Monday, 30 September 2013

Last Locks of the year

Having come up the first four of the Atherstone locks on Friday there were only 7 to do today.   Off the chocks soon after 8 they were all set our way and no one around.  We decided to stop after the 3rd lock as it is the closest to the Co-op and there is a water tap.  So I nipped off for a quick morning shop while Geoff watered....or rather didn't water......of the two tap connections one did not work and the other was a non standard fitting,  However it was not the end of the world as there is a sani station after the top lock.

A duller morning than of late but still  mild for the time of year.........we did meet one boat on the way down which was handy and just before reaching the top, lo and behold 2 lock volunteers.......we did tell them about the unfriendly tap lower down but I can't say they seemed that interested so not sure if the info will be passed on!!

After watering etc at the top we were away just ahead of another boat who was in the top lock......Geoff had in mind a mooring in the open before Nuneaton.     We had a good run for a while but then picked up a S L O W boat in front of us.......we don't cruise fast but there are degrees of slow!!!

Unfortunately Geoff's memory for once was not as good as usual and having passed an open mooring but continued for what he thought was an even better one, we were disappointed to find that there were far more trees than he remembered.    So we ended up having to go all through Nuneaton before we found another nice open space.......a longer trip than planned.....Actually 'disappointed ' is probably too mild a word for his feelings on the matter......

SLOW  boat had stopped a little while before us but he moved on later and  a walk with Barney later discovered him moored just after the next bridge......just waiting to come out in front of us tomorrow......

A little removal job required...wonder how long it has been there
We don't see many of these nowadays.....
The forecast tells us that this balmy Indian summer cannot last and the prospect for Thursday which was scheduled to be our run to home base in Clifton, may have to be brought forward a day......or even delayed a day....we shall see what the guru's say this evening.....

Total distance:8.38 miles 
Elapsed time:5h8m17s 
Average speed:1.63 mph (2.99 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekend in Atherstone

A weekend on a pleasant open mooring enjoying this Indian summer.......we cannot believe how warm it has become.   Sandals are out again and some gentle sitting on the bank has been enjoyed.......well at least by me...Geoff is not a sitter in the sun........we are quite near the railway line which is very busy but after a while one ceases to notice the trains

The price we pay for this nice mooring is that we are a bit further from the town than we would like.......just over a mile.    we've walked in to shop and for Sunday lunch but a second walk to go to church today defeated me.........

Lunch was in the Red Lion pub which is nice surroundings with a good carvery (very friendly chef serving it) BUT the service is appalling..........the whole place seems as though it needs a good manager to grab it by the ankles so to speak.........

Approaching the end of our cruising season which is very sad..............................

Friday, 27 September 2013


A gentle start just after 8.30 on a bright and promising day, summer does seem to have made a reappearance at the moment....We stopped briefly in Bradley Green at the sani station where another boat was just conveniently pulling out.
We contented ourselves with the first four locks as we knew the designated moorings above the next two locks were much more surrounded by trees.   We decided we would rather have the slightly longer walk to town and an open mooring.
After settling ourselves in Geoff set off for the town with a view to looking for a barber and some shopping, not for hair cutting, more for beard trimming!!!  About 10 minutes later he rang to say he was on his way back with a boat and maybe I would recognise it.........
It turned out to be Hector and Sally Hillman aboard 'Hectors House'.  They are ex RAF friends and we knew they had a boat but had never met up before......can't remember the last time I saw them.  So they pulled in and a convivial lunch was had by still great so we sat out on the bank.
Hector's House
They carried on after lunch but we were settled for the weekend and that was the end of shopping and barber hunting for the day!

Total distance:5.55 miles 
Elapsed time:3h48m33s 
Average speed:1.46 mph (2.51 lock/mph)

Thursday, 26 September 2013


Later start this morning almost 9 o clock...we are slipping......
However it was just early enough...we had a lockless run to Fazely junction and shortly after that Tamworth begins to make its presence felt
Lots of interesting back gardens to look at en route, this one blessed with lots of gnomes.....
I love looking in peoples back gardens!!!

I am sure I have been told before what these cubby holes in some bridges were for but I have forgotten (it's my age!!)
Perhaps someone could enlighten me...........
Only the 2 locks at Glascote today and we were head of the the time we reached there we had 5 boats behind us which is why I said we were just off in time.......

We stopped briefly by bridge 67 and Geoff walked to a nearby Tescos and then just a little further to moor opposite Alvecote marina.  The moorings shown in our book were after the next bridge but that looked to dark with trees for our liking.....

After tea I took Barney for his walk and thought I would explore  what was shown as a nature reserve in our book but it was full of trees and far too lonely for my liking so I tried the other side of the canal and went to explore Alvecote Priory....this was a bit of a let down...I think I expected something a bit grander!!!! There a few ruins and a bit of scrubby grass so it wan't the most successful of walks.....later Geoff did the nature reserve walk with Barney so he didn't miss out......looking back on it maybe we should try walking together sometime!!!!
Total distance:8.06 miles 
Elapsed time:4h7m46s 
Average speed:1.95 mph (2.44 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Alrewas to the middle of nowhere

Well not quite the middle of nowhere but not close to habitation.....between Hopwas and Whittington on a nice open mooring.
Off just before 8.30....getting later for us now as the mornings are darker..........
Barney walked all the way to Fradley junction, first with me and then with Geoff.......should wear him out for the day!!!!
We had a good run as there was no one in front of us and no one on the water point......we didn't need the water, just the elsan and rubbish.  Sadly the little shop was not open left turn onto the Coventry Canal after the last lock and then no more locks for a while which meant I could resume my regal position in the bows whilst leaving my 'man' to steer........lovely countryside.....aint life grand....
Total distance:8.53 miles 
Elapsed time:4h21m8s
Average speed:1.96 mph (3.11 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Still in Alrewas

A lazy day was planned for today for me and Geoff was going to go to Lichfield on the bus as he wanted to see the Cathedral.  However lethargy set in before the day was very old and he abandoned the idea....
Today we sadly said goodbye to John and Fi on Epiphany
Mind that head John.......
Last lock wheeling together for Geoff & John...they have been a good crew....
Geoff and Barney walked as far as the first lock with them

Fantastic flowers.....on the way back through the village

Petroc's mooring (2nd boat back)
meanwhile...back at the ranch.....
and so our lazy day continued........we have been cruising in company with Epiphany for almost 6 weeks since we met up at Braunston.......we can but hope ours paths (or our wakes!!) will cross again next year....

Monday, 23 September 2013


Last nights sky
Does it herald a nice day.?
Sadly not really, it was overcast and slight mizzle when we set out but nothing we intrepid travellers couldn't cope with........
We stopped en route to dispose of rubbish.. There was a note on the lock warning us that the collection point had moved to the cafe 100yds from the entrance to Barton marina....well that was wrong.   It was by a transport cafe (at least we think it was) but more like 1000yards, I think they left a '0' out....we only just managed to spot it before we had gone too far.

Between Wychnor Lock and Alrewas lock we were on a river section again but all was benign and the boards shows it was safe to proceed.......

We thought we were back on the Stratford canal when bridge 36 appeared........very narrow
Shardlow 22 miles and we were there a week ago......such a pace
Plenty of herons around at the moment...this one played hide and seek in the reeds with us as we went along

This one was have a swim in the weir as we approached Alrewas
Looks like he needs to go through the car (boat) wash!!
There was plenty of room to moor after Allrewas lock and room for Epiphany too as they were not far behind us.   We were glad we had not arrived over the weekend as we heard it was choc-a-bloc here.

After shopping John came over to help sort out some things on my computer...last chance as we would be going in different directions from tomorrow.   Later they came to Petroc for a farewell will be sad to see them depart after 6 weeks of travelling mostly together........

Total distance:5.04 miles 
Elapsed time:2h56m43s 
Average speed:1.71 mph (3.07 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weekend in Branston

On our arrival Geoff did his normal reconnoitre of the local area and discovered a huge Morrisons although it was a bit of a stride away...approx 1.5 miles.    En route he also discovered a Toby Carvery advertising 'All you can eat breakfast ' for £ guess where we went the next morning.........
Once we had walked that far and sustained by a hearty breakfast I decided I had enough energy left to carry on to Morrisons.........
That finished me for the rest of the day.......however later Geoff took Barney to explore this water park.   A big lake with a tarmac'ed walkway all round and in very pleasant surroundings...

Sunday all four of us went to the local church, Fiona on her first proper outing on her new motorised scooter.
We do see very different types of services in the churches we find on Sundays and this was definitely different.   It was called SPLAT...we were told what it stood for but sadly I have was a sort of Messy Church but with adults involved in the activities as well as the children.   It may not have been quite our type of service but we were made extremely welcome and it was very interesting to see how much the vicar had accomplished in his four years there.  It had gone from a congregation of between 3-10 and grown to 50-70 ish.  They had ambitious plans to double the size of the church as there are plans to build 4,000 new homes in the area.
Later we went to the local pub which was no longer a traditional English Pub as far as food was an Italian.  However pleasant surroundings and it was a change from our normal roast...shall have to have that in the week to make up!!
The weather has taken a decidedly upward turn and it is just like summer with the heating and out with the thinner clothes..........can't last..........
A lone canoeist on a warm Sunday evening..

Friday, 20 September 2013

Beer in Burton

Well it was beer for John and Geoff.............Thursday was as forecast somewhat wet, Fi had been picked up for her appointment at Harefield and John & Geoff had plans to visit the National Brewery Museum.  However John had to wait in for a mechanic and by the time he came the day was almost gone.......not to be deterred they decided to visit on Friday morning before departure.  A lot of the photographs are courtesy of John as Geoff found that our camera was out of battery power!!!

Model of Burton on Trent in the twenties

There were two shire horses there which apparently they have to get rid of.....Health & Safety!!!!!

Good old days
The best bit was at the end when the samples came along..............................
Shobnall Park Moorings
Sleepy Swans
Coors brewery behind our mooring
When they eventually returned we set off for our next destination which was just a stones throw away at Branston...home of the famous pickle!   Just one narrow lock to the moorings by a water park at Branston which proved to be a very popular spot.   We managed to find a space and when Epiphany caught is up they also managed to squeeze in thanks to the alacrity with which the boat in front shuffled up to make room for them.   A very convivial supper was had aboard Epiphany later on after the men had just given the local pub the once over........getting to be a habit...........

I tried out my new TV aerial again and it is working brilliantly.......thanks to guru John.

Total distance:1.95 miles 
Elapsed time:1h12m18s 
Average speed:1.62 mph (2.45 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Onward to Burton on Trent

We arranged an 8am start with Epiphany as there were no lock for about 3 miles and this enabled Fi to arise in a more leisurely fashion.......

Barney and I walked at first.  I did have ambition to walk all the way to the lock but gave in after just under a mile and a half.  We signalled for our pick up at bridge 17 and this was managed better than usual.  Barney does insist on the boat being at a dead stop before he will climb aboard!
 He  is getting more used to climbing on at the front if it is open and Geoff seems to manage this better!!!!) (Photo NB Epiphany)
Stenson lock was to be our last wide lock of the year...... and by now Fi was alive and kicking and busy taking what always seem to be better photographs than mine!!!
as you can see..........
A very pretty lock cottage......

Our crew working well!!

Ambitious sign painting
Today's heron was very brave and did not fly off until we were almost past him.
We stopped to water in was a bit like Piccadilly circus.... one alongside us waiting to water, Epiphany snuggled up in the winding hole waiting and a lady arrived by car to empty loo cassettes.......such a popular pastime...........

After a nice long stretch with the first of our narrow locks we reached Burton on Trent and moored in Shobnall Fields.
Huge recreational area and good mooring place both for us and for the important member of the crew......
Total distance:9.90 miles 
Elapsed time:4h36m0s 
Average speed:2.15 mph (2.59 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Stopover in Swarkestone

We decided to stay put today as the forecast was not brilliant.   I set off together with my trusted friend to explore Barrow on Trent.  There was vague mention in one of our guide books there about a shop there but there was not!!!!

There were some pretty refurbished cottages, the end one (out of the picture) which possibly might have been a shop in the past
St Wilfred's Church
Swarkestone lock to the right and the old entry to the Derby canal on the left
By the time I returned from my circular walk I had covered nearly 4 miles which is a lot for me.......Barney would go on all day I think........I did not have a lot to show for it apart from a bar of chocolate I bought for Geoff in the garage on the way back (tiny garage shop)

Later Geoff decided to explore in another direction and he went along the disused Derby canal.   This led him to Chellaston which was bigger than he thought and had plenty of facilities.   A much closer walk if supplies are needed and not really mentioned in our guide books as a possibility.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Windy ride to Swarkstone on the Trent & Mersey

 We had agreed a departure time of 8.30 with Epiphany so we could share locks.    The day dawned bright and sunny with lovely blue sky but boy was it windy!!!! you can see from Fi's garb!!!!!
Rising in Shardlow lock problem when there are two boats in....
Very well kept lock house........presumably extended and modernised......

Lots of wellie to get into the locks today...not only the wind but nasty by-washes to catch the unwary on entry to the lock....... Epiphany coming into Aston Lock
Big heavy lock gates....put your back into it Geffie......
...and a helping hand from John....
The crew are obviously tired from their exertions
(one of my blog followers - shown in this picture -  wishes to point out that they were not tired, merely in the standard pose waiting for the gates to go!!!!!!)
Petroc into Weston Lock first
Petroc leaving Weston Lock......note winter clothes!!!
The wind made it an interesting run to Swarkstone today, but luckily the 6 boats coming in the other direction, typically at a narrow part of the canal, managed to do it in sheltered cuttings.......
By the time we came out of the lock at Swarkstone we were back in the wind with a vengeance but there was plenty of mooring space above the lock and we were soon snugly moored up.  
I set off to explore the village for a paper and a couple of things....sadly no shop (there is a pub!!)  but there was a garage on the main road with a small Daily Telegraphs of course but they did have just one loaf of we shared it with Epiphany......
Just after I returned to Petroc the first of the forecast squally showers timing was superb....
After Barney's tea Geoff left to take him for a walk.  Unbeknown to me John had gone with him and on the way back they went for their evening when it began to be much longer than usual for the teatime walk I began to worry..........of course Geoff has as usual NOT taken his phone with him......there was I thinking he was miles away and fallen in a ditch or something..........
Their walk had taken them towards the Swarkestone Bridge and causeway which at approximately 3/4 of a mile long is reputedly the longest stone bridge in Britain.

In 1745 this was the furthest south that the army of Bonnie prince Charlie came in their bid to take the throne of England
It carries the A514 and with no pavement and a lot of traffic they did not try walking it's length
Instead they headed back to the pub!
This storm cloud may have been their excuse...

They also passed the pretty Church of St James in the village which appears to have a chimney at one end.......wonder what the fire beneath is like......

Total distance:6.00 miles 
Elapsed time:3h21m26s 
Average speed:1.79 mph (2.98 lock/mph)