Thursday, 22 August 2019

Brinklow, bras and Boat Gatherings!

Over the last few days we have travelled from Brinklow to Alvecote where an array of wonderful boats are gathering for the Historic Boat festival being held this bank holiday weekend.   
Brinklow Motte and Bailey Mound  
Mooring at Brinklow we went on a short walk to visit the remains of a Saxon Motte and Bailey Castle Mound.  We also walked over the earthworks where the original settlement would have been and on into the village. St John the Baptist church is unusual as it is built on a slope.

Resuming our travels we stopped off at Hawkesbury Junction to use the CRT facilities, before passing through a very shallow Stop Lock.  This marks the end of the Oxford Canal and the beginning of the Coventry Canal. Stop Locks were typically used to prevent competing canal companies from pinching each others water. 

Hawkesbury Junction
Whilst passing through Nuneaton we noticed we were a bit sluggish -  after many years of boating and picking a lot of different items on our prop, this was a first!!!!!πŸ‘€
40DD?? πŸ‘€
 Yesterday we descended the  Atherton Flight of 11 Locks.  There were a few volunteers on duty which were a great help as it was really busy.   We noticed a lot of old working boats making their way to the historic boat gathering and  Festival which is being held this weekend at Alvecote Marina.

Alvecote Marina - historic boat gathering 

Monday, 19 August 2019

Long Itchington to Rugby

Following our last posting, we have ascended two flights of locks on the Grand Union, Stockton Locks and Calcutt. After turning onto the Oxford Canal at Napton Junction, we are now descending again.  The Hillmorton flight of 3 locks have a sign 'welcome to the busiest locks in the County'. The wifi signal and phone have not been very good for the last few days  - hence the late posting.
We were lucky as a kind volunteer helped us up the Stockton flight and we were up there in no time at all. 
The Oxford Canal is quite winding initially. As usual you meet boats on bends, bridges and locks!!.  We moored  near Bridge 103 taking a walk on the footpath which led us through some fields of corn to a small village called Flecknoe.

 Some of the fields have been harvested but others are still waiting.  It must be difficult for the farmers with the current unpredictable weather with a mixture of sunshine and downpours!! Harvesting reminds us that its the middle of August already, indeed reading lights now required in the evenings earlier and earlier.

We  encountered our first queue of boats at  Hillmorton locks (Narrow Locks Again). There is a nice cafe and CRT facilities here.
Medieval ridge and furrow field patterns
North of Braunston you pass through ancient landscape where ridge and furrow field patterns are still evident.  These were created as villagers cleared the forested land and each cultivated their own  strip of land.
Newbold Tunnel
Yesterday, after stocking up at the large Tesco's in Rugby (moorings extremely busy in Rugby), we travelled through Newbold Tunnel which is only 250 yards long.  We had read that lights had been installed in 2005 to create a 'ring of light' on the tunnel wall to attract more people to use the canal - no sign of them now!      

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Southam - Bascote Locks & Long Itchington

Over the last few days we have visited relatives for some birthday celebrations, moored at bridge 31. Later above Bascote Locks,  moored at Long Itchington.

Firstly a massive thank you to our family for looking after us during our time at Southam and for doing the laundry! - we had a lovely time. 
Andrea and Martin have met up with us for a few days and helped us ascend  Bascote Locks. 
Bascote Locks 
The final two locks on the flight are staircase locks where there is no pound between them and the water from the top one is used to fill the lower lock.  We were up there in no time and have now moored in Long Itchington.  There is a very useful Co-op here and plenty of pubs.     
War memorial - Long Itchington
We thought this war memorial was a wonderful tribute to the soldiers who lived in this area and sadly lost their lives serving their country.  The village held fundraising events to pay for the memorial which was unveiled in October 2018. 
We thoroughly enjoyed a BBQ hosted by Martin and Andrea who were staying at a nearby campsite - THANK YOU!  Nugget and Poppy enjoyed their sausage too   !!!
Nugget at the BBQ

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Warwick and Leamington Spa

Over the last couple of days we have stayed in Warwick and Leamington Spa.  Whilst in Warwick, we visited the Lord Leycester Hospital (thanks to such a good recommendation on Ian and Helen's blog when they visited on nb Leo).
The Lord Leycester Hospital
Despite it being called a hospital, it is not a medical establishment.  It was originally the home of the Warwick Guilds, built in the 14th and 15th century and acquired in 1571 by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester as a home for retired ex servicemen, (accommodation for 8).

  This is the chair where King James I sat when being entertained there in 1617.  The buildings and gardens are delightful and it was lovely to be welcomed by two of the 'Brethren', one ex. Irish Guards and one ex. Royal Navy  living there.  What a fantastic place to visit and full of history and such a reasonable price compared to Warwick castle.
In the gardens at The Lord Leycester Hospital  
The town of Warwick has many old buildings, although many of these were destroyed in the Great fire of Warwick  1694.
 The centre is great only a 15 minute walk from the Saltisford Canal arm and about 20 minutes from the moorings at bridge 50.  There lots of  shops and some lovely independent one's too, well worth a visit.
We then cruised on to Leamington Spa mooring up at bridge 41, another lovely town with plenty of shops, beautiful gardens and majestic architecture.

Last night we enjoyed a cocktail and beer at 'Haunted', an unusual establishment with a spooky atmosphere. Later we had a very good curry at 'King Baba' across the road (very reasonable prices,  good food and service).    

Monday, 5 August 2019

Hatton Flight of 21 locks

Sunday 4 August - We rose bright and early and left our moorings (bridge 58) for a short cruise to the top of the Hatton flight. The flight of locks rise 146ft over a 2 mile stretch.  They are traditionally known as the 'Stairway to heaven' as the boat workers received their pay at the top once completing the flight... on this occasion we were going down. Luckily we met up with Howard and his Narrowboat at the top of the flight.

  As Howard was single handed and his narrowboat  was a similar length to ours, we tied them together so it freed two members of crew to do the locks. Using one engine Chris was tasked with concentrating on navigation with the occasional words of advice!

Lock 36 - ten to go!!!!
   We stopped for a much needed brew at lock  36 and carried on the descent really smoothly.  Helen's face was getting redder and redder due to the heat and exertion as the last lock loomed in sight.😌
What a spectacular flight of locks they were, very well maintained and quick fillers. Thank you Howard for making the descent a pleasant experience ☺The descent took approximately 4hrs. 
On reaching the bottom we moored at the Saltisford Canal Centre on a partially restored canal arm.

 The canal centre charges just £6 per a night with great facilities including a launderette, shop, elsan etc and very well maintained and run by the Saltisford Canal Trust. From here there is just a 15min walk to historic Warwick

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Knowle Locks, Kingswood Junction & Lowsonford Village Show

Wednesday 31 July - Moored just after footbridge no 72a and a short walk over the bridge takes you to the centre of Knowle. What a great place it is, plenty of restaurants, independent shops, cafes, bars and a  Tesco where we stocked up on provisions. 
Knowle (Church 1402)
Thursday 1 August - had a short cruise through to Knowle Locks.  At the top of the locks there are CRT facilities   There are five locks in total.  These were updated in the 1930's from narrow locks to broad locks. They give a taste of what to expect at the ever looming Hatton 21 Lock flight!

Approaching Knowle Locks (Stephen Goldsbrough Boats)
The locks are in good working order and we descended quickly. We were on our own but it quickly became apparent that working just one set of paddles is just fine.

Friday 2 August Left our overnight moorings at bridge 68 and after a short cruise arrived at Kingswood Junction where the Stratford on Avon Canal meets with the Grand Union.

Kingswood Junction
 We had a lovely walk on the Stratford on Avon Canal to the bottom of Lapworth Locks and had a cuppa and a cake at the Canal Shop/cafe (great friendly place and good prices). The famous Hatton 21 Locks are now even nearer and so narrow boaters start looking around for a suitable partner! Look - too many kids, no - they look too old. He looks to be single handed. She's good looking, what about her!?

Saturday 3 August - A 6 mile circular walk from Bridge 62, Rowington took us to a lovely small village called Lowsonford where they were holding their 73rd Annual Village Show at the Fleur de Lys pub just next to the Stratford and Avon Canal.
Marquee with arts, cakes and flower displays - Lowsonford Village Show

 It was really good, with several events on including a marquee filled with displays and exhibits of flowers, cakes, art etc and also a great band 'Acorn Antiques' who were terrific and kept everybody entertained, donating to Acorns - a children's hospice.  A great afternoon.
Fleur de Lys pub - Lowsonford Village Show 
When we returned to Coventina we moved up further towards the Hatton flight, mooring at bridge 58 after Shrewley Tunnel for an early start. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Nechells to Catherine de Barnes - Grand Union Canal

Monday 29 July -7am we left the mooring at Star City - (Nechells) to reach the next 'advised' mooring at Catherine de Barnes.  First you climb through Garrison locks before reaching Bordesley Junction and turning sharp left to tackle the first of the Camp Hill Locks. These are the last of the narrow Locks before turning broad at Knowle.

Bordesley Junction

Bottom of Camp Hill Locks at Bordesley Junction
Whilst the canals in some inner cities are not always the most pleasant to experience, we have to remind ourselves that this is why the canals were constructed, to deliver cargo between  cities and ports and therefore they are the heart of the system and what canals are all about.  We do enjoy exploring these areas, all part of boating on the inland waterways. 

Camp Hill Locks
At the top of the Camp Hill Locks are handy CRT services. Located in a secure compound, modern, in full working order and easy to access! 
After the locks there are approximately 7 miles to Catherine de Barnes most of which is quite shallow and in a wooded cutting.  We had to stop on a couple of occasions to  free the propeller of  rubbish.  After a slow cruise, at times pushing through the sediment, we reached the visitor moorings (cruising time from Nechells to Catherine de Barnes was approximately 6 hours).  In the village is a convenience store, a pub and restaurant.     
Nugget en-route