Sunday, 30 May 2010


As planned, we walked into Flore village for the morning communion service. It proved to be a windy, although sunny, day - all the flowers from the hawthorn bushes were being blown off covering the surface of the canal sometimes in an almost complete carpet.

Along the way to Flore we saw a group of llamas in a field - the one of the top of the mound looked just like 'king of the castle'.

The people of Flore were very welcoming and the organist was especially pleased to hear that we had come as a result of his entries onto A Church near You.

Back at the boat we set off southwards - although we were already moored at Stowe Hill, we wanted to use the sanitary station at Gayton - as well as a pleasant afternoon. At times the sunshine was quite warm. We moored back where we started ready to moor in the marina in the morning, load up the car and set off back. We plan to call at Oxford on the way.

Saturday, 29 May 2010


With still plenty of time, we decided to spend the morning walking into Daventry - about two miles to the town centre. Alas, today was largely wet but not too cold so we went ahead with our plan. We had checked out the route last night with the help of Google maps and set off on a clear footpath (but probably not a right of way) along the side of one of numerous rape seed fields, bright yellow.

After passing three fields we arrived at Daventry Country Park, based on the Daventry reservoir which feeds the canal. There is a footpath all the way around - the first part was across the top of the dam that forms the lake.

At the other end of the park the footpath took us under the roundabout and we were into the town centre. There is little spectacular to report but we found a good range of small, friendly shops. At the far end of the High Street we went into Wetherspoons for coffee - not the best of their conversions but at least it is reasonably priced and well served. We succumbed to the temptation of their muffins as lunch would be quite late!

We replaced our mop which mysteriously disappeared some time yesterday - we have no idea when but both of us recall seeing it during our cruising!

On the return trip we continued around the reservoir the other side - trees growing in the water, obviously happy to have their feet wet.

By the time we returned to the boat we too knew about wet feet - not to mention soggy trouser ends! After changing and lunch we eventually set off, stopping briefly at the junction, top of the Buckby flight, to empty the elsan and get rid of rubbish.

Although not too busy, we did share most of the locks and several were set by up-coming boats. Below the flight it was a pleasant stretch to Stowe Hill, despite the proximity of both motorway and railway. We moored at the same place as last time we arrived at Stowe Hill - at least we knew there would be a satellite signal here! Also, based on information gleaned from the internet, we plan to go to Flore church in the morning.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Rugby to Braunston

We moored overnight on the outskirts of Rugby - the canal does not go into the town centre - so that we could go shopping this morning. We had already found out that a bus went from Tesco which, somewhat to our surprise it really did! As we also had our bus passes at least this part of the expedition did not cost us anything extra!

Rugby town centre comprises almost entirely small, at least smaller, shops with very few of the main 'brand' shops. It also seems to cater to the less expensive end of the market (shall we say) but it was pleasant and had what we wanted - the main item Christine was after was a new mattress protector which we duly found, almost as soon as we arrived, in a branch of Dunelm Mill.

We wandered around, had a cup of coffee at Wetherspoons, bought a few more items - oh, forgot to mention an excellent outdoor market where we bought English strawberries - and then caught the bus back to the boat. We were back by 11:30!

Weather was very pleasant all day, sometimes quite warm and by the early afternoon we felt in need of some sun block! Most of the day was again plain cruising, interrupted only by the three locks at Hilmorton which we passed through quite quickly.

At one time Braunston was served by two railways one of which ran quite close to the canal for a stretch. It was a surprise to see the remnants of an old signal appearing over the hedge!

The approach to Braunston is advertised well in advance by the delicate church steeple which dominates the slight hill in the centre of the village, slightly higher than the canal alignment.

At the end of the afternoon we arrived at Braunston, pausing to use the facilities before continuing on the the flight of six broad locks. These we shared with another couple who were heading for Crick. As experienced boaters they were pleasant to share with and we reached the tunnel pound without any major difficulty. After the tunnel we moored quite soon - the bank is so very much better after the recent works by BW.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

To Rugby

A rather simple day - plain cruising! The weather was not forecast to be too good, with a threat of rain but, in the event, it was quite pleasant, especially in the afternoon.

We continued down the Ashby to Marston Junction where we made a sharp right turn onto the Coventry. From there it is a short distance to Hawesbury - with the former pumping house alongside. We paused only briefly to empty the elsan and dispose of rubbish before turning into Sutton Stop lock.

We enjoyed a long lunch break - by now we had clarified our plans, especially as Christine would like to visit Rugby tomorrow. Mooring at the Tesco bridge means that we do not have to hurry too much.

Mike spent most of the morning re-writing his program in the light of further tests. This new version seemed perform well all afternoon without interruption! Along the way there is plenty to watch - if one is not reading - including the large number of tiny ducklings, goslings and cygnets.

Later in the afternoon we passed through the short Newbold Tunnel on the outskirts of Rugby. We moored as planned on the edge the town and then went to Tesco to re-stock the cupboards; Christine had done a stock check in preparation for our next, longer trip. On our return from the supermarket we were rather more laden than we had anticipated! We also found out about a bus service into town for the morning.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Return From Ashby

We had hoped to find a bit more about the restoration project but, although the contractors were at work on site, the Ashby Canal Society 'shed' did not open. So, it was almost ten o'clock when we set off. The May blossom alongside our over-night mooring was probably at its finest.

It was much cooler so it was on with the extra layers but, until a couple of minutes before we moored for the night, it remained dry.

We had a long cruise ahead of us, beginning with the short Snarestone tunnel which Christine steered through whilst Mike checked out the latest 'improvements' to his software. Later in the morning he used one of the bridges to test out the time recording of locks - which is different from bridges and other 'point' way marks. Locks have an arrival and a departure time - we have historically recorded the arrival when we are ready to operate the lock even if there is a time to wait. This may be some metres away from the actual lock.

Shakerstone has the remains of an ancient Motte and Bailey clearly visible alongside the canal, complete with a tree growing well out of the side!

We stopped for lunch just south of Market Bosworth - Christine deemed it 'soup' weather so we were able to enjoy some warming lentil soup.

At Sutton Wharf we called to use the various services - this led to us succumbing to temptation of another helping of the delicious ice cream we discovered on the way up! Christine was now hoping to find a suitable store, such as M&S, to buy another item of bedding so we stopped at Trinity Marine for directions. Alas, Hinckley does not merit such a facility and Nuneaton is too far to walk. We also failed to find a mobile broadband signal all the way through Hinckley so we no wiser about whether we shall be able to find something suitable at Rugby. Hopefully we shall be in contact tomorrow - this blog will have to wait until then as well.

On the way up we had made a few additional notes about suitable moorings and were able to make use of this in finding somewhere for the night, especially as most of the official 48 hr moorings were occupied - often by boats that did not look as if they had moved very far in recent days!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Snarestone and Moira

As forecast, the weather was a lot cooler today - although it did become quite warm at times. We continued up the Ashby until we arrived at Snarestone where we moored just before the tunnel (On the way, Mike did some more tweaking of his software)

At Christine's suggestion, we opted for a long walk today in order to see the detached final section of the canal. Just after 11:30 we set off with a packed lunch and followed the Ivanhoe Long Distance Path, passing a brick and block works to join the railway track through Measham. The old station building is now a museum but it was closed for a long lunch break when we were there. However, a good picnic area was available on what were probably old sidings.

A Millennium project had provided an outdoor sundial and a small planted garden. It was sad to see that it has received little attention in recent times - perhaps never since it was created. Why spend all that money and not look after it?

We continued along the railway track, looking out for the occasional sign of the former canal bed - there really is little to see in most places and we wondered how it would be possible to undertake any sort of

At Donisthorpe the track passed through the land which was once one of the coal mines that the canal served, now landscaped to make it difficult to believe that it was once industrial. We arrived at the southern end of the canal section that has water and were quite astounded. Little over a mile in length, it has received some very expensive restoration - a large number of mooring rings are set into the concreted canal edge. No doubt this was part of the reclamation of the colliery land but it now makes a useful walking park for local people.

About half way along we reached Moira Furnace now a museum. At the weekend there had been a big canal and steam festival here, but it seems that it finished off all the staff as too many had rung in sick to be able to open today - Christine was especially disappointed that this meant no cup of tea!

Mike walked to the end basin on his own, passing Moira Lock, also restored. The gates are in excellent condition, only rarely used by the single trip boat. It strangely has an extra set of gates to operate a shorter length. At the end is Conkers Centre - lots of children enjoying the adventure play equipment.

We returned mainly by road for a quicker route but also so that we could pass the shops in Measham. There were several food shops, including a Tesco Express where we picked up some milk and jacket potatoes for tonight's meal.

After returning to the boat we set off through the tunnel to reach the current head of navigation where we used the facilities and found that we had an internet signal. We opted to moor just after turning around although, alas, a large tree obscured the satellite signal! At least it gave us a chance to catch up on email and blogs!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Market Bosworth

First some more from yesterday. After the blog was posted, Christine walked up to the nearby bridge and took some photos, including the sunset.

The weather forecast was for another hot day - but with a change tomorrow. So we planned an easy day, with a long siesta in the middle of the day. There are no locks on the Ashby so we simply cruised or read, depending who was at the front and who was at the stern!

After two and a half hours we arrived at Trinity Marina just after Bridge 17, where we filled up with diesel. Not a long stay before we were on the way yet again.

Mike had been working on his Canal Map computer program so that it could make better use of the GPS unit to record the log - the IPAQ still not being usable. He put it to the test on the first section the morning and then ran it for 'real' in the period up to lunch time, not using a manual back up for the first time! After a bit of tweaking it seemed to be doing what was required.

When we arrived at Stoke Golding, opposite the Ashby Boat Hire base, we moored up and had lunch. After a good siesta we walked into the village - Nicholson's had promised an interesting church and a village store. The latter was not especially well-stocked but we did manage the snap up the last Guardian on sale.

The church was locked but had a notice on the door about finding the key on a hook by the door of a nearby cottage. It was! In fact, it was fairly run-of-the-mill inside - the outside had an interesting balustrade along the nave walls - but at least we were able to look around.

Back to the boat and set off once more - the weather forecast had indeed been more than correct and it was still the most delightful sunny day. Quite a few boats but not oppressive. Although we were warned about the canal being shallow and narrow, this was not too much a of a problem, apart from a short stretch near the start. We made better progress than on many parts of the southern Oxford!

We stopped at Sutton Wharf for water and the sanitary station. Whilst we waited for the tank to fill, Christine decided that the hot conditions justified an ice cream, which was rather tasty, made by a specialist farm producer.

Just after half past six we moored for the night a little way after the Bosworth Battlefield moorings.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Leaving Coventry

We had moored overnight in Coventry Basin so that we could go to the cathedral for their main morning service at 10:30. This meant that we could get up slowly. Fortunately we left plenty of time to walk into the city centre as we found that a large half marathon event was taking place and we had to make quite a diversion to get around the closed streets!

Accompanying the service today was the Cathedral Brass along with the huge organ. They played some introductory music for about 15 minutes before the service started. They were splendid indeed. Although the service was classic cathedral style, it was also quite friendly, although somewhat lacking in the ethnic diversity of the city. We heard in the sermon from the Dean (who had just returned from a three month sabbatical which included travels to several South American countries) that there are 126 languages spoken in the wider city community! Today, being Pentecost, the liturgy included lighting congregational candles - even if the Pascal candle refused to be extinguished!

After calling at Sainsbury on the way back to the boat, we took more time over lunch - Christine, unusually started to hassle Mike to make a start (we needed to call at the Sanitary Station in the basin and at the water point just through the tiny Bridge 1.

We eventually set off around 3 o'clock with Christine walking the towpath in order to take photos of the former Cash's Warehouse which is now a set of apartments.

The cruise was very pleasant - with temperatures reaching 30C we had changed into shorts - and relaxing. Many people were out enjoying the weather and scenery which added to the feeling of well-being!

A couple of hours later we arrived back at Hawkesbury Junction - this time we carried straight on.  The white may blossom is especially prolific at the moment.

A further couple of miles and we were at Marston Junction where Christine made the very tight turn under the junction bridge and former stop lock, long removed. shortly before Bridge 3 we were advised that there were no suitable mooring spots for some distance so we joined a few others boats for our overnight stop. After putting up the satellite dish for the first time this trip we awaited our roast dinner with much anticipation.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Rugby to Coventry

Another marvellous, hot cloudless day which made cruising a wonderful experience. The very light morning woke us early but we still took some time to prepare for the off just after 8;30. already we had been passed by several boats labelled 'Walk for Matt'.

We subsequently discovered that Matt is a rugby player who was severely injured and paralysed and, we think, still in Stoke Mandeville.this is the second year of a fund raising cruise and walk involving at least 12 boats, with some people walking all the way to London and the rugby final at Twickenham. One of the walkers who spoke to us was also injured playing rugby and is attempting the walk from Rugby to London despite having to use two crutches all the time. He said that they have already raised over £100,000.

Altogether the first part of the morning was quite bust with plenty of boats in each direction. Nevertheless, there was little delay at Hilmorton - the main issue was a hire boat that had been hassling us before the locks (despite the fact that we were following a slow boat and there were frequent moored boats etc etc). As we were in the process of maneuvering to the top lock it made an attempt to overtake us!l all the other boast in the flight were full of very pleasant folk, which made up the difference!

After the locks we had a long level cruise ahead of us to Hawkesbury. After a while the same hire bought tried to hassle us once again, sounding its horn at intervals. However, speed was not dictated by us but by a slow boat in front (not the same one as before the locks) In general there were very few possible passing places and a steady stream of on-coming craft,not to mention moored boats. Suddenly this boat roared at top speed, making a tremendous bank wash, and forced its way past. Inevitably, as it clearly did not have the experience to recognise, this caused the two boats to be sucked towards each other, with the result that they collided with us - nearly damaging their stern gear. Glad to be rid of them, but they could not make any better progress because they were unable to pass the same boat that we were following earlier!

At Rugby, we stopped to visit Tesco. There was not a lot to buy - milk and a paper being the main items - also a fresh baguette for lunch.

The afternoon cruise was just great - sunshine almost too hot at times. Christine had the opportunity to read at the front and even had to resort to finding an umbrella to shade under!

It was well after five o'clock by the time we reach the stop lock at Hawkesbury (forgot this one in last night's blog!) and we disposed of rubbish and emptied the elsan - then realised that the water point we had planned to use had been vandalised - we were not minded to go back through the stop lock to the other water point!

At this stage we had to take a decision - Christine was quite keen to make it to Coventry basin for the night so that we can visit the cathedral tomorrow mooring at 10:30 for the main service. With such wonderful weather it was no problem and, whilst Christine steered, Mike prepared the pizza and salads for the evening meal. There was little traffic - we passed only a single boat coming out of Coventry. To our surprise when we arrived at the basin there was only one other boat moored there! Still, it was quiet and we enjoyed our meal without many onlookers!