Friday, June 30, 2017

Funny old weather.

We set off back down the Ashby yesterday, a day when it didn’t really dry up at all. It didn’t start too badly, just light drizzle, which got heavier for a while then eased off, only to come back again later.

Meg and I took a walk up to the current end of the canal, just beyond the rebuilt Bridge 62.

That’s your lot for the time being…

Bridge 62 had to be replaced, the original had been collapsed into the canal bed to make it easier to cross for the local farmer.DSCF0268

The Victorian water pumping station has now been converted into a private residence.DSCF0265
As you can see, Meg isn’t very enthusiastic…

We returned through the swing bridge, topped off the water tank, then set off.

A boat coming out of Snarestone Tunnel.
One of only a handful seen on the move yesterday.

I didn’t take too many pictures; experience has taught me that digital cameras and damp weather are uncomfortable bedfellows…

Coming through the woods just up from Shackerstone.DSCF0276
A welcome relief on a hot sunny day, but a bit gloomy on a cold damp one!

We didn’t go much further, pulling in just before Bridge 52.

This morning I was pleased to see that the rain had passed over when I got up for a run. And it’s stayed dry all day, until early evening when a couple of showers have blown through. It’s also a lot warmer, a bit humid though.

We moved off soon after 10:00, under grey skies but with just a hint of blue showing through.DSCF0278

I slipped up the other day. I said that the bridge alongside the Sence Aqueduct carried the trackbed for the railway.DSCF0280 Not so, that runs just beyond those trees in the distance. The bridge carries an unsurfaced road up to the station.

DSCF0281Coming out of Snarestone there’s a length of protected bank between two fabric barriers.
From Bridge 44 to the terminus the canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), due the rare flora and fauna to be found here. These barriers were installed to protect delicate plants from boat wash. You find them on the Montgomery Canal too.

These chaps aren’t so rare, though

There weren’t too many boats about today, either, but sod’s law says you’re going to meet at a bridge…DSCF0286

SSSI sign at Bridge 44

Gnarly tree roots take advantage of the canal water.DSCF0289

Open countryside now as we approach Market Bosworth.DSCF0291

We pulled in at Bosworth Marina, we could do with getting some groceries in so that’ll be tomorrow.DSCF0292

Whether we move on afterwards or not remains to be seen…

Hi Steve, Angela. Thanks for that. Basin Bridge is the easiest for a post code though, eh. Enjoy your trip, good luck on the mooring hunt.

Locks 0, miles 7

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

End of the navigation, and whatever happened to the weather!

Well, the end as far as we’re concerned. Smaller boats can go further up the restored section, but boats of our length can’t turn around up there.

And would you believe, after the heatwave of only a few days ago, that the outside temperature is now 14°, there’s a chilly north-westerly blowing and I’ve resorted to lighting the stove! I was starting to regret buying that bag of smokeless a couple of weeks ago, now I might regret not buying two!

We arrived at Snarestone on Monday, mooring in the open about a quarter mile short of the tunnel.

Looking down on Market Bosworth Station, just a little way from the moorings closest to the town.

On Sunday Steve and Angela passed by, pulling in and spending an hour with us chatting, before continuing on to Snarestone.DSCF0210

Then Monday morning we were on our way ourselves.

More bank protection work going on.
We only just managed to scrape past, dragging the bottom as we crawled by.

The canal is very shallow at the sides along here, made worse by the levels being a bit down after the prolonged dry spell.

Photo-bombed by a duck!

Congerstone has a short length of moorings on rings just past Bridge 47.DSCF0221
Like most of the villages around here, it has a church and a pub, but no shops.

There’s a sharp left turn at Shackerstone to line up with the aqueduct crossing over the River Sence.

Mind the floating reed beds!

Over the aqueduct.
The bridge to the left used to carry the railway up to Ashby, Shackerstone Station, now the northern terminus of the Battlefield Line, is hidden behind the trees.

DSCF0217Across the fields to the east is the village of Barton in the Beans. An unusual name, but derived from the traditional produce of the area, broad beans . It actually used to be Barton in Fabis, the Latin for the broad bean is Vicia Faba. The broad bean has been replaced with acres and acres of rape.

Remains of a Norman Motte and Bailey just out of Shackerstone.DSCF0233

Gopsall Wharf was built for loading coal boats, and would be handy for a Tesco delivery if it weren’t for the height restriction barrier on the car park…DSCF0240

Another half a mile saw us pulled up, as I said, short of Snarestone. DSCF0241 

It’s open here, but the trees ahead indicate the start of the cutting before the tunnel. There are 48 hour moorings there, but overhung by the trees and gloomy.

We did move down to the moorings though, yesterday lunchtime, to meet visitors who came over to spend the afternoon with us.

Me, Andy and Donna, Mags, Meg, Sue and Trev over from New ZealandDSCF0251

Sue feeding the ducks
She loves any animals…

We had a great afternoon and evening, supper was provided by Steve’s Fish Bar up in Measham and very good it was too. It’s useful having a car and driver at hand…  Well done Andy!

It’s been getting cooler these last few days, and today we woke up to rain, with a distinct chill in the air. We hung around till 11, hoping for an improvement but it didn’t seem to be getting any better so we untied anyway and set off through Snarestone Tunnel.DSCF0253

The 250 yard long tunnel is high and wide, don’t forget that this was intended to be a broad canal, linking up with the Trent at Burton Upon Trent. DSCF0254

The ceiling gets a bit lower at the north end, though, where it’s been partially relined. DSCF0256

Emerging back into daylight there’s a short wooded cutting then open fields between Bridges 60 and 61.

The moorings, between Bridge 61 and the winding hole, were pretty full, so we winded, reversed and filled the water tank, then reversed again through the swing bridge and moored. Its a lot more open here anyway, not that there’s much sunshine to see…DSCF0262

Since Market Bosworth Wharf – Locks 0, miles 7

Friday, June 23, 2017

Glad that’s over!

This sub-tropical, Mediterranean-type weather is all very well, but it starts to pale after a bit. Now the temperature’s lower at least we can get  some sleep at night!
And it had dropped considerably. Yesterday it was a full 10° cooler than Wednesday, and today, with a brisk westerly blowing, we’re back into the high teens. We even had a short spatter of rain earlier this morning.

Heading under Wooden Top Bridge under grey skiesDSCF0188

Good for the sun, maybe not so good for the wind and showers this weekend…DSCF0189

We stopped at Sutton Cheney Wharf for water and rubbish disposal. There was only one boat on the plastic pontoon, an elderly Springer.


DSCF0193The canal passes under a railway bridge that carried the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway.
The track bed to the south (right) is inaccessible, but that to the north is a footpath to Shenton Station and the start of the preserved Battlefield Line.
The name of the railway derives from this being the area of the Battle of Bosworth, when the balance of power in England, and the crown, shifted from the Plantagenates to the Tudors with the defeat and death of King Richard III. I wrote a lengthy piece on the battle when we passed this way in 2011. If you’re interested click here…

We toddled on barely above tickover. The canal is very shallow in places and especially on the offside. Passing oncoming traffic often caused us to scrape the bottom, but going slowly meant we didn’t get stuck fast.

Near Shenton the canal crosses a road on an aqueduct, and a field down on the right used to be the site of Richard III’s memorial stone, it being thought to be the place where he met his end.
New evidence suggests that he more likely died a little to the south, and the stone has been removed to outside the Visitor Centre.  The moorings here and the footpath across the field have been officially closed, but it looks like the bankside, at least, is still usable.

Crossing the open areas of pasture the wind was quite brisk, rattling the foliage.DSCF0199

Looking west across to Warwickshire

I’d forgotten how pretty this essentially rural canal is.DSCF0203


We pulled in just past the entrance to the new Bosworth Marina.DSCF0208

We’ll be here at least for tomorrow. We need some fresh fruit and veg and the town of Market Bosworth is a mile away up the hill.

Locks 0, miles 5

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Longest day, hottest day!

Yes it’s official. Today has been the hottest June day since the summer of ‘76. And with five days of exceptionally warm weather it’s also officially a heatwave. All change now though as we head further into the week…

We stayed put yesterday, no reason really, just that we’re in no rush. Today I was up early to get my morning run in before it got too warm, I was back, showered and breakfasted by half-eight, ready to take Meg out for a short walk.
Then we were moving on, heading up towards the terminus.DSCF0175

Unusually for this end of the canal Bridge 20 is stone-built. Most of those crossing the canal this side of Hinckley have been built of engineering bricks.

It’s not looking so good, though…

There are pleasant-looking private moorings next to Wykin Bridge, No.21. DSCF0178
Judging by it’s position alongside two roads I thought that it must have been built for an industrial or commercial use. But there’s no evidence of it’s existence on maps before 1950.

Stoke Wharf, on the other hand, is probably contemporary with the canal. DSCF0180
It’s now used by the Ashby Boat Company and has outlived the usefulness of the railway station opposite! The station was on the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway (Joint because it was built by the Midland Railway and the London and North–Western Railway) which opened in 1873. The line ceased to carry passengers in 1931, and was completely closed in 1962.

Looks like we’re on the second brood now!DSCF0183

We pulled in after about 90 minutes near Bridge 31, Wooden Top Bridge.DSCF0185
Not a spotty dog in sight! You have to be of a certain age to know what I mean…
The Woodentops.
Wooden tops
The animation was a joy to watch. Video here.

Hi Steve, Ang. We’ll look out for you, we’re going to be on the Ashby for another week at least.

Hi Judith. Sorry, haven’t a clue where the thermometer came from, we’ve had it ages. It does have an outside probe, though, and is battery powered. Have a look on ebay, lots of choice there.

Thanks Carol, we did!

Locks 0, miles 3½