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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Arriving at Atherston, Alvecote and Amington.

We were off by 0930 but it was a bit dull but not too cold really. Mind you all the other boaters coming in the opposite direction were well togged up as they had the wind in their faces.

I quite like this stretch of the Coventry. It is nice countryside and the canal provides a good test of helmsmanship. There are plenty of bling bridge holes and sharpish bends.

Hartshill yard is very photogenic and it is not easy to ignore it with the camera. I was a little worried as we approached as there was a very slow boat in front of us. Luckily they pulled in for water so we could make our own time.

This is the wharf near Mancetter. The quarry is actually to the northeast of the canal and was brought down by a tramway to the canal for loading. The product was, and still is diorite that is a granite style rock and very good for road building. Theses days the quarry is run by Tarmac and it is transported by trucks. You can see there is also a railway bridge that also used to take the graded material away.

The top of the Atherstone Flight was quite busy, also with C&RT repairing the brick facing in the winding hole by the water point, as a boat had gone at high speed into it and caused lots of damage. It was one up one down at the locks with lockies at the first five locks.

There was a boat behind us in abig rush so we stopped for water at No.5 lock and let them go past. Mind you when we got to the bottom of the flight we were coming to the top as they were leaving so didn't get too far ahead. I like this flight as you have the close locks down to the Kings Head and then out into the country. We like to moor in the long pound between Locks 9 and 10, but not today. The only trouble with these locks is that the top gates down want to stay closed which takes a bit of running about. Helen and I swapped over half way down. She is looking at Nicholson's rather than a normal book as I have caught her doing in the past.

Grendon Wharf dry dock has had a new corrugated roof put on and was busy with three boats in. It is a shame the cottage hasn't had a make-over.

Just past the Polesworth (Stiper's Hill) Motocross track the canal once again crosses with the West Coast mainline. I may have said it before but I do admire the design of the Pendalino trains used by Virgin. They give a real impression of power and always seem well turned out and business like.

This freight train made much more noise as it came past hauling a load of vehicles. I thought that EWS stood for English, Scottish and Welsh but checked just in case. It seems to have a fascinating story too. When some of the British Rail freight division was put up for privatisation in 1995 it was bought by a consortium that traded under the name North and South Railways for £225 million. This was soon changed to English Scottish and Welsh in 1996 and they had 1231 locos plus much much more rolling stock. They carried 6% of the freight in the UK, rather than road/canal/air that is. In 2007 Deutsche Bahn bought EWS for £309 million and they later have become DB Schenker and now DB Cargo UK. I'm not sure why, the locos haven't had livery changes, or if they will. That is the very short version. You can wake up now though!

After Polesworth the canal passes through an ex mining area which must have seen the canal extremely busy in it's day. This style of bridge gives a good clue to mining areas as it was simply constructed so that if, or rather when, subsidence occurred it was a simple job of lifting the girders and adding a few more bricks to compensate

There are several other clues as the canal passes Pooley Hall Collier such as this head gear wheel and the spoil tip close to the M42 bridge.

As we passed Alvecote Marina we saw steamboat 'Laplander'. She is looking as though she has had a long summer. As always there seems to be many free berths in the main marina, but maybe it is due to them not having electricity on the narrow pontoons.

Over on the other side, by the bridge into the little basin stands proudly a lovely little Bantam Tug. I haven't managed to find out yet which one this is, but I just love these little working tugs. Mind you nothing seems to have been done since last year. Just next door is the yard of the Heritage Narrow Boat Foundation that has one of it's aims is to have apprentices so that the skills can be passed on to them for the future. I couldn't see if they have a project boat in at the moment.

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