Sunday, 26 August 2012

A canal with boats and lots of 'em!

Today has been happy.  The hire boaters are out in force and the cut is all the more pleasant.  They are enjoying themselves, cross all age and gender types and are out for fun, not nit picking and grumpy.  I like being amongst hirers, they lift the spirit and the average age is not 76!

So, we left our mooring at about nine this morning, in, would you believe dry and almost sunny weather.  The G.U. is deep, well it is for a canal and this section is almost straight.  We soon arrived at the bottom of the Stockton flight.  Would you believe it!  Three pub's and we visited not one last night!  This flight has two locks somewhat seperate, then the flight proper.  After the second lock and opposite the Blue Lias pub, is a water point.  Guess what, a plastic cruiser boat was moored on it!  Felt like crushing the bloody thing, but the non grumpy part of me said, "it is not important" and let it be, (still wanted to crush it though).

As we approached what is effectively the first of the flight, Ali , walking up the dew blushed towpath, slipped and fell, causing a nasty cut to her knee on the gravel path.  Not a good omen for the day.  If she was a horse the captive bolt gun would have been out!  But being the sensitive soul I am,  I forsook this remedy and administered sympathy.  It must have worked as the next eight double locks seemed to fly by.  We then cruised the few miles to Calcutt .

Since we last filled with Diesel on the Shroppie at Norbury, thought it advisable to top up.  Sue's site, has a very useful list of places from where fuel can be obtained, and the split/declaration.  She lists Calcutt as open to self declaration and so having negotiated the first two of three locks, we reversed into the fuel point and filled up.  Ali went to pay, and was told as it was summer, the split was 60/40!   Anyone not as strong as Ali may have given in.  Enough said, this was not our declaration.

At the top of Calcutt locks we spotted the distincive green that is 'NB Oakfield', a beep on the horn, saw both heads pop out and pleasantries exchanged.

Thence onto Napton junction and a right turn onto the South Oxford.  Our intended mooring for the night being Fenny Compton, we cracked on and ascended the nine locks .  It was busy, but not apparently as much as earlier in the day.  The people we met were on their Hol's and so happy peep's, which makes all the differance.  The weather was glorious and we chugged on.

It was about six when we arrived at Fenny, and we managed to squeeze in prior to the pub and therefore before the water point.  So able to fill in the morning, result.

Walked to the pub this evening, The Wharf Inn and had a good meal.  The portions are generous.  No complaints and good beer as well.  Content!

Napton Reservoir (with water)

Napton Windmill

15 miles 22 locks 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Locking in Thunder and Lightening

We had a later start this morning, due to John not getting up at 6:00 but actually not waking until 8:45 - unheard of!  We left Satisford Arm after and arrived at the first lock just as another boat had got it set, so we shared the first two locks.  We passed the rope specialist 'Get Knotted' that we walked to yesterday and there was still no sign of life so we will have to wait until we get to Braunston.   We had an uneventful cruise through Leamington Spa where we stopped at Tescos.  A couple of miles further on the locks start to climb towards Napton, we ascended these locks on our own, just using one gate and one paddle.   We were being chased by some very black clounds then they caught us, just as we were operating one of the locks the heavens opened, accompanied by thunder and lightening, it lasted for about 15 mins and then the sun came out again.  We then continued to Long Itchington where we have moored for tonight and have had a couple more thunder storms.

8.5 miles 12 locks

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hatton flight descent

Well the day dawned fairly bright and so we pulled the pin's and left our mooring above Rowington and began our journey towards Hatton and Warwick, passing no boat traffic and having an easy passage through Shrewley tunnel.

Two boats moored nearby overnight had already left their moorings heading in the same direction as us.  It was a pleasant morning, not too warm for the endeavours to come!  We arrived at the water point above the lock and filled the tank.  As we completed this a small plastic cruiser festooned with many a fender passed, entered the top lock and began to descend.  It was apparent that they had no desire to share the locks with a sewer tube.  Ali spoke with them and could tell they were reluctant to share although to be fair to them, I think this was more them being self conscious than selfishness.

As we prepared the top lock, two boats travelling together appeared.  Both were boats hired from Kate boats and we had met them whilst coming up the Stratford.  As we followed them up, we noticed that their manner of closing gates was to fully open a paddle, causing the gate to slam shut. This was both dangerous and possibly damaging to the fabric.  Ali politely informed them this, but was told "That's how we were told to do it"!  Somehow think the hire company may have suggested cracking a paddle, but surely never winding fully up whilst the gate remained half open.

Anyway, from that point the previous day, they took umbrage. Now they were following us down Hatton.  By about the third lock down Hatton, a Lock keeper told the plastic boat to share with us and so they waited and we joined them. It was fine if a little slow as they towed their boat out of and into the locks due to the amount of smoke the two stroke engine was emitting.  After a few locks, they decided they wanted to rest up and so once again we were alone!

The two Kate boats passed the cruiser and were breathing down our neck half way down the flight. There was no traffic coming up and Ali was having to fill each lock before we could enter and then trying to set the next lock, as I descended in the lock.  Fairly soon the crew from the two hire boats were joining us as we descended, but made a point of offering no assistance at all.  Clearly umbrage was still felt.  Neat the bottom of the flight Ali again prepared the next lock which was close by and as we left the lock a chap with a windlass appeared from below the lock, then disappeared. We entered and he appeared but was clearly upset that the lock was against him although he was doing the same as us, preparing ahead, but was not in sight when Ali arrived at the lock.  He then glowered and offered no assistance as we descended.

Anyway, three hours and we were down.  We then cruised into the moorings in the Saltisford arm, which are rather nice and very handy for Warwick town centre.  They are free for the first night and then £4 per night there after.  The laundry is one of the least expensive on the cut as well.  We had a wander around Warwick, now dodging the showers, then returned to the boat.  Whilst Ali laundered, I did a spot of fishing and caught a jolly decent bream.

Tonights Bream

6 Miles.  21 Locks  Shrewley Tunnel 433 yards.  A few grumpy git's!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Back onto the ditches!

We left our mooring in Stratford Basin on Wednesday mid morning, after letting the morning rush leave first, some were heading back up the Stratford Canal and some onto the River.  We helped a lovely couple down the lock onto the river as they were a bit apprehensive about what to do with ropes and double gates, but they got it and set off happily.

We had a steady climb up the locks, sometimes catching a glimpse of the boat in front.  We stopped at the services which is now also Hire Base for Valley Cruisers, we had to moor at an angle as they had a boat on the service point, but this worked really well in our favour as the bow was really close to the walk way so we took the opportunity to put the anchor and chain back into the bow locker.

We stopped at Wilmcote for lunch, as we had now completed the majority of the locks.  After lunch we continued onto Wootton Wawen, passing over Edstone Aqueduct.  Now this aqueduct is 200 yards in length, compared with the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at 336 yards, it varies in height between eight to eleven metres compared with Pontcysyllte at thirty eight metres high, so, a baby compared to the Ponty, so why can I quite happily travel over the Ponty, jumping on and off the boat taking photos, happy to steer across and yesterday I felt awful going over the smaller Edstone Aqueduct, I really couldn't wait to get over and I really didn't feel safe, and its not the first time we have been over and I think I was fine last time.  It was a bit windy and it was blowing the boat into the side as it was a side wind, but its been windy in Wales so who knows!

This morning we set off our planed destination was Rowington on the Grand Union only 8 miles to do today, oh and 18 locks!  These locks are not too bad, the gates can be heavy but as locks go they are quite nice ones and most are in lovely settings.  We made it with no problems passing a few boats on their way to Stratford one at Kingswood Junction who was hoping to make Stratford today, I thought it might be a bit ambitious as there was only two of them but they were having a great time.

We have started to see more Moorhen nests and chicks again (2nd or 3rd clutch)

Cast Iron Split Bridges, the gap in the middle allowed the towing line 
between the horse and boat to be dropped through without disconnecting

Not much room though

Edstone Aqueduct

Looking back

Wooton Wawen Aqueduct (had no problem with this one)

and again first thing this morning (John took this!)

something different in the tree (why?)

Lovely barrel roof cottage

This sign is on one of the cast iron bridges

Kingswood Junction we turned right onto the Grand Union

When we moored up John sat fishing for ages, complaining he wasn't even getting a bite
 then he caught this perch which I think made up for it....

Wednesday 7 miles 17 locks
Thursday 8 miles 18 locks

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Stratford upon Avon

We continued our journey up the River Avon to Stratford yesterday, as we set off the heavens opened so a good start both getting wet before we could get coats on.  The River passed through a couple of lovely villages with some very nice properties with river frontage.  We were caught by a narrowboat at one of the locks so waited for them at the next one so we could share, they were from Canada and America two lovely couples, one of which were seriously thinking of buying a narrow boat so lots of questions along the way.  On arrival in Stratford we decided to continue into the basin and not moor on the river, the lock from the river is a gongoozlers paradise, by the time we were operating the lock the crowd was about 5 deep all the way around the lock and across the bridge.  Fortunately we didn't mess anything up so looked professional!

Yesterday afternoon and today we have been tourists visiting some of the attractions around Stratford and just enjoying the town.  Last night we ate in Carluccio's, we enjoyed our starters and the main course was really nice until John found a bad clam in his Spaghetti Alle Vongole, to be fair once we alerted the waitress they couldn't have done anymore, fortunately John has been fine, and they wouldn't let us pay for any of the meal and did give us a goodie bag to make another Vongole at some point. What fantastic service.

Tomorrow we will hit the Stratford Canal and its 36 locks in 13 miles, although judging by the number of hire boats that have turned up this afternoon we might let them get off first so we can have a leisurely ascent of the locks.

Question of the day - anyone know what these trees/shrubs are?  We have seen quite a few and the have fabulous flowers on them, the leaves look like Castor Oil Tree

Monday - 9 miles 7 locks