Thursday, 17 November 2016

Warwick (Cape of Good Hope)



It was a gorgeous morning on Wednesday; sunny and mild and no rain forecast so I set off for Warwick after breakfast.  First we had to go through Leamington Spa, well, as I explained yesterday, Leamington Old Town as the Regency town is hidden from the canal.

Leafy water outside Leamington station

On the way into Leamington we went through one of its less salubrious areas.  It is always important, especially in these areas, to drift through bridge holes in neutral.  Bridge holes are the most likely place to come across sunken shopping trolleys, bikes etc.  I will never forget when we got stuck on a bike in Stalybridge on the Huddersfield Narrow canal.  It was atrocious weather and it took ages to extricate the bike and remove it from the canal.  As soon as we had cleared the bike we ran aground on two shopping trolleys.  We were so wet and exhausted when we had finished that we moored for the night, against all warnings, in the centre of Stalybridge.

We have actually been to worse looking pubs than this


Last time we went through Old Town, back in June, there was a derelict factory on the right but it seems it has been demolished and apartments are being built in its place



400 yards to the right is the fashionable Regency high street



Although the canal is hidden away as it goes through Leamington it is well served by supermarkets:

Morrisons

Lidl – only customers are meant to moor outside



Tesco – customer mooring on the offisde on the the left

Leaving Leamington we went under the main road that leads to the retail parks and then down to the M40.

Karen’s office is less than half a mile away to the left

Leamington and Warwick are nearly merged into one now with very little green land left.

About the only farm field between the two towns

Entering Warwick the canal crosses two aqueducts – one over the railway and the other over the River Avon.



As we were going through Warwick the clouds started darkening but it didn’t really feel like rain.  I stopped below the first of the Cape locks to take on water.  An advantage of a smaller water tank is that it doesn’t take long to fill and by the time we were full I started to get the feeling that it may start raining soon.  I only had two locks to get through to reach where I planned to moor so I didn't bother donning waterproof trousers.


Approaching the bottom of the two Cape locks

We have been descending locks ever since leaving Hillmorton on the Oxford canal on 25th October.  The canal now climbs all the way to Small Heath in Birmingham.

The two Cape locks

It started raining as I left the first lock and by the time I had the second lock ready it was torrential and I was getting soaked – my fault for not putting my waterproofs on.

Buddy sheltering from the rain under a sign!


Welcome sight – the Cape of Good Hope - the plan is to moor opposite the pub for a few days

After lunch it stopped raining so Buddy and I went for a walk.  I had a problem as the jeans I had been wearing in the morning were soaked and were drying off in front of the stove, as were my other day pair which were also drying as they had been in the wash in the morning.  I do have a pair of chino type trousers for smart but I couldn’t wear those on the muddy towpath so I had to resort to my work jeans – the ones covered in paint and grease.

Firstly we walked down to the Saltisford arm which runs into the centre of Warwick.  Karen has always fancied mooring here for a few days so I went to enquire.  Unfortunately they had no spare moorings for liveaboards, just empty boats on the far side of the arm.  Never mind, one day we’ll spend a day or so there.

Looking down the Saltisford arm as it leaves the Grand Union canal at Warwick - liveaboards on the left and empty boats on the right

We then walked up the 21 lock, two mile, Hatton flight.  It is currently closed for winter maintenance until Christmas but it was interesting having a look at what they were doing.  Repairs were being made to seven of the locks, ranging from complete gate replacement, gate repairs, ladder replacements to repointing of the brickwork.

One of the pounds was drained and I was immediately reminded why I go through bridge holes in neutral

Even though this bridge carries a small lane people have still thrown a fridge freezer, cooker, road signs and other things over the parapet


The drained pound


Sign explaining the works at lock 30

As pounds are drained, gates cannot be taken in and out by boat so a field had been requisitioned to crane the gates over to the canal.

Crane in the field - lock gates weign well over 1,000kg each so that's why such a large crane is required


New lock gates waiting to be lifted over



Lock gates tend to be replaced every 25 years so these may well last until 2041.  The gates and the balance beams tend to have plaques indicting the date they were installed and where they were built.

New balance beams dated 2016

It looked like rain again and it was getting dark so we walked back home to wait for Karen.  We are just under two miles from her office here and as we will visit the pub tonight she can leave the car in their car park.  Mind you it’ll be interesting walking back home afterwards as we have to cross the lock to get back to the boat.

Thinking about it, it will also be the first time Karen has had to walk across lock gates to get to work.



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