Monday, February 26, 2007

A mild, showery weekend, so we stayed at Whittington till today. Got a lot of wood cut, with Chris and Tim wielding chain saws and me carrying lumps of wood about.
We look like real live-aboard boaters now, with wood and coal on the roof.

Didn’t get away till midday, after 2 trips up into the village for supplies and had a gentle run up to Fradley. We’d intended to go through the junction and moor nearer to Alrewas, but although the day was bright and dry, a stiff breeze from the NW was cold and made boat handling difficult on exposed stretches. So I called it a day just after 14:00, close to the junction.

Work continues on the West Coast Main Line at Huddlesford Junction. In the light of recent events, let's hope they double check all the fixings.....
NB Reckless at Streethay Wharf. See Andrew Denny’s blog at for more info.

It’s a pleasant spot, so we’ll stop here for a couple of days. I took Meg for a walk around Fradley reservoir, now a nature reserve run by BW.
This was built to save surplus water from the Trent and Mersey running into the Coventry canal. Such was the competition between the different canal companies.

Sunset on the reservoir.

Locks none, miles 5.

Friday, February 23, 2007

We had a pleasant stay near Curdworth, but decided to move on today. The day started fine, but with showers forecast later, we were away by 10:00.

We filled with diesel at Fazeley Mill Marina, only 50 litres but it was only 47p/lt. Got 4 bags of smokeless while we were there, too.
Then up to the junction and turned left again, serviced at Peels Wharf and stopped for lunch and a visit to Focus near Sutton Road bridge.

The showers had started by now, and stayed with us through Hopwas and on to Whittington, were we stopped just past bridge 80.
We’ve been offered as much wood as we can carry by Chris on a nearby boat, we’ll sort it out tomorrow.

A lot of the bridges on the Birmingham and Fazeley have these doors built in to the sides.

I have a theory that when the canal was built, the local troll population moved in under the bridges as they are wont to do. This caused considerable consternation to the boatmen and their families, and led to hold ups on the navigation. A meeting was held between the Company and a representative of the troll community, which resulted in the building into the bridges of “troll caves” in which they could reside. This solved the problem, and the navigation was able to perform its role as an important link from Birmingham to the Trent and Mersey.

Of course, they could just be for storage of stop planks.

Locks none, miles 8½.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The mooring at Bonehill Road bridge was OK, so we stayed until today. Even though we were on the edge of Tamworth, the only trouble observed was when the local squirrels mugged the birds for the net bag of peanuts we put up on a tree outside the window. The weather stayed fine through the day, with rain at night.
The warm weather has certainly brought the flora on!

I made a couple more “doughnuts” for the lights (see earlier post), until the drill went into meltdown. I’ll get a descent quality replacement. It’s right, you do get what you pay for, and I hadn’t paid a lot.
The good towpaths in the local area gave me the opportunity to have a couple of good runs. The training is going well, so I’ve entered the Liverpool ½ marathon, in March. Aiming for around 1:50.

We set off around 10:50, back down to Fazeley Junction and under Watling Street bridge onto the Birmingham and Fazeley. (Strictly speaking, we were already on the B&F, the first 5 miles north of the junction was built by the B&F canal company, although it is commonly accepted as being part of the Coventry Canal, which it becomes at Whittington).

Watling Street Bridge.
Looking back, Fazeley Mill and Watling St Bridge
Another fine, dry, warm day with sunny spells and a breeze from the south. We passed under this splendid footbridge about a mile from the junction. The steps up to the walkway are spiral staircases housed in the castellated turrets either side of the navigation.

Drayton Footbridge.
We carried on down to the winding hole just north of Curdworth bottom lock, turned and moored a little way back towards Fazeley.
We’re just killing time at the moment. We’re intending to head back up the T&M, and onto the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood. But stoppages not far north of Fradley Junction till the middle of March are keeping us in this area.

Locks none, Miles 4

Monday, February 19, 2007

We stayed at Polesworth for the weekend, the weather was good, in fact on Sunday morning I was sat for a while at the front of the boat in a T shirt. I got in some quality training sessions on the excellent towpath between here and Tamworth.

Visitor moorings at Polesworth......

Near Pooley Hall.

We moved off at 11:00 today, down into Tamworth and the 2 locks at Glascote. As we arrived a boat was just leaving the top lock, so we went straight in. The bottom lock should also have been full for us, but leaks so much that it was nearly empty by the time we got there.

Canaltime boats at Alvecote.

Steve Hudson’s yard at Glascote top lock.

On to Fazeley Junction, and ¼ mile on up the Coventry to the sanitary station at Peel Wharf.

Crane at Peels Wharf

Then another ¼ mile or so to Bonehill Road bridge, winded and moored for the night.

Locks 2, miles 6.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Moved for just an hour today, down to Polesworth. Moored just past bridge 54 on the visitor moorings. Polesworth is one of those villages that welcomes boaters, with moorings and info boards. It started to rain as soon as we set off, and stopped as soon as we tied up!

I went up into the village for fish and chips for lunch. It’s a useful stop, with a Spar, butcher, greengrocer and chemist, and the F&C were good as well.

There’s an SSSI on the site of a disused colliery (Pooley Fields) about a mile further up the canal, and Meg and I spent quite a bit of time up there, exploring.

View from the top of the spoil heap. Coventry Canal, M42 and Polesworth.
On Sunday, had a long chat about the colliery with a fisherman who used to deliver meat to the canteen.

The old loading wharf.

Locks none, miles 2½.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stayed at Hartshill yesterday, had a good training run then tried out the pistol drill I bought at Tesco. I’m making some “doughnuts” out of 20mm thick beech, to go between the light fittings and the deckhead (ceiling, to land-lubbers). This will allow more room for insulation directly above the fittings. The drill performed OK, but struggled a bit with the 95mm hole saw. I’ll have to take it easy.

Did a bit of shopping at the useful store up in Hartshill (a pull up the hill, but easier coming down loaded) and then away at about 10:00 this morning. Around 50 minutes to Atherstone top lock. Still signs of quarrying on the West side of the canal.

Quarrymans cottages

A very quick run down through the Atherstone flight, 11 locks in 2¼ hours. We were accompanied by a family out for a walk, and Thomas, the youngster, helped me with the locks. Thanks, Thomas! He had a short trip on the boat, with a go on the tiller.

Used the sanitary station at Bradley Green bridge for the usual offices, then moored about ½ mile further on at about 14:00.

We’ve seen 4 other boats moving today, 1 hire boat from Stoke Golding and 2 private boats South, 1 other going North.
Locks 11
Miles 4½

Just checked back; these are the first locks we’ve done since Hawkesbury Junction stop lock on the 11th January!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Set off from Hawkesbury at 11:35 heading north. The morning was fine and dry with a breeze from the south. I’d had a very satisfactory 6½ mile run into Coventry and back, after a week lay-off due to the weather. I do miss my treadmill! (sad or what…).

A few boats moving today, the second of which was MOLLIE MAY II, they’d been up the Ashby and are now heading to Hillmorton to have an engine mounting looked at.
Then a short while later I was saying Hi to Roy on GERALD, who we’d moored behind at Trinity at the end of January.
We’d seen ORCA yesterday, also met at Trinity in January.

£1.60 a gallon! I must be a while since Charity Dock sold diesel. It’ll soon be £1.60 a litre!
On past Marston Junction and up through Nuneaton. The town looks worse in winter, the allotments are waiting for the spring and the rubbish can be seen through the leafless trees. There doesn’t seem to be so many shopping trollies this time though. Maybe I just didn’t notice, Mags was busy counting floating balls. She got up to around 30 before losing count.

Mags new hat.

Glad to be out of the town, we enter the quarried area around Judkins site.

Judkins Quarry
Surprisingly attractive, with the works hardly impinging on the canal. Signs of the industry are occasionally glimpsed all the way to Hartshill where we stopped for the night around 15:10. The day has stayed fine, though high cloud had hidden the sun later.

Saw this transport solution today. The deck rotates and a ramp drops to get the bike on and off.

Locks none
Miles 8

Monday, February 12, 2007

We stayed over near Burton Hastings for the weekend. Last weeks snow turned to rain on Saturday night, with the temperature up to around 8°.

Near Burton Hastings
The good news is that the ice has melted on the canal, the bad news is that it’s also melted on the towpaths, changing them into something resembling a quagmire in places.


I finally got my cupboards finished, and am pleased with the result.

Kitchen Cupboards We were away from our mooring early today, before 10:00! Headed down to Marston Junction and said goodbye to the Ashby Canal for a while. Turned south towards and past Hawkesbury, winded near bridge 7 and stopped for a big shop at Tesco’s. it took me 2 trips to get everything on the list, but we are self sufficient again for a while. A little shorter in the wallet, though!

Back up to Hawkesbury for water, and loo and rubbish disposal, and moored, facing north, at around 16:15.

The day started bright, but cloud filled in later in the day and we had a couple of heavy showers. The forecast is for the same for a couple of days. The long run today has given the batteries a good charge. We’ve seen 3 other boats moving today, 2 heading north and 1 going into Coventry like us for shopping.

Locks none
Miles 9½

Friday, February 09, 2007

Not a lot has happened since the last entry. We stayed at Basin Bridge for the weekend and the fine, dry weather gave me a chance to get the wood cut for the cupboards I’m making. My circular saw has just about reached the end of it’s tether, now. I’d made new brushes to replace the worn out ones a while ago, but now the commutator is so badly worn that it’s struggling to run. Ah well, it’s done well.

We moved down to Trinity Marina at Hinckley on Monday, intending to catch up with the shopping and then carry on on Tuesday towards the junction. But -4° C overnight left ice on the canal again, so we decided to hang on for a little longer. The cold persisted, thickening the ice, until the heavy snow on Thursday morning. We decided to move a bit further on that afternoon, after filling up with diesel, smokeless fuel, and water at the marina.
We got the diesel, but they were out of solid fuel, and the water was turned off to prevent frost damage. But all should be available the following day.
The ice was thicker than expected, anyway, so we waited another night.

Snow and Ice.

Finally got away about midday today, stores replenished. The ice is a lot thinner with the occasional heavier patch. A grey day, sleety rain started about 13:00, and worsened to a full snow storm by 15:00. But we were moored up near Burton Hastings, and snug inside, by then.

Leaving Hinckley. Still breaking ice.

Locks none
Miles 5½ (since the last entry!)

Friday, February 02, 2007

What a cracking day! Had a relaxing morning, after Meg’s walk. Yes, she did get covered in mud again, but we found a clean stream not far from the boat for her to paddle most of it off. Then sat in the bow in the sun for an hour, with Meg lying on the bank.

We needed to move, however, so got away at 12:00, down to Sutton Cheney wharf for the services. Then down to Ashby boats to pick up a spare cassette for the loo and some timber for some more cupboards that I’d ordered last week. Pulled up at Basin bridge, no 22, where we’ll stay for the weekend. I’ll make a start on those cupboards. The forecast is for dry, bright weather for the next few days, but frosty overnight.

Saw a water vole on the edge of the bank near bridge 27, it flopped into the water and kept pace alongside for several yards. Once again, not quick enough with the camera, though.

Just before we moored, a boat coming towards us turned out to be “Maggie May II”, last seen at Braunston after sharing the locks early in January. They are heading up to Snarestone.

Locks none, miles 5.
Away from Bulking road bridge at 11:15, after my morning run and Meg’s walk. A steady cruise up to the Battlefield moorings near Shenton, arriving at around 16:30. It’s been a fine but overcast day, with a gentle breeze. The highlight of the day was a kestrel swooping across the bow and settling for a second or two on the hedge along the towpath. Too quick for the camera, unfortunately.

The moorings at Stoke Golding are still full, but there was space on the “plastic pontoon” at Sutton Cheney wharf.

Meg got covered in mud (again), playing with another couple of dogs on King Richard’s Field. Got her cleaned up ready for getting muddy again in the morning.

Locks none, miles 11½.