Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Dreaded Buckby Flight

We were only a couple of boat lengths away from the top lock so not far to go before we were straight into it. At the little lock keepers hut there was a volunteer, who quickly disappeared inside when he saw us coming, he then went round the back of the hut for a smoke and when I wasn't looking he made a dash back to the hut and shut the door. Not sure why he was there really, he certainly wasn't helping boats through, James had walked up earlier with Dudley and the volunteer was just sitting watching the boats going through. He wasn't keeping the lock area clean and tidy either, the dog poo bin was well and truly overflowing and he was sitting about two foot away from it, with litter all around too. The bottom gate beam is huge and it took a fair bit of encouragement to close.

Most of the locks still have the side pounds, although they're not in use now

James and Dudley
We met boats coming up in almost every lock so it quite easy going. The paddles were all fairly easy to open as well not how I remember. We got to the dreaded lock 12, this has been the only lock on all of the ones we have done where James has had to moor up and come and help me close it, the guy on the boat leaving warned me that it was a pig to close. As James passed through he shouted up that he would moor and come and help, I was determined not to be beaten and I was so pleased to actually be able to close it myself - how very sad am I, or is that just stubborn!! So in all I actually enjoyed the flight this time, maybe the sun shining helped a bit.

Another side pound, excellent for wildlife, this one had Moorhen chicks in it
Down through bottom lock 13 and we've moored up in the stretch just opposite Whilton Marina. We can hear the distant hum of the traffic on the M1 and the trains aren't too often, but we've arranged to meet the guy from Elite Furnishings here tomorrow.

Opposite Whilton at the bottom of the locks
1.5 miles and 7 locks

TOTAL 373.5 miles and 379 locks

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Warwick to Long Buckby

Warwick to Radford 7 miles and 4 locks
We got back to LJ at around 5pm last Monday and left the Salisford Arm Tuesday morning, stopping off in Leamington Spa to visit Lidl which is right next to the canal, and also Pets at Home which was a short stroll away. So with cupboards stocked for both us and Dudley we continued on our way. Passing through Leamington Spa itself we approached a footbridge, both James and I notice the five kids on it, with two carrying black bin bags. As they lifted their bags over the railings James starting videoing and I pointed my camera at them, the older of the group disappeared, one put his bag, put it on the floor, smiled at us and put his thumbs up. The other one carrying the bag proceeded to drop in onto the front bow as we passed underneath and then was shouting at us to F Off. Judging by the amount of black bags on the towpath just after we weren't the first it had happened to and unfortunately I don't think we'll be the last either. We continued up another couple of locks before stopping for the night.

The nasty little brats in Leamington Spa

Radford to Long Itchington 4 miles and 8 locks
We left the next morning and continued through the countryside, the banks seem to have missed out on trimming here and places we stopped at a couple of years ago were so overgrown they were almost unrecognisable. We went through the Bascote Locks, which comprise two normal locks and then a staricase of two. We continued on our merry way stopping at Long Itchington where blog reader on Pintail was moored opposite, sorry didn't get your name but hello, and I'm nearly up to date with the blog :)

Long Itchington to Flecknoe 6 miles and 13 locks
We made good timing up the Stockton locks as there were two Willow Wren boats following us with 18 kids on board, so at some locks a couple of them came to help us through. These locks are the same as the Hatton flight with the hydraulic paddle gear and the old narrow locks alongside. This would have been the Warwick and Napton Canal before it became the Grand Union. We then had a good level section before the three locks at Calcutt and the last of the hydraulic paddle gear. We reached Napton Junction and turned left. I think prior to the Grand Union being set up this section was actually the Oxford Canal, but is now the Grand Union and links the North and South Oxford Canal.

Flecknoe to Brauston 3 miles and 0 locks
After a couple of days at Flecknoe sitting out some horrible rainy and windy days we set off for Brauston, it was still cold and rainy but time to move on. On the approach to Brauston by Puddle Banks we were surprised to see the walk way down under the aqueduct all newly fenced off with 'No Entry' signs on them, what a shame as we have always used that route to walk to Wolfhampcote and the old church.  At Braunston Turn we turned right and managed to get moored up just past The Boathouse.  We had a visit from Richard, who has bought a few pens from us which we have posted to him so it was good to meet in person.  On Monday we took a stroll up to the village shop and were amazed at how empty the moorings were, I've never seen it so quiet in Braunston. It soon filled up throughout the day and when I took Dudley for an evening stroll it was completely full again.

Moored in Braunston
Monday morning and very deserted, that's LJ in the distance
Having coffee out Midland Chandlers, great view of Braunston Turn

Braunston to Long Buckby 4.5 miles and 5 locks
Yesterday - yes yesterday - shock horror I am up to date at last, we set off early and up through the five Braunston locks, it was back to normal paddle gear, but boy are the gates heavy! We then went through the long Braunston tunnel meeting three boats in total and made it out the other side. At Norton Junction we continued on and stopped at the top of the Buckby Locks. In the evening we popped over to the New Inn and met up with Dave and Allison, nb Freespirit along with Daughter No 1 Sarah. We all headed back to LJ and finished the evening with coffee and cake.  This morning I took Dudley for a walk along the Leicester Branch whilst James got on with some work dodging the rain showers.

Braunston top lock

Moored near Norton Junction at Long Buckby

TOTALS  372 miles and 372 locks

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Visit to Poole

We were off for a long weekend to visit our daughter Jess in Poole. We took the train from Warwick, which was Dudley's first experience of trains, had to change at Leamington Spa and again at Winchester. It all went very smoothly and we didn't have to change platforms at all, we got off one train waited 10-15 minutes then on to another. Jess and Lee met us at the station and it was about half a mile or so walk to their house.

Warwick station

James and Dudley photo bombed my picture of Leamington Spa
On the Friday we went down to the beach, again another first experience for Dudley, he loved the sand and running on the beach but wasn't too keen on the sea, we had a lovely walk from Alum Chine to Branksome Chine then back again, it was quite windy so lots of kite surfers were out making the most of it.

Dudley enjoying the beach

Looking towards Old Harry Rocks

Dudley wasn't so keen on the sea, but had a little paddle
On Saturday Mum came down to visit and Jess had arranged for us all to have High Tea in her local tea shop, Pastiche Vintage Collection. We had a range of sandwiches, followed by lovely homemade scones and then choice of cake, all served with a continuous supply of tea. Then it was a short stroll back to Jess'. Unfortunately the only photo I took Jess had just sneezed and she has forbid me to use it!

Monday Jess and Lee both headed back to work and we strolled back to the station for our trip back to Warwick, this time via Southampton and Banbury.

Dudley was fantastic on the train and even happier when he could have a seat all to himself.

Enjoying his train journey back to the boat
Thanks to Jess and Lee, we had a great time.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Birmingham to Warwick

Birmingham to Kings Norton - 8 miles and 0 locks
We only spent a couple of days in Birmingham so I left James and Dudley at the boat and went shopping for the most of the afternoon. We also had a visit from Rebekah and her Patterpoo Polo, it was lovely to catch up again. It wasn't long before we were on the move again, this time leaving Birmingham by a different route through Gas Street Basin and continuing along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. We left at morning commuter time and were amazed at the amount of bikes racing along the towpath not caring about the pedestrians or each other. We had a brief stop at Selly Oak to visit Sainsbury's then past Bournville where we came across a car which had taken a wrong turn and ended in the canal. We just managed to squeeze past it but as it was so shallow at the edge the three guys waiting for the recovery truck took a rope and helped pull us through. At King's Norton Junction we turned left onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and stopped shortly after for the night.

Passing the ICC

Very tight to get past

But we managed

Kings Norton Junction

The Guillotine Lock 

Moored up just past the boatyard

King's Norton to Lapworth - 9.5 miles and 4 locks
We've done this part of the Stratford Canal before but it was a few years ago, it's surprising how much you remember though. We did the first four locks of the Lapworth flight before stopping for the night.

Lapworth to Rowington - 3 miles and 15 locks
We continued down the remaining 15 locks of the Lapworth flight with the help of a volunteer down the second half, he was really helpful and stayed with us for for the remainder of the flight. At Kingswood Junction we left the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and joined the Grand Union, we turned right to head south. We stopped at a fantastic mooring near Rowington where it felt like we had our own private garden. Dudley enjoyed running around and as we stayed a few days James got lots of work done. On one of my walks with Dudley I came across the little church at Rowington.

There was a lot of water coming down the flight

Kingswood Junction where we turned right for Warwick

Rowington Church

Our lovely mooring for a few days
Rowington to top of Hatton 3 miles and 0 locks
We were late leaving as it rained most of the morning so we set off in the afternoon to get to the top of Hatton and would tackle the locks tomorrow.

Shrewley Tunnel with its separate horse tunnel
Hatton Flight 2 miles and 21 locks
This section of the Grand Union was originally the Warwick and Birmingham Canal which opened in December 1799, but when the Grand Union Canal Company took over this and several other canals in 1929 they were renamed the Grand Union Canal. The Hatton locks were narrow locks, however in 1932 work started to create wide locks to avoid congestion and two narrow boats could go through at the same time, it took two years and over 1,000 men to construct the new wide locks alongside the narrow ones. The narrow locks were closed and are now used as overflows, so you can clearly see them throughout the flight. 

Moored at the bottom of Hatton flight

Saltisford Arm 0.5 miles
The Saltisford Arm is run by the Saltisford Canal Trust and is a great place to stop at to visit Warwick. The first nights mooring is free and then £5.50 per night, you can have electric hook up as well and you only pay for what you use. We met up with Jo and Keith on Hadar whilst there and they kindly invited us for a welcome coffee. We were leaving Lois Jane for a few days to head off to visit Jess and Lee in Poole.

Saltiford Arm

LJ tucked away near the end for a few days on her own

TOTALS 347.5 miles and 342 locks

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Nantwich to Birmingham

After not having a good enough internet signal for ages I'm trying to catch up with where we are now so this is where we stopped heading for Birmingham.

Nantwich to Audlem 5.5 miles and 2 locks
We stopped for a few days at one of our favourite spots with a lovely view. While we were here James' phone decided to jump from his hand and try a swim in the canal, it wasn't successful and sunk! James then spent an hour or so and somehow successfully retrieve it. It was left to dry for a few days and then when switched back on it appeared to work, which was great news as we use that for our internet as mine is limited to 1GB. The problem is that he can't make or receive calls!! Texting and internet are ok though and we've always got mine for the calls, so all is well again on Lois Jane.

One of my favourite mooring spots

View from my kitchen window, looks much nicer in the sun

Very wet and muddy phone after an attempted swim

We went for a walk through the lovely Cheshire countryside, crossing the fields on footpaths we made sure they were cow free, cows seem very interested in Dudley. One particular field appeared cow free until we were half way across when we spotted a line of cows making their way back from milking, on sighting us the first couple made a run to see us, we managed to stop them by waving our arms and making funny noises, and made it safely to the other side. 

We came across this old mill

The old mill from the front

Dudley was very tired after his adventure

Audlem to Market Drayton 6.5 miles and 20 locks
We arrived at Market Drayton on a Monday and there had been a floating market at the weekend, most of the traders were still around and we had a lovely towpath get together Monday evening, Cosmo, Daquiri and Patch said hello to Dudley but didn't want to play and poor George wouldn't go near him after Dudley wouldn't leave him alone at the Burton market, Dudley found a new girlfriend though and spent a few hours running up and down the towpath with Doris a lovely 2 year old German Shepherd. Sadly I didn't get any photos of the get-together.

Moored up at Market Drayton

Market Drayton to High Offley 8.5 miles and 5 locks
It was a really hot day, we left Market Drayton early to get through the five locks before it got too hot, we met up again with Sandra and Ray and Lesley joined us in the afternoon. In the evening we strolled up to The Anchor pub with Sandra where Dudley had another try at playing with Cosmo and Daquiri.

Very interesting bridges on this section

The old Cadbury Wharf where goods used to be carried to and from Bournville
High Offley to Coven (bridge 8) 15 miles and 1 lock
We intended on stopping at Brewood, but the visitor moorings were full and there really isn't anywhere else to moor as it's too shallow to get to the edge, so we continued on to the moorings between bridges 8 and 7 where again we just stayed the night.

And through one of the most photographed bridges

The short Cowley Tunnel

Looking back through the cutting to the tunnel
Coven to Wolverhampton 5.5 miles and 22 locks
We had the one stop lock at Autherley Junction where we turned right for a short time on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal before turning left onto the Birmingham Mainline and up the 'Wolverhampton 21'. A boat entered the bottom lock just before us and it turned out to be fellow traders Jenine and Bill on Witchcraft. We made good time up the flight as the boat behind us had three locking crew so one was ahead getting the lock ready meaning they were closing the gate as James left, so I was able to do the same for Jenine. We stopped at the top on the moorings opposite Broad Street facilities. There is no access to the moorings apart from by boat so Dudley was able to enjoy a bit of freedom. That night there were terrific thunderstorms it was amazing to watch the lightening,

Moored in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton to Birmingham 13 miles and 3 locks
We continued on the Birmingham Level/New Main Line into Birmingham. There was a race along the towpath and the runners were passing us all the way into Birmingham, the finish line for them was by Brindley Place, as we have done this section of canal several times James disappeared inside after we'd got through the Tipton Factory Locks to get on with some more work.

It was quite weedy in some places, Dudley was very interested

Moored up outside the NIA - now names the Barclaycard Arena

TOTALS  321.5 miles and 302 locks