Thursday, June 30, 2022

Wootton Wawen and Lowsonford

 Yesterday we had an easy day, from Wilmcote to Wootton Wawen it's a steady, isolated stretch with only one lock.

After recently cruising two rivers and a broad, deep canal the South Stratford Canal seems hard work. It's shallow, narrow and with limited views with high hedges and often overgrown banks. But that is part of it's charm, I guess.

After about an hour we came to the first of three iron-trough aqueducts carrying the canal over shallow valleys.

Edstone Aqueduct.

These are mini Pontcysyllte Aqueducts, built on the same principal of an iron trough supported on masonry pillars. Unusually the towpath is dropped to the level of the base of the trough, probably a construction economy but also affording pedestrians a "duck's eye" view of crossing boats.

It's the first time for miles we've had any sort of a view!

After the aqueduct it's a short distance to Bearly Lock, then another mile and a bit, passing the new Hill Farm Marina, to Wootton Wawen.

CRT were busy rebuilding the towpath at the south end of the aqueduct here. Across the aqueduct there's a basin with an Anglo-Welsh hire base and moorings where we pulled in.

Over the A3400 on WW Aqueduct.

This morning we had a late start by the time Amber and I had had our morning constitutional and I had a trip up to the village store.

Wootton Hall is a 16thC house in extensive parkland with an artificial lake fed from the River Alne. St. Peter's Church is behind the gatehouse, and hidden from the road by the church and the hall is a large park home site.

On the way back I ducked under the aqueduct in time to see a day boat setting off from the hire base.

We were on the move at just after 10, heading off to a rash of locks an hour away.

The hedges and trees are often thinner along here...

Bridge 49 is still in original condition.

Often the rope-slot has been filled and the bridge deck reinforced for modern farm traffic.

Preston Bagot Bottom Lock was our first for the day and we started to meet boats coming down so had a good road for a while.

Talking about modified bridges... the lock was beyond a bridge that had been widened and laid with an iron deck.

There are three locks at Preston Bagot, the middle one sports a barrel-roofed keepers cottage. This design is unique to the South Stratford.

Being very small the sold-off buildings have often been extended, some sympathetically, sometimes not!

The locks came steadily, another three a little further on, then a gap followed by two more wider spaced.

Above Bucket Lock is the last of those iron aqueducts, Yarningdale.

You can clearly see the low-level towpath.

I had to empty these last two, the only ones set against us, but was able to leave the top gates open for approaching boats.

I dropped the rubbish off below Lowsonford Top Lock after passing a long line of permanent moorings, then helped a single-hander down. He'd come from Anderton via Birmingham in a week, and was intending to be in Stratford on Saturday. Long days!

While Seyella was slowly rising in the lock I had a chat with the family renting the lock cottage alongside. This is one of the portfolio of historic properties managed by The Landmark Trust and let out for holidays.

There was space for us opposite the Fleur de Lys Pub garden, and, in a tried and tested formula while there's an audience, I made a cock up of getting in to it. In my defence it was shallow and tight...

Tomorrow we should be at Kingswood Junction and the Grand Union.

Locks 8, miles 4      

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