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Tuesday 30 April 2013

Helen's work out.

After a quiet night in Atherstone we set of with the prospect of the eleven locks. We got to the top lock to meet a boat just entering coming up. We therefore thought that they would all be our way but with the leaks there were only two that were ready for us. This flight of locks are known to fill slowly and empty quickly! It is quite a nice flight as it has varied scenery, getting more rural as you go down them. The locks are nicely spaced so that it is an easy walk between them except a couple of times when Helen needed a lift to the next one. There is work on the towpath and lock landing between No.6 and 7.

Only 9 to go.

Tony does his part too.

Helen only has little legs so walks miles round the lock at the bottom gates as they are in two and so she walks right round three times. If she had longer legs she could step over from one closed gate to the other side where the gate is still open. She will ache later I'm sure. We took our time and still managed to do the eleven in 2.25hrs.

A green corridor. Helen saw so Moorhen chicks too. We saw some Mallard ducklings when we arrived in Atherstone and there were eleven. The next time we saw them there was only ten, and this morning there were only five. I wonder what it is that takes them?

The canal after the locks was very nice, especially as the sun was trying very hard to come out. It was also becoming very scenic with only the railway to ruin the peace. We stopped at Polesworth for the night and then went for a walk round the town. It had been a mining town until 1987 when Pooley Hall Colliery closed.    There was also an Abbey here until Henry VIII closed it and there are also some nice old buildings.

The gatehouse to Polesworth Abbey.

The river Anker divides the town. The river has a shallow spot or pool, hence pol, and worth means dwelling. The two parts of the town are joined by a bridge that was built in 1776

Ten Arch Bridge across the Anker built in 1776 and widened in 1924.

Another old building. (A little different to the old hat factory in Atherstone, and older too).

Monday 29 April 2013

On wards to Atherstone.

We set off at 0900 and took water from a little island by the C&RT Maintenance yard at Hartshill and then set off at an easy pace to Mancetter. We parked up and walked into the village as it sounded 'interesting'.

Country bridge between Hartshill and Mancetter.

St Peter's Church and Almshouses.

St Peter's is a 13 Century church with some Almshouses from 1728 in the grounds. There are some lovely slate Georgian head stones in the Churchyard. Next to the church is the Manor House that is now owned by an Isle of Man Company and seems to be almost hotel like and well kept. Mancetter was a Roman settlement close to Watling Street and it is also said to be where the last battle of Boadicea's uprising against the Romans was fought. It is unlikely to be true how ever as it should be much closer to London.

The Trent Valley Rail line with the regular Virgin Trains going past.

Ever since just after Braunston the Trent Valley rail line has never been far away from the canal. The rail makes use of the flat route of the canal. It is surprising how quiet the railway is. I suppose that it is because they are electric, there is welded track and there are very few points to go over. The Virgin trains always look spotless unlike the East Coast Main Line.

After a cup of tea we set off for the short trip to Atherstone. We tied up before the locks and then went and had a look round the town. It wasn't quite as quaint as I was expecting. There seemed to be some nice buildings but there were few nice independent shops but I did manage to get my hair cut for £5 in a salon that was completely spray painted. I am looking all tidy again. When we got back to the boat I went fishing and I am pretty sure that the canal must have been quite recently dredged as there was very little silt on the bottom and nothing of use came up. Maybe I can quage the dredging by my magnetic fishing.

The last hat factory in Atherstone closed! All the other buildings in the town were definitely not in such as bad condition as this.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Sunday roast.

The sun was well up when we got up. We had lit the stove the night before and it was still warm too so was nice and cosy to get up to. Helen had a walk up the canal a way to see if there were any spaces for us. In the end we decided to stay where we were as the sun was on the panels by 1100 and anyway the sun disappeared in the afternoon. We are under trees to the rising sun to the east.

We had decided to walk up to Hartshill village to have Sunday lunch at the Malt Shovel. They started serving at 1200 so after walking up the hill via a footpath and the towpath and buying the Sunday Times we were through the door at 1205, and there were already folk sitting down. I had the roast pork and Helen the beef with all the trimmings. There was cabbage roast and boiled spuds and carrots and peas, with a yorkshire gravy and stuffing. It was fine for £3-95? All washed down with a pint of Bank's bitter. Afterwards we decided to go for a walk.

Springwood Marina.

From the pub we walked round the north of Hartshill Quarry down to the towpath and then along to Bridge 27 by Springwood Marina and then round the south and west of the quarry. It was about 4 miles in total. There were limited glimpses of quarry but it is very deep and now holds quite a lake. The water was pumped into the canal but has now been allowed to fill the workings. The main product taken was quarzite for roads but also Fullers earth clay and slate. It stopped production in 1994 I think when the workings got so close to the village that the Nuneaton road collapsed into it! There was a memorial of flower tributes where two 18 year olds had died in the quarry. It was a big fence right round it but it does look very tempting, even for me. It must be a haven for birds and plants, even now, and I wonder how long it will be before it is opened up as a visitor attraction or filled in with rubbish as a very handy landfill site.

The smaller workings to the north of the site.

The Canal and River Trust Hartshill Maintenance yard. I lovely group of buildings with a covered dock and with clock tower.

Once back at the boat we sat with the paper and a cup of tea and slice of cake. By 1700 it had got nippy enough for Helen to light the fire so we should be nice and snug for the night.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Nuneaton and onwards.

We stopped to fill up with water at Sutton Stop and then continued on our way up the Coventry Canal.

Macy just seeing what is going on.

Bridge sculpture at Hawkesbury.

The Greyhound pub through Hawkesbury Junction bridge.

Come from Rugby, been to the Basin and on the way to Atherstone.

Helen dressed for the winter. It was very cold this morning with a cruel wind. 'Tench' and butty 'Australia' have just passed us at our mooring and winded at the Hartshill basin.

We stopped at Nuneaton and had about a 20 min walk into the town centre. It was a big surprise to find a very busy market that was up and down the pedestrian centre. The prices were cheap and I had to drag Helen away from a £5 pair of shoes and other bargins. There was a very good selection of big known stores and several nice local ones too. We paid a visit to Lidl's to see what outlandish foreign products they had but they seem to have become much more 'mainstream' so had to make do with a couple of bars of German chocolate with hazelnuts for 29p each.  There had been showers of hail all day, but not long after leaving Nuneaton it seemed to warm up.

This is our mooring at Hartshill yard with Bridge 31 and the Managers house.

The sun was nice and warm with the wind gone.

We went up the hill to the village to see if there was a pub that served a Sunday lunch and a bit of a walk. We felt we would have to do a little testing so checked out the beer. It will be our treat tomorrow. There was this great view of the plain that we are skirting at the moment. Hartshill was quarried for sandstone and clay by the Romans and on until the 1990's and there are many disused quarries and waste tips about between here and Nuneaton.

Friday 26 April 2013

Stopped at Sutton Stop, again.

The day has been mainly bright with occasional short light showers and occasional hail. We left Coventry basin and headed for Sutton Stop, which was the working boatmen's name for Hawkesbury Junction, after the first family of lock keepers. The  Basin was opened in 1769 so amazing to think it is still going strong. There have only been a couple of boats in each day whilst we have been here.

This shows the 'Y' shaped basin with the warehouses on the left.

Bridge No.1.

As you can see bridge No.1 is very narrow and was deliberately built so to ensure controlled access. The Coventry Canal company were very strict apparently and only allowed boats in that were unloading and if not they had to wait out side. Each cargo was allotted a length of time for unloading and if they went over they had to pay a fine. The Basin was closed up every night with a board across the bridge. If you hadn't finished your discharge you had to leave the basin anyway until the next morning.

We went out past the Cash's 100 houses and after doing the Museum tours I now knew that Cash's were a ribbon weaving company. Coventry were world famous for ribbon manufacture until the government opened the market and the industry all but died. I seem to remember that when we started school you sent for those little names ribbons that your sewed into your clothes. They were made by Cash's as far as I remember.

As we were on the way out of Coventry we passed a C&RT boat and a group of lads that were litter picking along the towpath. This could explain why the towpath from Hawkesbury ro the Basin was generally very tidy.

The Happy Helmsman.

When we got to our mooring I went fishing with the magnet again. I managed to find a knife, fork and spoon. Helen would only keep the spoon. I also found 16p, in copper of course, and various other bits and pieces including a spanner and a motorbike. I couldn't get the bike out so left it. I then drilled holes in the roof top items so that I could run a padlock through them all for security in places. 

Thursday 25 April 2013

Tourists in Coventry.

As the moorings in Coventry Basin are 48hrs we took the opportunity to have a day in the city doing touristy things.

Basically there is only one way out of the Basin but the signpost may make you think differently.

The Basin opened in 1769 so really it isn't looking too bad! These are the first ducklings that we have seen.

You can see the three and four stories of the warehouse side of the basin. The boat horses were stabled in the ground floor and there were separate sections for different products.

The Glass Bridge and Whittle Arch.

 We walked over the ring road and headed for Lady Herbert's Garden. It was given to the city by Sir Albert Herbert, who was an industrialist in the city and had the largest machine tool manufactory in the world at one time, and named after his first wife. The park includes one of the twelve original gatehouses and a section of the original city wall that had been ordered to be torn down by Charles II. It is a lovely oasis of simple lawn and flower beds. From the garden the glass bridge leads you down to Millennium Place. The arches are a memorial to Sir Frank Whittle, who was a son of Coventry, the inventor of the jet engine. It makes for a good setting for the Coventry Transport Museum and is just another example of the nice airy spaces around the city centre. We then spent several hours in the Museum learning about the the motor industry in the city and the bicycle companies that preceded it. There are some beautiful cars and bicycles and it was quite informative. I also learned my the old sit up and beg bicycles always had a white tail to the back mudguard. It was a measure brought in in WWII so that in the blackout they had more chance of being seen. I always wondered why it was, even though I may be showing my age. They have an exhibition of emergency vehicles at the moment and I was not really surprised to learn that there are societies that protect the history and artifacts for each of the three services. There is a club for everything!

Holy Trinity Church, Coventry.

After a cup of coffee and a slice of carrot cake we set forth for a look round the indoor market. It was in a wonderful circular 60's building cars parked on the roof and was revolutionary at the time. Unfortunately there weren't too many stalls open on the day.  We also continued our trawl of any charity shops that we come across looking for a book of crocheting patterns and a butter dish! We then headed to the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery, and yes this was also donated to the city by Sir Albert Herbert. He donated money to have one built before WWII but was not built prior to the conflict. Afterwards he doubled his offering to have one built. Sadly he died prior to its completion. It is right next door to the cathedrals and Town hall etc. It is a lovely area with the Unviersity Campus just opposite the new Cathedral.

The old and new Cathedrals.

On the way back to the basin we topped up with items from Sainsbury's and where back in time to put our feet up with a cup of tea after our trip round Coventry.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Sent to Coventry!

The heating goes on at 0630 and after a few minutes I get up and make the tea and feed Macy. I did the same this morning except that when I got up it was 0745! Where did that hour disappear to? As you can see we are sleeping very well. We finally got going after 1000 and pottered along down the end bit of the Coventry Canal. The towpath side was clean and tidy enough but the offside was a bit of a mess with rubbish. There seemed to be many shopping outlets built on derelict land and this made us think that the centre would be laid waste.

Macy on the roof!

Macy has been scared to come out when the engine is running so today I got her out and made her stay out so that she got used to it a bit more. She found a nice spot under the solar panels to watch the world go by. The site of the Courtald's factory that produced the first man made fibre in the world has been laid waste, on both sides of the canal and the ordnance factory was also leveled and just bare waiting for something to happen. One factory that was still there was the Cash's Hundred's. These three storey terraced houses were built with the top floor for each family's loom. They were all driven by belt from a steam engine. However there were never 100 house, only 48 and there are 37 remaining.

Cash's Hundred's terrace.

There was very little traffic and a few moored boats. Towards the end there was signs of a bit of redevelopment, but nothing on the scale of Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds. The basin has got lovely old covered warehouse on one side and new shops on the other, half of which are closed. The basin is a 'Y' shape and there were two other boats there. In the base of the 'Y' is a statue of James Brindley (1716 to 1772). He was the main canal pioneer and he had the vision to unite the Thames, Severn Trent and Mersey by a crossroads of canals.

James Brindley watching over 'Holderness'.

The canal basin is only a few minutes walk away from the centre on the city. There is an inner city ring road and once over this on a walk way you are just about there. The first place we saw was Primark and the second a Weatherspoons pub called the 'Flying Standard'. The shopping area was very pleasant and there were no empty shops or vast numbers of Charity shops. There was a 60's area that had been revamped and other bit tagged on. Out of the actually shopping Malls are wide open spaces which make the place feel very spacious. The other thing that you notice is that the area is littered with lovely old buildings. The bombed Cathedral and new one are in a quiet area and there are other lovely building around. We didn't go to the New Cathedral as it was £8 to get in! We are not being that extravagant on our budget, and decided saving that much would allow us at least a pint in Weatherspoon's and still save!!

Lady Godiva statue in Broadgate.

On the extreme left is the bombed Cathedral in the middle is St. Mary's Guildhall that has been visited by Henry VIII, Elizebeth I and Shakespeare, who had plays performed there. His arrest warrant for stealing from an orchard and was what caused him to run away to London. Mary Queen of Scots was detained here for a couple of months too.

Brindley means that I keep thinking that somebody is watching all the time.

It is 48 hours parking here so we will stay here tomorrow too. There are a few museums etc to have a look at and maybe a bit of window shopping. All in all I have been quite impressed by Coventry and would say that it is well worth a visit if you are this way.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Is this summer?

It was a lovely start to the day with the sun shinning and the solar panels charging. We got under way at about 0930 and went for about an hour and then stopped at Stretton Stop for water.

Helen waiting for her morning cup of tea.

Macy being at home. The ripples of the cut on the 'ceiling'; don't really come out.

Bringing in the boat at Streton Stop water point.

We pulled up at the water ;point and started to take water. We had just put the washing machine in so we were hoping to fill up to replace it all. Mayhem seemed to occur after we tied up. A boat moved from the the yard and tied up ahead of us. This restricted the canal just ahead of us to one way. A hire boat with a very tentative couple came up behind us and wouldn't go through the gap. Then a couple of others came up astern of them, and there turned up coming the other way. In the end one of the blokes from the boat yard at Stretton Stop jumped on the boat and sorted them out. 

The sub stations are the sight of an old power station where the last of the canal traffic used to bring coal from the Warwickshire  coal fields in the 60's.

Hawkesbury Junction, or Sutton Stop (named after the family of lock keepers) was (is) a very important junction. It is the meeting of the Coventry Canal and the Oxford Canal. There is lock that has a fall of only about 1ft to protect each companies water. It was very busy even up to the 60's as day boats brought coal from the Warwickshire coalfields to power stations at Longford and  Hawkesbury. Cosequently it was a busy meeting place of the boating  people. 

I different pace of life. The M6 goes overhead.

We turned left at the junction as we were going down the arm to Coventry Basin. We went a little further down and moored  by a little park and under electricity wires. After lunch Helen got the evening meal ready and I went fishing with the magnet. I found a small shackle, a 'G' clamp, a mooring spike and a windlass. The G clamp was too seized up so tossed it back. I then managed to free up the after fenders and grease up the shackles and bottle screws to hold it in position. Just after 1700 we wandered down to the Greyhound pub. The weather was lovely so there were loads sitting out. They were also having a St. Georges Day event. We left before the Morris Dancers arrived at  2000. The day has been lovely but still cool when the wind got up. That may explain why I have to rub sun cream on my head! Tomorrow we are off to Coventry City Centre.

Our berth tonight at Hawkesbury Junction.

Monday 22 April 2013


The day started lovely and sunny and we decided to stay another day on this mooring. After getting sorted we set of for a bit of a walk into the nearest village of Brinklow. The Fosse Way runs close to the village and a Norman Motte and Bailey Castle was built to guard it after the conquest. The mound is still there along with the inner and outer courts and a moat. I haven't really seen one so complete. (No structures though of course!).

View back to the canal from going up to the castle. You can just see our red boat. You can see the medieval ridge and furrow in the sheep's field.

Primroses in the church yard.

We walked up the road to see if we could see where the original loop of the canal came through the canal. It is still there but not really in water and not accessible. The village is built along the Fosse Way and has a very varied styles of houses. 

Brinklow High Street.

Helen deciding where to go.

From the village we followed footpaths of the Coventry Way and Centenary Way back to the towpath of the Oxford Canal. The bridge above was on the route. In the end we did about 5 miles and enjoyed the sit down and lunch when we got back. In the afternoon I bit the bullet and went down the engine hole to see where the water was leaking from. It isn't very user friendly, and certainly not someone of my size. I found a loose connection on the off take for the heating. I then bailed out the water and then found that the stern gland bolts were loose. It is very difficult to get in there to do anything at all.

The heating is under the deck to the top right and the batteries are under the deck to the bottom left.

With me inserted in the hole you can see that there isn't a lot of room to do anything at all. I can not really check the batteries as there is no clearance to the deck and I can't move them out really. I am going to have to address that as I need to regularly check the batteries and top them up with water. I am also considering training up Helen to do the job as she is more the right size!

Sunday 21 April 2013

Take it easy Sunday.

The sun was out again as we woke up. We had a lazy start as we had decided to go to the massive Tesco just down the road for the weeks shopping and then have a cooked brunch in the cafe. When we got there there was no cafe, only a Costa Coffee place!!! Oh well we trailed round the place trying very hard to stick to our list and menus. Why is it it is so frustrating and stressful going round a different supermarket and can't find anything? In the end we got a couple of croissants each, almond and chocolate. They were lovely when we got back with a coffee. We left Rugby at about 1230 and had decided to stop at Newbold on Avon as it looked a bit interesting and it was only about 20 mins away. In the end it wasn't that interesting but we found a post box during a bit of a walk.

We are on the Oxford Canal and it was originally built to follow a contour which meant it was very windy. Later the reduced the distance when they were better at embankments and cuttings and there are lots of loops cut off. This is a short tunnel that was lost when they straightened it, just below Newbold Church.

This is the present Newbold Tunnel. I seem to remember it was lit to celebrate some Asian Festival as an arts project. Since then nobody has been able to agree who should pay for the maintenance. It must have been something when it was all lit!

The bridge on the left is the entrance of another cut off loop which has been used as the entrance to a marina.

A nice shot of a bridge and cottage on the Oxford Canal.

This lamb is a bit big so must have been one of the early ones.

Helen heavily engaged in catching up with the Sunday papers.

Our mooring for Sunday evening. Good view for the solar panels too. 

Once stopped I finished the fitting of the head on the boat hook and then checked out the shower again and hopefully stopped up some leak with a bit more silicon judiciously squirted into various crevices. Helen did manage to stir her self and cleaned the windows inside and tow path side. I couldn't talk her in to doing the off side.