Monday, 31 March 2014

Back on The Coventry

An unremarkable day.  Perhaps this was the highlight
The Ashby has a large population of water voles and I was lucky enough to have two separate sightings.
I turn back onto the Coventry and moor up shortly thereafter.

For a moment I think I am back at home as I think these are the same Zwartbles sheep as my next-door neighbour keeps.  If you want to know more about them there is a website here

10 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  64 miles; 4 locks 

  Tuesday 1 April

Descended Atherstone Flight

 I moor up for lunch at Hartshill, where I stopped last year for a couple of nights.  It is a good spot with lots of good walks and plenty of fields for James and I had intended to stay the night as it is the last good mooring before the Atherstone flight of  11 locks.  However, the sun comes out and I decide to go on.  Am I glad I did - it was shirtsleeve weather and I discover how unfit I have become over the winter by the amount of sweating I do descending the flight!  There are quite a few boats on the move and lock-keepeers on duty at the top two locks so I did get some help and only had to close 3 sets of gates behind me.
I moor up at the bottom of the flight and sit out on the stern with a welcome refreshment.

9.5 miles; 11 locks
TOTAL:  73.5 miles; 15 locks

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Stoke Golding

Snarestone Tunnel (250 yards).
It has a nasty kink in the middle which you can just about make out.  Fortunately it is fairly wide but it nearly caught me out going North, yesterday.


Tixall, one of a few remaining steamboats - short video here.

If I had to have a permanent mooring this is one place I would love to be.

Lunch stop and James enjoyed the field and the ball chasing.
12 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  54 miles; 4 locks

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Head of Navigation

Had Lisa still been with me I would have had to slow up here - she had a very weak spot for donkeys!

A large new marina is being constructed.

Some of last year's bulrushes have yet to shed their seeds

A bit hazy but good for photos

It is not a spectacular canal but very rural and pleasant.

The Ashby Canal is 31 miles long and was built to connect the mining district around Moira, just outside the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, with the Coventry Canal. It was opened in 1804, and a number of tramways were constructed at its northern end, to service collieries. The canal remained profitable until the 1890s, after which it steadily declined. Around 9 miles passed through the Leicestershire coal field, and was heavily affected by subsidence, with the result that this section from Moira, southwards to Snarestone, was progressively closed in 1944, 1957 and 1966, leaving 22 miles of navigable canal.

The head of current navigation, where the Ashby Canal Association has a small shop - website

The end of the canal
The Pump House, now a private residence.

Some of the original route has been infilled and built over, and restoration therefore involves construction on a new route through the centre of Measham. It is hoped that all but the final 1-mile section of the canal can be re-opened. An isolated section near Moira Furnace and the National Forest visitor centre was opened between 1999 and 2005, and is the location for an annual trailboat festival.

Excavation of the next 500 yards starts this month and James was helping by digging out a bit.

The end of the proposed extension

10 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  42 miles; 4 locks

Friday, 28 March 2014

Bosworth and the battlefield (or not!)

A pleasant cruise up to Sutton Wharf  which has a cafe, a trip boat and, more importantly, a shower with unlimited hot water and lots of space! 
It a is also not far to walk to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, although recently some doubt has been cast on where the battle took place.  There is no doubt it is where Richard III, the last king of the House of York met his demise.  His remains were recently found beneath a car park in Leicester and are subject to a court battle for where they should be re-interred.   It was the the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, by his victory became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty.  Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it a defining moment of English and Welsh history.
There was not a great deal to see (I did not go into the heritage centre) and my camera battery had run out so no photos.

9 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  32 miles; 4 locks

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Onto the Ashby

I did think of staying put for another day as the forecast was not brilliant but it didn't look too bad, though cold, so off I set and had immediately to tackle the daunting lock at Hawkesbury junction.

It has a massive fall of 6 7/8 inches - reckoned to be a mistake by the architect(s) as it was meant to be level.  Originally the Coventry and the Oxford were not connected here as the owners could not agree the level of the tolls so travelled in parallel for a short distance.

The entrance to the Oxford from the Coventry.

Looking across to the lock from the Coventry after performing a u-turn under the bridge.

And looking back to the entrance to the Oxford.  Coventry is only 5 miles down the canal but it is very built up and I have little interest in city centres.  So I turned Northwards.

The engine house which, from 1821, used to pump water from a well to replenish the canal.  I do not know where the water comes from now but the engine house is disused.

The weather was much better than forecast and it was an enjoyable trip (still glad of the thermals).  Not a spectacular stretch of canal but very pleasant. 
Looking back to the Coventry from the Ashby

These stone bridges are very numerous on the Ashby. 

After  turning onto the Ashby I moor up for the day a little way up as the forecast for the afternoon is not good.  And so it proves - hail storms and thunder and lightening very close - James needs lots of cuddles for reassurance.  Lightening is not a concern on a narrowboat as, being constructed of steel, it is a natural Faraday Cage but I have difficulty explaining that to James. I would rather not experience it though!

5 miles; 1 locks
TOTAL:  23 miles; 4 locks

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hawkesbury Junction

Tuesday was very wet, as promised, but at least it let me get everything stowed away..The forecast for Wednesday was cold with the weather deteriorating later so I made an early start and was away by 8am.  Very cold and I was glad of my thermal underwear which I forgot to bring last March.
Spring is very early this year and I saw my first ducklings - unbelievably in 2007 on the Isle of Wight ducklings were spotted on New Year's Eve link
Also some very new lambs

Stopped about 1pm just before Hawkesbury Junction onto the Coventry Canal and where the Oxford canal ends.
Just to remind anyone interested , I have added a gadget top right whereby you can receive an email when the blog is updated.

11 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  18 miles; 3 locks

Monday, 24 March 2014

I'm back!

Drove back to the marina on Saturday.  Arrived later than I intended despite leaving on schedule. Mainly caused by James' insistence on clambering over the back seat despite belongings being piled high.  After his third effort I stopped at a bus stop and proceeded to repack the car - no doubt much to the amusement of the people waiting at the stop across the road.  I also probably spent a bit too long visiting my friends Michele and Andrew from NB Ashdown who have had to take some time off from continuously cruising to earn some money to refill the coffers.  It was lovely to see them and as they are based in Andover I will be able to see them regularly.  Thanks for the 'bits' and coffee.
When leaving the boat for the winter it is necessary to "winterise" it, the main job being to drain down the water system and leave all the taps open while away.  I started filling the tank leaving the taps open to flush out the tank. After a little while I turned off the taps but the water pump did not stop running - bugger, that probably meant the diaphragm in the pump had frozen and was kaput, even although the lowest outside temperature had been a balmy minus 3.3.  So, I had to turn the ppump on and off at the fusebox - inconvenient but not a disaster.  However the flooded bathroom I discovered a little later was - I had forgotten to turn off the shower taps and it had overflowed.  Fortunately the water did not get further than the bathroom.  Oh. and the engine overheated after a short time running to charge the batteries.  Too late to investigate it was a first priority the next morning.
Sunday morning I discovered that the engine coolant level was very low although I hardly topped it up all last year.  Another boater (it is a very friendly and helpful community) said it was not unknownon for the coolant to leak when left cold for an extended period - time will tell. I spent the rest of the morning checking batteries, engine etc were OK then thought I would take the short drive to Rugby and a cooked breakfast (lunch).  I must have driven round the middle of Rugby half a dozen times not helped by temporary traffic lights completely out of synch. Ended up at the ever reliable McDonalds  and then on to supermarkets and pet shop to stock up on supplies. Not much unpacking done.

Monday was a beautiful day and the forecast for Tuesday was poor so I took the car back this morning and left the marina in blue skies at 1pm. Farewell to Barby - it will be a nice marina if it ever gets all the facilities installed.

I am heading back up the North Oxford canal to again get to the banter at Gnosall for Easter and one advantage of travelling on a canal I have already been on is that I have noted good mooring spots so moor up just past Rugby at Newbold on Avon.

 7 miles; 3 locks