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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Dunchurch Pools Marina (Oxford Canal) – Thursday 22nd April

Richard’s alarm clock is still out – this morning it was 7.30am!

There were 7 boats in at Clifton Cruisers.  Of course, the schools have gone back so I guess that’s probably why!

We pulled over for lunch just before Hilmorton then Muffin and I set off for the locks.  There was a lockie helping out at the bottom locks, so we were straight through that one.  As I walked to the middle lock Muffin decided to have a poo.  I looked in my pocket for poo bags, but I hadn’t got any, so I called to Richard.  He duly pulled over and gave me a whole new roll.  As I was taking the little bit of sticky tape off the roll, I dropped the whole lot into the canal, and the roll unravelled.  As I can’t kneel down because my knees are so bad, I was a bit stumped, but there was a lady walking down the tow path with a windlass and she very kindly knelt down and fished the bags out.  There were boats coming down both the middle and top locks which speeded our passage up.  I was also videoing Richard going through the locks. 

Back at the marina Richard was trying to pull over onto the service pontoon when the wind suddenly got up.  He was on the pontoon holding on to the centre rope and there was every likelihood of him losing the boat!  Superwoman to the rescue (!) I had been in the cratch videoing and didn’t even realise that we were going for diesel.  I galloped through the boat, leapt onto the pontoon and pulled Mary H back in – single handed!  OK so I wasn’t actually single handed, but it makes the story sound better.  After filling up we moved over to our pontoon. 

We were sitting on the back deck having a cup of tea and we were deafened by the silence!  All we could hear was a few birds and the odd lamb bleating.  Then I noticed a headless swan floating around.

I was very pleased with the videos I took at Hilmorton and the marina, but I still have to edit them.  I hope, with my future son-in-law’s help to be able to put both this video and the Hawkesbury Junction one onto an extra blog next week.

When the Oxford Canal was completed in 1790 it followed the contours of the land, meandering around hills and along the sides of valleys to avoid the expense of digging cuttings and building embankments.  By the 1830s it had become obvious that a more direct (and, therefore, faster) route was needed so much of the Oxford Canal north of Wolfhampcote was straightened. This involved many short sections of new canal to bypass the worst twists and turns of the original route. The overall distance between Hawkesbury and Oxford was reduced by about 20 miles to its present 77 miles.  You can see from the 3 screen shots below just how twisty it was.

The cost of straightening the canal was estimated at £131,000 in 1829 and had actually cost just over £171,000 by completion in 1834. The company soon set about selling off the unused sections of the old line such as this one which totalled nearly 10 miles in all and by 1843 had recouped over £7000 in sales of land and reclaimed materials. 

10.73 miles
3 locks

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Hungerfield Bridge No 35 (Ashby/Coventry/Oxford Canals) – Wednesday 21st April

Richard has an inbuilt alarm clock which goes off at 7.50am every morning well except for today when it was 8.10am!  It put me out for the whole day! 

It took us about 15 minutes to get down to Marston Junction, where we discovered that C&RT were working on the bank opposite which made turning interesting – I’m glad we don’t have a 70 foot boat. 

Down to Hawkesbury Junction where the stop lock was in our favour.  There were two ducks in front of the boat who didn’t really seem bothered that 15 tons of boat were about to run them over.  Eventually they flew out onto the canal side – I was quite relieved. 

We passed through the village of Ansty which has been cited as "the most boater-hostile village on the canals" because of the huge number of "no mooring" signs!  However, Ansty should really be remembered for one of its landowners, Lady Godiva, who rode naked through the streets of Coventry. The story goes that Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering under her husband's harsh taxation. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to lower the taxes. At last, he said he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride on a horse through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word, and after issuing a proclamation that everyone should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town Thomas, a tailor, ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation and was struck blind and deaf! 

There was a boat in front of us at Rose Narrowboats, so they opened the swing bridge and we closed it.  There were four hire boats in today.   The wharf at Rose Narrowboats once had a stop gate to retain water in the canal to the south if the embankment should fail and provided a convenient place for “gauging” boats.  After Rose Narrowboats, the map ways that there is an unstable cutting.  This photo shows a landslide in that very same cutting. 

We cruised through All Oaks Wood and took the last mooring just before Bridge 35.

At home we have a Ring doorbell – one with a camera in it.  I get notified when anyone comes near the door even if they don’t actually ring the bell.  Twice during the night, I was notified, but when I checked the camera, I found that, yes, we had had a visitor, but I don’t think he will do us much harm!  Hopefully, you can spot the intruder just above the Jeep’s windscreen. 

12.46 miles
1 lock

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Lloyd's Farm Bridge No 3 (Ashby Canal) – Tuesday 20th April

I can’t believe that we have another gorgeous day.  If we are to make it back to Dunchurch Pools on Thursday, we have to stick to the CanalPlan route which tells us to moor just before the end of the Ashby tonight. 

I have to admit that even though it has been a lovely day I have felt about 5° under, no energy and tired   I don’t know why as usually when the sun shines I am full of joys of spring.

We stopped at Bridge 23 to visit Spinneybank Farm Shop.  All I wanted was eggs but managed to spend £35!  Not only were there usual wonderful selection of meat but also of vegetables too.

There were about 6 calves in a field next to the shop, these two were very nosey.

We moored up at the last mooring spot on the canal and settled down to our last night on the Ashby.

Our mooring is by a village called Marston Jabbett.  An intriguing name which was mentioned in the Domesday Book as having 21 households with 12 villagers, 8 smallholders and 1 female slave!

I found these two photos on the Ashby Canal Trust website.  What an amazing transformation.

Its 5 years since we were last on the Ashby and I do remember that the weather wasn’t brilliant except for the day we visited the Bosworth battlefields.  This year we have been really lucky with no rain but last week there was a chilly wind.  Since Saturday though the weather has been really lovely.  The mooring on the Ashby is amazing, there is so much of it on armco, I really felt like pulling in every few miles as the views were so lovely.  I feel that the top part of the canal is the nicest.  The Ashby is so local for us so we will do it again, but I would like to take longer next time.

13.9 miles

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Deakins Bridge No 39 (Ashby Canal) – Monday 19th April

We both slept really well for a change.  It was a gorgeous morning, and as there were two other boats moored at Snarestone, Richard decided to move up to the water point before I had even got up!  I really don’t do mornings but once I realised how lovely the morning was, I was up and out!  He did the right thing as when we left one of the other boats was waiting to take our place.

We said goodbye to Lisa – Fred was hoovering the boat!  I hope it won’t be another 8 years before we see them again.  Sadly, Fred doesn’t blog anymore so I can’t keep up with them.  If you are reading this Lisa and Fred, it was lovely to catch up with you again and I hope you enjoy your summer cruising wherever that might be!

Down through Snarestone Tunnel and I managed to get this photo – I’m not sure what was happening on my phone as it took ages to actually take the photo. 

We passed the field with the large lambs in it, and I managed to take a photo.  Please don’t mention mint sauce!

Richard pulled over at Shakerstone Aqueduct and I managed to take some photos.  It was really pretty, especially with the sun shining. 

I couldn’t resist putting these two in the blog with the sun streaming through the trees. 

Richard pulled over at bridge 39 and it was so lovely, both the mooring and the day that we stayed put. 

The sun brought out the Mrs. Mop in me and I won’t say that I spring cleaned the boat, but I got nearly all the jobs done that I have been putting off.  Two left now – clean the oven and the shower walls

7.86 miles

Monday, 19 April 2021

Snarestone Wharf (Ashby Canal) – Sunday 18th April

It was time to leave our lovely spot and move on to the end of the canal.

We passed some boats moored on the edge of a field of sheep with this beautiful willow tree hanging over a pond.  I missed getting a photo of the “lambs” – they were as big as their mothers!

There is an aqueduct over the River Sence at Shakerstone just after a sharp left hand bend in the canal.  We will stop and have a proper look at it on our way back tomorrow.

Snarestone Tunnel has a kink in its 250 yards, and it does look a bit strange. Both the entrances to the tunnel are Grade II listed.  

Out of the tunnel and we were at Snarestone Wharf.  There isn’t much mooring here but we were fine.  We walked up to the office/shop and saw a boat with a name that I remembered from a few years back, but I didn’t think it was the same one.  We crossed the little footbridge behind a lady, as she got to the end she turned round and said hello!  It was Lisa Webster from Chyandour.  We first met Lisa and Fred in Middlewich in June 2013.  Looking back on the blog I wrote “We went down the first of the Middlewich locks and just as I was approaching the second a couple approached me and asked if I was Mrs. Gifford-Hull!  After I picked myself out of the lock (!) I discovered that they were from Chyandour - a boat I follow both by blog and on Twitter.”  So, both times she recognised me - I must try and be more observant. 

In the afternoon the canal was very busy with paddle boarders, mainly children.  It is so nice to see the canal being used by other “craft”.  It seems there is a regular group who go there and also have a barbecue on the two that are provided. 

A beautiful Rolls Royce in the car park this afternoon

I had booked a Sainsburys delivery for this afternoon, so we wandered up to the shop, bought an ice-cream and sat and chatted to Fred and Lisa.  You wouldn’t really believe that has been nearly 8 years since we last met.  The delivery turned up and we collected our goods and walked back to the boat.  I always used to use Tesco for my delivery, but my allegiance has changed since lockdown.  At home I found Sainsburys much easier to get a slot and they also email on the morning the delivery is due telling me what the substitutions are, if any.  Maybe Tesco do that now too but, sorry Tesco you are too late!  At home we have a local Tesco and Sainsburys.  I always buy BOB milk but suddenly Tesco stopped stocking it but Sainsburys do, so my allegiance has changed for local shopping too.

4.36 miles

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Fairfield Bridge No 46 (Ashby Canal) – Saturday 17th April

We had already decided to stay put today and we woke to a perfect day.  Richard took the opportunity to varnish the taff rail and do a few other jobs while I finally managed the get the Hawkesbury Junction video onto the blog.  The trouble was that it didn’t stay there!  It wouldn’t appear on phones, it would seem that it a recognised problem and then it disappeared off laptops and iPads   I will have to ask my personal technical support for some help when I get home.  James is going to make the most amazing, fantastic, phenomenal and incredible son-in-law!! 😊

I think I have fathomed out how to use my video camera on its own, but it will be much easier to use it with my phone.  That lesson is yet to come!
We had some visitors this morning.  Mummy duck and her brood.  I think Richard and I finally agreed on there being 14 babies!  They move so quickly that it is so difficult to count them!

We really had chosen a prefect mooring spot.  Quiet and relaxing.  That is until the famer decided to muck spread the field next to us!  It wasn’t that smelly thank good and the tractor noise wasn’t obtrusive so it didn’t really bother us.
I was seven weeks old when the Queen was crowned.  We didn’t have a TV, but some friends of my parents did, and I was taken along, put in my carry cot on a table and wedged up so that I could see what was going on!  I was never told if I enjoyed it or if I fell asleep.  From then on Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip were in my life.  I must have been about 7 when my Mother took Penny and me up to see Trooping the Colour and from then I just loved happy Royal Occasions.  I have to admit that I don’t remember the Queen Mother’s funeral, but I may well have been working abroad at that time, but I do remember Diana’s funeral very well.  In recent years we have had happy Royal weddings to remember and talk about, but today I personally have mourned an amazing man who has stood beside his wife, his Queen, for 69 years. 
I watched Prince Philip’s funeral in the afternoon.  His final trip from Windsor Castle’s State Entrance to St. George’s Chapel on the Landrover was a real piece of pageantry.  I had tears in my eyes when Huw Edwards said, as the cortege moved off, that the Prince was in front of the Queen for the first and last time.  I found the service very moving, and I felt the sight of the Queen sitting on her own heart breaking. 
I’m going to try and embed another small video of the ducklings.  I hope it stays there.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Fairfield Bridge No 46 (Ashby Canal) – Friday 16th April

We woke up to a blue sky and sunshine, but it soon clouded over  

I asked Richard if he had a plan but all I got was “to get moving”.  That’s not what I expected or wanted to hear!  If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am a planner and an organiser, but I just can’t get my head round that we don’t have a plan.  I’m blaming Covid!

I spent most of the day with my nose in my computer as Richard would say!  However, I managed to edit the Hawkesbury Junction video which I will put at the end of the blog, I hope it works and that you enjoy my first attempt.

I also, with the help of Brian Holt (Harnser’s Travels), managed to get Waterway Routes onto my iPad but that was after we had stopped for the day so I am hoping that it will work when we move! 

All in all, a very productive day!

Market Bosworth Marina

Just one more thing to master now and that is my Pocket video camera.  Hopefully, I can do that tomorrow as we aren’t moving.

We passed Sutton Cheney Wharf where there is a café and it appeared that all its outside tables taken.  There is a service pontoon there too.  The visitors mooring pontoon just up from the wharf is being rebuilt and will be fantastic when it is finished.  The last time we were on the Ashby in 2016 we stopped on the pontoon and it was pretty rickety then!

It was my birthday last weekend, and I was given a birthday helium balloon.  We brought it with us.  It moves up and down the boat and yesterday it was by a window.  Richard was wished a happy birthday three times today!  

We pulled over just after bridge 46 in a lovely spot.  There is lots of mooring on the Ashby and we are on a long stretch, with us at one end and one other boat at the other end.  It is so quiet, all we can hear are the birds which is just wonderful.

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch (or Ashby) Canal is 31 miles long and used to connect the mining district around Moira, just outside the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, with the Coventry Canal. It was opened in 1804, and several tramways were constructed at its northern end, to service collieries. The canal was taken over by the Midland Railway in 1846, but remained profitable until the 1890s, after which it steadily declined. Around 9 miles passed through the Leicestershire coal field, and was heavily affected by subsidence, with the result that the section from Moira, southwards to Snarestone, was progressively closed in 1944, 1957 and 1966, leaving 22 miles of navigable canal. 

The Ashby Canal Association (ACA) was formed in 1966, born out of concern caused by the progressive closure of the northern 8 miles due to the mining subsidence.  In 2001 a mile or so of canal was restored between Donisthorpe and Moira and in 2006 another short stretch between bridges 61 and 62 was opened after bridge 62 was completely rebuilt.  The winding hole after bridge 62 is only for boats less than 52 feet long so we won’t be going.

14.24 miles