We started our cruise on Thursday the 20th March 2008 and lots of activity at out moorings. There was quite a bit of plant about when we arrived. BW contractors have dredged the moorings, engine arm and have carried out spot dredging all the way down the flight. They are now working opposite the Folly visitor moorings and taking all the spoil up the flight and spreading it on the field opposite where we moor. Just as we were about to set off an Ownerships boat came down the cut and slipped straight into the lock in front of an empty barge waiting to go down, why they didn't say something to him I don't know. We had to hang about while a full barge came up and then the empty one went down leaving us to turn the lock before we could proceed. we met several boats in the flight which eased our passage but then had to wait below the Folly for the chaps to move a barge full of mud from the centre of the channel. We then made our way to Calcutt boats to fill with diesel at 63/lt if you take more than 100 lts. This was also a bit slow as Calcutt have all their fleet of hire boats in and the chap in front of us had just filled his stern tanks and was trying to get the bow in to fill the front tank. In the end I jump aboard his boat and poled the bows round. Once he was in and secured we locked down and waited for him to move out before reversing in to take on 180 lts ourselves. We then retraced our steps to Wigrams Turn and headed off towards Braunston. Up till now the weather had been fine but cold and it was now starting to drizzle a bit We decided if it didn't get any worse we would head to Braunston for the night as all the good moorings along this stretch are quite exposed to the cold wind. Once at Braunston Diana winded in the marina entrance, the first time she has ever done this and we dropped back to moor by Butches Bridge with a view to eating in The Old Plough. Looking into the marina Diana spotted Prairie Crocus so we wander round and had a cupa and chat with Ken and Claudia who agreed to meet us in the Plough latter to eat. There are very few hire boats out for Easter with all the Napton Narrowboats and Calcutt boat firmly tied up, it must be due to the change in school holidays We returned to the boat after eating at the Old Plough and later it rained and blew, but this morning it was just blowing with a clear sunny day.
We set off at about 10 am up the North Oxford canal, we didn't see much on the move and there was quite a wind blowing virtually on out noise, luckily Harnser is ballasted almost flat so the wind doesn't have to great an effect on the bows, in fact with a side wind she tends to weathervane a bit into the wind. The canoes were all out at the pub at Hillmorton but we didn't see any people so I guess they were having lunch in the pub as passed. We stopped just before Hillmorton Locks for lunch and then moved on at about 1.30 pm, we timed this just right to catch all the canalbreaks.com boats leaving Hillmorton Wharf and by the time they got to us they were trying to do their first lock alone, with the strong breeze in the top pound they were having problems. Not the best start to their holidays, but at least they have a good run to the next locks to hone their boat handling skills. At Rugby, "Tesco" had their magnet turned on again which held Harnser fast to the bank while Diana went shopping, I suppose when she uses her Tesco card it releases us. We carried on to Newbold where we saw Fringilla moored so we tied alongside and went in for a chat and cupa with John and Joan. We left them at about 5 pm. buy now the wind had dropped and the sun was bright but low in the sky. in the next couple of miles we met several Rose Narrowboat hire boats, I must say they look exceptionally well turned unlike some of the hire boats we have seen today. We moored for the night between bridges 38 and 37 against a nice grassy stretch of towing path. Shortly after mooring we were passed by the fastest boat to ever go by us while we were moored. it was a Clifton hire boat leaving a wash as it went. The only good bit was he was unable to get through the bridge at that speed and ended up in the off side for a bit. A10 pm we heard another boat, this time it was a day boat from Rose Narrowboats heading back, to be out that late we assumed they must have hired a skipper as well as the boat.
Last nights choice of moorings turned out to be a good one, the thick hedge on the offside making a very good wind break. We set of a little before 10 am in a cold stiff breeze and bright sunshine. The wind was causing a problem for boats coming towards us on the wide bend just before All Oaks Wood and at least 2 boats hit a moored boat there as they came out from the shelter of the trees. At the other end of the wood I fished a new builders barrow out of the cut, it's wheel broke the surface as we went passed. At Rose Narrowboats there were our friends on their Clifton hire boat, they had gone through the swing bridge and narrows and were now pined to the bank by the wind, when they finally got free they must have hit half the moored boats on both sides of the cut before reaching open water. Just beyond Coventry Cruising Club it started to hail hard so we decided to pull over for a bit, but it soon stopped so we set off again. We filled with water at Sutton Stop, here BW have put encapsulated notices on sticks saying "Oxford Canal Hawkesbury Junction Footbridge" I noticed that had also done this at bridge 5 and the footbridge on the Coventry Canal, maybe its to save money being cheaper than cast bridge numbers. We stopped for a bite of lunch in the next hail storm and then continued on to the Ashby Canal. It always surprises me the amount of traffic we see down here and today is no exception. We went straight passed the "Brewers Fare" pub at Trinity Marina as mooring there is £5 a night for a maximum of 2 nights and moored just before bridge 19 at a few minuets past five. When we took the dog out the wind had dropped right away, the moon and stars were out and the canal was like a mirror.
We woke this morning to a cool breeze and a covering of snow but by 10pm the snow had gone, however the cold breeze continued all day. We averaged 2.5 MPH down the Ashby with a shallow canal and moored boats and some sharp bends. There were two railway engines in steam at Shackerstone, we could see them in the distance, the white steam showing against the dark sky. We winded at the present end of the Ashby canal and moored for the night at about 4-30pm. The trust has been hard at work cutting down trees and clearing brushwood on the route of the closed section of canal, all they need now is money.
Monday morning was much less windy but a little chilly, we set off at 10am and moored up a couple of hours later at the visitor moorings at Market Bosworth. There is a notice pinned to the BW posts saying that WiFi broadband is available on these moorings for £5 per day by ringing a telephone number. I switched the computer on and hit 3 connections but with a very weak signal.
We spent the afternoon in Market Bosworth visiting a friend of Diana's. It's about three quarters of a mile to the town from the canal and while we were there the sun shone warmly, good boating weather! We returned to the boat at 5 pm and after feeding the dog set off in a pleasant weather, as we pushed on the skys cleared and wind died away. We were going to moor at Sutton Wharf visitor moorings but found them closed and covered in keep off tape. These moorings are on the off side and consist of about 250 feet of staging, unfortunately they didn't use real wood but plastic imitation which in quite a short time has sagged has become unsafe. We carried on past the long term off side moorings and moored just beyond the end of them, but as a cruiser on the long term mooring was running his outboard engine as a generator, we have moved to just before bridge 33 about another 100 m along the cut. By now it was dark. I took the dog out a little after 10 and the outboard was still running so I am glad we moved along a bit.
We set off this morning a 9 am in bright sun with no wind. Our first stop was The Ashby Boat Company for a pump out, we then continued to the junction of the Ashby and the Coventry canal, by now a cold breeze had picked up, but
nothing like earlier in the trip. At the junction we turned right and on to Nuneaton where our boating friends Hazel and Peter happened to be looking out of there house window as we were passing, we had slowed incase they were in. Peter has built a jetty along the bottom of their garden, so we made fast and went in for a cupa and swap plans and past trips. We left them about half three and headed on to Atherstone. BW
have done grand work along this stretch cutting down overhanging trees
on both sides of the cut. We moored for the night just above the locks
at about 5-30 pm.
For those of you that have boated between Nuneaton and Atherstone may
recall a basin pulled out on the left hand side with a narrowboat on it
and not connected to the canal, the narrowboat has now been removed but
there is still a piece of bank between the basin and the canal.
Date - 26/03/08
Day - Wednesday
Start - 0915
End - 1630 Fazeley
We found eating out a bit problematic last night in Atherstone and as
we didn't fancy an Indian we ended up in the Red Lion Hotel having bar
meals which were very well cooked and good size portions and for a hotel
not over expensive.
This morning we set off about 9-15 in light drizzle but much warmer than
of late. The boat we followed down left the bottom paddles open by 2
clicks on almost every lock until Diana had a word with them opposite
Barry Howkins yard. At the first lock we thought the lock was just a
slow filler until I went to the bottom and checked the paddles, at the
second a boat coming up hadn't noticed and was wondering why things were
By 10 am the sun was out and the rest of the flight was quite pleasant
until about 11 30 when it poured down. At bridge 66 the dreaded Tesco
magnet was switched on, it was only a Tesco Extra so maybe we will be
able to get straight past on the way home. At the Tamworth pair the lady
in front struck again and left the bottom paddle up 2 clicks and again
the boat coming up wondered why he couldn't make a level. Diana walked
straight past the boat and wound the paddle down looking a right smarty
pants. Steve Hudson has a lot of new boats in his basin still in primer
and awaiting completion. We continued on to Fazeley where we came
across Barbara and Malcolm moored, after a short chat we moored about 5
boats ahead of them and arranged to go round for a Chinese take away
with them. As it was still early I set to and did an oil and filter change.
Date - 27 /03/08
Day - Thursday
Start - 0900
End - 1900
Last night was a bit restless, the dog was snoring and generally making
doggy noises, then the was the dawn chorus followed by a pair of
Canada Geese how have claimed this section of canal and were seeing all
commers off, this was followed by a few dogs joining in and the odd car
leaving for work. Then it was time to get up.
We set off at 9am in bright sunshine but about a couple of miles before
Fradley Junction it rained quite heavily for half an hour, stopping just
as we stopped to take water. We winded at the junction and then made our
way back to Alvecote in very pleasant weather. We struck lucky with
Tamworth locks as a boat had just left and as we were leaving the top
one another boat arrived.
Date - 28/03/08
Day - Friday
Start - 0730
End - 1700
In view of the weather forecast last we decided to start off as soon as
we were about this morning, so at 7 30 we were off. The day started a
bit miserable but not to bad and held until the Atherstone flight. Just
before the flight we met Oak and Ash still moored up, Martin was
titivating and the guests eating breakfast. As we hit the first lock on
the Atherstone flight the skys opened so we did the first two locks and
then moored up for a bit until things improved. We had a bad run up the
flight having to turn every lock and shut up behind us. We saw very few
boats on the move all day and we finally moored just through Nuneaton
back out in the countryside at 5 pm. No sooner had we moored up and it
started to hail for a bit and then the wind picked up dramatically
Date - 29/03/08
Day - Saturday
Start - 0945
End - 1500 Newbold
We woke to a lovely sunny morning but a poor forecast. The wind picked
up in the course of the day and just beyond Hawkesbury Junction on the
North Oxford canal it started to rain and hail. The showers didn't last
long but where unpleasant while they lasted. The wind picked up which
made us decide to moor for the night at Newbold and probably go to the
pub to eat tonight.
Date - 30/03/08
Day - Sunday
Start - 0930
End - 1730
Last night we ate in the Barley Mow at Newbold and were pleasantly
surprised. It's now under "new management" and very welcoming.
We set off this morning in bright sun shine at 9 30 and found the South
Oxford quite busy with several boats at the Hillmorton flight. We past
Rugby at about five past ten but I think they must have forgotten to
change the time clocks as the magnet wasn't on and we sailed straight by.
At the top of Hillmorton locks we were haled by Kate and John on "Black
Pig" so we had a quick word as we were well ahead of the other boats
locking up. We continued on in bright sunshine to Braunston where we
turned right on to the Grand Union/South Oxford canal. The sunken hulks
are still on the Puddle Banks I expect BW will end up clearing that mess
up unless they can make a case against the land owner. Further on some
of the boats on the off side are displaying brand new licenses but some
still have 07 in the windows. At Wigrams Turn we turned right again up
the GU and down through Calcutt Locks. We continued on to Stockton where
at The Boat Andy and Jan were about to get in their car called out to us.
They were down looking at the new Ownerships boat from Poland that was
put in the water yesterday. We saw Andy again as we winded in the
entrance to Stockton Marina right beside the new boat. After winding we
retraced our steps for about a mile and moored for the night still in
bright sunshine. This has been the best day we have had sofar this trip.
Once moored I got on with a few maintenance jobs, the front door lock
was a pain to unlock when we arrived so I removed it and stripped it
down, I then oiled and reassembled it,, once I got the 5 leavers back
in the right order it worked again.
Date - 31/03/08
Day - Monday
Start - 11 15
End - 16 00 Napton Home Moorings
Another lovely sunny day. Last nights moorings were very quiet, just
south of Station Farm long term moorings. We stopped at Calcutt and top
the diesel tank up with 152 lt. diesel at 63 pence a lt. before
continuing on our way up the flight. In the top lock got chatting to a
chap who works from his boat and uses T Mobile to connect to the internet
and said coverage was good. We met two Willow Wren boats just before
Wigrams and as we knew there were three of them together continued on
very cautiously, about a boats length before the junction a bow came
into view from the left cutting right across the cut, so we passed on
the wrong side. We didn't meet any boats on the Oxford at all before the
Folly. Moored here was "No Problem" and I spotted she was online with a
usb modem so stopped for a chat, again she uses T Mobile and rates it as
the best she has used, far better than data cards and good value for
money. While we were talking a boat came along so all the locks should
be with us as we set off up the flight. Blue Boar have almost finished
dredging the Napton Flight and then they will move up to Marston Doles
for about a week. We are moored up on our nice deep freshly dredged
moorings facing up stream, its the first time I have ever got in this way
round and it gave me a chance to touch up some rust spots on the Port
side, so the grey measles is getting worse, I must get a paint job done
soon. I also changed the fuel filters, its over 1200hrs since I did them
last and they still looked quite clean with no sign of water.