Napton to Coventry Basin and Ashby Canal terminus - April 2007

Friday 30th March 2007

Wigrams Turn to Hillmorton (11m, 0 locks)

The Smiths arrived - including the canal allergic Laura - at 14:30 and briskly away at 15:00.

Previous owners had had problems with the boiler and electrics. The yard had done boiler repairs and replaced the batteries so, hopefully no further problems.

Weather dry and sunny but a really chilly headwind. Got a shouting at from one moored boat who heard our engine working hard without realising that's what it needed to make progress. Tsk! Owners!!

Made solid progress today as meeting the Ancient Mariner himself, Andrew's ex-merchant seaman father, and mother in Rugby tomorrow morning.

So lovely to see the boiler's pilot light twinkling merrily when the time came to moor up and get the chill out of our bones. This was at Hillmorton.

Seems you can't moor at the Old Royal Oak any more as the canoe club requires 24 hour access. So had to go a further half mile round the corner from the railway. Nearly faltered in our resolution to walk back to the pub - but steeled ourselves and were rewarded by well kept ale and a good meal. We enlivened the 40 minutes wait for service with a heated debate about smoking which is banned from Monday in all enclosed public spaces.

Back by 21:00, coffee and lights out at 21:30 - a lot of fresh air zonked us out.

Saturday 31st March 2007

Hillmorton to Coventry Basin (20.5m, 4 locks, Hawkesbury Junction)

Adults up and breakfasted - motoring by 08:00. Kids up and helping with first 3 locks - close together and watering up. Then they were able to breakfast too having awoken their appetites along with their bodies.

Should explain that we needed water already because back ashore the builders are reconstructing our bathroom. A sponge down at the kitchen sink is not the same as a hot shower and all four of us had indulged.

Into Rugby and taking on crew exactly to schedule at 10:00.

(In what can be described as a cunning plan, Mum & Dad had stayed the previous night in a hotel in Coventry and taken the train to Rugby to meet us to travel back to Coventry on the boat).

The first grey had burned off and sky now blue but that wind a constant companion. This is the first time Andrew's parents had been aboard.

Andrew and Dad stayed together on the bridge. Dad had a go steering on a long straight bit but handed back to Andrew and the first bend!

There was a significant landslip (All Oaks Wood - I think) where whole trees had slid down the hill taking the hillside with them

The wind was helpful at Hawkesbury Junction - an easy zigzag. (Well I made it look easy! - Andrew). Saw all sorts of wildlife - Laura's typically gothic contribution was a dead crow!

Overcast and really chilly by our arrival at Coventry Basin at 16:10.

Had tea and cake to celebrate Dad's birthday before continuing by eating in town. Can well recommend "China Red" - distinctly different tastes between the dishes - attentive but not intrusive service. Mum & Dad back to their hotel and we back to Sojourn to digest to the accompaniment of a Jeeves and Wooster DVD.

Sunday 1st April 2007

Coventry Basin to Limekiln Bridge (13m, 0 locks, Marston Junction)

The boys went to the Transport Museum while Laura and Alison met the parents for Palm Sunday service which turned out to be a major production starting in University Square via the old cathedral ruins into Holy Trinity church - lots of open air singing. Quite uplifting and certainly a change from the run of the mill. A wander around the cathedral then a spot of retail therapy in some nice warm shops before getting back aboard for 1pm.

The boys' report: The Transport Museum had a load of cars in it. And bikes. It had Thrust SSC which stands for supersonic car and it's huge and Thrust 2 is even bigger but they wouldn't let anyone sit in it. But there was a simulator ride and the gift shops very expensive but the museum itself is free.

Very strong wind in Coventry Basin picked us up sideways and jammed us sideways as we tried to turn round to leave. A little rocking and heaving got us round and away.

A beautiful sunny day but facing our old friend the North Wind. Straighforward cruising for the afternoon.

At the turn onto the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction we met an empty trip boat (pre-season shakedown?) mid-wind which made things a bit exciting.

The turn into the Ashby canal is quite tight and narrow! The canal then heads immediately out into the countryside.

Ended the day at a top mooring just opposite Lime Kilns pub. As well as the pub there was also a field with a horse to keep Laura happy.

A proper pub with good beer and free wireless internet hotspot. Back to boat for homemade chilli brought from home, TV and bed.

Monday 2nd April 2007

Limekiln Bridge to end of Ashby Canal (17m, 0 locks, Snarestone Tunnel (twice!))

Before leaving Lime Kiln pub walked down the road to the BP station which has a useful basic store (milk but no bread).

Then off into the wilds of the countryside. Lots of boats but few moving. Birdlife all singing fit to bust all the way along. Alison is sure she saw her first linnet among many other others.

Stopped off to walk around Bosworth Field. The Visitor Centre was closed for refurbishment...

but plenty of information boards...

and tall flagpoles flying the standards of the various armies gave a clear idea of the layout...

and how Richard was tempted into abandoning his advantageous position in a gamble which did not come off.

The cool northerly wind eased at last (mostly - some exposed parts though in this largely flat countryside).

We got the bit between our teeth and pushed on to the terminus of the Ashby Canal arriving at 17:30. Two canal ends in two days!

Found a Canaltimes boat struggling to turn in the winding hole. Enormous crew running in all directions except the correct one. But to their credit no-one was getting ratty!

They seemed very grateful when Andrew went and rescued them by taking a sternline and pulling them round. They collected the various members of their crew who had been left at various parts of the winding hole and withdrew.

(Note to the boat moored at the terminus with the two enormous Alsatian dogs - they don't make it very welcoming!!).

Andrew turned in the winding hole without incident and we headed back through the tunnel to moor just beyond the Globe pub ready for a pint. Except it was closed due to a change of management!! Thank goodness for our own supplies...

By the way - how our perceptions colour our experience. On our way north through the tunnel we heard raucous shouting and much splashing and we thought - uh-oh trouble - but it was lads trying to retrieve their football. On the way back, same lads but this time with two guitars and singing really quite well - no problem with these youths! Pasta, tuna and sweetcorn very welcome. Got TV working and freeview box found lots of channels. Nothing to watch though so back to DVDs again!!

Tuesday 3rd April 2007

End of Ashby Canal to Limekilns Bridge (16m, 0 locks)

Tottered on our way under grey skies and drizzle, easing 09:00 or so, to Market Bosworth by 11:30.

Really cold wind so the walk into town was welcome. Some shopping and a fish and chip dinner (bought from the Batter of Bosworth!) which hurried back to Sojourn tucked inside Alison's coat to keep it warm. Certainly kept her warm! Tasted lovely.

On through the afternoon to make up for last night's disappointment by continuing back to the Lime Kilns pub. On arriving, we were able to moor so close we could even pick up their wireless hotspot from outside. Unfortunately it wan't working properly so we had to go inside to buy a pint and tell them.

They remembered us from last time and we liked it more than ever. Alison had a light bite which was more than plenty and Andrew had a mixed grill which was just mad.

Nearly forgot to say that we saw two water voles in the afternoon and, if holes in the bank were anything to go by, a healthy population thereabouts.

Wednesday 4th April 2007

Limekilns Bridge to Newbold (19m 1 lock, Marston Junction, Hawkesbury Junction, Newbold Tunnel)

Our mooring a little too close to Watling Street and a protein overdose from last night's meal led to a disturbed night.

Andrew feeling a bit seedy so Alison at the tiller from 09:15 for the twin excitements of Marston and Hawkesbury Junctions. This sequence of photos shows the beginning, idle and end of the turn!

A nice little win on our quarter helped us round without problems Alison is proud to say! Except that our prop ate a blue plastic crate which exploded in our wake and nearly gave her heart failure!

Andrew back in charge early afternoon - feeling a little better having walked between the two junctions and got his blood moving again.

Alison took over for the final couple of miles and through the Newbold Tunnel - miniature and prettily lit throughout and therefore a pleasure to go through.

Top mooring immediately beyond the tunnel at the back of the Barley Mow pub next to the water point ready for tomorrow morning. Skies clearing, evening sunshine, birdsong all around - lovely! Found a Co-op to supply the final requirement for tonight's fry-up: you can't not have baked beans!

Thursday 5th April 2007

Newbold to Braunston (10m, 3 locks)

Off at 09:00 for a gloriously sunny, wind-free and warm run to Braunston.

At Hilmorton, towpath and closed locks all now opened ready for Easter - and a lot more traffic already. Which meant no lock setting as a steady procession of boats going by in the other direction.

Lunch on board before going for a walk round Braunston finishing up by the Admiral Nelson where there was a highly dramatic scene.

Eight police vehicles and a car parked ON TOP of another one having smashed two tables and narrowly missed going into the canal.

A lot of shocked diners having their statements taken by police and two casualties in hospital. Despite the drama, publican welcome and laid back so decided to come back in the evening for dinner. Very nice pint of Timothy Taylors!

Friday 6th April 2007

Braunston to Wigrams Turn marina (5m, 0 locks)

Off at 08:00 to get back to base by 09:45. Gorgeous morning for boating making leaving a real wrench! Fairly hassly journey home with a few hold-ups. Got home around 15:00 to find the workmen just finishing the bathroom. Looks fabulous!

Next trip is in August 2007 when we have a full fortnight and are planning to tackle the Leicester Ring.