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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

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The map below will be updated daily (if we have a 3G signal) with our progress


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Cropredy

Queues, queues and more queues!

Last night’s sunset.

We started off at just before 7:30. It was a bit chilly but very pleasant climbing the Napton flight. We haven’t  been this way for 11 years. The top pound below Marston Doles was almost empty, with only just enough water to bump along the bottom.

Water buffalo in Warwickshire!

The summit pound of the Oxford canal is renowned for it’s twists and turns and it was fun to make our acquaintance with it again. Unfortunately we were behind a very slow Kate Boats hire boat. After a while they pulled over and let us overtake. It wasn’t long before we came up behind a fairly slow private boat. We had to follow them for the next 2 hours. At the top of the Claydon flight we stopped for lunch to allow them to get ahead of us. There were lots of boats about and as we came down the flight we met several returning from the Fairport festival at Cropredy. It was easy to spot them, a certain sort of boat, distinctive dress and the unmistakable whiff of “herbal tobacco”.

The last three locks took nearly two hours as a queue built up. This was a combination of one lock taking a long time to fill because of leaky gates,  some inexperienced hire boat crews and ‘sheer volume of traffic’.

We arrived in Cropredy at about 4:30 and found somewhere to moor. It was not ideal as we need to leave the boat here for a week and I was hoping to use steel piling to moor up to, but there are only soft banks which makes getting pins in securely rather difficult.

We had thought of going to the pub for a meal, but of the two pubs, one is shut and the other isn’t serving food. They are both exhuasted after the busy time of the festival. So supper was concocted from what we could find in the cupboard, and very good it was too!

Our new mooring is in there somewhere !

Napton

A great day’s boating today, though it started off a little odd. We did the first lock on our own, then spotted a boat just in front of us. We caught them up at the second of the Fosse locks. We almost wish we hadn’t. It was a scruffy old boat with loads of junk on the roof and two guys in control, or rather not in control. We started to share the locks with them only to discover that it was their first day on a narrowboat. They were “moving it for a friend”. They weren’t sure what to do, no problem everyone has to learn. We then realised that they were on their nth can of beer (it was 9:00 in the morning), and when one of them disappeared for quite a while, the other one asked where he’d been. “I was rolling a joint” was the reply. So we were having to look after two clueless, doped up drunks who were betting on the horses on their phone! We stopped at lock 13 to walk into Long Itchington for supplies, and partly to avoid having to share any more locks with them. On our return their boat was moored up outside the pub.

We finished off the rest of the Stockton flight on our own. There were lots of boats about, more than we have seen for several days. We stopped at Calcutt boats for a pumpout, then on to the bottom of the Napton flght for the night. We thought that we might go to the pub tonight (two pubs in a week, unheard of for us), but they don’t serve food on Sunday evenings. So it’s vegetarian curry on board (thanks Tres!)

The Windmill at Napton on the Hill.

Radford Semele

A busy day today with 23 locks done. We set off about 8:30 and arrived at the top of the Hatton flight at 9:55. Just under 3 hours later we were at the bottom. We shared all the locks with a single hander, so for just three of us it was pretty good going. Our friend Bob and some of his cycling friends met us about halfway down. They said that they would go to the cafe for a coffee and come and help us shortly. Well we only had two locks left by the time they re-appeared!

We moored up for a while at the bottom and had a cup of tea and a catch up chat with Bob and his friends. A short stop for lunch, then down the two Cape Locks and on through Warwick and Leamington Spa to moor up here in lovely evening sunshine.

Tomorrow we have to climb back up the other side of the valley with another 23 locks!.

Bridge 63 Grand Union

A day of different styles of travelling today.

We drove up to BBCC last night, moved the boat down to the bridge by the Black Buoy pub and unloaded our stuff. Then we went to the pub for our evening meal. I did quite well, they had run out of what I ordered so they let me have a more expensive meal at the original price.

This morning we drove to Cropredy to leave the car. The Fairport Convention festival is on at the moment and I thought that we might get stuck in traffic, but there was none. We found somewhere to leave the car and then made our way to the bus stop. There were lots of festival goers about, The Cropredy festival lot are quite distinctive, beards and beer bellys much in evidence!

Bus to Banbury, train to Solihull. We have been on two trains in the last week or so, the first time for many years. I was impressed. Rail travel is reasonably cheap, clean, comfortable and with free WiFi!

We arrived at Solihull station in time to catch the 11:00 bus back to the boat club, but it didn’t arrive. Surprisingly the bus driver was also waiting for it, they change drivers there. After a while he told us that the bus had broken down with a flat tyre. So we had to wait an hour for the 12:00 one.

We got back to the boat at about 12:20 and had a slow chug here. We (mostly Heddi) have been very industrious, re-painting the pole, touching up the gunnels, polishing the brasses and cleaning the algae off the roof.

Now relaxing with a glass of wine.

Trains and boats and ……

Now back home for a few days after a journey consisting of walk, bus, train, walk, bus, walk, car !
The boat is safely moored up at Black Buoy Cruising Club. We’ll pick her up next week after a trip made up of car, car, walk, bus, train, bus, walk!
@nbjustheaven

Black Buoy Cruising Club

Now moored up on the Grand Union at Black Buoy Cruising Club( www.blackbuoy.org.uk). The very friendly folk here have agreed to look after JH for us for a week. We heard this morning that our mooring at Cropredy won’t now be available until August 31st. So we have had to change our plans a little. We are leaving the boat here for a week, then making our way to Cropredy and leaving it outside the marina for a week before setting off on our main summer cruise.
The weather forecast for today was for rain from 10:00, but in fact it’s been sunny and warm until about 20mins ago ((5:00pm). We set off at about 7:30 and have done 10 miles and 19 locks in 6.5 hours.
Just like yesterday there were very few boats about, we only saw 4 moving all day until we arrived here, since then there has been a steady procession past us!
The Lapworth flight is set in very pleasant countryside, the locks are quite hard work, but closely spaced, so we were working one ahead all the time. At the junction we turned left to head north, back in the direction of Birmingham, but only for a few miles to the club’s moorings.
Tomorrow we have a complicated journey to make involving 3 buses and a train to get back to Kinver to pick up the car.

Twitter @nbjustheaven

Dickens Heath

Hot day today! though it didnt start out that way. We woke early so decided to get going and were on our way by 7:00. It was grey and overcast. A pleasant cruise round to Windmill end and then through Netherton tunnel. We chose to take the Old Main Line route into Birmingham rather than the straight and wide New Line. So up Brades locks and turn left. A full English was taken around 11:00 just past the ‘summit tunnel’. Here it’s difficult to believe that you are in the middle of a major city. It is green, quiet and peaceful. Spon End locks are another haven in a busy city.
We passed through the Gas St basin area without stopping. Surprisingly there were plenty of mooring spaces. In fact there were few boats about, up until this point we had only seen three moving boats.

Down the W&B and turn onto the Stratford at King’s Norton.
We moored up for the night at “Dickens Heath”. This seem to be an artificially created community of very expensive houses. When we stopped we thought that we were just opposite a few houses, but we went for a walk and found the whole complex of expensive shop, town houses etc. Some people obviously like living in these places, but for me they have no soul, no heart, no history.

Merry Hill shopping centre

Now moored just above the Merryhill Shopping centre. 30 locks today, mostly in the rain!
Part way up the Stourbridge 16 a guy turns up on a bike and starts to help us. He came with his own windlass and anti-vandal key. It seems that he just likes helping out boaters. He worked ahead for us preparing each lock, so we made very good time. He left us at the top and was going to help an Alvechurch hire boat crew on the way down.
Even without him we worked very efficiently up the Delph 8 and reached the top just after 4:00pm.
It rained on and off most of the day, and is now pouring down. The forecast is better for tomorrow.
Sorry no pics today – too much rain.

Stourport, on the river

A bit of shopping in Droitwich (good wool shop at www.emmshaberdashery.co.uk) then off down the barge canal in lovely sunshine.

There were more boats about today, we met three hire and two private boats coming up as we made our way down to the Severn. I enjoyed the barge canal this time more than previously. It looks like C&RT, or maybe DCT have got to grips with the reeds issue.

A pleasant but uneventful trip up the Severn to Stourport. We had been moored up for about an hour when a Portharb hire boat came storming up river. They appeared to be a bit lost, not certain of where to go. Someone of the front pointed to the narrow locks entrance saying “Is that where we go?”, but the steerer was having none of it and carried on full throttle under the bridge and heading for the head of navigation. After about 40 mins we thought perhaps we’d go for a walk to see where they were in case they had gone aground. We got up to where the boat club mooring are and saw them coming back down river at full speed. So we turned round to get back to the pontoons to see if we could help. Luckily waiting for them was one of the hire company’s staff who had come to find them to put something on board. He called out to tell them where they should moor and which locks to use. The guy at the helm them went about 200yds downstream and made a complete pig’s ear of turning (including demolishing part of a bankside bush) in a huge wide river!

We let the Portharb guy try to give them a bit of advice re narrowboat control !

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