Thursday 26 August 2021

Home mooring

 This morning I decided to wander down to the lock at 8-30am. The CRT chap was back and he had two cruisers coming up in the lock and said he would get as many boats down as he could before the rest of the team arrived with stop planks etc. There were only a couple of boats coming up and then it was all down hill traffic, We had just cleared toe lock when the other team arrived with the stop planks all balanced on square plastic floats. One chap pulling and one onboard steering.It turned out as there were only a few behind us they let everyone down before putting the stop planks in. We stopped just below the lock to have Breakfast before continuing on to our marina. At Polesworth there is a spill weir that feeds into what could be called a small stream. It seems that CRT have found it necessary to put these danger notices on anything that can be called a weir.

We were back on the moorings about half twelve and set to packing up to come home . 
Todays Journey 5½ miles, 2 locks in 4 hours

The total for the trip was a little over 200 miles and 76 locks traveling for 93 hours spending 20 nights onboard.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Atherstone flight

 We planned to set off at 10am but that didn't quite happen. We untied at 10am but then a boat appeared from ahead so I just floated a short way from the bank to let them pass, but then a boat came from behind us and passed between me and the oncoming boat, unfortunately the oncoming boat went to wide and ended up aground. So we spent the next 15 minutes helping them get free before heading towards the top of the Atherstone flight. There were two boats waiting to go down so we went to the services and topped up with water while we waited, The tank filling coincided with our turn for the locks, so that worked well. Somewhere on the beginning of the flight we picked up another stowaway who was put ashore at the first opportunity.

It was pretty much one up one down until we left lock 5 and ten we met nothing. When we got to the pound below lock nine the reason for the lack of traffic  was that lock ten had damaged top gate and CRT were on their way, It seems that the gate had lifted and its possible the cill has been damaged. CRT had the lock open again about 4pm but were working boats through but were unable to leave it open overnight, so at 5pm the padlocks went on until tomorrow morning when they will put the stop planks in and look closer, so I expect we will be hear until at least lunch time, still the view from the back hatches isn't too bad.

Today's Journey 3¼ miles 9 locks in 4 hours.

Tuesday 24 August 2021


 A little late getting away this morning at 10-30am, again we met quite a few boats 12 in the first four miles. We were following a boat at tickover but they pulled over and let me pass, I think the boat was new to them. I also had the pleasure of seeing two more Water Vole swimming across the canal, they were too far ahead to photograph. Due to the lack of rain the flooded field beside the canal about half a mile from Hawkesbury is almost dried up so you can imagine what is happening with reservoirs.

We arrived at the stop lock just as a boat was leaving and there was another waiting to enter, so as I worked the lock assisted by the waiting boater Diana was able to dump the rubbish. She was able to rejoin me just as I left the lock and before negotiating  the
 bridge in front of The Greyhound. I didn't do it in one as the boat waiting come into the lock was floating about mid channel in front of the pub.
As we made our way along the Coventry Canal and passing under bridge 17 I tried to take a better photo of the row of beer cans laying along the ledge between the two bridges, definitely some dedicated drinkers going there.
I can't help looking at this house evert time we pass, it always looks to me as if the balcony runs under the eaves and into the end on extension when all it is, is a mirror on the wall at the end of the 
balcony.  It really plays with your mind and what you are really looking at.
We carried on finally mooring for the night at Mancetter Bridge. Since we have been here there have been several boats going by in both direction,

Today's Journey 15 miles, 1 lock in 5 hours


Monday 23 August 2021


Last nights mooring was just great, a spot I will aim for again. we were away about 10am but the canal was no where near so busy, we only met 25 boats in the 10 miles to Newbold we did howeverhave a stowaway. It must have hopped on over night.

One of the long term moorings just north of Grimes Bridge 26 has this display to brighten your day as you pass.

We had the pleasure of seeing a Water Vole crossing the canal, it swam out from the offside to about mid way down the boat and then along side the hull and round the stern to the towpath side, it was a bit turbulent for him near the stern as I didn't see him in time to knock the power off. We have moored for the night in Ansty on rings, these are all on the bend but I have avoided the sharpest bit to save the paint.

Today's Journey 10 miles, no locks in 3½ hours.

Sunday 22 August 2021


 As we walked back from the Nelson yesterday evening it was looking to be a lovely night, a huge orange moon low in the sky and a few stars about, however once in bed we had a thunder storm, thankfully it was all gone this morning. As we were only a short way from the water point we tucked in there to fill the tank before winding in the marina entrance. In that short distance we saw two signets with "Angle Wing" I have seen it in ducks and geese before but never swans.  The gongoozler rest was doing a good trade selling breakfasts with quite a queue building up. They haven't opened their onboard seating but using tables in the Stop House garden.
The North Oxford is now designated a narrow canal, it doesn't stop wide beam boats using it but they are supposed to book their journey with CRT, but they will be hard pushed to read the notice on the GU informing them of that.
I have often tried to get this photo of Braunston steeple framed by bridge 88 but its never worked, normally its the sun in the wrong place, but this morning there was no sun to worry about. Not quite the angle I wanted but best so far.
At the remains of bridge 88 I met a 3 kamikaze canoeists all with a little flag on the back who were determined to come through the bridge hole towards me before I went through. Yes I can stop in my own length in a straight line, sometimes. The last of the three did thank me, I did wonder if they are one of these sponsored canoe groups doing a charity run.
The canal was quite busy and I estimate we met one boat every quarter of a mile between Braunston and Hillmorton locks, we only caught up with a boat just before Barby Straight and thankfully they winded at the next winding hole. There were two Volockies on the Hillmorton flight, one at the top and one at the bottom, when you would like to meet a few boats there are none around but as soon as we cleared the bottom lock loads turned up. We carried on to moor on the outskirts of Rugby at the furthest point from the railway line. 

Todays Journey 10miles, 3 Locks in 4¼ hours

Saturday 21 August 2021

Braunston stop house

 As we wanted to be in Braunston tonight we left a little earlier than usual to be there for lunch time. So by  9am we were on the move, by quarter past it had started to rain and continued until we put the first mooring rope out. Going round the Napton hill there is only one spot now where you get a good view of the mill with the trees all growing up. It is said there use to be two, but there wasn't enough wind, so they took one down.

 Napton Narrowboats looked a lot different to when we passed last Sunday when their moorings were completely empty.
We met a few boats on the way, a couple in awkward spots, one going round the wrong side of us but we didn't catch up with anyone until we reached Braunston Turn. We were pleased to find lots of spaces running into Braunston and settled on one of the two between the long term moorings and the Stop House water point, taking the first to be further away from the bend.

As I sit here typing this I have zero signal on my phone which is expected in Braunston, but this is my mobile signal on 3 and I don't have an external aerial. That is almost as fast as the boats go through Braunston past the moorings.

Today's Journey 8½ miles, no locks in 2¾ hours

Friday 20 August 2021


 We set off around 10am, as soon as I got the bows out a boat came the other way, so I started to pull back in, but for some reason the other boat decided to drive through a willow tree and were lucky not to lose their cratch board. This "work of art" made from empty plastic drinks bottles caught my eye as we passed the offside residential moorings.We hadn't gone much further when on the bend just before Boundary Lift Bridge there was a boat hard aground, he had tried to get free using his plank as a leaver but was getting nowhere fast. We ran a line bow to bow and a bit of power in reverse soon had her sliding off. Round the corner you can see where someone has hung a couple of 25lt drums on the bridge to hold it down when closed.We found the canal much quieter today seeing a lot less boat. Someone much cleverer than me has done this to an old lump of tree trunk.It seems that the HS2 people don't work on a Friday afternoon and all the plant was parked with no one left about.For some reason the top gate of the Marston Doles top lock was wide open so we were straight in. Looking to the offside the car collection looks to have grown a bit since we were moored in the area.For 10 years we moored just above Napton top lock by the engine arm. This boat was moored here then but under different ownership as Peter sadly passed away. There are  a few other boats that were here when we were but this is the only one we saw with a lodger with their own apartment.

The Napton flight was all against us until the bottom lock, we caught up with the boat ahead as they left the last but one lock where they moored up and the Volockie had the bottom lock set ready for us. A quick chat with Stephen the area CRT supervisor, that may be the wrong title, but he is the boss on the ground. we then went just round the corner to moor for the night.

Today's Journey 14 miles, 9 Locks in 6½ hours 

Thursday 19 August 2021

Claydon Top Lock

 Last night unfortunately my daughter and grand daughter couldn't meet us for dinner so we ended up at the Thai Orchid where we had a very nice meal, it wasn't our first choice but as we had not booked a table we were somewhat limited.

The building work in Banbury didn't start until 7-30am this morning and then it wasn't that noisy even when we left at 9-15am. If anyone is looking for a piece of land with room to moor two, possibly three narrowboats there is a piece on the outskirts of Banbury between the canal and the road, its only £100,000Adjacent to this is the house that Malc and Dink owned, Malc died recently but there was always a friendly greeting to boaters if he was about. They had a large photo of themselves high on the wall of their cottage with a protective covering over it. Looking closely it appeared to be cracked, I wonder if someone hit it with an airgun pellet.

When you come into Banbury from the north the first thing you see is a CRT notice welcoming you to Banbury, the next thing you see is a fence topped with razor wire and big red notices on it.
As we approached Hardwick Lock the gates slowly opened for me, a hire boat coming down had obviously taken the trouble to look before turning the lock but I didn't see them. That was our only good lock of the day, most of the rest were against us. Passing through Bourton lock I hope the cottage doesn't end up like the one at Grants Lock, again its remote and un lived in. Approaching Cropredy there were some young canoeists in the cut, luckily right by the reed island so they took refuge behind it while we passed and then appeared like young ducks behind us, this is less than half of them. When I saw this water flow I guessed there was a boat entering from above, one we wouldn't need to turn, it was Broadmoor Lock the one with the broken cill bumper.Just above the locks is this very smart travellers van, but can you imagine living in it all year with a family. looks lovely for a weekend for 2 in the summer months, but think of it with 3 kids covered in snow and surrounded by mud in the winter.Although we had been meeting boats all the locks were against us and when you consider some are only 300 yards apart I was beginning to think we were following a ghost ship, it wasn't until after the first lock of the Claydon Flight that we spotted them. The bottom lock is unusual as it has cast iron gates, there were a set at Hillmorton locks until about 20 years ago when they cracked and British Waterways decided they were beyond repair and replaced them with wooden gates.
This boat was moored below the flight, I think the flowers look great but how do you see to steer with all that in front of you.
Once at  the top of the locks we decided to moor for the night as there are no other decent spots between here and Fenny Compton.
 Today's Journey 7¾ miles, 12 locks  in 4¾ hours

Wednesday 18 August 2021


 After yesterdays queues with the help of the trains sounding their horns we were away at 9am this morning, we still ended up queuing for locks but only one boat ahead. Thankfully they stopped just before we entered Banbury. Our plan was to spend the night in Banbury but we needed a bit more than an hours engine running time so we carried on south to wind at Twyford, this wasn't as easy as it may have been as to start with I waited towpath side for a boat coming the other way and was in deep silt. Eventually with the use of the shaft against the bank I got out a bit and got the bows cleanly into the offside winding hole, the wind was from the north helping the stern round until we were 90° across the canal then it all stopped. I hopped off with the stern rope and continued pulling her round until again I came to a dead stop. In the end with Diana having the boat in reverse I was able to pull the stern round, the only minor problem now was I couldn't get back on, so had to walk to the lift bridge and hop back on there.
As you approach Grants lock from the South you pass under a brick bridge right at the mouth of the lock. This bridge supports two numbers, its not unusual for bridges to be renumbered when one has been removed or added but in this case the numbers are 26 adrift.
The lock side cottage at Grants Lock is a sorry state, completely gutted by fire taking out the upper floor, roof and stairs including anything else that would burn. The north gable end looks as if its parting company with the back and front walls. I can't see it ever being repaired. As we came down the canal Diana struggled with lift bridge No 170 which was closed and she didn't have the weight to open it, I had to do it. Thankfully on our return someone had opened it and left it open, so no problem. 
Getting closer to Banbury there is now a very large housing estate being built on the offside of the canal, at one time there were   planes to build a marina here as well but they were withdrawn https://planningregister.cherwell.gov.uk/Planning/Display/14/01832/REM .

Back in Banbury we went up Banbury lock and moored for the night outside The GF Club.
This week we are doing very well at bumping into old friends, may it long continue.

Todays Journey 11 miles, 6 locks in 5¼ hours

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Slat Mill Lock

 Looked out at 9am this morning and the water point was free so made a move, wrong. There was a boat winding I couldn't see who then dropped onto the first waterpoint and a boat moored on the second. I was lining up to come along side him and the traffic got interesting, The boat moored just outside the waterpoint was leaving so I could slide in there to let him pass, there was the boat that was moored in front of us coming through the bridge hole and in the kafuffle the chap in the boat moored on the water point appeared and pulled his boat back into the space where the boat had just left who was now almost nose to nose with the guy just coming through the bridge. 
It was 10am by the time we had filled with water and were on our way. It was 2006 when we were last this way so we are not use to these bridges, I assume the 2 containers are full of water to balance the bridge so it doesn't just pop up by its self. At the Claydon flight there was a steady stream of boats coming up so we not only met a boat in every lock but often there would be a second below the lock when we left, this didn't make it the fastest of passages but it did reduce the workload. There was also a Volockie working on the middle lock of the flight complete with portaloo and tea hut. The long term moorings at Clattercote Wharf were almost empty, far fewer than I have ever seen before. Broadmoor lock looks a bit poorly, well I think it was Broadmoor, I will check on my way back and put a report in to CRT.  CRT have allowed a mooring to be constructed in the short section below Cropredy Lock and with the towpath also being a designated visitor mooring it doesn't make life easy when the canal is busy. After this we were warned there were long queues at Slat Mill Lock, when we arrived there was one boat going down and 5 waiting their turn, we made it 6. This held us up for over an hour, things did move a bit faster as Diana went straight to the lock to lend a hand. The problem was caused by a single bottom paddle. Once below the lock we called it a night as there are no more reasonable moorings until Banbury.

Today's Journey  8 miles, 10 locks in 5¾ hours

Monday 16 August 2021

Fenny Compton

 We set off around 10am, I was surprised that only two boats had gone up ahead of us. As I was making ready a boat came down Atkins lock and then a second behind them turned it, we were ready for off when they were halfway down so no way were we going to miss it. It turned out to be an easy lock as the third boat had three strapping lads onboard who worked the lock for us. We moored for 10 years just above Atkins lock and there were still a couple of boats there I recognised from our days. Between here and Marston Doles locks we met a couple of boats coming down and then met another about to leave the bottom lock. This lock was a bit slow as one top paddle is out so by the time we were up there was a boat waiting to come down and by the time we reached the top lock there was another about to leave the lock, so the lock timings worked very well for us. There are even more old cars by the top lock now on the off side, I have no idea if they do anything with them or they just sit there out in the weather.
We are now on the summit and even with the back pumping running all night with the locks closed the water level was still down on the weir level. Many years ago the land owner had a running battle with British waterways, often the canal would be impeded with items in the cut near bridge 122 and then one day this boat was sitting in a pond near the canal. Over the years this pond has slowly dried out so it looks as if the boat is no longer afloat. I would be interested to see the state of the lower hull after all these years.Just after this we got another surprise, coming towards on their Narrowboat was Linda and Neil, we also met them like this earlier this year.  At Priors Hardwick I spotted what looked like a Tipi in the field, then a second, just round the corner there was one canal side, it even had an open air bath with a built in boiler.
A quick web search came up with this
 https://www.hillfarmglamping.co.uk but can you imagine laying in the bath beside the canal with nowt on and boats and people passing a few yards away.
At Wormleighton HS2 will be not only crossing the canal but running along side it, I am not sure what this mound is, but its huge. They have quite a camp set up and lots of earth moving equipment.

 We pushed on to our destination for the night, on the way we passed this chap sitting on a boat.   We moored for the night at Fenny Compton, there were three spaces just before bridge 136A so we slipped into the first one to wait for my son to come and pick up my grandson who has been with us for the past week. While Diana and George went for a walk I set to and did an oil and filter change on the engine followed by topping up the batteries, that my routine now after abusing the last set of batteries I now top them up with every oil change, 250 engine running hours

Today's Journey 9¼ miles, 3 locks in 3¼ hours.