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Stoke Golding to Atherstone Locks (16 miles, no locks)

The past few days we have moved during the dry spells and hidden when it looked bad, like everyone I suppose.  We finished off the Ashby Canal the first good day we could and sailed to the junction, pleased that we had accomplished a goal for this year.

We had always just gone straight past the junction before and never had enough time to investigate further!

Spotted these 2 moor hens fighting, a territorial dispute perhaps.

Tight right hander as you come out of the junction.  Luckily nothing was coming.  Onward towards  Nuneaton...

Some of the gardens in Nuneaton were very smart and formally embraced the canal!  This stretch seemed a lot cleaner than last time we came through here, but there still are enough shopping trollies to keep the supermarkets busy.

Hanging baskets are coming on well!  Don't think this one has moved for a while.

No sooner have you entered the urban area of Nuneaton, than you leave it into this beautiful countryside.

We moored overnight at Hartshill where this elegant British Waterways maintenance yard takes pride of place.  When we win the lottery, we will buy it!

We pulled up outside for water this morning, leaving the butty on the towpath side and Richard had a play with the camera...  Scooby on guard duty as ever!  He is getting really old now, doesn't want to walk anywhere and spends a lot of time asleep.  He does love it on the roof.

We stopped at Atherstone locks for the day and had a walk into town to do some shopping.  Depending on the weather, we may do the flight tomorrow......

Shackerstone, to the terminus at Snarestone and return mooring at Stoke Golding (14 miles)

Shackerstone was a particularly lovely place to moor last weekend, despite ongoing issues with the weather.

Richard and his dad went for a walk up to the Battlefield Line station on the outskirts of Shackerstone and saw the steam train.  What a beautiful sight!

One of the diesels which came in the day before.  The carriages were quite busy as the locals and visitors alike seem to use the station.

One of the decommissioned carriages contains a bric a brac stall to raise money for the railway and in the entry, we saw this wonderful creation of old dials and other metal objects.

The station platform.  To the right there is a small tearoom, all in period decor and very quaint.

The museum in the entrance had memorabilia from everywhere even Skegness (sorry Mum!) .

Peaceful moorings.  To the left of the bridge is the railway museum and over the bridge to the right is the village.   Richard's Mum and Dad spent the morning with us and then returned home.  They had come armed with mail and more tent poles to erect an awning on the other side of the butty for the shop.  I don't think they would mind me mentioning that it was great to see them again, as it has been about 3 1/2 months since we left Lincolnshire!

Look at the scenery and yes, all good Floyd aficionados should appreciate this.....

We had set off on the Monday morning for the terminus at Snarestone, coming across 2 fallen trees as we travelled the short distance to the tunnel before the winding hole.  Luckily we could get round them without fowling the prop!

Approaching the tunnel.  It is only 250 yards long but has an interesting bendy bit in the middle. meaning only one boat can go through from each end.  Of course we encountered someone coming out and had to stop.  The expression on people's faces when the see that they not only need to get around one boat, but two!  He was fine and we had left enough room for him to get out.

We reached the unremarkable terminus, where we filled up with water, bought some bits from the bric a brac stall,(raising money for the Ashby restoration fund), and turned the boats around.  Terry and Brenda on their narrowboat William James had pulled up, ready to moor overnight.  We had met them previously at Shackerstone, and as with most people on the canal, you meet them on the return journey.

I took this as we set off back down the canal.  Richard has a knack of being able to talk on the phone and steer at the same time and nothing disastrous happens.....

Back through the tunnel.  Bit fuzzy, but I was getting dripped on at the time!

Huge great giant hogweed and look at that sky!!!!!!

These are some I painted during the rain....


We moored for a couple of nights again at Market Bosworth, walked into the village to get some milk and bread and opened the shop!  The sun kept shining!!

Yes the boat is still moving and Richard is thirsty.  The cans are in the butty and I am getting braver....I crawled back though again like a baby.

Today, we bused into Nuneaton and bought some gorgeous material for the backcabin curtains.  Richard is in the process of sanding the boatman's cabin walls and cupboards down, in readiness for fresh scumbling on the walls (technique of putting a grain effect onto the painted wood to make it look like wood).  It should look lovely when he has finished.  I will post pictures at various stages.

One thing you don't do when you use public transport is leave a bag of shopping on the bus, then have to catch the next bus as it comes back through the village to retrieve said bag.  Very annoying when the village is nearly a mile uphill from the canal as are most of the villages along the canal.  Pride of place on the dashboard 'wondered if anyone would claim it' the driver told me ' it was rolling all over the place!' .  Luckily no damage done to another item to paint for my shop!

Stretton Stop to Shackerstone (28 miles, 1 lock)

What a beautiful start to the day on the Oxford Canal!

Is was good to get away from the really busy Crewe railway, but it hadn't kept us awake overnight.

Looking across, we could see Coventry.  The Coventry arm doesn't hold any appeal for us as apparently the local youth have not a lot to do except torment boaters.  Reputations like that are hard to clean up.

Ansty was very busy with moored boats and lots of oncoming as always!  The bridge before the bend, we met a hire boat determined to get through the bridge hole before us.  Now 'Numb and Echoes do not reverse well, more like jackknife!  So reversing hard, Richard had stopped a collision in the front, (as well as the hire boat stopping and pulling back for us), but had put me into the bank!   Behind me coming around the bend, I observed a boater steaming towards us without any clue as to what laid in his path. I gave him the slowdown urgently signal which sent him all over the place as he realised he was about to hit me!

All good fun, so as soon as we left the village, after crawling around the tight bend and meeting 2 other boaters, but not hitting anything - amazingly, we pulled over to let 'speedy' get round us.

We arrived at Hawkesbury junction (Sutton Stop to boaters)  and moored quite a way around the bend before the junction, as all the moorings up to the lock had been taken.  We umm'ed and arh'ed about stopping, as we had planned to stay over the weekend, so after a quick nicotine visit to the shop for Richard, we set off  again.

The lock at Hawkesbury is only a shallow difference in water level, but was used to stop traffic and take a toll in the old days.  After going through the lock (twice for us) Richard joined the boats back together and faced the U-bend with commendable confidence.  ROUND in ONE!!!! with a butty on the back.  I did expect the people outside the pub to give him a standing ovation.  Many boaters don't make the turn, including us in years past!

Emily Anne, an old steam narrowboat was moored on the Coventry Canal as we came out of Hawkesbury.  We had met them at Newark, when they had just come off the sandbar on the tidal Trent and were seeking the peaceful refuge of Kings Marina, where we were moored at the time.

Extravagant gardens at Bedworth.

The signpost at Marston Junction directing the boater to go right for the Ashby canal, straight on for Nuneaton or Coventry behind us.  We again in ONE turned into the bridge hole for the Ashby Canal.  He was taking photos as well!!!!!

A celebratory can of pop was in order, so I dived into the shop, grabbed 2 cans and jumped onto the cabintop to pass Richard his drink.  I decided to crawl back once my bravery had run out and Richard thought this was a fitting tribute!  Nice, thanks for that!

The Ashby Canal was opened in 1804, currently at a length of 22 miles and having no locks.  It winds its lonely way to just beyond Snarestone, where successive mining tunnel collapses meant the original canal length to Moira was abandoned.  It was built to carry coal originally and flourished when a new coalmine was established at Moira, 20 years after the canal first opened.

Triumph factory at Hinckley, about 6 miles along the route.  The canal is quite windy, but very pretty and very quiet.  It is rural, apart from Hinckley, and we have found it relaxing to steer along each section.  Overnight moorings have been more accessible than we thought and very secluded.

The model village like setting for Ashby Narrowboats.  When we passed here the next morning, it was bedlam as the previous holidaymakers were returning their narrowboats.  We would get fuel on our return back next week!

Now that is just silly!  I thought our butty was ugly when we first got it, but this one, bobbing about like a cork, takes the prize!

Between heavy downpours, we have taken a few days to drift up this canal, with virtually no incident.  Yesterday, however, just coming up to a bridge, Richard lost propulsion and steering and had to venture down the weedhatch.  Is someone a jumper short in their wardrobe?

Earlier in the day, we had been going around a bend past a collection of moored boats, when a man let his bow line go and we found ourselves in full reverse trying not to T bone his boat!  'Sorry' he said ' I didn't realise my boat had drifted out so far' . Luckily we were going at tick over so we can stop fairly swiftly,again the butty jackknifed but not too badly,  Richard accepted the apology with confusion, as the boat was nearly broadside on the canal by the time we had stopped 'Numb!  How had he not noticed?

Anyone know what these triffid like plants are? Seem to be growing in lines like they were planted as a boundary...

We moored at Market Bosworth last night and walked uphill into the village.  Very unspoilt, but obviously relies a lot on its location (Battle of Bosworth and Richard Third) for its prosperity.

 Market Bosworth has a station allowing passengers to alight the 'Battlefield Line' steam train.  This short 9 mile loop takes the train on to its terminus at Shackerstone, where we were headed this morning.

We needed to be in a location which would suit us for the shop, should the sun ever make an appearance, and be accessible for Richard's parents coming down on Sunday to visit.

After about 2 hours cruising (rainfree virtually) we moored up and it is still raining, but the train is tooting, we must go and have a look!!

Stockton to Stretton Stop (22 miles, 6 locks)

The rain stopped and the wind eased (a little), enough for us to leave Stockton for the junction at Napton.  The weekend would be Braunston and it would be busy, so we needed to make haste as it was Saturday morning when we set off!

Angry skies threatened all morning, but we pushed on and reached the 3 double locks at Calcutt, about a mile from where we had been moored.  It felt like miles! 
Large marinas on both sides of the canal make this place particularly busy, as well as the added congestion from Warwick bound traffic from the junction (Oxford or Braunston direction).

Stunning peaceful scenery all around.

Yeah baby...

Cute!  Even got a cratch cover.

Turning left at the junction, we had joined the Oxford section of the Grand Union Canal.  What a difference in width and windy as anything compared with the broad Grand Union we had got used to.

Many boats passed us on our journey of about 2 hours to Braunston, like a mass exodus.   We did wonder if it was something we didn't know about like a nuclear apocalypse!

Coming across the famous graffiti on the offside, we knew Braunston was just around the corner.

The 2 bridges at Braunston's triangular junction, which take the boater left towards Coventry or right towards Leicester or London.  
The towpath is carried over these bridges and dates from the improvements of the 1830s which cut out the canal's extravagant 'meanderings' between Braunston and local villages.  There is evidence all along this canal of 'straightening' where a bridge will take the towpath over an old bend in the canal.

Braunston was so busy with boaters, even with all the evacuees, that we were forced to moor out of the village which scuppered plans to open the shop!  We had turned left towards Coventry, as we wanted to go up the Ashby Canal, another new bit of territory to get under our belts.

Sunday morning, the sun was out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So we got going again, hoping to moor at Hillmorton on the outskirts of Rugby.

This was a really long, straight section past private moorings at Barby and a new large marina creaed using one of the disused old routes of the canal.

Late Sunday morning we arrived at Hillmorton top lock visitor moorings and called it a day.  I opened the shop, but it was so quiet, the tumble weed was blowing past!

Rain rain glorious rain......................... but not to sit around all day, we decided to jump on the bus and have the day in Rugby.   I had my head sharpened (much needed hair cut) and we had a good explore of the town.

Sometimes the bridges spring surprises in the remotest of places!

This morning, we headed for Rugby in the boats, down through the single locks at Hillmorton (3) and wiggled our way to moor just up form Tesco to do the 'big shop'.

A pill box in the middle of nowhere, this isn't the Kennet and Avon is it?

Just before Rugby, Richard snapped this of the River Avon far left, reservoir right and obviously us above on the canal.
Good range of out of town shops to get most things.  We visited Wickes as well as Tesco, but then took the wrong exit out of the carpark, loaded down with bags and the trolley weighing a ton.  I did say, 'this seems to be a longer way back than I remember' ....
'It's all good exercise' as I always say!
Newbold tunnel, always a delight in it's illuminated display, apparently turned off at sunset so it doesn't disturb the bats!

The canal is extremely green and pretty north of Rugby.  

Here is one of many bridges to carry the towpath over a disused 'meander' of canal.

Eventually and quite chilly, we arrived at Stretton Stop.  According to Pearsons, this was formally a toll stop.  A foot swingbridge links the workshops to the towpath and requires a push to open. 
 We moored up Kennet and Avon style (using a plank) as the banks on the Oxford slope inwards and I managed to flick Richard's pink pig into the canal!   Ok, I think he did find it in a skip, but it was his pig and it adorned the butty and yes it was another sublimal Floyd reference.  So I am sorry to say the pig is dead, we will need to find another figurehead, answers on a postcard......