Monday, 22 September 2014

Stratford. Been and gone!

We have had a rather busy few days!  Too busy to blog, then when we did have the time, we didn't have a signal.  I think when we last posted we had moored in Wooten Wawen. I must say, since then, the weather has been more than kind.

On Thursday we set out our stall and decided we would moor in Stratford that afternoon, so an early start.  All went splendidly at first, the sun shone, the scenery was beautiful and quaint barrel roofed lock cottages were splendid.  Initially, bar one lock and the Edstone aqueduct, we made good progress.  All looked good.

 Then as we approached Wilmcote top lock, we saw we had caught up with several boats all heading the same way as us.  Two of these were single handers, who inevitably make slower progress when tackling locks and they were immediately in front of us.  So we resigned ourselves to a slow day. Then our descent ground to a halt for an hour or so as one of the bottom gates further down the flight jammed and refused to open.  Eventually CRT staff sorted it, a brick wedged behind the gate.

So slowly, slowly we descended, having to fill each lock in order to descend as only two boats left Bancroft basin that day.  Eventually, by mid afternoon we were in the basin and moored to one of the visitor pontoons.  The sun was out and so were the gongoozelers, of many nationalities here.  You get used to them peering in through the windows and if you let them, getting onto the boat for a photo shoot!  All part of the fun really.  After a walk around town we chilled a while then out for a meal in the evening.  Just one bit of excitement.  A couple had called to see friends of friends on their boat. The lady spotted the boat she was after and ran down the pontoon to confirm it was the correct boat I presume.  Well, the pontoon ran out!  Splash, one very wet lady.  Whilst hubby went home to get the car, Ali furnished her with a towel whilst her friends provided a hot drink... All life is here in Stratford!

So a strenuous day.  The locks are bar stewards with only one top and bottom gate, making them heavy. This is not helped with only a gate paddle on the lower gate.  All are narrow, but some more so than others.  By bed time we were both pooped.

Miles 7
Locks 17

On Friday we sat tight enjoying all Stratford had to offer.  In the evening we went to the RSC and in the Swan theatre saw a performance of " The Roaring Girl".  Highly entertaining and as to be expected, so very well crafted.  Then onto Carluccio's for a meal, so another late night for us.

Giant Cream Scone -  Hobsons in Stratford style

enough to share

Saturday saw us shopping and then musing as to when we should leave.  Technically, our 48 hours was up that afternoon, but there were plenty of free moorings.  Then on a whim, we decided just before 1700 to move off.  It looked like a mass exodus was planned for the morning, so we decided to get ahead of this.  The bonus would be we would hopefully find the locks in our favour the next morning if we had an early start.  So up five locks we went and moored by 1900 just out of the conurbation and below the locks.

Miles 2
Locks 5

On Sunday we were up with the sparrows and began the ascent out of Stratford proper.  As anticipated, the chambers were all in our favour and so we made good progress.  It is far easier ascending these locks than descending.  The day was dry, with some sun, but there was a definite autumn nip to the air.  By 1400 we had reached Lowsonford and decided to call it a day.  Just so happened that there was the rather nice Fleur de Lys pub opposite, so it would have been rude not to visit, so we did.  A rather nice Sunday lunch enjoyed.....And a drink or three... Just when we had time to blog, no Internet signal!

lovely autumn colours

Back over the Aqueduct

Cast Iron Split bridge

 with a gap in the bridge for the towing rope to be fed through as the horse walked up and over the bridge

Miles 8.5
Locks 20

Today we awoke after what must be the coldest night thus far.  But it was clear and after the mist lifted, it became a glorious day.  We did not intend going far today, so did not hurry ourselves leaving our mooring.  We knew there was a boat ahead of us, so Ali had to empty each lock before we ascended, but as stated, going up is far easier.  After nine locks we were once again at Kingswood junction.  After making use of the services, it was a swift right and out onto the Grand union.  By lunch time it was hot.  Not fancying committing to the Hatton flight today, we eventually moored in a spot with an open aspect, in order to enjoy the sunshine.  This was just after passing through Shrewley tunnel and after bridge 58.  So having a chill out, enjoying the sunshine and with full Internet here, able to catch up with the blog.

Barrel roofed cottage 

 The tunnel also as a towpath tunnel

As we neared the tunnel we noticed a floating island of weed inside

Miles 6.5
Locks 9
Tunnels 433 yds

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