I cant believe it, six months since the boat last moved!
Over the winter we have visited several times, but not gone anywhere (except across the marina for a pumpout!).
On the way up to Cropredy we stopped off at Sudeley Castle for a ‘Home & Gardens’ show. We had a cheap Groupon ticket. The clientele at the show were very much of the “Cotswold set”, not our cup of tea at all! Though I did buy some cheap shrubs.
Yesterday the wind was blowing hard and getting in and out of the marina in a strong wind is difficult, so we we just did a few jobs and waited for the wind to drop, which it had overnight.
One of the jobs to do was rescuing the solar panel from the water. At some point in the last month it must have blown off the roof. I fished it out and cleaned it off. I’ll take it home to assess the damage.
We needed diesel so planned to get some at Sovereign Wharf just outside Banbury. When we got there it was all locked up with a “Closed until further notice” sign. I dipped the tank and we had about 20L so enough to get to Aynho.
Very few boats about and most of the locks were in our favour so we made easy progress down to moor for the night near King’s Sutton
There was quite a hold up at Hillmorton as one of the top locks was out of action, so to preserve water CRT had disabled one of each of the other two pairs. It took us an hour and a half to get through.
A stop to top up the water and do a bit of shopping at Newbold, then on to spend the night at the bottom of Napton locks.
At some point during the day Heddi’s phone ended up at the bottom of the canal. There are two opinions as to whose fault it was. All I’m saying is that storing your phone in someone else’s hat is not a good idea!
As we need to be back home by Thursday we had decided to make an early start. As I was untying at just after 7:00 Graham from Jannock popped his head out and said that Neil & Linda on Earnest (yes that one, not the other one) had already left about half an hour ago.
Graham helped me to manoveur out from the raft of boats and we headed off.it was very misty, at times it was difficult to see where we were going.
Lots of bird life about including these two herons who kept flying in front of us,landing then flying off again.
As we started up the Atherstone flight we could see Neil on Earnest a couple of locks ahead. Our progress up the flight was impeded by two CRT volunteers at the bottom who wouldn’t let us work the locks efficiently the way we normally do. But at the top two more volunteers were very helpful in preparing a lock ahead for us. It seems that some of these volunteers need more training as they appear to know little about actual boating.
We waved goodbye to Earnest as they turned up the Ashby and we carried on to Ansty.
Previously when we have stopped here there has been plenty of visitor’s mooring between bridges 14 & 15, but now these have been made “Permit Holders Only”, but they are empty.
We set off early again in good weather. The plan today is to get to the Cutweb rally site at Alvecote marina. The rally proper doesnt start until Saturday, but usually people turn up on Friday or Thursday.
There was the usual chaos at Fradley with boats coming out of the Coventry to turn down the T&M not knowing where in the queue they were in relation to those coming straight down. There is so little space to wait that helmsmen with limited experience get into quite a mess!
We stopped just before Huddlesford junction for a late breakfast. We needed to stock up the groceries so stopped at Sutton Road bridge and walked across the field to ASDA. I always find it a bit daunting crossing busy roads etc after a few days cruising as everything seems so fast!
There was a bit of a hold up at Glascote locks. These are quite slow anyway and with boats from both directions it was over an hour before we got through.
On arrival at Alvecote it was clear that we were first. I checked with the people in the pub where we were to moored up and we sat in the lovely evening sunshine with a glass of wine.
We were glad to be back on narrow locks, though we had two more of the hard, deep T&M wide locks to do first. We are very familiar with this stretch of the T&M. Our share boat Symphony used to be based here. Also we came this way to and from York two years ago.
The stretch up to Burton is quiet, pleasant and rural,but from then on the busy A38 comes very close and is quite intrusive. We had thought about stopping at Burton and going to the large Morrisons, but it’s quite a walk with the shopping. Instead we decided to go to the butcher in Alrewas, who is always excellent, other stuff we can get from the local Coop.
We arrived about 4 o’clock, so tied up in the first space just above the lock and headed off shopping. We caught the butcher as they were closing up,but he didnt disappoint.
Alrewas is a lovely village it makes the most of the canal and is very welcoming to boaters.
The weather changed a little overnight. We awoke to a rather chilly, misty morning. The spiders had had fun during the night, there were webs everywhere!
It was so misty that we couldn’t see the cooling towers of Ratcliffe power station that usually dominate the skyline around here. For most of today and part of tomorrow we are repeating part of our 2012 trip on the way back from York. The first part of the Trent & Mersey from Shardlow to Burton has deep,wide locks with heavy gates. We were tired by the time we got to Weston on Trent, so we stopped early and went for a pleasant walk around the village.
A great day today. The River Soar is really lovely. We enjoy cruising on rivers, but often (e.g. Trent, Severn & Thames) they are wide with large locks, but the Soar is much more intimate, with ‘normal’ sized locks.
We needed a pumpout so we stopped at Sileby Mill boatyard. The pumpout connection was on the wrong side, so after exiting the lock, Heddi winded in the boatyard entrance and reversed back to the service barge. Whilst I walked round and got ready to grab a rope.But I wasnt needed as she edged up the services perfectly. After doing the pumpout and buying some other bits, I turned the boat round again and we headed off. A short stop in Barrow on Soar to top up the water and a bit of shopping, then on to moor for the night about 1/2 a mile before Kegworth deep lock. It was a warm sunny evening so we sat outside on the topath until almost bedtime.
We had been a little apprehensive regarding today’s trip. Various people had warned us about going through Leicester, but actually it was quite enjoyable. We were away by just after 7 o’clock and the first few locks were set in out favour. On arriving in Leicester we had been expecting rubbish strewn water and dereliction, but the water was crystal clear and the environs very pleasant. After the ‘mile straight’ we caught up with another boat, with a scottish family and their friend on board. They were very helpful and did most of the work at the next three locks. We stopped for a late breakfast just below Birstall lock. Then moved only a short distance to below Thurmaston lock. We moored here 9 years ago on Symphony.
It was very busy with people enjoying a Sunday walk/cycle ride around the water park. We went first for a bike ride including an ice cream stop. Then later after most people had gone home, we went for a walk around the lakes.
We left Foxton at around 7:30. It was rather cloudy but not too cold. We expected to see the two hire boats with the youngsters on moored up around the corner, but they weren’t there. A very pleastant cruise on to Saddlington Tunnel. As we were entering the tunnel we could see that another boat was ahead of us.on reaching Kibworth top lock we realised that the boat we could see was one of the young people’s hire boats. This was there first lock and the was much activity, but not a lot of progress. But they were keen and soon got into the routine of locking. We had expected that they would have a late lie-in, but they said that they were keen to get to Leicester today. We followed them for the first 5 locks, but then they said we could go ahead, so we locked down Newton top lock with one of their boats and ten carried on while they waited for the other one. We continued on our own until Ervin’s lock where we met another boat who had waited for us. We shared the next three locks with them and then we both moored up just above Gees lock
We had planned another bike ride, but Heddi’s back tyre had another puncture! We pushed it back to the boat and I repaired it on the towpath.