Thursday, March 17, 2011

Busy canals and farewells

I’ve been a bit busy these last couple of days, so haven’t posted. So this is a bit of a catch up.

On Tuesday we set off from Long Itchington, heading for Stockton Locks.

Leaving Long Itchington moorings

Just under the bridge was this odd looking vessel.

It must have been designed this way for a reason, even the “cabin” on top is temporary, made of slowly disintegrating plywood.

We were in need of gas, diesel and solid fuel, and were delighted to come across NB Callisto opposite the Two Boats Inn.

Mark was able to provide all three for very reasonable prices, so we were deeper in draught but lighter in pocket as we set off up the ten Stockton Locks.

Mark and Cally, Star Class Carrying.

Into Stockton Bottom Lock.

It took just over an hour to climb up the flight, the first couple of locks were empty for us, but the rest were set against us and had to be emptied first. Someone must have been going up ahead of us, but we didn’t see them.

Halfway up the flight.

Stockton Top Lock and lock cottage.

We had lunch on the run, while cruising the two and a bit miles to the last of today’s locks, the three at Calcutt. We were pleased to see a boat heading towards us as we arrived; at least these should be in our favour.

Looking across Calcutt Marina

They were, but we didn’t expect the very low pound just above the first lock.

Running water down to top up the lower pound.

The boats moored in the pound were high and dry after we’d filled the lock, but were just about floating after running the water down.

If we hadn’t been lucky enough to meet NB Callisto, we were intending to stock up at Calcutt Boats. It’s a good job we didn’t have to, major works were in progress to the wharf area as we passed.

Calcutt Boats, work in progress. The basin is usually full of boats.

It looked as though they were raising the copings, and this is probably why…..

Fixed to the upper paddle gear.

Shortly after the locks we made a left turn onto the Oxford Canal.

Wigrams Turn

NB Rock’n’Roll follows us out onto the Oxford.

This 5½ mile section of the Oxford Canal, between Wigrams Turn and Braunston Turn, was never incorporated into the Grand Union Canal network, and thus became a valuable source of revenue for the Oxford Canal Company, as they charged exorbitant tolls for traffic between the two junctions. The situation remained the same till nationalisation in 1948.

Just over 3 miles of glorious Warwickshire countryside saw us pull up near Bridge 101.

Through Warwickshire.

It had been a grey cold day, no sun to speak of and a cool breeze blowing. We were glad to stop after a long day.

We’re now on one of the most popular cruising routes, and you can tell. We’ve seen more boats on this last stretch than we’ve seen all the previous week!

It was our wedding anniversary and we were invited to R’n’R for the evening, good food, good wine and good company. Thanks, Carol and George.

We took a day off yesterday, recuperating from a long cruising day and several glasses of red.

We did manage a couple of good walks with the dogs, though.

Today was a momentous day. We parted company with George and Carol. Although we gave them a lift to Braunston and had a mooch around Midland Chandlers, this was the last we’ll see of them for some time. We’re heading for the north west, they’re heading for London. So Braunston is a parting of the ways. It’s been really good travelling with them, excellent company and competent boaters. We’ll miss them…

Anyway, we set off around 11:00, with a full complement aboard, Mags and I, Carol and George, and Ann from NB Moore2Life who’d walked down to us and arrived just before we left.

Not forgetting Meg and 2 Mollys, of course.

Heading towards Braunston and there’s a stretch which appears to be the canal equivalent of the elephant’s graveyard….

Boats waiting to die…..

And succumbed.

Braunston Church dominates the skyline.

The stump to the right is a sail-less windmill.

Braunston Turn.

We stopped at Braunston Turn to drop off our passengers, shop in the chandlers, and use the services. George and Carol said their goodbyes and we pushed across the cut to moor up alongside M2L to spend an hour with Charles and Ann.

It was around 2 when we moved on, heading further into rural Warwickshire.

Charles and Ann, NB Moore2Life.

The day has steadily improved, turning sunny and quite warm after a gloomy start. It was a very pleasant cruise up to our stop near Bridge 81.

Willoughby Wharf

The spring lambs were frolicking, blissfully unaware of what the future holds….

We were tied up by 4, and I took Meg for a longish walk up and over Barby Hill. We’ll have to get used to walking on our own again for a bit.

Locks 13, miles 12 (Tuesday and today).


mark said...

"boats waiting to die" sad sight for work boats, are they really just abandon by the owners?

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Mark.
Some are actually occupied, but in such a poor state that they wouldn't be viable projects.
Sadly, there are a lot of old boats around the system, neglected and unloved. But, unless of some historical significance, most will go the way of the one shown here.