Sunday, 30 April 2017

Week 11 - End of the Oxford Canals!

Monday 24th April - Hungerfield Bridge to Hawkesbury

We set off from our mooring knowing that today we would complete the whole of the Oxford Canals.  We completed the South Oxford from Napton to Oxford and now the North Oxford from Braunston to Hawkesbury.  Another canal to mark off in my Bradshaw's.

We entered a cutting which had a warning on the towpath side.  Proceed slowly as the cutting was unstable, first time we had seen this.

This rather elegant ironwork bridge marks the course of the Brinklow Arm, which is no longer in water.

We passed through Stretton Stop, with the boat-building sheds of Rose Narrowboats. There is a footbridge linking the two sides of the canal, which was opened for us!  We moored up and walked into the village for provisions, but there was very little, so returned with sandwiches from the cafe.

Unfortunately, the weather then took a turn for the worst, I stayed below and Dave and Toby remained on deck, the first soaking for a very long time!

As we got to the end of the canal we found a huge electricity station with enormous pylons so abandoned plans to moor there and continued through the stop lock and onto the Coventry canal.

The lock known to generations of canal users as "Sutton Stop" is very shallow and is followed by a very acute bend under the cast iron bridge and turning right onto the Coventry Canal.  I am delighted to say that I was able to bring Ella round in one go - no reversing - she just glided round beautifully!!

We moored up and the sun came out although we could tell that it was definitely colder!  We are now on the Coventry Canal heading north towards Fazeley Junction.

In celebration we treated ourselves to supper at The Greyhound, very tasty food and we shared the bar area with an end of season meeting of the local dominoes club - I had no idea dominoes could be so competitive!!

Tuesday 25th April - Hawkesbury to Hartshill

We set off in stunning sunshine but bitterly cold wind!  We passed the Newdigate Arm which connected the canals on the Arbury Estate to the main line, primarily to transport coal mined from the estate.

Love this house with the beautiful blossom, they have won an award for outstanding environmental improvement, justly deserved!

Charity Dock has a collection of mannequins at many of the moorings, these look as though they are enjoying the sunshine!

It also has a dry dock for hire, doesn't look as though it has been used for a long time, and you would need to move a lot of boats to get in it!

Our first nesting swan, the mate was swimming around on the canal.

Marston Junction marks the beginning of the Ashby Canal, 30 miles of lock free cruising, not for us this time.

A beautiful bluebell wood, the photo doesn't do it justice, but it was a carpet of blue among the trees, very pretty.

As we came into Hartshill we passed nbBrunel from Market Drayton, a reminder that we are heading back towards our land home.

We stopped to put water on at Hartshill Yard. The last time we came through here some of the buildings were used by a cookery school and tearoom, today it is all deserted and locked up.  Such a shame!

We moored up for the evening just after a snow shower, how strange!

Wednesday 26th April - Hartshill to Alvecote

We set off from Hartshill in sunshine, but very cold wind!  Dave walked Toby along the towpath and I steered the boat and got very, very cold!  We stopped at the top of the Atherstone Locks and went for a walk into Atherstone.

We found 'The Larder' a 1940's eatery.  The staff were all dressed in 1940's clothes and the food was based on the type of food you would have eaten in the 40's.  

Every nook and cranny was filled with memorabilia, which has been gathered mostly from donations from local people who use the cafe.  Well worth a visit!

On the canalside was a sculpture 'The Tree of Life' with a tree growing up through the middle.  Each side was made up of discs portraying the history of Atherstone, the hat industry, canal boats, market place, church and the Atherstone Ball game which takes place each Shrove Tuesday in the town.

We then set off down the Atherstone Locks and were delighted to see 4 volunteers working the first 5 locks,  Even though it was midweek it was still pretty busy so their help was much appreciated.

Dave is waving from a stone stairway to allow boaters back onto their boats after working the lock.  This one had a stone lintel over the top.

This is the site of Lee and Atkins Boatyard just outside Polesworth.  The yard was used by many owner/operators of working boats for construction and repair.

The heritage centre at Pooley Country Park celebrates the area's coal mining history
as well as championing the use of sustainable energy in the future. 

We moored up for the night at Alvecote and after trying to slide into a space a tad too short for Ella, found another space further along just the right size.  

Over the May Bank Holiday there is a floating market here and they are expecting many canal traders.  The 'Mad Hatter' was already moored up, advertising handmade bespoke hats, handbags and jewellry. 

Thursday 27th April - Alvecote Marina to Whittington

Woke to rain this morning, we had been promised sunshine and showers so once the shower had passed we set off for our trip to Whittington.  We stopped to stock up on provisions at the Coop beside the canal at the top of Glascote Locks, very handy indeed!

We then made our way down the two locks, again very busy with many hire boats working their way round the Warwickshire Ring in a week!

We passed over the River Tame on a splendid aqueduct.

Then moored to take on water at Fazeley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.  Today we saw a CaRT work boat coming through the junction using its hooter to warn approaching boats.

Dave took this for the iron gated hole on the side of the bridge but we were intrigued by the ghostly apparition to the right of the bridge.  On closer inspection, it is in fact a sheet of plastic!!

Fortunately we managed to dodge this shower, but it does look dramatic against the rape seed field.

A delightful mooring just past Whittington and before Huddlesford, open views and stunning bird song, can't get any better!

Friday 28th April - Whittington to Fradley Junction

As we approached Huddleston we passed the Ogley Arm of a canal which is currently being restored.  It is now known as the Lichfield Canal and will connect to the Wyrley and Essington Canal through 30 locks in 7 miles. The project is being managed by The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.

Coming towards Fradley we passed a large pumping station run by Severn Water.

A sign beside the canal warned us of a sunken boat - it was the shell of a burnt out river cruiser barely visible above the water. Such a shame!

We arrived at Fradley Junction and moored up before going through the Fradley Swing Bridge.  You can just make out Ella in the distance.

Fradley Junction is where the Coventry Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal meet.  The row of buildings including the Swan Inn used to have warehouses including hoists.  There were also cottages and houses for the canal workers.

Baby ducks got separated from their parents and were helped across the road by a Canal and River Trust volunteer!

Safely back with Mum and Dad!!

We decided to stay here today and walk along the canal towards Bromley Wharf and back through the fields, then supper at the Swan Inn, delicious fish and chips!

Saturday 29th April - Fradley Junction

Today we have decided to spend another day here.  So after catching up with diaries, logbooks and blog for me and Dave blacking the side of the boat, we decided to do another walk along the towpath to Alrewas.

The volunteers were out and about but there wasn't a huge amount of traffic around, so Alan was able to take a well earned rest.

We also had a walk around Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, which was originally a reservoir, built in the 1780's, for storing surplus water until it was needed.  It was built by the Trent and Mersey Canal Company in order to stop losing any excess water to the Coventry Canal.

In Alrewas we crossed over bridge 49 and walked round the cricket pavilion....

...where there was a traditional village cricket match taking place!!

Sunday 30th April - Fradley Junction to Little Haywood

We set out in sunshine today and made our way through Fradley Swingbridge and turned left onto the Trent and Mersey Canal.  The lock volunteers were able to help us through the first two locks out of Fradley.

Kings Bromley Wharf looks very quiet now, but we used to arrive here to collect nbMinuet when we had shares in her. 

Passing through Armitage we find the Ideal Standard sanitaryware factory originally Armitage and Shanks producing toilets since 1817.

As we were cruising through Rugeley, one of a line of boats moving through, we were rudely sworn at to slow down, how we could do that we don't know as we were already alternating between tick over and neutral, because of the traffic, narrowness of the channel and the amount of moored boats.  Some one was having a good bank holiday!!

Just outside Rugeley there was a tree down across the canal, but there was just room to squeeze past. 

The canal turns a sharp right handed turn over an aqueduct over the River Trent, also the site of  the murder of Christina Collins in 1839, her body was found floating in the canal and she was carried up the steps to the Talbot Inn, the steps now known as The Bloody Steps.

We carried on to Little Haywood and moored up for the night between two railway lines. Hope it isn't too noisy!! 

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