Saturday, 26 March 2016

Newbold (and the Tump)

Karen and Buddy walking to the Tump (more further down)

I said that you have been spared mention of stanking planks and milestones recently because the North Oxford canal does not appear to have them; however, when Buddy and I went for a walk on Thursday we did come across a dilapidated stanking plank store.

Old stanking plank shelter with rotting planks
It’s obviously of the modern era due to the type of brickwork but the planks are in rather a sorry state.  It is in Ansty next to a narrow section of canal – the red circles show where the planks would be slotted in across the canal.

Red circles indicate stankingplank slots
Karen was WFB on Thursday and when she finished we went for a walk around Brinklow and came across the very impressive Brinklow Castle.  It is a medieval motte and bailey built to defend the Fosse Way and is known by locals as the Tump (picture at top). 

Apart from the size of the earthworks another reason we were impressed by the place was that it has three moats which are nearly all intact still.  This is the innermost moat.

The innermost of Brinklow castle's three moats
We also really liked the village of Brinklow as it has so many footpaths radiating out and around it.  It reminded me of my younger days when, as kids, my friends and I would spend many hours walking on paths in the countryside.  After popping into one of the four pubs that still survive in the village we followed yet another footpath for two miles back home to the canal.

Friday morning dawned clear and sunny and we were greeted by a curious swan at our bedroom window.

As it was forecast to be the best day of the weekend we decided to have a cruise and find somewhere quiet in the country to stay for the rest of the weekend.

The Oxford canal was completed in the 1770s and it ran for 78 miles between the River Thames at Oxford to Coventry taking in places like Banbury and Rugby.  It passes through the great canal centre of Braunston where it meets up with the Grand Union canal.  The section north of Braunston is known as the North Oxford canal and below Braunston it is the South Oxford canal.  Within a few decades of opening the South Oxford route became underused as the Grand Union (completed in 1805) was wider and took a more direct route from Braunston to London.  

The Oxford canal was built as a contour canal and hence has fewer locks than (relatively) more modern, straighter canals.  Because of the vast volume of traffic the North Oxford canal was straightened in the 1820s and the original 38 mile length was cut by 15 miles to 23.  Straightening was achieved by the use of digging cuttings and building embankments.

The South Oxford was left as it was due to the low volumes of traffic (the Grand Union was used in preference once it opened) and is still a very rural and twisty canal.  This old map shows the old and new routes of the North Oxford canal in the area around Brinklow.

Original line of canal in blue.  Sections straightened in 1820s in red.
All along the canal are signs of the old route, most noticeably, these cast iron bridges.  The old sections were left open as they served as useful arms to local villages, towns, mines etc.

During the cruise we saw three Brimstones - our first of the year and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells.  In the end we stopped for the day between Newbold and Rugby and sat outside enjoying the late evening sun like most of the rest of the country.

Buddy having a snooze in the warm spring sunshine

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