Friday, 2 May 2014

Home Again - 1st May

We motored that last few miles to the Marina where we turned off and waved our goodbyes to Stephen and Jayne. Thanks both for sharing a lovely week cruising the Ashby Canal. Look forward to catching up with you sometime soon. Wishing you a safe and enjoyable trip.


Unusually for a marina we had it flat calm when we left and when we came back so mooring was very easy. We managed to complete all those little maintenance jobs that are required after a trip before the rain came  and then headed home after lunch on board.

Spring Warmth - 30th April

A lovely warm spring day and as we motored on to the bottom of the Ashby Canal we were able to enjoy an abundance of wild life including these lovely recently born chicks.

A Wild Life

We turned onto the Coventry Canal and passed Charity Dock once again with its ever growing display of figures and scenes. This time it appears to be a wedding.


As we approached Hawksbury Junction we entered a queue of 4 boats for the stop lock, the most boats we had seen together all week. Its an interesting spot to wait however and we were soon through and moored up just before the Coventry Cruising Club for lunch. As the weather forecast for next day was not too good we decided to press on a little further and moored near Nettle Hill for the night. The weather was so good that we got the chairs out and enjoyed afternoon tea and a glass of bubbly in the sun on the bank.


Ice Breaker - 29th April

Motored on to Sutton Wharf where we moored on the Official Landing Stage adjacent to the services and then walked up to the Bosworth Battlefield site. There is a large visitor centre with 8 separate rooms explaining the battle together with a restaurant and other interesting activities. A short walk takes one up to the memorial with a crown atop of a lance. Next to this is a board explaining the battle and a window through which you can look out onto what is thought to be the site of the battle between Henry Tudor and King Richard 111, a Plantagenet. There are also great views across the chequer board fields to Stoke Golding Church and Dadlington.

A Bosworth Battle

We returned via the disused railway line to the canal and thence back to Sutton Wharf where we decamped to the Cafe for Lunch. We had Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas and Ham, Eggs and Chips. Both were delicious and we were too full to have a pudding but  decided to take one of their large freshly made scones back to the boat for afternoon tea.

In the car park we spotted this modified Volkswagen emblazoned with “The Old Gasworks”

B Sutton Cafe

After lunch we travelled through Stoke Golding and moored up near Bridge 22. Jimmy and I walked across the fields and up the hill to the Higham on the Hill village stores for a paper and milk and passed their lovely church with fine views across open countryside.

C Higham on the Hill

Returning to the boat I chatted to the guy on the boat we had moored next to. The boat, Nb. Pelican is a 103 year old converted wooden Icebreaker which he has lovingly restored. It is made from Oak Planks on Oak Frames and  would have been pulled by 4-6 horses or it has even been known to have 16 horses pulling when the ice was very thick. The boat was designed to ride up on top of the ice and its weight and the rocking of the men on board would break the ice. The working boats would then follow on quickly behind before the ice had chance to re-freeze.D Pelican

The Icebreakers would work with ice up to 12 inches thick and the most dangerous aspect was if the boat should ride up onto the ice and it not break, as the boat would just carry on skidding across the ice endangering the men and horses working it.

Early on the boat was converted to a motor drive and an extra 3 feet counter added to the stern. It had several engines in its life but it is now fitted with an 11HP Bolinder single cylinder engine which had a choice of handle or cartridge starting.


Into Battle at Shackerstone – Monday 28th April

On Jimmy’s early morning walk we found Bosworth Station and this lovely old Traction Engine and trailer in the car park. A short walk up the hill towards Market Bosworth is a Vet Surgery on a housing estate. Having a dog it is always important to note where the local vet is located.

A Steam Engine

Wildlife seems to be in abundance this month with these day old Moorhen chicks and their nest on board a Sea Otter moored at the terminus. The Mallard had taken a fancy to Nb Dfn last night and did not want them to leave this morning so stayed on the roof until the last possible moment.

B Wildlife

We had a good trip, through lovely countryside, up to the terminus where we winded and moored up to have a look around. Chatting to the lady in the Ashby Association shop, after we had bought a gigsaw and S & J a tiller pin from the Bric a Brac shop, she told us that the next section of the canal up to a bridge and winding hole would be put in water by October. The bridge is costing £30k to restore and they have found the original base and much of the brickwork buried under the filled in canal route. There appears to be an old Pumping Station and sections of its beam engine at the terminus being restored.

D Pump House

We then headed back to Shackerstone passing through some lovely wooded areas where June spotted an Owl in the adjacent fields. We seemed to have a very smart boat following us!!


At Shackerstone there are a several boats moored on a lovely field with ponds and much wildlife on it. It looks an idyllic site to moor in the sunshine.

F Shakerstone

We moored up in the village and after lunch had a walk around finding the pub (The Rising Sun, closed on Mondays), the church and some lovely houses. Stephen and I then went to explore the Battlefield Railway but it was all closed up, even though work was being done on the track by contractors, whose lorries had railway wheels in addition to the normal road ones. Every time they moved their horn was automatically sounded.

C Battlefiled Rail

Sunday Lunch at the George and Dragon–Sunday 27th April

Jimmy and I walked along the canal back to the bridge next to Ashby Boats and then made our way up into the village passing the Blue Plaque Free Grammer School, now a private house, which was built in 1683.


After a lazy morning we all went to the George and Dragon Pub for a Sunday roast lunch. It was fully booked but we had phoned ahead so were lucky to get a table. Apparently they only do it one Sunday a month during the winter. There was no choice of menu but the fact that it was full of regulars says it all. A delicious meal at a reasonable price.


After lunch we made our way to Market Bosworth passing these donkeys in their bright coats and lots of people returning along the canal towpath to Sutton Wharf after visiting the Battlefield.


We arrived in Market Bosworth to find that one of the water points had been removed and a new Marina being constructed with its entrance right on the winding hole. A large building was being erected in the middle of the marina and we wondered where they were going to find the boats to fill it, but presumably they have done their homework.


As we had  travelled along we kept hearing the whistle of the Battlefield Steam Railway and spotted it in the distance coming toward the local station.


Stoke Golding Shop now Open again – Saturday 26th April

The overnight rain ceased about 7 am so I took Jimmy a walk back to Marston Junction and then up the road to the local corner shop for June’s paper. After a leisurely breakfast we made a late start heading off to Trinity Marina with DfN  in close convoy through the narrows just after bridge 5.


Plenty of mooring at Trinity where DfN had a pump out and we explored the chandlery which also stocks basic provisions. As we moved off a boat came in to our berth and it had an L plate on the bow. The owner said that they had only just bought the boat and were still learning about it. I must say he handled the boat really well.


Jimmy and June checking out the pumpout.


We motored on to Stoke Golding where we were able to moor in a nice spot on the offside and after a quick lunch caught the No. 86 bus into Hinckley where we explored the street market and church and ended up in Dolly’s Tea Room, recommended by a young lady on one of the stalls. We had a great cup of tea with excellent home made scones and apple tart. It was packed and we thought we would have to wait but a couple came out to us and said that they were just leaving, typical of the friendliness we found from the local people.

Caught the 16.10 bus back to the boat just in time to miss the first and only short sharp shower of the day. .


The Village shop is now open again and looked to be well stocked with essential provisions so it looks like the chap from Higham on the Hill was successful in being able to buy it and now runs both shops.


Stoke Golding Church lit up in the evening as seen from the boat.

Early Start to miss the Rain–Friday 25th April

What a change from yesterday with a cloudy start and coolish breeze. After taking Jimmy a walk we made an early start just after 7am in order to beat the rain forecast later in the morning. As we came to Tusses Bridge we spotted this swan with her nest amongst the many and varied vehicles deposited in the garden. The Cob was busy keeping other birds and us away from her. ( useful General Store a few yards down from the bridge and under the motorway).


The moorings at Hawksbury were as usual full and these Gypsy type horses were tethered for grazing on the grass bank. We were told that the foal had been racing up and down the towpath earlier, evidenced by her droppings.


We stopped briefly at the water point whilst I nipped over the foot bridge to the corner shop for June’s paper

The old Navigation Pub has now been turned into a large private house and work is progressing with its development each time we pass. Looking very nice. Further on Charity Dock seemed to have even more boats moored than ever.

IMG_4330 a

We turned off up the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction and met up with Jayne and Stephen on Nb. Dolce far Niente just before Bridge 3 where we moored up for the day as the forecast rain was just starting. Spent the rest of the day catching up with each others news. In a break in the weather tried to take Jimmy a circular walk using Gypsy lane and the Coventry Canal but the lane was too narrow and busy with traffic for us to safely negotiate so we returned the same way we had gone.

What no Wind and Boat Mangled - Thursday 24th April

We arrived at the marina about 11.30am and could not believe our eyes as there was no wind and the marina almost flat calm, one of those rare days in any marina.


After unloading the car and stowing all the food and bit and pieces we had decided to bring, we had lunch and set off towards Hawksbury Junction passing the Boat Inn Cottage next to the bridge.


A little further on we spotted this boat with an old fashioned Mangle fixed to the bow, did not realise that they still made them.


Soon we turned the corner onto the All Oaks Wood straight which is now a delight to travel with the trees on the offside having been nicely trimmed back. There was even room to pass this canoe on the sharp bend at the end of the wood which is such a popular mooring spot.


As we came to Rose Narrowboats, with their fleet moored 3 abreast just before the swing bridge, one of their employees kindly opened the bridge for us as he crossed over making it easy to negotiate and simple for us to close after passing through.

Why is that we always seem to find a boat coming the other way as we pass moored boats on the sharp bend through Ansty, Still it does make life interesting.

As time was getting on we decided to moor up just passed the Coventry Cruising Club (CCC) and found a nice spot in the evening sunshine. Low and behold who should come walking along the towpath but Pat and Sheila, (Nb. Fair fa, another Sandhills boat), and their two Elk Hounds who we had last met in Birmingham 2 years ago.

After mooring up and enjoying a G & T on the aft deck in the sunshine I wandered up to their boat and had a good catch up chat. They are on their way to do the BCN cruise, a great experience we must try and do.


I then walked Jimmy up to the entrance to the CCC where he promptly fell in after walking along the bottom edge of the bridge, which tapered, and when he tried to turn around to come back fell into the canal. He will soon learn the pitfalls of walking where you shouldn’t.


The club is very deceptive as you can only see a small part of it from the entrance bridge. However, if you take the footpath which follows the arm and takes you under the M6 motorway with the long stalactites suspended from its roof you can see many more boats moored in the small basin at the end of the arm.


I also walked down to Tusses bridge where the pub has now been turned into a very lavish house with fancy entrance gates onto the road and a large garden currently being landscaped. A short walk down the road under the M6 I found a post office and general stores so June should be ok for her morning paper.

Three Day Break 12th–14th April

After an early game of golf we set off for the marina arriving at about 3pm and after unloading the car and getting the boat ready for travelling we took Jimmy a nice walk. June had been watching the Robbins in the nest outside our back door as they were due to fledge on the Sunday and hoped that they would still be there on our return on Monday.



We stayed in the marina the first night as it was to late to leave after getting the boat ready and airing all the bedding etc.

The next morning we were up early and decided to give the boat a good wash as it was still covered in the Sahara sand from a couple of weeks ago. It was a major job and rather than turn the boat around and do the off side we decided to leave that until we moored up at Newbold when it would be on the towpath side. Had a nice cruise up to Newbold as the off side trees have all been cut back over the winter making it a treat to navigate although the offside is still very shallow through lack of use over the years. Found plenty of mooring and after fetching some milk and bread from the local Co-op decided to wash and polish the roof and side of the boat.

Met some lovely people walking along the towpath who stopped to chat and also Colin off Nb. Col D’ol  who we spent a long time putting the world to rights. If only!!


After lunch we motored on through Rugby/ Brownsover passing Nb Waiouru moored on the towpath side but it did not look as though anybody was at home. Had a nice trip up to the locks at Hillmorton where we winded and moored up for the afternoon near the golf course so that we could wash and polish the other side of the boat. Again we were chatting to a lot of nice people who were out for a walk in the lovely weather. One lady had travelled from Kent on the train to Rugby just to walk along this stretch of the canal. A local lady told us of plans to build 6200 houses on the Rugby radio station sight and later I found a notice on the Kent Road bridge confirming this together with shops, offices and restaurants so it looks as though it will be a complete new village on the site.


The next day me motored on back to the marina with June steering the boat through Newbold and the tunnel, a first for her. It is a shame that most of the tunnel lights are no longer working.


Back at the marina we continued to polish the remainder of the boat and get ready to leave for home.