Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Last Cruise

Because of the weather forecast, I delayed my trip to the winter moorings until Sunday. An early rise and I could not resist posting the dawn (with a touch of frost) photos on my last one hour cruise.

What a great way to finish.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The end - for this year.

I remained at Buckby on Sunday 3rd as it was still windy.  Monday is much better so off I go on my last cruise of the year.  I even quite enjoyed (well, didn't mind too much) the 2000 yard Braunston tunnel, despite meeting a boat coming the other way with his light not angled up.  In the dark, what is usually a car fog light, pointing straight at you is blinding and you have difficulty seeing the side, never mind the approaching boat.  As I passed, I told him in no uncertain terms.  When I met up with the boat following me through the tunnel, at the locks, he said the other boat had turned off his light!  I am not sure which is worse!  Why he did not just angle his light up, I do not know.  Apart from not blinding oncoming boats, it enables you to judge your position better as it shines at the roof of the tunnel so you know immediately if the bows are starting to drift towards the sides.
The other boat accompanies me down the Braunston flight, making life easier.  I had been thinking of stopping at Braunston but it is pretty busy so I continue to the spot, near my winter moorings, where I was on the 20 October, intending to go into the marina on Wednesday or Thursday.  It's a great spot for James as he can be off the lead most of the time and there is lots of room for him to tear about and chase his ball.
I climb up to the top of Barby hill with magnificent views:

Rainbow did not come out too well

I bag the prime mooring spot

The forecast for Thursday is very good and I cannot resist one final little cruise.  I call in at the marina to pick up a couple of packing boxes from the car and travel up the 6 miles, down the delightful Hillmorton Locks, to Rugby for some shopping and back to moor below Hillmorton Locks.  I go up the locks on Friday morning, moor above the top lock, and start packing ready for the morrow.
So that is it for this year and what a fantastic year it has been. I'll be back in March.

 20 miles; 12 locks
TOTAL:  876 miles (323 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 467 locks (225 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A round trip

I ride out the storm on Monday night with no damage and agree with Matty, who is also single handing, that we will go down the Buckby flight of 7 locks the next day.  He is late getting back from an appointment, so there is not much daylight left by the time we set off.
Matty following along.  If you want any boat work or moving done I cannot recommend anyone more highly - see
We manage the flight in 1'40" - a very good time, especially as all but two of the locks were "set against us" i.e. we had to fill the locks before we could take the boats in.  By the time we get to the bottom it is nearly dark but Matty says there are no facilities pubs here and persuades me that it is time for my first night cruise.  He kindly leaves his stern doors open so I have a light to follow most of the time.  I am glad I did it as I would now have the confidence to do so on my own but, the next time. it will be in warmer weather - it was the coldest night of the year so far!
You would think they had never seen a canalboat before!

With one of the largest village greens in the country

I stop at the wonderfully named Nether Heyford to visit the butcher and the baker. A very interesting, lovely and friendly village with a history dating back over a millennium - see link
I travel down as far as the junction with the Northampton Arm.  No way am I going any further as it would mean the 3057 yard Blisworth tunnel (plus return) - I do not do tunnels for the fun of it!  I did think of going down to Northampton but the weather has definitely changed and continuing strong winds are forecast.  Tine to head back to the winter moorings.
By Friday, I am back at Buckby and riding out the next gales - unfortunately there will be no glorious Autumn colours this year. I stopped at the bottom of the Buckby flight and had just got my pie out of the oven (from the bakers - delicious) when a boat with a crew of 8 scouts appeared.  Too good an opportunity to miss and I set off munching my pie.  My thanks to them and I did not have to get off the boat the whole way up.!  Still didn't beat Matty and my time though!

And I could not finish without my best shot yet of a grey heron

 25 miles; 14 locks
TOTAL:  856 miles (318 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 455 locks (219 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Monday, 28 October 2013

Buckby Banter

The banter commenced a few days early.

James' field for playing with his ball - also home to some tasty field mushrooms.

Norton Junction, south to Northampton, north to Leicester and west to Rugby

The numbers are increasing. Photo courtesy of and copyright Kathleen Bridget.

And I had had a shower that morning! Photo courtesy of and copyright Kathleen Bridget.

Ange & Dave, my guests for the banter - a lovely couple. Photo courtesy of and copyright Kathleen Bridget.

Millie took a fancy to James' bone - they just about tolerated one another.
James made more new friends than I did! Photo courtesy of and copyright Kathleen Bridget.

Couple of photos showing the inside of the boat - and my bald patch!
Photo courtesy of and copyright Kathleen Bridget.
A wonderful few days, even if my wallet did end up considerably lighter.  Ange and I held the record for last man standing - 4am on Friday and 5 am on Saturday and I have to admit it was last woman standing on Saturday - apparently I fell asleep mid sentence!
Farewell to Buckby

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I get to Buckby

Weather was not brilliant so I left it until Sunday 20th to drive back to the marina, unload the car and escape the marina half a mile up the canal where I spent a couple of days waiting for an improvement. On Tuesday I move a couple of miles to be ready for the Braunston flight.

You can just make out the mediaval ridge and furrow field patterns. These were created as forested land was cleared with each ploughed strip throwing soil towards the centre, creating a series of parallel strips and making up a furlong or cultura.

Wednesday, the weather is a bit better so I set off.  There is another boat on the water point at Braunston and they very kindly say they will wait and share the braod locks. Even kinder they go ahead and another boat is waiting and suggests they share the locks - they decline, saying they have promised me to share - thank you very much.
Braunston Turn for Birmingham or Coventry.
Approaching the locks

Pump house
Crooked Cottage

Braunston tunnel looms.  At 2074 yards it is the longest for me so far and it has a couple of kinks which can catch you out.  It is two way but fortunately I meet nothing coming the other way so manage with no problems. Took about half an hour. Not a good photo, I am afraid, but you get the idea.  You can just make out the far end.
A relief to get back into the sunshine
 I moor just before Norton junction - dawn Thursday morning
 9 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  831 miles (293 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 441 locks (205 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Friday, 18 October 2013

Still at home

Now thinking of returning to the boat on Sunday before making my way to Buckby for the banter on the 26th.  Had the weather been better I would have returned earlier but may as well enjoy the comforts of the house.  It has given me the chance to catch up on financials and a few other things - including giving the blog a new look!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The end of the road - or should that be the canal?

Sunday 6th

But it is just too nice a day not to be cruising.

I am tempted to spend another night here as it is so nice for James (and me) - he can jump straight off the boat into the playing fields.

The Oxford was one of the earliest and, for many years, the most important canal in England,   Building commenced in 1769 and it was a "contour" canal - as the name implies it followed the contours of the land, rather than going straighter, requiring more cuttings and embankments.  By the 1820's it faced competition and was looking outdated, so large works were undertaken to straighten the canal and cut 14 miles off the original 36 between Braunston Junction and the Coventry Canal.  Much of the old line became a series of loops and branches leading nowhere, such as this one, now used for private moorings and crossed by one of the many elegant bridges inscribed Horseley Ironworks 1828.  Due to this very expensive updating the Oxford remained profitable into the 20th century, managing to successfully compete with the railways.

It does mean much of the canal, although attractive, does not offer the extensive views of some others.

I moor Sunday night near Brinklow, again with Michele and Andrew.  I arrive just in time to help with getting one of his two dead batteries out - he was near to tearing his hair out as accessibility is a nightmare and virtually impossible on your own.
Monday  sees me moored at Newbold On Avon, just before Rugby. In the morning, I walk back through Newbold tunnel (250 yards) and climb up to the top in the hope of some good photos - the camera battery is flat, ah well.  Special coloured lighting was installed in the tunnel a few years ago but regretably has been neglected and most is not working.  Walking back through the tunnel  a screech echos through - some tunnels are reputed to be haunted!  Fortunately I have no belief in such things but could it be a wild animal coming up behind me? No, it is a cygnet travelling through the tunnel and, presumably, crying out for Mummy - I had not realised cygnets could make such a noise, though it was amplified by the tunnel.

I catch up with the Kiwis again at Rugby, where they have stopped to shop.  Andrew is on his way to Halfords and kindly agrees to get me some distilled water for my batteries. There is little to see or photograph in Rugby as trees line the canal for the majority of the way.  

I had thought of stopping at the flight of 3 locks at Hillmorton, which are very attractive.  There are two sets of locks, showing the canals importance.  However the forecast for the morrow is cold and windy so I decide to get nearer to the moorings I have booked.

Cafe half way up.

Lovely view from the top locks - the sun went behind a cloud at the wrong time!
There is nowhere very suitable for mooring so I turn into the marina and the moorings where I will leave the boat for the winter. Soon after, Michele and Andrew arrive and drop off my water - thank you.  We say our goodbyes - probably until next year, as they are heading for Reading.  I have booked a one-way car hire for Thursday to travel back to the house (the boat now feels more like "home" than the house!).  I will come back with my own car sometime next week to take the boat to the banter at Buckby so not the last cruise of the year.  No more posts for at least a week, though.

16 miles; 3 locks
TOTAL:  822 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 435 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Oxford Canal

I spend the next three days catching up on lots of things, mainly finances- and trying to learn a bit about the new camera, I am up to page 138 of 244!  Most of it I will never use but it is amazing what it can do.  One setting is for people and it can be set to automatically take the photo when the person smiles.  On Friday, Michele and Andrew catch up with me.

My first attempt at a panoramic shot on the new camera - I'll get a better view for the next one!

Before setting off today, entertainment is provided by a marching band practising in the field next to the boat.

I stop at Nuneaton and a fairly long and hot walk to Sainsbury's to stock up - thank goodness for my trolley!
The aptly named "Charity Dock" - what a collection and amazing life-size figures.

Hawkesbury Junction, a very popular spot - especially on a sunny Saturday.
Looking back to the Coventry Canal, from the basin
Waiting to go through the flood lock - the old engine house is centre photo

The Wyken Colliery Arm, now used by Coventry Cruising Club - tight fit!
I had hoped to catch up with Michele and Andrew but it is getting dark and they have travelled further than expected.  I spot a lovely spot on the off-side playing fields and no sign saying "No Mooring" - that will do nicely and James heartily approves.
11 miles; 1 lock
TOTAL:  806 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 432 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges