all main courses are on a 2 for 1 its good value, I have been served much worse and paid a lot more for it elsewhere.

This morning we set off about 10-30 down to the Stop House to fill with water and then wind in the marina entrance. Not only where the visitor mooring quite empty so were the long term ones. This was the view looking from the Stop House to the A45 bridge. DSCF4276Even though there was next to nothing about today I still managed to meet a boat right under the A45 bridge, we both stopped and I drew back to let him through.

We carried on in bright sunshine to Napton where we moored at bridge 109 and walked up to the Kings Head to see if we could get Sunday Lunch, no chance, they were packed out, but they do food all day on a Sunday so we booked for 7pm and will return by car.
Back to the boat and we set off again towards the Napton Flight. Just as we were about to go a boat came by, this would put the whole flight against us. The Bridge Inn still looks very shut up which is such a shame, there were about 3 boats moored on the 14day moorings as its handy for the road. As we approached the winding hole prior to the Folly the boat ahead was turning so we were able to pass him, so now we were in with a chance of a decent run up the locks. There was not a single boat moored on the long length of 48 hr moorings however there was one on the waterpoint, they would be much more useful if half the 48 hr moorings were turned over to 14 days in the winter months. Again there was not a single boat moored in the flight, all the locks were with us, some had a bit of water where they had leaky top gates but most were empty. We moored for the night just above the top lock, with a brilliant sunset.DSCF4283 My camera does not do it justice. Mooring here is convenient to load the car in the morning to go home and we can run the engine for a bit before moving the boat down the arm. I shall then drain the water system in case the weather turns bad before we get a chance to return to her.

This trip we have covered a distance of 122 miles, done 22 locks, turned round 3 times and didn’t have one visit to the weed hatch. Had wind speeds of over 40MPH bright sunshine and not put my waterproofs on once. All in all a good weeks boating.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Saturday 7 December 2013 Braunston

Firstly yesterdays little quiz, several replies and one almost correct, it is 15A.

Set off with another sunny morning just before 10-30am About half way passed All Oaks Wood there was a dead pony in the canal, not the best start to the day.

We called in at Lime Farm Marina for diesel but unfortunately they were closed so I filled up at Hillmorton wharf at 87p and I am now £240 poorer.

There are still a lot of Sloes along the canal on the offside so we pulled over and picked another tub full, that will do another couple of bottles of Gin.

We passed one moored boat with an interesting cratch frame, I wouldn’t want to have to make a cover for it.DSCF4258Coming up Hillmorton locks there was still a boat moored on the lock moorings, not the same one as last time, I do wonder if the boat yard use this as their waiting area for boats to have jobs done.DSCF4265  

There are now several wide beam boats in Barby Marina as well as lots of Narrowboats.DSCF4267 The only pinch point I could see coming from Braunston with a wide beam is a removed bridge near Willoughby which looks about 12ft.

At Braunston Turn we turned right into Braunston and I have never seen the place so empty. There were only two boat on the 14 day moorings north of the A45 bridge, lots of spaces between here and the turn. We have only gone as far as the next A45 bridge on the GU section but there were loads of spaces here as well.

Friday 6 December 2013

Friday 6 December 2013 All Oaks Wood

A bit of rain first thing but fine and sunny when we set off at 10am. One good thing about this canal is that the bridges are very conveniently spaced, so the crew can walk the towing path if they wish with lots of opportunities to pick them up. There are 66 of them in just 22 miles.

Out of interest does anyone know, without looking it up, the number of the first bridge that crosses the Ashby canal? No prizes, just a bit of fun.

It took us just over 2 hours to reach Marston Junction where we rejoined the Coventry canal turning left. It wasn’t long before we were at the wonderful Charity Dock where two chaps were cleaning the dry dock out. They will have bit of a problem using it as not only are there a row of cruisers moored in front of the entrance there is also a sunk Springer.

The number of manikins seem to increase every time we pass, they now seem to congregate at the south end of the site with just a couple of Jim’s hanging at the boat yard end.DSCF4242

We saw two coal boats on this section, one we met and the other was moored at the wharf by Hawkesbury Junction. The airgun range behind the lock cottage at Sutton Stop looks a lot more open than I remember.DSCF4244

Just round the corner from the lock on the North Oxford canal there was a horse and foal grazing. The horse was tethered but the foal running free. I guess it wouldn’t go far without its mother.DSCF4246

Some years ago British Waterways who were in charge of the canal system then, spent a lot of money removing a very poorly bridge, number 16 at Ansty, it was a handy bridge when it was open as it connected the visitor moorings with the Rose and Castle pub.
However the work they carried out to make the structure secure is not standing the test of time and already the offside abutment wall is cracking and splitting apart.DSCF4249DSCF4250 

We were now going along side the West Coast rail line, somewhere we did not wish to stop for the  night, there is just one spot where the canal wiggles away just a little bit from the line and that is where we saw the Rose Narrowboat work boat moored, the flat carrying the branch chipper is painted in the same livery so I would think they own them both, both ex BW and now on hire back to CaRT probably. DSCF4251The motors name is Slough and you can see Rose Narrowboats name painted on the side. They are even moored up with rope.
There would have been room for us to have tucked in here but it was half three and we still had some daylight left so we carried on beside the railway and between the long rows of moored boats to Rose Narrowboats yard at Stretton Stop, here they had another work boat moored, this one being a more modern push tug with a hydraulic coupling system, so maybe they are diversifying.DSCF4253

After Stretton stop the canal and railway part company and about a mile further on we tucked into the row of moored boats at All Oaks Wood for the night just on quarter past four and still surprisingly light.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Thursday 5 December 2013 Hinckley

When we got home from the pub last night it was dead still with frost on the car roofs, but I woke this morning to the sound of the gusting wind. At some point I lost the rain collector of my weather station, we didn’t notice until after we set off so it may still have been laying around where we moored.

We were away a little after half ten and travelling wasn’t to bad. The highest gust I recorded on what’s left of the weather station was 42.5 MPH.

When I pass something like this I always wonder what is behind it, was it an old solders favoured fishing spot, did he die here, who knows, I never will that’s for sure, unless someone reading this blog knows.DSCF4223

At Market Bosworth the workmen were hard at work in the wind, at least it was dry. This site is a bit unusual for a marina as the ground level is below the canal level so banks are having to be raised all the way round it with clay. DSCF4225As we were passing they had just picked up the hydraulic pile driver to drive more sheet piling into the ground.

There are even more leaves on the cut now and for non boaters let me tell you that is as bad as leaves on the lines.DSCF4227 They slowly build up on the leading edge of the propeller and you lose a lot of efficiency, a burst of reverse normally shifts them and I was doing this every half mile at times. It looks very calm here, but you should have seen the tops of those trees to the left of the photo.

Passing a moored boat on the aqueduct at Shenton its bows came adrift, so with some effort I stopped beside the towing path (wind straight on the side) and went back to secure it. I had to donate a mooring pin to do it as they had tied to the wooden rail along the top of the sheet piling which had snapped. While we were doing this the only boat we saw on the move all day came by, a CaRT work boat.
The moorings on the offside at the battle field are now closed, there use to be a set of steps running down the bank but they look to have gone as well.DSCF4213 Here is the CaRT notice about it.

Around mid day I saw this rainbow forming behind us, we were still in bright sunshine,DSCF4232 however the rain was about to catch us up. Because of the wind it would have been impossible to eat lunch while going along, the fish would have had most of it so we stopped at the 48 visitor moorings at Sutton Wharf. These are build with plastic wood which is very flexible as well as having a slippery surface. I stepped off the stern and nearly fell in, the decking at that point was not fully supported.DSCF4233

We had just tied up before the rain started and as it was coming at over 40mph I didn’t really want to be out in it. It didn’t come to much and we were away again at half two.

A little further on the wind had dropped a tree blocking the towing path, not a problem for boaters thank goodness. DSCF4235I expect it will be gone by tomorrow lunchtime.

About 3pm the wind suddenly died away to nothing and boating became quite pleasant for the last hour in the day. we moored for the night on the first piece of piling we came to after about half three and that was just prior to Hinckley at Barn Lane Bridge No. 19.

As I write this at six thirty it has just started to rain again, but there is still little wind and the atmospheric pressure is rising steadily.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Wednesday 4 December 2013 Shackerstone

The workmen finished dead on 5pm last night leaving us with a quiet night.DSCF4217 Mind you they started dead on 8am this morning with all their reversing bleepers and on bit of kit gave two bleeps followed by the instruction to “Stand Clear” it must send the people in the houses opposite batchy let alone the workmen. With so much plant going backwards so often I do wonder how effective the alarms are when they sound continually. By the time we left at 1030 they had started to drive some of the piling in  by the entrance, I wouldn’t want to be there when they are doing that all day.DSCF4212

Today was another clear sunny day but the breeze now has a definite nip to it, even though the actual temperature was 9° it felt a lot cooler. We continued to the end of the canal where we winded and filled with water. There are moorings all along this stretch with only a solitary cruiser moored opposite the winding hole fishing.DSCF4218 I did notice that while we were filling with water he did draw forwards a few yards. We moored a few boat lengths ahead of him to eat dinner.

There is a short tunnel near the end of the canal, but its the bendiest one I know, about three quarters of the way through our tunnel light failed, I was pleased it wasn’t a long one.DSCF4220

On our way pack to Shackerstone we passed a shooting party about to take the last drive of the day, by the number of dogs they had I would say they were a very lucky group.

There are a lot of long term moorings at Shackerstone on nb.Tixal was on one of them, looking at her chimney I would say she is a steam boat.DSCF4222

We moored for the night just before bridge 52 on the 48 hour moorings in Shackerstone and this evening we will walk to The Rising Sun for dinner and maybe a pint.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tuesday 3 December 2013 Market Bosworth

Again the weather was better than expected, rain had been forecast but it stayed dry all day, quite dull and turning cool this afternoon. We set off from out very quiet mooring at about 1030am, both pins were still well in which was good considering a boat passed in the dark, thanks for going slowly whoever it was.DSCF4204

We met a few boats in the course of the day, some I recognised and some I didn’t, I quite liked this sign as we approached The Barge moorings, I don’t really believe its a genuine CaRT sign.DSCF4205

The moorings however looked grand and if I was looking to base the boat in this area I would definitely make enquiries with them.

Is we made our way along the canal I was playing with my latest toy, a Rocket USB adapter external WiFi Aerial. It works quite well but most of the hotspots I hit were locked or too weak. We wanted to watch last weeks episode of The Last Tango in Halifax. We finally came across a good BTinternet signal at Market Bosworth so we moored there for the night where we were able to catch up before the third episode tonight.

When we moored up just passed the water point and bridge 42 we were greeted by a crater and a construction site. On the towing path side they are excavating a new marina. DSCF4210 CaRT have a stoppage planned for early next year to connect it. So far its a big hole with no piling installed yet, although they were moving a few pieces this afternoon, but they have got the channel installed with the stop plank groves in it where it will tie into the canal.DSCF4209

They have also set an area aside for plants etc to mitigate the effect all the boats will have on the local SSSI.DSCF4207 to the right of the bund, between the basin and the canal.

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday 2 December 2013 Ashby Canal

It unbelievable how quiet the mooring is in Coventry Basin considering how close to the city it is. The only down side is the amount of light all night. We had to cover the bulls eye in the cabin roof and I woke to a Blackbird singing its heart out at about 3am this morning.

The day has been quite overcast, no wind and chilly, the forecast was for rain but it has stayed dry all day. Before setting off at 1030 we had a wonder round the basin taking a few photographs.DSCF4196  DSCF4191

There are 6 Valley Cruisers moored in the south arm of the basin and they have an office at the very end of the arm. The part of the basin in the photo on the right above is all no mooring so the only visitor mooring is in the arm on the right of the left hand photo above. Mr. Brindley still stands on the fork overseeing things.


For some reason this swan took a fancy to my boot while I was taking photos and kept giving me nibbles.DSCF4192 The entrance and exit to the basin is via a bridge with no towing path and very high parapet walls. This was to make the goods offloaded secure from theft and no boats were allowed in the basin overnight.DSCF4198

Just outside the basin there are 2 water points but it looks as if CaRT have just replaced one and used the old cast iron design as opposed to the modern stainless steel ones.DSCF4201

About a mile outside the basin there are some houses on the north side of the canal, the top floor of these use to be weavers workshops and are known as Cash’s Hundred Houses, as you DSCF4188can see the upper floor has twice as many windows as the other floors to let the light in so the workers could see what they were producing on their looms. The council have tried hard to brighten the area around the canal up with statues of old cars and tools used to build the canal. DSCF4189DSCF4190 They have also installed brightly painter iron railings and other features to the canal side.DSCF4178

It may be hard to believe but this boat is moored on an official 7 day mooring, on a bend just through a bridge.DSCF4203

At 1300hrs we were back at Hawkesbury Junction, exactly where we were 24 hours earlier but going in the opposite direction. We had the journey down to the terminus and back, so ten miles without a single visit to the weed hatch at an average speed of 2.5 MPH

We carried on east along the Coventry canal past the famous Charity Dock with its collection of not only boats, what looks like general scrap  and the most manikins I have seen outside a department store. We met one boat along here, our first today. At Marston Junction we made a very tight right hand turn, probably 110° down the Ashby Canal, we spent a bit of time under bridge 1 chatting with Maffi who was moored a bit further along the main line. Travelling down the Ashby we met our second boat of the day who we recognised from our time on The Great Ouse. We carried on for about 4 miles and moored in the middle of nowhere a short way beyond bridge 12.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Sunday 1 December 2013 Coventry Basin

Woke to another great morning, the rear fender was steaming with the heat of the sun. The day started cold 2° first thing but reached 12° as the day went on.DSCF4161

We met quite a few boats as we headed north towards Hawkesbury Junction.

Rose Narrowboats swing bridge looked grand in the bright sunshine and we had the good fortune of a walker opening it for us. He even closed it after we had gone through.DSCF4163

Just before Ansty CaRT or their contractors are cutting back some of the offside vegetation, unfortunately they left the sticking out willow on the bend in Ansty opposite the moored boats. DSCF4168The surprising thing is they are not using a fancy CaRT work boat with a pod on it but what looks like an old BW workboat now owned by Rose Narrowboats.

Work is also continuing at the new mooring that someone is building on the off side just south of bridge 26. The area is landscaped back to the railway line but no sign of a boat. I wonder if this is part of the route of the old canal?DSCF4165

As we left Ansty a lady asked us if we had lost a little dog, she had just fished one out of the canal and had it in her coat to warm it up, she also had her two dogs with her. We kept an eye open but didn’t see anyone looking for a dog.

On the approach to the outskirts of Coventry almost opposite Coventry Cruising Club several football matches were in full swing, hard to remember today is the first of December.DSCF4169 A few boat were moored on the approach to Hawkesbury lock and one was leaving the lock just as we arrived which eased things along. Its an awfully lot easier turning down towards Coventry from the lock than it is to Nuneaton.

Here is a view of Hawkesbury Junction you don’t often see looking back under bridge 12 on the Coventry Canal, most boaters go the other way. I just love the steel work on the hand rails.DSCF4173  I didn’t realise that Coventry had fire hose access doors in their road bridges just like Birmingham, accept the Coventry ones are all bricked up and Birmingham maintain most of theirs. DSCF4181Note the silhouette map of the canal on top of the wall.

Both the lack of wind and good light gave this chimney gave a good reflection shot as we approached the bend it stands on.DSCF4180 

We met two boats as we made our way along the Coventry canal, one being Maffi who keeps a good blog, the other a shared ownership boat. When we arrived at the basin there was one boat moored in the north arm, one just outside the basin and one taking water, plus the Excellence Afloat boats that are now based in the south arm. I think I have seen more boats moored on the Coventry Canal today than ever before between the junction and the basin, there was even on on the mooring rings opposite the Ricoh Arena.