Wednesday, June 28, 2017

End of the navigation, and whatever happened to the weather!

Well, the end as far as we’re concerned. Smaller boats can go further up the restored section, but boats of our length can’t turn around up there.

And would you believe, after the heatwave of only a few days ago, that the outside temperature is now 14°, there’s a chilly north-westerly blowing and I’ve resorted to lighting the stove! I was starting to regret buying that bag of smokeless a couple of weeks ago, now I might regret not buying two!

We arrived at Snarestone on Monday, mooring in the open about a quarter mile short of the tunnel.

Looking down on Market Bosworth Station, just a little way from the moorings closest to the town.

On Sunday Steve and Angela passed by, pulling in and spending an hour with us chatting, before continuing on to Snarestone.DSCF0210

Then Monday morning we were on our way ourselves.

More bank protection work going on.
We only just managed to scrape past, dragging the bottom as we crawled by.

The canal is very shallow at the sides along here, made worse by the levels being a bit down after the prolonged dry spell.

Photo-bombed by a duck!

Congerstone has a short length of moorings on rings just past Bridge 47.DSCF0221
Like most of the villages around here, it has a church and a pub, but no shops.

There’s a sharp left turn at Shackerstone to line up with the aqueduct crossing over the River Sence.

Mind the floating reed beds!

Over the aqueduct.
The bridge to the left used to carry the railway up to Ashby, Shackerstone Station, now the northern terminus of the Battlefield Line, is hidden behind the trees.

DSCF0217Across the fields to the east is the village of Barton in the Beans. An unusual name, but derived from the traditional produce of the area, broad beans . It actually used to be Barton in Fabis, the Latin for the broad bean is Vicia Faba. The broad bean has been replaced with acres and acres of rape.

Remains of a Norman Motte and Bailey just out of Shackerstone.DSCF0233

Gopsall Wharf was built for loading coal boats, and would be handy for a Tesco delivery if it weren’t for the height restriction barrier on the car park…DSCF0240

Another half a mile saw us pulled up, as I said, short of Snarestone. DSCF0241 

It’s open here, but the trees ahead indicate the start of the cutting before the tunnel. There are 48 hour moorings there, but overhung by the trees and gloomy.

We did move down to the moorings though, yesterday lunchtime, to meet visitors who came over to spend the afternoon with us.

Me, Andy and Donna, Mags, Meg, Sue and Trev over from New ZealandDSCF0251

Sue feeding the ducks
She loves any animals…

We had a great afternoon and evening, supper was provided by Steve’s Fish Bar up in Measham and very good it was too. It’s useful having a car and driver at hand…  Well done Andy!

It’s been getting cooler these last few days, and today we woke up to rain, with a distinct chill in the air. We hung around till 11, hoping for an improvement but it didn’t seem to be getting any better so we untied anyway and set off through Snarestone Tunnel.DSCF0253

The 250 yard long tunnel is high and wide, don’t forget that this was intended to be a broad canal, linking up with the Trent at Burton Upon Trent. DSCF0254

The ceiling gets a bit lower at the north end, though, where it’s been partially relined. DSCF0256

Emerging back into daylight there’s a short wooded cutting then open fields between Bridges 60 and 61.

The moorings, between Bridge 61 and the winding hole, were pretty full, so we winded, reversed and filled the water tank, then reversed again through the swing bridge and moored. Its a lot more open here anyway, not that there’s much sunshine to see…DSCF0262

Since Market Bosworth Wharf – Locks 0, miles 7

Friday, June 23, 2017

Glad that’s over!

This sub-tropical, Mediterranean-type weather is all very well, but it starts to pale after a bit. Now the temperature’s lower at least we can get  some sleep at night!
And it had dropped considerably. Yesterday it was a full 10° cooler than Wednesday, and today, with a brisk westerly blowing, we’re back into the high teens. We even had a short spatter of rain earlier this morning.

Heading under Wooden Top Bridge under grey skiesDSCF0188

Good for the sun, maybe not so good for the wind and showers this weekend…DSCF0189

We stopped at Sutton Cheney Wharf for water and rubbish disposal. There was only one boat on the plastic pontoon, an elderly Springer.


DSCF0193The canal passes under a railway bridge that carried the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway.
The track bed to the south (right) is inaccessible, but that to the north is a footpath to Shenton Station and the start of the preserved Battlefield Line.
The name of the railway derives from this being the area of the Battle of Bosworth, when the balance of power in England, and the crown, shifted from the Plantagenates to the Tudors with the defeat and death of King Richard III. I wrote a lengthy piece on the battle when we passed this way in 2011. If you’re interested click here…

We toddled on barely above tickover. The canal is very shallow in places and especially on the offside. Passing oncoming traffic often caused us to scrape the bottom, but going slowly meant we didn’t get stuck fast.

Near Shenton the canal crosses a road on an aqueduct, and a field down on the right used to be the site of Richard III’s memorial stone, it being thought to be the place where he met his end.
New evidence suggests that he more likely died a little to the south, and the stone has been removed to outside the Visitor Centre.  The moorings here and the footpath across the field have been officially closed, but it looks like the bankside, at least, is still usable.

Crossing the open areas of pasture the wind was quite brisk, rattling the foliage.DSCF0199

Looking west across to Warwickshire

I’d forgotten how pretty this essentially rural canal is.DSCF0203


We pulled in just past the entrance to the new Bosworth Marina.DSCF0208

We’ll be here at least for tomorrow. We need some fresh fruit and veg and the town of Market Bosworth is a mile away up the hill.

Locks 0, miles 5

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Longest day, hottest day!

Yes it’s official. Today has been the hottest June day since the summer of ‘76. And with five days of exceptionally warm weather it’s also officially a heatwave. All change now though as we head further into the week…

We stayed put yesterday, no reason really, just that we’re in no rush. Today I was up early to get my morning run in before it got too warm, I was back, showered and breakfasted by half-eight, ready to take Meg out for a short walk.
Then we were moving on, heading up towards the terminus.DSCF0175

Unusually for this end of the canal Bridge 20 is stone-built. Most of those crossing the canal this side of Hinckley have been built of engineering bricks.

It’s not looking so good, though…

There are pleasant-looking private moorings next to Wykin Bridge, No.21. DSCF0178
Judging by it’s position alongside two roads I thought that it must have been built for an industrial or commercial use. But there’s no evidence of it’s existence on maps before 1950.

Stoke Wharf, on the other hand, is probably contemporary with the canal. DSCF0180
It’s now used by the Ashby Boat Company and has outlived the usefulness of the railway station opposite! The station was on the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway (Joint because it was built by the Midland Railway and the London and North–Western Railway) which opened in 1873. The line ceased to carry passengers in 1931, and was completely closed in 1962.

Looks like we’re on the second brood now!DSCF0183

We pulled in after about 90 minutes near Bridge 31, Wooden Top Bridge.DSCF0185
Not a spotty dog in sight! You have to be of a certain age to know what I mean…
The Woodentops.
Wooden tops
The animation was a joy to watch. Video here.

Hi Steve, Ang. We’ll look out for you, we’re going to be on the Ashby for another week at least.

Hi Judith. Sorry, haven’t a clue where the thermometer came from, we’ve had it ages. It does have an outside probe, though, and is battery powered. Have a look on ebay, lots of choice there.

Thanks Carol, we did!

Locks 0, miles 3½

Monday, June 19, 2017

A VERY hot weekend!

I’m glad we didn’t cruise this weekend, it was just too hot to be out in the sun for any length of time.

Being in the marina and having wheels as well we were out on Saturday catching up with the shopping. Meg stayed on board though, There was no way we were leaving her for only a short time in a black car with black upholstery.
She’s been struggling with the heat, but we’re doing the longer walks early in the morning and later in the evening. Me too. On Saturday I aborted a 6 mile run, only doing 4½ because I didn’t set off till 8 o’clock and it was just too hot. Today I beat the heat though, I was back on board after my run at 07:15!

Inside and outside temperatures at 10:30 yesterday -

We had some unusual boats come into the marina on Saturday afternoon…DSCF0170

You don’t see too many of those on the cut!

Nor these…
He was looking after the aircraft carrier. But shouldn’t he be wearing a naval cap?

Yesterday we went across country to meet the family at Dad’s. A good afternoon with good company. We don’t very often get the chance to all get together.

So, on to today. The car was due back soon after lunch, so after breakfast and Meg’s constitutional I went up to Morrison’s and got a load of shopping in. Opportunities are thin on the ground for bulk shopping on the Ashby, so we’re set up now for a week or so, apart from the perishables of course.

Yes, we’re staying on here for a while, taking our time up to the terminus and back. After filling up the water tank and disposing of rubbish we were ready to go.

Looking back across Trinity Marina

Duck’s siesta in the shade

We didn’t go so far, although a bit cloudier than of late it was still hot, too much for me. And we didn’t have to charge batteries after all. Just out of town and we pulled in on a grass bank near Bridge 19. DSCF0174

Might well stay here tomorrow, too….

Locks 0, miles ¾

Friday, June 16, 2017

Heading back to Hinckley

Today we did the trip that took three on the way up, and it still only took us 2¼ hours!

We had intended to head back yesterday, breaking the trip half way, but we got a phone call on Wednesday evening asking if we were stopping at Sutton Cheney, if so we’d have visitors… my sister Sue and her husband Trev are over from New Zealand and we’re having a family get together anyway on Sunday. But they decided they’d like to see us a little earlier.

So yesterday morning we moved from the 24 hour mooring next to the water point and tied up on the plastic pontoon. It was from here that we spotted a water rat on the bank, there’s a small colony next to the pontoon. But Mags was disappointed this time, the bank is so overgrown now that you could hide a small herd of water buffalo in there let alone a small water rat!

Sue and Trev arrived about 2, and brother Andy was with them too so we had a good afternoon.

Feeding the ducks with rice krispies.

This morning dawned clear and bright, in fact the sun as hot when I took Meg out at 8 o’clock. But cloud rolled in and it’s stayed mainly overcast but still warm.

Leaving Sutton Cheney Wharf

We had a steady cruise back to Hinckley, you can’t do much else really, the canal is very shallow in places. Meg needed a comfort break so we hopped off at Bridge 29 and walked to Bridge 28.

Not a good idea, teaching the kids to play chicken with a narrowboat!DSCF0145
Even if you’re actually a swan…

Bad hair down day

Basin Bridge.

We spent our first winter on here, and the enduring memory is of the mud. Mud everywhere. Meg had just snagged a dew-claw and it was a nightmare trying to keep the wound clean and dry. The towpaths seem to be a lot better now.

One improvement that has been made in several places is repairs to the canal edge. The contractors are using a fabric barrier supported on stakes and backfilled with coir rolls and dredged silt.

As the vegetation takes over the method gives a friendly soft edge, better than harsh steel piling, but I’m not convinced it’ll be as long lasting.DSCF0158

We arrived at Trinity Marina at around midday, booked in and moored up on a pontoon in the marina. After lunch I walked around to Enterprise and picked up a car for the weekend. So we’re all set now.

Locks 0, miles 5½