Sunday, 29 September 2013

Seeing the Doc!

At the same time as I was buying my boat, my GP decided to return to his roots in Leicestershire. During Lisa's illness we had got to know him quite well and he had been marvellous in treating Lisa.  He expressed an interest in narrowboats and I said I would get in touch if I was near Leicester.  I contacted him to say I expected to be going through Leicester in October and he offered to help with the Foxton flight.  When I changed my mind and decided on the Coventry and Oxford rather than the Grand Union I thought I would miss him.  Unfortunately, geography is not one of my strong points and I only realised on Friday that I would actually pass within a fairly short distance (by road) from there.  An email to let him know and he would be delighted to join me on Sunday for a short while.  I suggest picking them up at Polesworth so I say farewell to Michele and Andrew and start off through Tamworth.

Frazely Junction and the branch down to Birmingham.  M&A intend to head down here a bit to visit the nature reserve and will probably catch up with me in a few days.

The River Tame from the aqueduct.

Pete, Sherry and Yvonne, Sherry's mother.

I am slightly held up at the two locks in Tamworth but manage to get to Polesworth by 1230 and after a bit of confusion about bridges and a few phonecalls manage to meet up - thank goodness for mobile phones!

Sherry at the tiller - it was James' fault she nearly crashed!  She did very well.


As their time is limited, we decide not to have a pub lunch but make the most of the good weather.  Yvonne is not too well and Sherry was delighted at how much she enjoyed it.
Amazingly, they have arranged a day boat hire almost next to my winter moorings so hopefully we will meet up again then.
A lovely day - both weather and company.

8 miles; 2 locks
TOTAL:  790 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 420 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Fazeley Junction

Just as I am thinking of setting off in the morning, I hear a boat passing and they toot their horn.  I stick my jead out and who should it be but my Kiwi friends, Michele and Andrew on NB Ashdown. I had been hoping our paths might cross again, but did not expect them to have got this far south so soon. They are heading for the South East and hopeful employment.  So, kettle on and swapping tales.  I last met them just before Skipton, on the Leeds & Liverpool, when they were going in the opposite direction.  Seems a long time ago.

Temporary farewell - hopefully we will meet up again later, although I am planning on doing some shopping in Tamworth so may not catch them up.

One has to deal with all sorts of obstructions.

I get a text from Andrew, saying they have stopped at Fazeley Junction, where the choice is heading to Birmingham or Coventry.  I moor up in front of them after stocking up at Sainsbury's and lots of new things for James at Pets At Home, including a new lead - the third, as he has managed to chew through yet another.  His teeth must be razor sharp as he must have gone through this one in less than a minute when I was having a pint with Matty - he does not like being tied up (James that is - I have no idea what Matty's tastes in such matters are!).   Andrew manages to relieve me of some of my Scotch in the evening.  Lovely to see them again.

7 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  782 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 418 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Friday, 27 September 2013

Coventry Canal

In the morning I check the gearbox cable, seems to be working OK.  Start the engine, engage forward, no problem.  Reverse, working fine.  Phone call to Matty and he suggests the gearbox may have become overheated and I should check the oil.  It is low, so I top up and set off.

Forgot to take photos - I pinched this one - Fradley Junction where I turn onto the Coventry Canal and new territory.

The Coventry canal was authorised two years after the Trent and Mersey, in 1768, and should have run from Coventry, via Bedworth and Atherstone, to join the Grand Trunk Canal at Fradley. The first 10 miles to Bedworth were completed in 1769, and a lucrative trade in coal soon developed between the Bedworth collieries and Coventry. The canal was completed to Atherstone in 1771, but the next stage involved a flight of eleven locks, and the money had run out. Consequently, construction stopped at Atherstone, some 21.4 miles from Fradley.
No more progress was made until 1782, when the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal was being proposed. The promoters wanted to ensure that it would be profitable if it was built, and this depended on it being part of a larger network, which would generated long-distance traffic. They therefore negotiated with the Oxford Canal, who agreed to complete their line to join the River Thames at Oxford, and hence open up the route to London. Negotiations with the Coventry Canal were a little more complex, and the final solution involved the Coventry Canal building 10.4 miles of canal, including the flight of eleven locks and two more at Galscote, to meet with the proposed canal at Fazely Junction. The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal would then build half each of the final 11 miles to link Fazeley Junction to Fradley, following the line authorised by the Coventry Canal's Act. The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal was authorised in 1784, and work began. It was completed in 1789, and the network, including Fradley Junction, was operational by the following year.
One of the lovely gardens
5 miles; 4 locks
TOTAL:  775 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 418 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Thursday, 26 September 2013


The first of the narrow locks - not a lot of room to spare!

Lovely bridges and this time I almost managed to hold back the tears.

I approach the lock after Alrewas and, as usual going up, put the bows up to the lock gates in the hope they will magically open (because the lock is empty).  No luck so I put the boat into forward tickover and go to empty the lock (there was not much needed) and open the gates.  After I do this I notice the boat has reversed into the bank!  I was sure I had left her in forward.  Manage to grab the bow rope and get on - Yep, definitely in forward.  I get the boat off the bank and engage forward again - still going back.  I had been told about this on the RCR maintenance course - probably the gear selector cable has snapped.  The light is going and I cannot be bothered pulling the boat through on the rope so moor up for the night and will investigate in the morning.

9 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  770 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 414 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Burton Upon Trent

The engine service went very well, except we managed to drop the new fuel filter in the bilge water - not a good idea!  However the old one looked OK so put it back on and I will dry out the new one and change it in a couple of weeks.  It was good to see Matty again - if you need any boat work or moving doing he can be contacted via his website
At Stenson, the last of the broad locks, which has a massive fall of 12'4", I am fortunate that a boater from the nearby marina offers to work it for me - thank you very much.  It is the fiercest lock I have encountered so far - all the broad locks on this section need to be tackled carefully and slowly. But it is goodbye to broad locks - no more until I reach my winter moorings.  Hooray!
Another beautiful day and scenery
The aqueduct over the River Dove


Moored at the magnificent Shobnall Fields, recommended by Matty, for 2 nights.

Walks both side of canal.  This is the "Kingfisher walk" with carved kingfishers, holding fish, at the start.
Lots of room for James to roam and chase his ball - note the trees, starting to change colour

Home of Marston's brewery
13 miles; 2 locks
TOTAL:  761 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 408 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weston Lock

I had intended to spend another day on the Soar with Pollie, but the weather is just too nice so I say my goodbyes.

I get a pleasant surprise at Sawley Locks as I had forgotten they were keeper operated.  There are a pair of locks, showing how busy this part of the river used to be.  The weather is a bit different from when I was here in March!

Stopped at Shardlow for lunch.  It is very busy, as it is Sunday and lovely weather.  Probably the last time a lot of the boats will be out before the winter.

I would have liked to visit the pub and visitor centre but do not feel I can do so as I am on the lock moorings.
I telephone Matty, whom I last met at Easter, to discuss where to meet up.  It will be good to see him again and he is going to service my engine tomorrow.  I could manage it myself but it will be good to observe someone else doing it the first time.

He suggests Weston Lock.  It has good road access - road bridges are a bit scarce here.  It proves a good choice with good walks for James and a field to play with his ball.
End of a lovely day
20 miles; 9 locks
TOTAL:  748 miles (276 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 406 locks (197 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Meeting up on the Soar

Fraid I have gone a bit mad with the photos, but there was a lot to photograph!
The weir and much needed boom at Beeston, where the canal rejoins the Trent.

Beeston Lock

A very varied collection of homes on this stretch.

Weeping willows

Very attractive stretch of the river
Cranfleet Lock

I haven't seen so many boats on the move for a long, long time.  It is a beautiful Sunday, though, so understandable.

Looking back to Cranfleet Lock
I reach the junction between the Trent, the Soar and the Erewash canal.     

From whence I came.

Entrance to the Erewash canal

And start up the Soar.

Looking up the Trent where I will be heading shortly

Not far down the Soar I reach my destination and spy Pollie, with whom I am meeting up, on her newly painted boat.  I am pleased to say she enjoyed my cooking and her first taste of venison.

Redhill flood lock and the "Red Hill"

Nice mooring, although I moved down a bit so James could jump straight off the boat into a field.

James and Barney, one of Pollie's dogs had a bit of a set too at first.  Amazingly the labrador kept placing himself in-between them if he thought they were getting too serious, as if to say "calm down boys".

Soon they were playing like old friends.

Another attempt at night photography - Ratcliffe Power Station.

11 miles; 3 locks
TOTAL:  728 miles (259 miles broad, 124 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 397 locks (189 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Back to where I started!

The stretch from Newark to Nottingham is very attractive and must be gorgeous when it gets its Autumn colours.

Nottingham's wealth soon becomes apparent.

The Nottingham Princess trip boat.  I have been trying to meet up with Tim, the skipper, since buying the boat but forgot to get in touch before arriving. Anyway, I am hoping to get to a shop in Nottingham before it closes and it looks like I will not make it as I am a bit held up by a dredging operation at one of the locks.

Forest's football ground - City's is just on the other side of the river

Fortunately, I am just in time to get to Jessops and buy my new camera - the Nikon P520 - a "bridge" camera between compact and full SLR.  Unbeknown to me the free offer of £83 worth of accessories was due to finish that day - lucky.  So photos should be better from here on - at least once I read the 244 page manual!  On a little bit further and I am back to Nottingham Boat Sales, where I bought the boat - 6 months and over 700 very enjoyable miles later.
On Friday I go to meet up with Findlay, at their new boatyard on the Trent, for a discussion about the possibility of a new boat, but I think that will have to wait until I sell the house.  James (in charge of the brokerage) comes aboard to drink some of my whisky in the evening.  It was also great to meet Phil again, moored nearby, who was on the pontoon next to me when I bought the boat, having bought his at the same time.  And the rest of the team at the boatyard - it felt like I had come home!
So - first efforts:
The canal by night

Nottingham Castle Marina


Cormorant sunning himself on his favourite perch

Me in the "office"
16 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  717 miles (259 miles broad, 113 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 394 locks (186 broad); 78 moveable bridges