Start - Budbrooke Junction
End - Bridge 50
Last night we took a walk up a couple of the locks, just above the first lock BW had moored two mud flats and a tug. When we went up this morning at 0840 hrs. one mud flat was moored just at the mouth of the lock, tied to the top rail of a low wooden fence, the second flat was just floating about and the tug was on the end of about 20 foot of blue string. This raises two points, why do BW still insist on mooring their boats where boaters need to get off to work locks and two, why don't they drive some steel poles in the bank about 150 feet upstream with rings attached and then tie and lock their boats to them. That way they wouldn't be in the way of customers using the locks and they wouldn't end up floating around the pounds. We did the first 6 locks before we met another boat and then their were three, a single followed by a pair. The lady on the pair claiming that the single nipped out in front of them and took the lock, it was a pity they weren't spaced out better, it would have made life easier for us. A bit further up a boater introduced him as Richard off "Mad Hatter" unfortunately his boat was in one of those locks that as soon as its empty and the gate is open the boat just drifts to the offside and so it was with Mad Hatter who ended up trapped behind the closed gate. When we entered the lock and Diana closed the gates the same thing happened to us, straight across to the off side. We didn't meet any more boats until we left the lock by Hatton workshops, we just left the lock and the boats coming down from the top set ahead, but they didn't look under the bridge to see if there was a lock in the pound about to come up. On the top lock moorings there was yet another BW boat moored which could just as easily been left over the other side in the entrance to the old single lock. At Kingswood Junction we met up with fellow Ipswich IWA members John and Joan, they had gone down to Stratford the week before and were now on their way to Birmingham, after bit of a chat we headed off down the Stratford Canal. We found the locks very slow to empty and after the first few they were all against us. At Lowsenford we found a ladies handbag on the seat by the lock. I accessed the her phone and rang the last number she had rung, from there I found the name of her partner and then found him in her address book, I called him and she answered and was very pleased that some honest had picked up her bag. We had a short wait until she returned back up the towpath to collect her property. We carried on down the Stratford until 1915hrs before mooring for the
night about a mile above Wotton Wawen at bridge 50.
Start - Bridge 50 Stratford Canal
End - Cadbury Lock River Avon
We left our moorings at 9am continuing out journey to Stratford on Avon. Our first challenge came at Wotton Wawen basin where Anglo Welsh had there whole fleet moored side by side fanned out across the entrance to the Aqueduct testing our steering skills swinging round the bows of the end boat and then entering the aqueduct, here I received another surprise, the aqueduct is now a 24 hour mooring, it may only be seven feet wide but the BW sign declares it to be a 24 hour mooring, I will try to get a photograph on our return trip. A little further on the sheep on the offside were kicking up a fearful din, the reason soon became obvious, a young lamb was stuck in the canal, we couldn't get the boat close to the lamb but we were able to get close enough to the bank for me to jump ashore, I was then able to walk along and hang down the bank and lift the lamb out. It was very cold and shivering, whether it will survive or not I don't know but at least it has a chance and didn't die of cold and drowning in the canal. At lock 40 Wilmcote Top Lock Magic managed to pull Diana over flat on her bum on the towpath, as she got up and put Magic back on the boat her long throw Dutton aluminium windlass went straight into the cut just at the top of the lock. We had a pock about with our boathooks with no luck, so if anyone has an alloy magnet that would be a good place to try. From here we met quite a few Stratford Court Cruisers under veering names, most of them ware displaying a BW licence of some sort but weather they were current or not was impossible to tell as they were all white with small black writing. Maybe BW should take a leaf out of the Avon or Thames authority and have large hand written expiry dates on them. We moored in Bancroft basin and after having a word with Dave on "Willy No Name" we went over to the information Centre to buy an Avon short term licence, the minimum was 15 days upper Avon for £28. We locked down onto the Avon at about 1500 hours and travelled downstream for 4 locks to Cadbury Lock where we have moored for the night at 1700 hours for the night.
Start - Cadbury Lock, River Avon
End - Fish and Anchor pub, George Billington Lock, River Avon
We woke to a sunny morning quite early, does anyone know how to reset the alarm time for the Dawn Chorus or adjust the volume. We didn't set off until 9-30 for a leisurely cruise down the Avon, meeting about three narrowboats on the way, no cruisers. We stopped for lunch at Robert Aickman New Lock by the derelict mill. We had just moored up when two chaps arrived with mowers and strimmers to cut the grass around the lock, so much for our quiet mooring for lunch. It would appear that a greater effort is being made before the "IWA" boat comes up tomorrow to take dignitaries to the IWA 60th Anniversary Dinner at Stratford on Avon, I wonder if they will have a reserved mooring in the basin? After lunch we carried on to Evesham Lock where we had to turn and come back upstream. At 1600 hrs we have moored for the night just above George Billington Lock on the Fish and Anchor's patrons mooring as we intend to eat there tonight.
Start - Fish and Anchor pub, George Billington Lock, River Avon
End - Old Bathing Place, The Upper Avon
There was a light rain in the early hours of this morning but it had all cleared before we were about and the day just got warmer. We had an enjoyable evening in the "Fish and Anchor" with a good choice of menu, good size portions and 3 beers on hand pump, we tested them all. To top it all at nine o'clock the large screen came down in the back bar and we were able to watch "The Apprentice" This morning we set off at about 0945 and just crossed the river so Diana and Magic could walk to the next lock along the bank, here a pair of 70 foot boats were moored with the owner looking for a crew to help take them to Oxford, they are a vegetarian / vegan hotel pair which seamed to me bit of a limited market. To give the chap a hand I offered to post his request for crew to the mailing list. Following this we carried on to Bidford to fill with water, there was just one mooring spot left and the chap on next boat hopped off and gave us a hand to moor up. Once full we carried on upstream, when I looked back the chap moored behind us had also pushed off and we shared all the locks to Stratford. I saw my first Kingfisher of the trip between "Stan Glover Lock" and "Weir Brake Lock" and it was obliging enough to allow me to take a few photographs of it. When we arrived at Stratford the other boat moored for the night, whilst we carried on to the official head of navigation as we have never been that far before. This proved to be a very quiet stretch of water and it was here that I saw for the first time ever a Canada Goose nest in a tree which I was able to get a photo of. We winded at the head of navigation and slowly made our way back downstream as far as the "Old Bathing Place" where we have moored for the night. Today was the first day of summer, I have been steering all day with my shirt off and the dog has been seeking out somewhere cool to lay, but now it has clouded over, its still quite ward but the wind has been increasing all day.
Start - Old Bathing Place, The Upper Avon
End - Bancroft Basin, Stratford on Avon
Last night the evening continued to cloud over and the barometric pressure fell with a good expectancy of some rain, but this mornings dawn brought a brilliant sky and the day just continued to improve. After checking that the dawn was OK I went back to bed for a few hours. We finally set off down stream at ten o'clock, it was only about three quarters of a mile to the basin and I pulled into the lock mouth so Diana could go a see if there was a mooring space, the alternative would to be moored over the other side of the river. A few minutes later she returned and said there were several spaces, so we locked up. Just as she was setting the lock the chap we had shared with all day yesterday walked past and stopped to lend a hand. There were 5 free mooring slots in the basin so we had a choice and as I write this at seven at night there are still two empty spaces. We will stay here now until Sunday morning when we will set off back towards Napton, I just hope this wonderful weather holds.
Start - Bancroft Basin, Stratford on Avon
End - Lowsenford
We heard Dave and Jane leave at about 8 this morning, but it was 9-15 before we had seen our guests on their way and untied from the excellent. finger moorings. We timed it perfectly, as we left the basin two boats lock up of which at least one continued up the Stratford canal behind us and after leaving the first lock we met a boat coming down who had set the first flight
in our favour. The day went quite well as we met a steady stream of boats all day and we probably had more locks with us then against us. As we approached Wotton Wawen aqueduct I got my camera ready to photograph the BW sigh that indicated the aqueduct is a 24 hour mooring and Magic decided it would be a good moment to try and catch a fly and fall straight off the back of the rear deck into the canal, he swam straight to the bank, realised that we had continued on so swam along to join us before being persuaded to swim back to the bank and wait for me to come along side. This was easier said than done as it was somewhat shallow. Once he was back onboard and getting rubbed down I was able to think again about my photograph of the signs. Just beyond Wotton Wawen basin there is a somewhat aggressive swan who has a nest on the offside bank, he took a complete dislike to Magic and we had to put him below. We carried on to Lowsenford where "Willy No Name" was moored opposite the "Fleur de Lys" pub, so we nosed in just in front of him. After a short chat we decided that we would eat together at the pub, so Diana and I wandered round to book a table only to be told that the Kitchen had closed for the day because tomorrow they are having a "Management Change" so we will have to wait until our next trip down here to find out what he "New Management" is like. The result tonight is we are all eating onboard our boats and having a drink together later.
Start - Lowsenford
End - Cape of Good Hope, Warwick.
We woke to torrential rain and heard Dave on "Willy No Name" slip his moorings at 8 o'clock time whilst the rain was at its heaviest. By the time we were about the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through. We set of at 9 30 AM in drizzle which rapidly turned to rain and then heavy rain which continued until after lunch. Yet again we timed our departure well, meeting a boat at the first lock and as they had set off at 7-30 all the locks as far as number 25 were in our favour where they must have passed Dave and Jane. We didn't see another boat on the move until we approached Hatton locks where we met two. We hoped that this would mean the Hatton flight would be with us, but first we were stopping for a bite of lunch. Just as we pulled in we met another boat who was just going up to wind and then heading part way down the flight if we cared to join him. We ate lunch and as he returned we pulled out behind him and followed him to the locks, but we had been had, twice, firstly the locks were all against us and secondly he was a single hander, so we gained nothing. By the second lock the rain had stopped and at the third lock we left our new partner at Steven Goldsborough's dry dock. We continued on for a couple more locks when we met a boat coming up the flight, he in turn was followed by two more, so now the locks were with us again. We were well beyond half way when we encountered the locks against us and this continued to the bottom of the flight. BW still had a boat moored just below the top lock and a tug and mud hopper just above the bottom lock. It looks as if they are relaying the towpath in front of the houses below the bottom lock. We carried on to Cape locks where we filled with water and have moored for the night with a view to eating at the Cape of Good Hope.
Start - Cape of Good Hope, Warwick
End - The Bridge Inn, Napton
As planned we ate at the Cape last night and as before very good value, I had a steak with veg and Diana had pepper steak in Suet pudding, we each had a pint and the bill was £20 and we didn't want a sweet afterwards. The dawn chorus here was a bit different to what we have become use to. This was more like two, tracked, mechanical excavators that needed their tracks adjusting, a large dumped truck and something with a reverse alarm that was enough to wake the dead. It was drizzling very slightly when we left about 9-30 and we met several boats coming towards us so we had a good run with the locks, as we turned the bend at Tesco a rather smokey, smelly boat shot away straight across the cut to drop their dog off and then up the cut soon leaving us in their smoke but a little later we caught them up and their engine was now much cleaner. At the aqueduct we met two of the Rugby group boats, the second tried to enter the aqueduct just before we reached the far end, unfortunately he miss judged it, hit the end of the aqueduct and bounced out to my side of the cut where we met, even though I was going hard astern. We followed the boat that had left Tesco, every time he opened up clouds of smelly smoke engulfed everything but the rest of the time things were OK. We were all set to go up the Radford flight with them, but the winded just below the lock and headed back towards Leamington Spa. The locks were with us so we set off up alone meeting more boats coming down. When we reached Bascote the locks were against us and as we worked the second lock we could see a boat leaving the top of the staircase. As we worked out of the top of the staircase we saw a boat entering the bottom of the flight. We now had a dilemma, should we A, wait for the boat behind us, B try to catch the boat in front or C carry on at our own pace. We decided on C which worked out well because the boat ahead waited at the Two Boats for us to catch up, we worked up the rest of the locks with them to Stockton and by the time we got to the top he was even happy entering and leaving via one gate so Diana could work ahead. At Calcutt we caught up a Kate hire boat with four Americans onboard for a 3 day trip. They were out of Stockton and were planing to go to Banbury and back before Friday. We worked two locks with them and stopped at Calcutt to fill with diesel which was still 45p a ltr. if you take over 100 ltr. After taking on 150 ltr. we carried on up the last lock and off into the South Oxford to moor for the night by The Bridge Inn, Napton at half past six.