It was very frosty on Tuesday morning and as we had found a parking spot in a lane right next to the boat Karen didn’t have to walk along the towpath to get to the car when she left at six in the morning. I still had a few admin chores to do but once finished, Buddy and I walked a few miles towards Leamington to work out where we would move to next.
We are just over a mile from the top of the Stockton flight of ten locks and we will probably go down those tomorrow. After the eighth lock is a water point so we will stop there to fill up then continue on and moor outside the Two Boats pub just after the tenth lock which will be a handy place for Karen to park when she gets back from work.
Looking back up the first four locks of the Stockton flight (old narrow locks on the right)
You can see in the picture above that the locks on this part of the Grand Union used to be single width narrow locks. The double width locks were added in the 1930s when the Warwick and Napton canal was amalgamated with many others to become the Grand Union canal.
Looking down the next few locks in the flight. Again, the original single width lock can be seen on the left.
Several cement works were established in this area because of the rich source of limestone. Kayes cement works were built in the late 1800s and an arm off the canal ran right into the works. The arm was called the Kayes arm and is still open today but mainly used for storing historic narrowboats belonging to the Warwickshire Flyboat Company.
Kayes arm branching off between locks eight and nine
Plan of the cement works showing the arm running right into them.
A photograph of the works from the 1930s – a couple of boats can be seen at the end of the arm at the top left.
The railway was part of the London and North Western line which, in its day, was one of the most successful railway companies in the UK. The line is now disused and in this area its many cuttings are great nature reserves and generally good places to find butterflies.
The local history society (Southam) notes that Kayes was bought by Rugby Portland Cement in 1934 when it was producing 70,000 tonnes of cement a year. By the 1970s it was producing 600,000 tonnes a year but was shut down in 2000.
On our way back I had a look at the winter moorings that we have reserved.
Sign indicting start of the winter moorings
There is only a short stretch of mooring space with room for a few boats. We are not keen on mooring here but feel it would be good to have a base from December to February if we need it. The towpath is quite narrow and requires the use of pins. I have spoken with the local Enforcement Officer and he will be happy if we moor a bit further away where we can use chains which are more secure and the towpath is also wider. Hopefully the weather will allow us to spend most of the winter nearer Leamington and we won’t have to use the moorings.
The site is already full!
The nearest boat is a day trip hire boat which will no doubt be moved on by CRT. The next boat is Malcolm’s – he has a permanent mooring about 100 yards away but for some reason moors in this spot. The other two boats are temporary – well, they are not displaying a winter mooring permit. The rules say we could ask them to move on as we have paid for a mooring but I don’t see that happening.
Over the next week or so we will make our way slowly to Warwick as we will need a pump out by then and that is the next place that we can get one. We will turn round after that and spend some time between Leamington, Radford Semele, Bascote and Long Itchington. All excellemt spots for good walks, decent pubs and parking for Karen.