Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A beautiful day for locking.

Wall to wall sunshine after a misty start. Off at 10, after watching one of our overnight neighbours leaving.

Hotel Boats Duke and Duchess heading north.
Derelict swing bridge at Wood Park Farm
Not BW cut-backs this time.

Cruising through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside (we left Staffordshire yesterday this side of Tamworth) the gentle breeze brought the sweet, musky scent of rapeseed pollen.
Grendon Dock, home of Narrowcraft, looks busy.

Atherstone Locks was the main focus of the day. 11 locks, lifting the canal around 90 feet, starting in farmland, running through housing and finishing on the southern edge of this small town.

Into the flight, Lock 11
The flight is pretty and well maintained, though all the locks are slow to fill. Still, it does mean that there’s less chance of broken crockery! The resident lock keeper works from the cottage at the top of the flight, though we’ve never seen him about.

About half-way up
Baddesley Wharf, home of another boatbuilder of distinction, Barry Hawkins.

Top lock
The disused side pond at lock 2 has been adopted as a moorhen nursery…

Rothens Coal Yard at the top lock
Another couple of very pleasant miles took us to Hartshill, where we pulled in just before the BW maintenance yard. It’s busier here than we expected, we just managed to get into the only boat sized slot left.Just visible over the top of Seyella is the clock tower at the yard, and to it's right is "Mount Judd", the conical spoil heap from Judkins Granite Quarry.

It’s been a fine, warm day. I was even able to dispense with my fleece pullover at noon, but had to put it on at the top of the flight. Forecast for the next couple of days is a bit grim, with wet and windy weather moving in. We’ll have to see what we’re going to do. We’re still well on schedule for Oxford in the middle of next month.

Locks 11, miles 6¾

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