On Saturday I timed my up-town shopping trip so that I’d get back to the railway bridge in time for the first train of the day running south from Shackerstone on The Battlefield Line.
So there I was, two bags full of groceries, waiting on the bridge at twenty past eleven.
It’ll be coming around that corner…
I’d been joined by a couple of lads who’d interrupted their cycle ride to town to watch what I promised to be a steam locomotive passing under us. I was looking forward to the sight and smells of steam and coal smoke, evocative of a bygone era. It was late…
…then – here it comes….! A bloody diesel! And not even a decent one, an old Diesel Multiple Unit! I was so disgusted I didn’t even take a picture as it passed, but then relented and got one as it loaded passengers at the station.
I wonder if they were as disappointed as I was…
It’s been a fine weekend and there’s been lots of boats about. But we stayed put, not getting away till this morning.
A beautiful evening yesterday
The first requirement was to fill the water tank, so just 200 yards to the taps just south of the bridge. That done we were off again.
It’s very pleasant along here, but woefully shallow. In most places just passing oncoming boats left us scraping the bottom and tilting as the water was pulled from beneath us.
This lot were baa-ing in joy and trotting along happily, having just been released onto fresh pasture.
Their mates, still in detention, looked on in envy…
She’ll do well to keep that little lot.
Pike and zander will take them from below, while stoat and fox will threaten them on land. Even herons will have a go if they’re small enough. It’s tough being a duck.
I don’t remember there being a reservoir over there…
It’s below the canal level so no good as a water supply.
A closer look reveals it as a crop…
A bit of dredging work constricts the channel near Shenton Aqueduct
The removed silt was being piled up on the offside bank, with, worryingly, several shovel-fulls of clay. The canal bottom and sides are lined with clay, known as clay puddle, to keep the water in. A couple of feet of clay was dropped into the excavation, trampled firm and watertight by borrowed livestock or even teams of navvies in big boots.
Removing it during dredging is a cardinal sin, especially on an embankment leading up to an aqueduct!
We hadn’t planned any particular destination and there was space on the end of the plastic pontoon at Sutton Cheney so we pulled in there.
We’d have been stopping here anyway to drop off the rubbish.
I was just lining up to come in when I spotted movement at the waters edge. I thought we were going to do this whole trip without a glimpse of the elusive Ratty, but no, there he was!
Water Vole, aka Ratty
OK, not a good picture. But I did have my hands full of throttle and tiller at the time…
Looks like a good week ahead, although we might have some thundery showers towards the end. I expect we’ll be back onto the Coventry Canal by then.
Locks 0, miles 3¾