I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday, 29 August 2016

Chambers Bridge 100 (Oxford Canal / Grand Union Canal) – Saturday 27th and 28th August


We planned to go up to one of our favourite spots today with FL. 

We filled up with water by the café boat – I think they had too many people on one side!

It was then a trip to Midland Chandlers so that Richard could have a moan about our batteries.  We had new ones back in March and, in fact, we have only spent 68 days on board using them.  We have to run the engine night and morning even if we have stopped cruising about 3ish.  MC reckon we have a rouge battery or two and gave us some suggestions for trying to find out which ones.  The other way is to take two out and send them back to MC to get them tested.  MC deliver to Ham Manor once a week so maybe that’s what we will do once we are back there for the winter.

I love the bridges at Braunston Turn and photograph them every time we pass!

It was then up to Chambers Bridge where we moored up behind FL. 

I spent the afternoon trying to get to grips with crochet.  I had planned to crochet a small blanket for my new grandson.  I’ve had everything on board since the beginning of May and it’s beginning to dawn on me that he is due in four weeks and I haven’t even started it!  Then I realised that I haven’t got the right wool.  I bought it on our way to the boat back in May and didn’t think that, even though the colours are right, the wool isn’t the same and it looks and feels different.  I was able to start it but have now had to put it away until I can get to Hobbycraft next week while we are home.

Sue and Andy came in for a drink in the evening – well Richard, Andy and I had wine but I was very impressed that Sue only had water!

1.86 miles
0 locks

We were going to move on today but a) the weather forecast was a bit iffy b) it was Sunday and the Napton flight would be busy and c) the only boats going passed us seemed to be hire boats and were probably going up with flight.

A nice lazy morning for me though Richard did some more work on the side deck.

In the afternoon we all walked into Braunston to go to the Craft fair in the Church.  We walked along the tow path to Bridge 98 and then on a footpath into Braunston.  It was nice to walk through fields instead of always walking the towpath. 

We walked through the abandoned village of Wolfhampcote.  The village was abandoned sometime in the late 14th century and is classified as a deserted medieval village. Local legend suggests that the village was wiped out by the Black Death brought in by refugees from London, but there is no evidence to support this. It is much more likely that a few cottages still remained after the great plague and after struggling to maintain their land the villagers drifted off to more prosperous places leaving the Lord of the Manor to clear the land for sheep grazing as best he could.  Today the only remains of the village are a cottage, a farmhouse, and the old vicarage, located some distance away. The most notable surviving feature of the village is the Church of St Peter, which stands apparently in the middle of nowhere in a field. The church has been restored on several occasions, most recently in the 1970s by an organisation called the Friends of Friendless Churches. The church is today managed by the Churches Conservation Trust and is used only once or twice a year.

By the time we reached Braunston Church we were all very hot (the weather forecast had completely changed from 9am when I checked it to 1pm when I checked again).  The craft fair was a little disappointing but we had a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.

On our walk back I found to course of the old Oxford Canal before it was straightened.

Back at the boats we sat out on the towpath and chatted - Sue produced some lovely Towpath Tapas.  Thank you Sue it was lovely.

There was an amazing sunset – my photo isn’t very good as the hedge was in the way.  I noticed that Andy and another chap were standing on the roof of their boats so I bet theirs are way better than mine!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Braunston (Oxford Canal) – Friday 26th August

It rained again in the night but the morning was sunny and bright. 

We set off towards Braunston hoping that we would get a mooring there on the Friday before a Bank Holiday.

Up through Hillmorton Locks where there was only one volunteer lockie on duty.  The locks were full of hire boaters who hadn’t the foggiest what they were doing and certainly didn’t know about the etiquette of helping!  I seemed to be helping work the other lock in the pair.

Down passed Barby Moorings where we moored in the winter of 2013.  I didn’t notice any changes though the island is looking very green and there are lots of boats in there.  It is popular as the price is very competitive.

A new 550 berth marina, Barby Pools, is being built by Bridge 81.  According to the developers the marina will provide around 100 extra jobs and improve the ecology of the site. There has been huge criticism of the project though by campaigners, leading to a recent protest led by actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales.  Back in 2012 Tim Coghlan, director of Braunston Marina, who was opposed to the plans said: "The businesses that are really going to be affected by this are the hire boat companies that work around here.  People will not want to hire boats because of the level of congestion in the area. There are already up to two-hour delays.”  As we passed it was just a huge hole in the ground and it is 4 years since the planning permission was granted.  Richard said that he could see earth movers moving around so I guess things are happening.  I can’t seem to find any more information about it on the internet but the marina website is up and running.  There is no phone number on the website otherwise I would have phoned – nosey me!  This map of the layout is taken from their website.

Around this area there are a lot of ridge and furrow fields.  These go back to the Middle Ages and gives pasture fields an undulating, corrugated appearance.  The ridges were made by ploughing in a clockwise spiral, starting in the middle of the strip and eventually ploughing around the outside edge, with the plough constantly throwing the soil to the right. An anti-clockwise motion was adopted in the fallow season to cast some soil back towards the furrow and prevent cutting too deeply into infertile subsoil.  Typically, each ridge measured a quarter of an acre in area - 11 yards wide, and 220 yards long, its length coming to be known as a `furlong', even though the term technically refers to a block of ridges, of whatever number, lying together within an open field.

The iconic spire of Braunston Church hove into view.  The church actually has a short west tower with small spire but to me the spire always looks big.  All Saints' Church Braunston has overlooked the village and the villagers for over 10 centuries and the canals and the boat people for over 300 years.  It known as the "Cathedral of the Canals" and has existed since the early 13th century. However, the land on which is stands has been sacred for longer still. 

We were meeting up with Sue and Andy on Festina Lente and Sue and I had been messaging each other with possible mooring spots.  The Friday before a Bank Holiday is not the best time to try and moor up in Braunston.  We passed FL and Sue said that Andy had gone to look for a mooring.  We found him just by the first entrance to Braunston Marina with a nice big space but there was an underwater ledge and we couldn’t get in to the side.  Sue walked on and found another space just under bridge 1 so we stopped there.  During the afternoon Richard replaced the non-slip on the side deck – he had done the other side back in May.

Sue and Andy came up to Mary H about 5ish and then we walked up into Braunston to The Plough where we sat in the garden and had an OK meal – for us anyway.

8.80 miles
3 locks

Friday, 26 August 2016

Clifton Bridge 66 (Oxford Canal) – Thursday 25th August

We had terrific rain during the night – it actually woke me up which is unusual though the trains didn’t.

We had some visitors this morning.

We planned to have a quieter day today than yesterday.  Under the M6 with the world speeding above us.  We stopped at Rose Narrowboats for water – this is where Richard and his late wife hired their first narrowboat and Richard’s love of them started.

The next part of the canal is a bit too dark for me added to the fact that the day was grey, dismal and showery, it wasn’t good :-)

However, this part is probably one of the most interesting parts of the canal.  The Oxford Canal was constructed in several stages over a period of more than twenty years.  In 1769 an Act of Parliament authorising the Oxford Canal was passed.  By 1774 the canal had reached Napton, but the company was already running out of money.  In 1775, a second Act was passed allowing the company to raise more funds. Construction soon started again and by 1778 the canal had reached Banbury. Financial problems meant that work on the final stretch to Oxford did not begin until 1786.  The stretch of the canal from Banbury to Oxford was built as cheaply as possible. Many economy measures were used. Wherever possible, wooden lift or swing bridges were built instead of expensive brick ones. Deep locks were used wherever possible, with single gates at both ends instead of double gates.  The Oxford Canal reached the outskirts of Oxford in 1789, and the final section into central Oxford was ceremonially opened on 1st January 1790.

Much of this section of the canal was straightened out in the 1820s, and remains of the original less direct route can still be seen in places with the lovely original wrought iron bridges.

I don’t think I would like to be this close to the water!

Through Newbold Tunnel and passed Rugby.  It’s six years since we came this way and my memory is totally different to the one I saw today!  I must be thinking of somewhere else – but where???! 

I love this footbridge alongside a roadbridge.

We wanted to moor up by the golf course as I had been in touch with fellow blogger Tom from NB Waiouru and I knew the boat was moored there.  Sadly, Tom is in Belgium (what lengths some people will go to not to meet me!) but he has left Jan behind so we had a good long chat mainly about how we have noticed that the personalities of boaters has changed over the years.

Question – why is it that when you come across another boat at a bridge or narrows and you slow down to let them through you always know that the boat coming towards you at a snail’s pace is a hire boat?

9.63 miles
0 locks
1 swing bridge

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Hollyhill Bridge 19 (Ashby Canal / Coventry Canal / Oxford Canal) – Wednesday 24th August

We had a long day ahead of us so Richard got underway while I showered.  One of the things I love about boating is drying my hair when we are going along!  You may think that is odd but our bedroom is at the front and I can see the countryside changing as I waft the hair drier about – it just makes me happy :-)  I’m not sure it does the same for Muffin!

We passed the Triumph factory.  Triumph Motorcycles is the largest British motorcycle manufacturer; it was established in 1984 by John Bloor after the original company Triumph Engineering went into receivership. The new company (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd) continued Triumph's record of motorcycle production since 1902. As of mid-2012, the company produced 49,000 motorcycles and employed 1,600 staff.

We picked up a hire boater going on tick over – he isn’t going to get very far doing that speed.  We hoped he would turn right at Marston Junction but he went the same way as us.  We followed him all the way to Hawkesbury Junction where he spent an age turning around delaying 3 other boats. 

We continued down the Coventry to New Inn Bridge (8) where there is a Tesco.

I only took one photo on our way towards Coventry as, quite honestly, there was nothing to photograph!  We got something around the prop at one stage so it was a visit down the weed hatch.  Richard continued down to wind while I jumped ship at bridge 8 and walked to Tesco – it is HUGE!  I think it’s probably the biggest I have ever been in.   I did a shop and scan and got everything on my list then realised that it all had to be carted back to the boat – there weren’t any nice canal side moorings.  Richard came to help but I was pretty knackered carrying four heavy bags in the heat.

We got back to Hawkesbury Junction and heaved a sigh of relief that we hadn’t encountered any more problems. 

We had a lock to do – haven’t done one of those for a while!

Richard decided that he wanted to get past the M69 before stopping but then found that the bank wasn’t conducive for mooring against.  We ended up stopping just after Bridge 19 however we weren’t very far from the railway!

As it got dark, even though it was raining, there was an amazing sky.

16.91 miles
1 lock

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Barn Lane Bridge 19 (Ashby Canal) – Tuesday 23rd August

The sun was shining and the sky was blue as we headed to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  We walked through Ambion Wood where the sun was shining through the trees – it was so lovely.

It wasn’t far at all to the Centre – in fact we almost walked past it thinking it was a farm!  We had a wander round but didn’t do the exhibition which I now regret though we did have a very good cup of coffee. 
We saw, what looks like, a water trough but it turns out to be a stone coffin and may be 2000 years old.  During the medieval period, monks and friars used stone coffins, sometimes reused ones, to bury their important dead.  This coffin was used as a water feature in a large house.

We picked up a leaflet showing us a walk round the battlefield and our first port of call was the sundial and memorials to both Henry VII and Richard III.

On the 22nd August 1485 Henry Tudor brought a small rebel army to face the much larger Royal army of King Richard lll.  The Stanleys, whose loyalty to either side was as yet unknown, were positioned between the two armies, but to one side.  The Earl of Oxford was Henry’s military commander and he led the main army and attacked King Richard’s right flank, commanded by the Duke of Norfolk. Eventually, the Earl of Oxford defeated Norfolk’s army and the Duke himself was killed.  Meanwhile, the Yorkist Earl of Northumberland, standing with a sizeable army supporting Richard’s left flank, did not move, possibly because of the marsh in front of him and the Stanleys on his flank.  With the battle not going his way, Richard saw Henry Tudor with only a small force of soldiers on the field. He rallied his mounted knights and led a mounted charge across the battlefield trying to kill Henry. At this point Sir William Stanley attacked - on Henry’s side.  Richard was surrounded by his enemies, and lost his horse in the marsh. However, he fought on, vowing to win or die as the King of England.  King Richard was cut down “in the thickest press of his foes”. Even his enemies describe him as dying like a valiant prince.  His crown was picked up and given to the Stanleys who unofficially crowned Henry Tudor as King Henry VII of England at Stoke Golding straight after the battle. 

Can you visualise going into battle knowing that one of the armies could fight either way! Imagine if the Stanleys had decided to support Richard and not Henry - history would have been very different!

After King Richard III was killed he was taken to Leicester where he was laid out for public viewing for two days and then quietly buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary on 25th August 1485.  Many people believed that his body was dug up in 1538 when the Friary was closed down by Henry VIII and that his bones were thrown into the River Soar.  This was reinforced by sightings of a stone coffin, claiming to be King Richard’s, outside two different Leicester pubs in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Memorials to King Richard III and King Henry VII
Based on the written theories available in 1973 Leicestershire County Council chose Ambion Hill Farm to be the location for the Country’s first Battlefield Interpretation Centre to commemorate and tell the story of the bloody events of 22nd August 1485.  Since 1973, many have expressed doubts about the validity of the site. To mark the 500th anniversary of the battle, Dr. Colin Richmond published an article in August 1985 claiming that the battle was actually fought elsewhere. Dr. Richmond’s account was controversial enough to make the front pages of both The Times and the Guardian newspapers.  This was just when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were due to visit the heritage centre for the anniversary.  

Since the 1780s it was thought that the Battle of Bosworth was fought on Ambion Hill.  In 1985 Colin Richmond challenged this, using an early 16th century document describing a chapel for the Bosworth dead at Dadlington to suggest that the Battle was fought on Dadlington Hill.  Further documentary and landscape reaseach concluded that the Battle was fought on the low-lying ground to the south and west of Ambion Hill.  From 2005 to 2010 Leicestershire County Council and the Battlefields Trust undertook a survey to try and find the Battlefield.  The results concluded that the most likely location for the Battle was Dadlington.

Our walk took us to Shenton Station, the end of The Battlefield Line.  We hadn’t timed things very well and had over an hour to wait for a train and then when it did come it was a diesel car :-(  Apparently they only run the steam trains at the weekends and on Bank Holidays but it doesn’t say that on their website.  “Locomotive hauled services may be occasionally substituted for railcar on some days.”  When Richard went to speak to the guard Muffin leapt aboard – he just loves trains.  However, we decided not to go as it is the steam trains we love.

The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway opened on 1st August 1873.  The railway was primarily built to transport coal from both the North West Leicestershire and South Derbyshire coalfields.  The railway also moved livestock to and from Market Bosworth, bricks and tiles from factories as well as passengers.  Timetabled passenger services finished in 1931 apart from special excursions which continued until the early 1960's. The line closed completely in 1970.

We walked back on the lower path and ended up on the towpath.  Our walk took us on the other side of the canal to Mary H and I managed to get a decentish photo.

We crossed the canal at Sutton Cheney Wharf and stopped and the café for lunch.  I had a fabulous prawn salad.

It was then back to the boat and, as the weather was so nice, we decided to move on.  We stopped at bridge 23 again and I went back to the Spinneybank Farm Shop as the meat I bought there the other day was amazing.  I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Elaine in her shop.

We finally pulled over just before Hinckley at Bridge 19.

I’ve just worked it out that our visit to the Battle of Bosworth site, wherever it actually is, was 531 years ago yesterday since the actual Battle!

4.35 miles
0 locks

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sutton Cheney Wharf (Ashby Canal) – Monday 22nd August

Yesterday I got a Tweet from Jan on Qisma suggesting I look back at one of her blog posts from last year when they were on the Ashby.  I looked eagerly for a nude man but was disappointed!  However, at the car park I did see a man with two spaniels – don’t think it’s just the same though Jan!

Through Snarestone’s 250 yard tunnel (with a kink in the middle) and up to the top of the navigable Ashby – well it’s as far as we can go as the winding hole at the top is only big enough to wind a 50 foot boat. 

We bought a couple of souvenirs and some loo bloo from the Ashby Canal Association shop and had a chat with the chap there.  Apparently they hope to have the stretch of canal from Snarestone to Measham open in 5 years.  In 1944 the stretch of the canal between Donisthorpe and Moira was officially closed, following unsuccessful attempts by the canal company to overcome the effects of mining subsidence. Later, in 1957, a further length was closed, down as far as Illott Wharf, south of Measham. In 1966 local residents and anglers and waterway enthusiasts unsuccessfully protested against the closure of a further stretch, north of Snarestone. It was out of these protests that the Ashby Canal Association was born in 1966.

Richard struggled a bit winding Mary H as it was very windy but he managed it eventually!

We pulled over at Shackerstone for lunch and then went in search of a post box as my sister has a very special birthday on Thursday.  We passed a work boat called Becky that was selling rope fenders.  On her side was written Mal Edwards MBE – well me being me had to try and find something out about him.  It turns out that Mal was granted his MBE for 14 years at the helm of a Llangollen trip boat and is now a full time fender maker and well known singer of canal songs.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the Bosworth Battlefield and the Battlefield Railway Line.  We thought there were special offside moorings near the Shenstone Aqueduct but they are no longer there.  We tried to moor at Bridge 35 but we couldn’t get near the side so had to continue on.  We ended up just short of Sutton Cheyney Wharf where a pontoon has been built – maybe these are to replace the original ones up the canal. However, they are very nice and up the ramp is a nice field for Muffin to play in and a footpath which I think leads to the battlefield. 

12.25 miles
0 locks

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Timms Bridge 56 (Ashby Canal) – Sunday 21st August

Thank goodness the wind died down over night and the rain appeared to have stopped.

We pulled pins at 10.30am aiming for Bosworth Wharf or rather just before Bridge 42 – a journey of 25 minutes.  We were short of milk and there is a Co-op in Market Bosworth.

As we were mooring up Muffin found a new friend, Louis the Maltipoo.  He was gorgeous and such a pretty face.

We started our trek up into Market Bosworth.  It’s about a mile and uphill – but at least it was downhill with the shopping!  The first thing we found was a cairn stone - a specially commissioned memorial to mark the dedication and sacrifice of those involved with the J.J. Churchill factory in Market Bosworth during the Second World War.  The stone honours members of the Churchill family - a Battle of Britain hero and two secret agents - as well as the commitment of staff who worked on plane engine components, a vital part of the home front war effort.

We then came across, what I thought was a bungalow with a lovely garden, it turned out to be the local fire station! 

The town of Market Bosworth is very pretty.  Local building work revealed evidence of settlement on the hill since the Bronze Age. Remains of a Roman villa have also been found. Bosworth as an Anglo-Saxon village dates from the 8th century.  The Battle of Bosworth took place to south of the town in 1485 as the final battle in the Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Following the discovery of the remains of Richard III in Leicester during 2012, on Sunday 22 March 2015 the king's funeral cortège passed through the town on its way to Leicester Cathedral for his reburial.

Before going shopping we went to the Red Lion for Sunday lunch.  I had lamb and Richard had beef – it was very good but it’s going to be very difficult for any pub to match up to last Sunday’s roast in Alrewas. 

I did my bit of shopping in the Co-op.  The shop is fairly small but I got what I wanted – our next shopping will be at Tesco on the outskirts of Coventry on Wednesday.

It is a very pleasant walk from the town to the canal.  There are some very different houses, from a very old thatched cottage to a couple of very large modern detached houses behind electric gates.  We got back to the boat and moved on about 2.30pm.  Richard just seemed to keep going and going until he finally said “how about here”.  By that stage anything would do but in fact it is very nice though the wind seems to have got up again. 

6.29 miles
0 locks