Tuesday, 20 June 2017

From the Oxford to the Coventry and on to the Trent and Mersey Canal

Rugby's not new to us, it seems we are passing through on a regular basis from cruising season to cruising season. We arrived in Rugby at lunch time so we made the short trek to the pub just up the canal, Bell and Barge Inn, with a Harvester Restaurant. We had shopping to do so it was a two night stay for us as we made our way in to the town centre by bus.

On Wednesday we were off early along a well cruised path making it to Hawkesbury Junction before lunch having only stopped for water at Rose Narrowboats, the last of two loads of washing finishing as we were filling the water tank. At Hawkesbury we turned right on to the Coventry Canal, it was not long before we were passing Charity Dock, which hasn't changed in the four years we have been cruising.




It was a great day for cruising so we continued on to Nuneaton we were made a stop for the 15 minute trek into town to catch the large market. Lots to see and but there, we had around an hour before it was all starting to close up. A lite dinner and we were back on the boat for an evening cruise, passing some nice communal garden plots along the way to our rural mooring just near Bridge 27.


Thursday we cruised for five minutes to Springwood Haven Marina to fill with diesel at 0.74p domestic, Serafina took 110 litres.

Rachael got busy on the camera taking some wildlife pictures in-between working the boat down the Atherstone Flight of 11 locks and the two Glascote Locks at Tamworth.



We continued on through Fazeley Junction turning right and heading for Fradley Junction only to catch up with a boat cruising at tick-over and not in a mind to be passed. It was a good time to finish our day near Tanborn House Bridge.

After turning on to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Fradley we cruised on through Rugeley were we made a short stop to find the railway station in preparation for dropping our friend off in the next few weeks as we show her a small part of the canal system. Cruising out of Rugeley we crossed the River Trent, one of the rivers feeding the Trent and Mersey Canal.


We were ready to buy some eggs along the way but none left!


We cruised on to one of our favourite moorings just below Haywood Lock at Great Haywood. I also like Tixal Wides just near here, Great Haywood is such a lovely area.


We are starting to see a few of these new signs erected by the Canal and River Trust with a little of the history of the area.


Saturday was finally a nice short cruise, this cow wasn't too happy to hear us coming and couldn't get out quick enough.



We were enjoying our cruise right up until the traffic jam at Aston Lock where we were behind three other boats going up the lock, slowing us significantly. We managed to get the last mooring at Stone before having to do another lock to find a mooring. Just in time for lunch at the Poste of Stone Inn and a welcome drink on a rather hot day.

Sunday we were up early as another hot day was predicted. We weren't keen to do both the Stone Locks and the Stoke Locks in the middle of the day. Cruising out of Stone I took a couple of shots of the old warehouses.



It was a little chaotic when we came across these canoeists all over the canal but slowed down while they got themselves sorted.


We have passed this old boat yard, now residence several times but this time I took the time to get a few pictures.




All was going well until we met an older lady waiting at the bottom of Stoke Locks for some help, she was single handing a boat all the way to Manchester to have it blacked. Why she wasn't taking it just down from her mooring we didn't get around to finding out. So, it was myself and another boater working three boats up the Stoke Locks, that wasn't fun! She continued on with lots of locks to go to get to Manchester, we on the other hand moored at Stoke just after the top lock.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Kingswood Junction and North on the Grand Union Canal

Once at Kingswood Junction we turned right on to the short linking canal, about 250 metres, and passed under the railway bridge, avoiding the couple of moorings there. We turned right on to the Grand Union Canal and reversed back on to the vacant and much quieter moorings.

We had planned to stay an extra day at Kingswood Junction but the weather prediction was for fine today and wet for the next few days after that. So, with the Hatton Flight of  21 locks between us and our next stop, Warwick we chose to do them in fine weather.

Just over a one hour cruise to the top lock we passed a dilapidated old pair of wooden working boats.



A little further on we passed through Shrewley Tunnel (396m or 443yds), not a long tunnel but very wet and Rachael forgot to put her jacket on. She abandoned the camera about halfway through.





Reaching the top lock we got straight into it, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish!


It was all over in four hours! Once you get a rhythm going it gets a lot easier. We were moored mid-afternoon outside the Cape of Good Hope Inn and happy to relax after a busy day. Thursday we all headed into Warwick town centre but having been here before we knew not to expect much. It was showery so we had our coats and umbrellas at the ready for the half hour walk into the centre. No pics here, nothing new to report so if you would like to see some pics of Warwick you will find plenty in the 2015 folder of this blog.

Friday we said goodbye to Sylvie and Michael from NB Chartwell, we had made an appointment for Monday for an electrician to check out Serafina's electrical system. Friday was a 12 lock day which included the two chamber staircase at Bascote but once again an early start after filling with water and we were sitting on the Long Itchington Moorings around 3pm with only one other boat around. I sat down in the lounge chair and put my feet up and woke up an hour later.

Saturday was very overcast and windy so hard to handle the boat at low speed. Once again, only a short cruise to the first two locks then on to the Stockton Locks, eight locks in total. Rachael worked Serafina up the flight which became very busy half way up, all but the top lock were in our favour making it a lot easier for us.

Not the best day to get the waste tank pumped out , lots of hire boat companies doing change-overs and not interested in any other work. We pulled in to Black Prince at Napton Junction only to be turned away again. We headed for Braunston crossing our fingers and legs! Dinner was at The Boat House Inn. Sunday was our rest day after making it to Braunston ready for our Monday appointment.

Monday was an early start as we cruised to the water point for a fast fill and then on to Braunston Marina where the first job was a self-pump out (for the boat!) and just a top up of diesel since they don't allow self-declaration, everybody pays the 40% propulsion.


Serafina's batteries have not fully charged since we left Stoke on Trent. It was just after lunch that the electrician had finished checking the batteries, the solar controller, the inverter, the battery management system and the alternator. The final solution was to put a switch on the solar and see if that would allow the batteries to fully charge off the engine. I will test it for a few more days but confidence is not high that this is the solution.

Monday afternoon we headed out of the marina and down the Oxford Canal to Rugby, a nice four hour run. We passed the new marina, Dunchurch Pools, along the way, last year there was not much more than signs and a little excavation.




The hills along the way were filled with poppies among other wildflowers.


Arriving in Rugby it was a pleasant surprise to find that CRT had installed new mooring rings, enough for probably around a dozen boats.


The soccerball count now stands at 21.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bancroft Basin and Up the Stratford Canal

It's Sunday evening and we have just finished our first cruising day back on a narrow canal. My aim going into the narrow locks was a bit rusty to begin with but that was soon rectified as we headed up the 17 locks to Wilmcote.

Our cruising on the Avon River came to an end as we locked up into Bancroft Basin at Stratford on Avon Friday, just after lunch. Plenty of moorings to choose from, I counted eight available before entering lock to take us off the river. Our trip had taken us to Eversham and Welford Lock for overnight stops. We had chosen Welford Lock so we could shorten the distance to Stratford ensuring an early arrival and the best chance at getting a mooring in the basin for the weekend.

Along the way we snapped a few pics of interesting sights. Rachael was impressed by this robot mower, it seemed to be doing a rather good job for its size.


This swan was giving her three cygnets a lift.


This weir at Fladbury was very impressive.


Eversham was a good sized town taking Rachael at least four hours to comb the streets for bargains. I thought this bank was worthy of a photo. There were no shortage of moorings here, we took a spot on rings just beside a small park, there was a huge park across the river absolutely full of kids, no school on Wednesday. We arrived at lunch time so we headed up to the Old Swan Inn for lunch and a pint.


Initially we were going to stop overnight, Thursday at Bedford-on-Avon however, everyone was keen to press on. These geese were very busy looking after their family as we passed by, biggest brood we had seen of any of the bird species.



Our mooring was picturesque, basically in the middle of nowhere. No phone and no internet available so it was card games for a bit of entertainment.


The weir behind our mooring, it was noisy up close but not too bad on the other side of the lock island.


Friday was our last day on the Avon, our last lock on the river and there was a nesting swan next to the lock. She seemed happy to let us go about working the lock.


Entering Stratford and cruising past Holy Trinity Church, burial place of William Shakespeare.


Last stretch of the Avon before heading into the lock at Bancroft Basin.


High pressure stakes as we locked up into the basin with a crowd of a hundred or so spectators. Plenty of moorings available for us to choose from.


By Saturday lunch the basin was full, not another mooring to be had. The parks and mall areas surrounding the basin were very busy. The queues at the two ice cream boats were too long for us to wait.



We took the chance to walk over to The Attic Theatre, just near to the end of the basin, to watch a comical play called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). All Shakespeare's plays and sonnets in three hours is not for those who want to learn a bit about Shakespeare! However it was well worth the £15 each.

The phone and internet has been poor, even in Bancroft Basin, and hasn't improved until today (Tuesday) where we have just arrived at Kingswood Junction but I will post about that later on.

The soccerball count is now at 19.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Cruising the Avon

We took the short cruise down towards Gloucester knowing that there were no moorings available for the long weekend. We moored on moorings outside a new housing estate a ten minute walk from Sainsbury's and a further few minutes to the docks. After stocking up the cupboards from Sainsbury's we headed over to the docks to see what was going on having seen the set up a few days earlier. Only a brief look around having seen the tall ships close up and the usual fare at the tent market, it was a drink at Wetherspoon's then back to the boat.

It was a bit of a wait to pass through the docks on Sunday with no mooring room in the docks it was all coordinated by the Bridge Keeper who made sure the lock was ready to enter as we moved across the dock. Rachael was busy snapping a few pictures as I dodged the jumps littered around the docks for the jet ski demonstration.

Entering the docks


We finished our cruising day by leaving the River Severn and locking up on to the River Avon at Tewkesbury. When we arrived the lock keeper had just gone to lunch for an hour. By the time she had returned it was rather chaotic with boats queuing to go up or down the lock. Moorings were at a premium when we arrived so we breasted up.


Business as usual as we locked up the boats and headed into Tewkesbury town centre for a look around finishing at one of the locals for a cold drink after a warm day. Monday we headed straight to Tewkesbury Abbey, built in 1102, where they were running a fete where I managed to pick up some beautiful locally made cheese and there were plenty of opportunities to look over the abbey.









The secret garden
The Abbey took care of our morning so it was lunch at 'the spoons' before we hit the high street after yesterday's reconnaissance. However, the weather didn't hold out and we finished off dodging heavy rain showers to get back to the boat.

Today the weather had improved as we headed off, firstly picking up fuel from Tewkesbury Marina (74p domestic) and heading for Pershore. We were back to manual locks and bridges after a couple of weeks of keeper operated. Three locks today, two of them, Nafford and Penshore where rather awkward to get out of, Nafford in particular. This boat found Nafford Lock too difficult or more likely the result of flooding?


A late bloomer! Two cygnets and one egg to go.


 And passing under Penshore New Bridge, Penshore Old Bridge in the background.


First one of these we've seen but you would think well worthwhile at most weirs, a corkscrew power generation unit at Penshore Lock.


We moored at Penshore just after lunch, plenty of room, probably enough for ten narrowboats. We headed straight off to Penshore Abbey. Previously a Benedictine Monastery and much smaller now than it once was, this building is over a thousand years old.