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

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


The mooring is good with a field for James and I am in two minds whether to proceed up the 11 lock Atherstone flight.
However, the wind drops, a few boats have come down and none have gone up for a while (meaning the locks should be set in my favour) and someone tells me there are volunteer lock-keepers at the top of the flight.  Off I go.

Not sure what castle this is - experimenting with the camera on full (42x zoom) - anti-shake  works well.

The flight is very pleasant and the locks are in my favour, except for one for some reason.

Top lock and the lockies worked the top 4 for me and were kind enough to stay on after their official 4pm finish. I made the flight in just over 2 hours - would probably have been double that if no help and the locks set against me.
Hartshill yard - Old Blacksith's shop, now a CaRT something or other
Looking up the canal from the yard

Looking at the weather forecast I may be here for a couple of days.  It is a good spot with lots of fields for James. Well stocked local shop I walked to and stocked up with basics.

Time for chicken piri-piri and chips - not had it for a while and salivating a bit!

5 miles; 11 locks
TOTAL:  795 miles (289 miles broad, 127 miles river, 44 miles tidal); 431 locks (199 broad); 78 moveable bridges