Saturday 21 September 2013

Home James, and don’t spare the horses…..

As we left Norton Junction this morning it was spitting with rain – again!  As I walked to Buckby Top Lock, windlass in hand, a head poked out of a moored boat asking if we were heading down the locks, and could they join us.  Needless to say I agreed, and we shared all 7 locks in the Buckby flight with nb Marmite.  It kept trying to rain, on and off, but it never amounted to much.  We then settled in for the 3 or so hour trog for Gayton Marina.  This stretch is ok, but never much to write home about, and I’ve taken so many photos already that I decided to spend much of the time inside the boat, packing things up.  We passed a moored nb Hadar, we gave them a beep, but nobody appeared, so we assume they weren’t on board.  Sorry to have missed you both.  We then came upon nb Willow Two, fellow Beacon boat, out for their regular weekend jaunt, and stopped to have a natter for 20 mins or so.  Then we continued on to Gayton, packed up the car and were home by just after 3 o’clock.

It’s been an enjoyable trip, and hopefully we’ll be able to get out again before we need to winterise.

Here endeth the blog for the time being.  I hope all our regular readers have enjoyed journeying with us, and that we have found some new readers along the way.

Ta ta for now.

12.5 miles and 7 locks

Journey total – 167 miles and 113 locks

Friday 20 September 2013

What a difference a day makes…..

By the time it got dark last night the sky had cleared and it was a pleasant, if chilly evening. 


This morning we awoke to sunshine and blue skies.  8.30 saw us on our way, a wash load on (Rog was running out of pants!).  Twenty minutes later we were at Hillmorton Locks.  There was a lock ready for us at each of the 3 twinned locks so no delays there, we were up and away in record time.


Hillmorton on a sunny morning – it doesn’t get much nicer than this!


On our way to Braunston, I had to get yet another photo of the old railway signal, standing all alone in a field.  A remnant of the old Great Central Railway which closed in 1966, it waits patiently for the trains to come back.

The approach to Braunston seemed strangely quiet – but not for long.  Just before the junction with it’s two iron bridges, just by Midland Diddlers Swindlers  Chandlers, there were several boats all trying to go in different directions.  We stopped until they had sorted themselves out.




From then on in it was rammed with boats as usual.  Sadly we didn’t partake of our normal bacon and egg sandwich brunch from the Gongoozler’s Rest today, as I have a bit of a dicky tummy at the moment and decided that it probably wouldn’t do it much good.  So onward towards the locks – all moving boats now having miraculously disappeared!  We ascended the first two locks alone, and then spotted a boat waiting in the lock ahead for us, having lost their companions to a single boat ahead of them.  They had 3 crew so we lock-wheeled the rest of the way and again found we had made the ascent in record time.  Then the tunnel, dry for once and we were soon at Norton Junction, having completed the Leicester ring!  We are now moored just onto the Leicester arm, only a couple of boat spaces away from the spot we moored  3 weeks ago on the second night of our trip.  We decided to go for lunch at the New Inn, as we understand it is under new management.  Our lunch was certainly perfectly acceptable pub-grub, and the whole place looked much cleaner and fresher than previously.  Tomorrow will probably be the last day of our trip, down Buckby locks and approximately a 3 hour run for Gayton. 

And finally….. Flocking hell!  A flock of seagulls sharing a field with a flock of sheep!

P9200009 12.75 miles and 9 locks

Thursday 19 September 2013

Rain, rain and more rain…..

Just a short blog today, no photos.  After servicing the boat at the junction, we left Hawkesbury as it started to rain.  And it rained all morning – I spent a lot of it inside, but I was still cold.  Rog, being a hero, said he didn’t mind if he got wet and stayed at the tiller.  At Rose Narrowboats I donned my ‘wettie’ and clambered off the boat to open the stupid swing bridge.  I had a real problem as the wood had swelled in the rain and the bridge kept sticking on the concrete at the edge.  I struggled and eventually got it two thirds open.  The bloke in the ‘shed’ then came over, muttering, and said ‘it’s not that difficult’, opened it the rest of the way and stomped off.  I was even further incensed by this time – and used some unladylike language at him.  That damn bridge had always annoyed me – I can’t think of anywhere else that is allowed to block the canal for their own business, and if it is allowed then there should be a proper swing bridge, and somewhere to get on and off the boat safely,  not that Heath-Robinsonish affair which is so difficult to open!  Rant over!!!

Newbold Tunnel had only 3 lights this time – I’m sure that as the bulbs go that they won’t be replaced.  A pretty, but totally useless waste of public money.

We continued on through Rugby, briefly considered stopping for some shopping that we didn’t really need, and then carried on as far as the golf course just on the outskirts.  Enough was enough, and thoroughly wet and miserable, we moored up.  The fire was lit and I’ve just started to thaw out, and guess what?  The sun is now shining!!!

14.3 miles and 1 lock (if you can call the stop lock at Hawkesbury a lock!)

Wednesday 18 September 2013

More progress today…..

Having been playing leapfrog with nb Yarwood for the last few days, they failed to sneak past us while we were still in bed this morning – we were up and preparing to depart as they came through the lock behind us.



Lesley lock-wheeling on her bike

We weren’t far behind them, but the first few locks this morning were quite slow as we waited for boats to come down.  However things speeded up for the last few locks as they were ready and waiting.  We had completed the flight by 11 o’clock, passing Yarwood once again as they had moored for a bit of shopping and brunch.  We said our goodbyes yet again, there will be no more leapfrog as we are now past Marston Junction where they will turn onto the Ashby.


Hartshill Yard


Lone telegraph pole, complete with arms and isolators – remnant of a bygone age!


Marston Junction

We decided to crack on past Marston Junction and head for Hawkesbury as the weather was still fine, and we’ve lost a bit of time over the last couple of days.


Past Charity Dock with it’s never-changing heaps of junked boats and it’s ever-changing tableaux of mannequins

We are moored now just about a quarter of a mile short of the visitor moorings at Hawkesbury.  It’s a little quieter here, but maybe it won’t be at 4 o’clock in the morning – the boater moored a little way in front of us says that there were motorbikes roaring up the towpath at that time this morning!

P9180012 Our mooring for tonight

11.7 miles and 7 locks

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Another short day…..

We left Alvecote quite early this morning, by 9 am, hoping to get a few hours cruising in before the weather turned nasty.  About an hour and a half to the bottom of the Atherstone flight of 11 locks.  Here we found Yarwood who had crept past us at O-dark hundred this morning, just setting out on a walk into the town.  We queued for the first lock, and had yet another natter while they waited with us until we were in the lock, then took their leave.

  Rare photo of me at the tiller – by kind permission of Lesley, nb Yarwood.  For more photos of me ‘concentrating’ (pulling faces!) visit

We waited again at the second lock, and just as we reached the third the heaven’s opened.  With no time to get my waterproof I got soaked to the skin, and by the time we had ascended lock no 4 we’d had enough, so we moored up and called it a day.  After a nice hot shower and dry clothes I felt a lot better. So, not a great deal of progress made today.  It has rained almost solidly all afternoon with a few breaks, and seems to have stopped now for a while, but we will go no further today.

5.2 miles and 4 locks

Monday 16 September 2013

Another great weekend…..

We’ve had another great weekend, spent in company with Lesley and Joe from nb Yarwood and their two black labs, Floyd and Fletcher.  Having met up again at Hopwas, we went to check out which pub we wanted to go to for Sunday lunch – which took all of two hours and several pints!  We decided that the Tame Otter looked the better bet, as Lesley remembered eating in the Red Lion some years ago, and it was so awful that they complained to the manager and ended up not paying.  We have eaten at the Tame Otter on several occasions and it was always fine.

The weather on Sunday turned out not to be as bad as forecast so Lesley and I took the dogs for a walk in Hopwas Woods on Sunday morning.  Good job Lesley had a GPS app on her phone as I got us hopelessly lost!  Anyway, Lesley being a great deal more observant than I, recognised the bit where we had strayed from the path and got us back on track.  Lesley, you are a better man than I, Gungadin!!!

Having returned safely from our walk we went to the pub for lunch – and very good it was too, as evidenced by 4 clean plates.  The weather was starting to close in by the time we left the pub, there having been two heavy rain showers whilst we were there, so we tucked ourselves up in our boats with fires lit and kept toasty warm.  Ozzy tried to make a new friend later on, the cat from the boat moored behind us, but the cat was having none of it!  It retreated onto the stern of the boat and there it stayed, yowling softly at Ozzy.


This morning dawned clear and bright and very windy.  The sun was shining as we left, occasionally hiding behind cloud.


The obligatory photo from one of the bridges in Hopwas


We left Yarwood moored outside the Tame Otter waiting for a Tesco delivery.  They are heading for the Ashby, and will need a full larder as there are no shops.


  On the way to Fazeley we passed our old Ownerships boat – nb Kinver

We stopped at Peel Wharf to service the boat, and then past Fazeley Junction and the start of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal


Fazeley Junction


Next came a very rapid trip up the two Glascote locks – both were in our favour and the gates open ready for us.


Passing Alvecote Marina we spotted nb Lamprey, an old working boat belonging to a fellow Villa supporter who moored beside us at Gayton for a little while.

We decided to have an early stop today as the wind is making boating tad ‘challenging’, and we like this spot just opposite the ruins of Alvecote Priory – the advantage is that it quite sheltered.  We had a walk over the bridge to have a look at the Priory.  However, there was no information about the ruin, so the following is nicked straight from Wikipedia.

Alvecote Priory is a ruined Benedictine Priory. Now very little remains, most of the walls have been eroded but a fairly high wall remains on one side. The main entrance arch is the most impressive feature, still standing at around 20 feet (6.1 m) high.

It was founded 1159 by William Burdett as a dependency of Great Malvern Priory. After returning from a crusade, Burdett accused his wife of being unfaithful and stabbed her, and as penance founded the monastery.


6.7 miles and 2 locks

Saturday 14 September 2013

A short ‘hop’ to Hopwas…..

I am feeling a bit rough with this cold so it’s a good job we don’t have a load of locks today.  This morning we made the short trip  to Hopwas.  Yarwood were up and gone with the lark, we left a little later after servicing the boat at the ‘felicities’ at Fradley.  Up the lock with a hire-boater helping – she dropped the ground paddle while the lock was still 6 inches away from full, then wondered why she couldn’t open the gate!  They’ve been out for a week so goodness knows what they’ve been doing at locks.  The lock refused to equalize with just one paddle up so I suggested that she might like to open it again – 2 minutes later we were out and away. More haste, less speed!!  Streethay Wharf was as busy as ever, but under new management now, we hear, and all the better for it, apparently.  We arrived at Hopwas about 12.30 and moored up.  Here we will sit out the forecast bad weather tomorrow.  Wish us luck, as according to the forecast the world is about to end tomorrow!!!   We are going up to inspect the two pubs in a bit and see which does Sunday lunch -  we’ve eaten in the Tame Otter before and always had a good meal, but we’ve not tried the Red Lion which is on the opposite bank of the canal.

7 miles and 1 lock

Friday 13 September 2013

Fancy seeing you here….

We set of in drizzle this morning, which soon cleared leaving just grey cloud.  A noisy journey right beside the A38 again as far as Wychnor, where the road pulls away from the canal.


Wychnor Church

Through Alrewas, and the Arboretum trip was once again put off as it was too early to moor up for the day as we are trying to make the most of dry weather.  The plan was to not stop at Fradley this time, but to turn onto the Coventry and to moor up somewhere between there and Huddlesford.  But, as the saying goes, the best laid plans….etc.  As we exited Alrewas and were coming up Bagnall lock, there was a strange woman jumping up and down and waving her arms – it took Rog a second or two to realise that it was Lesley, along with Joe from nb Yarwood.  We have ‘known’  Lesley and Joe (via their blog) since their first boat, nb Caxton was in build, and we followed their blog avidly, going out and meeting them at Foxton shortly after launch.  Since then we have become friends and met on numerous occasions but never with both boats. We attended the aborted launch of their second boat, nb Yarwood (that’s another story!) They were on one of their epic dog walks to Alrewas.  They said they were moored at Fradley, so obviously we decided to stop too. 


At the top of Common Lock

We struck lucky as the mooring just in front of Yarwood above Keepers Lock was free, so we slipped into it.  We went to the Swan for some lunch and they appeared just as we were finished, so another pint was had, and a good natter. 



Mayhem at Fradley Junction as usual, with boats coming from every which way!

It’s raining quite hard again now, so we are back on our respective boats, having arranged to travel down to Hopwas tomorrow together (ish) and then moor up for the rest of the weekend as the forecast for Sunday is abysmal.  I think Sunday lunch on one of the two pubs is a distinct possibility.


Yarwood and Windsong, together at last!

  7 miles and  8 locks

Thursday 12 September 2013

Ok, own up, who’s guilty?…..

I went to bed last night with a sore throat, and woke with the beginnings of a cold.  Obviously I’ve caught it from someone at the Beacon Boats gathering, but it’s not surprising I suppose,  we haven’t been in a room with that many people since I can’t remember when!

After raining most of the afternoon and well into the night we woke to a soggy world this morning, but at least it had stopped raining.  A couple of hours saw us at Willington, having successfully navigated the notorious Stenson Lock.  Three years ago when we came this way, but travelling in the opposite direction it wasn’t too bad as we were going down, but this morning it was vicious!   No matter how slowly I opened the paddles the boat still swung uncontrollably from one side of the lock to the other.  Neither of the bottom gates opens fully, necessitating the opening of both gates to get the boat in – good job there is a bridge across the bottom of the lock.



Having serviced the boat we continued on towards Burton, the weather improving all the time.


The aqueduct across the River Dove not long before it meets the Trent, with Monks Bridge in the background.  This ancient bridge is reputed to have been built by the monks of Burton Abbey, and makes up for the plainness of the aqueduct.


It was very noisy beside the busy A38 – we’d rather be boating!


A gaggle of geese tried to see us off as we approached Horninglow Wharf

As we reached the Dallow Lane lock, the first of the narrow locks, Rog offered to work the lock – there were lots of people to help (typical!!) as they were queuing above the lock.  I’m pleased to say that I drove the boat into the lock from quite a sharp angle without making a prat of myself, and without touching the sides – not bad after well over a year!


The obligatory photo of the sign which tells you that you are entering Marston’s country!

Soon after we came upon a hire boat that had been going along at tickover all the way from the last lock – we had to go out of gear they were going so slowly.  They pulled over so we could pass but it wasn’t possible as there was a stream of boats coming the other way.  Five boats later we managed to pass.  We jokingly asked as we passed if they were on a go-slow – they replied that they didn’t know how fast 4 mph was – “faster than that” we told them!  They are obviously on their way back to Barton Turns – if they’ve been going that slowly all week they can’t have got very far.

Soon through Burton, the countryside opens up and there are some nice views



Branston Lock was next, and once again Rog had help, and soon afterwards we reached our intended destination for today, Branston Water Park.  Moored up now, with the prospect of fish and chips for dinner tonight.  It has turned into a sunny afternoon – hopefully my washing will dry now!



Branston Water Park

11.6 miles and 3 locks

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Derwent Mouth to Swarkestone…..

Not a very great deal to blog about today.  We awoke to a bit of brightness, but it soon clouded over and started to spit with rain.  We came through Shardlow without stopping, apart from for the lock which was leaking horribly – in fact they are all very poorly maintained up this stretch, with very stiff gear and incredibly heavy gates.  We shared the first three locks with a cruiser, and I was constantly in fear that we would crush them against the side of the lock, so fierce was the undertow in the very deep locks!  It was a bit of a relief when they got so far ahead that they had already worked up the fourth lock by the time we got there.  By lunchtime it was raining quite heavily so we decided to stop about half a mile above Swarkestone lock.  Sorry, no photos today – nothing much worth photographing.

7 miles and 4 locks

Tuesday 10 September 2013

A chilly journey…..

We had a chilly, but uneventful journey from Kegworth to Derwent Mouth Lock today.  The wind was blowing a hooley and Rog had his new Beacon Boats fleece on for the first time.  I, on the other hand, am made of sterner stuff and made do with a jumper!  The fleeces were a thank you from Ally to all her customers and distributed at the gathering on Saturday.  Some of the locks are very exposed and the wind on the Trent as we exited the Soar was very strong.


This one’s for you, Ally


The wild and windy Trent

We are back now on muddy ditches, and I can’t say I’m sorry!  The Soar is very beautiful, but I was getting a bit fed up with having to clamber on and off the boat at locks where the sides of the lock landings are very high to cope in times of flood.  Also, the wide locks are getting to me now – the narrow locks can’t come soon enough for me!

We are moored now just above Derwent Mouth Lock on the Trent and Mersey, in the shadow of a humungous wide beam Dutch barge.


6 miles and 4 locks

Monday 9 September 2013

And a good weekend was had by all…..

Only 4 boats managed to get to Barrow for the gathering -  Windsong, Serenity, Triskaideka and QE III.  Most of the other owners came by car.  Saturday dawned clear and bright and we showed a few people round the boats.  We met one couple who are future owners, and have booked a slot in 2015, who we all got on very well with.  Great to meet you, Ken and Lynda, and I’m sure we’ll meet again soon. Ally had arranged a photographer and everyone did a boat shuffle to get the boats all breasted up together. 



Unfortunately as we had arrived from both directions and it was too far to go to turn 2 around, we had 2 facing one way and 2 the other

Pity no boats came along around the bend while we were stretched across the river, we’d have caused a stir!

On Saturday evening when more owners had arrived there was a buffet laid on in the Soar Bridge Inn, and copious amounts of alcohol we consumed.  There was also a cake, and the honour of cutting it went to the owner of the latest boat launched – Willow Two.


As we had a late night and much booze, we were all a little jaded yesterday morning, so took it easy and then 7 of us went to the pub (again!) for Sunday lunch which was very good.  We were treated to an impromptu comedy show by Viv (Beacon’s new painter) who used to be  a stand-up comic, and does a great Jethro impression.  I haven’t laughed so much for ages, and it certainly rounded off the weekend.  The weather turned wet later on and we all spent a dozy evening on our respective boats.

This morning we said our goodbyes and headed off, Triskaideka southwards and us and Serenity northwards as we are going home the long way around.  It was lovely to be boating in company with Karen and Ian on Serenity again, quite like old times! 



We met Doug and James aboard nb Chance at Loughborough Lock and had time for a quick chat – the first time we’ve actually met them, although we feel like we already know them well as we read their blog and they read ours, and they are good friends with Ali and John on Triskaideka.


We stopped at the Soar Boating Club at Normanton on Soar (Karen and Ian are members) and filled with water and diesel as their guests.  Normanton is beautiful with some lovely houses along the river bank




We then continued on to Kegworth where they moor at East Midland Boat Services in a little marina.  We waved goodbye as they turned in, and then, seeing bad weather heading our way, moored a liitle above Kegworth Deep Lock, a lovely spot, and would be very peaceful but for the fact it’s right on the approach to East Midlands Airport!


From the side hatch this evening

9 miles and 5 locks