Friday, 24 March 2017

Edstone (pump out over a road)

Typical bridge on the South Stratford canal

After breakfast Buddy and I set out for the boatyard in Wootton Wawen.  It was nice and sunny with a slightly chilly wind but not cold enough to wear a coat.  First of all we walked down to set the first of only two locks we had to do during the day.

Buddy enjoying his sticks whilst Preston Bagot bottom lock (Stratford canal lock no. 38) filled up
Just after the lock we passed Pete and Sally's boat which is currently moored in a lovely spot in the middle of nowhere.

Pete and Sally's boat built in the 1960s

We passed under a few of the pretty South Stratford canal bridges like the one in the photo at the top.  Not only are they pretty but they are unusual in that the towpath does not go through the bridge hole as it does in most other canals.  It means the bridge holes are only just over seven feet wide and often at an angle to the cut itself.

Sun beginning to come through on the hills above Preston Bagot

This is a good stretch of canal for Karen as it is only a 15 minute drive along country roads to her office.  Once we are in Stratford it won’t take much longer as there is a main road running from the town to Warwick.

Squeezing through one of the bridgeholes

After a couple of miles we arrived at the boatyard in Wootton Wawen.  There appeared to be no one about even though I had phoned to check their opening times a few days ago. 

Approaching the boatyard with a hire boat fleet waiting for the season to start

Services are obtained by parking the boat in the aqueduct that crosses the main road into Wootton Wawen.  This means no boats can pass until services are complete which is not a problem at this time of year.  I remember a small queue of boats forming when we visited in the summer once.  After I moored up I phoned the yard to see if I could get someone to attend tp me.

Waiting patiently

Someone soon answered and came out to sort us out.  He said they had only seen one boat over the last few weeks (Helen on Pipistrelle) so weren’t really expecting anyone.  He said they had a couple of their boats out on hire but they obviously went in the opposite direction to us because of the lock closures on the outskirts of Stratford.

Car on a transporter going under the aqueduct

Stanking planks in a store at the boat yard

The stanking planks in the picture above are the only ones stored in situ on the Stratford canal.  All the other ones are now stored at Hatton because of theft for firewood etc.  These ones at Wootton Wawen are safe because they are on the offside in the boat yard.  They are used to stank the aqueduct when it needs draining for maintenance

We filled up with water, took on 111 litres of diesel and had a pump out then carried on cruising.  I decided to get to Edstone aqueduct and moor there as it is easy for Karen to park under the aqueduct.

Just outside Wootton Wawen a new marina is being built.  As we went past we could see it's in the very early stages and also that it is not very large either.

The new 50 berth marina being dug out south of Wootton Wawen

The second of only two locks on Thursday – lock 39, Bearley lock

Old stanking plank framework by Bearley lock.  

The framework above has been painted in waterways black and white unlike the one we saw at lock 27 which is just being left to rust away.

As you may know I try and get pictures of any mile markers on each canal we visit – see tab at top of page.  I was disappointed that number 17 is still missing – I had half wondered or hoped if SONACS (Stratford On Avon Canal Society) had replaced it since we last came through in summer 2015.

This is what the SONACS mile markers look like (on the right) – they were installed when the canal was restored in the 1960s

The SONACS mile marker 19 is also missing but the original GWR one (from when the railway bought the canal in 1856) is still in place and ‘19’ can be seen painted on the left hand side.  Not sure what the 11 means as they all seem to have that on.

Soon after Bearley lock we approached the 200 yard long Edstone aqueduct.  Like the other aqueducts on this canal it is formed of iron troughs bolted together.  It also has the towpath running alongside at the same level as the trough base which seems to be peculiar to this canal.

When we crossed the aqueduct in March 2015 in our old boat Chalkhill Blue

Several arches are not in view so it's difficlut to see the size of the structure.  For example, to the left there are six more arches crossing two railway tracks, a country road and a stream.

Once I had crossed the aqueduct I moored up and ran down and up the 45 steps that lead down to where Karen will park the car.  A few of us are planning on doing the three peaks next year so I don’t get much opportunity for proper training living on the canals.  Karen and I attempted it a few years ago; we managed Snowdon and Scafell Pike but had to give up when climbing Ben Nevis – our legs just gave way.  It is still something I want to do although over a weekend rather than in 24 hours.

The training steps

After lunch I went for a bike ride with Buddy to Wilmcote.  We didn’t see another soul let alone any boats on the move.  I went up and down the steps again a couple of times when we got back.

Here are some of the aqueduct pictures.  I didn’t feel I should go into the sheep field below so it meant I couldn’t get a proper picture of the whole structure.  It also meant I couldn’t get to see the spouts that protrude from the trough over each railway line.  They used to be used to provide water to the steam engines.

Looks like we're flying

The towpath is down to the left - no barrier on the right
Looking out the back from our mooring

Eyeing up the lambs from the aqueduct

The view from behind

Crossing the two railway lines - no barrier on this side

In all we covered four miles down two locks during the day and I had a smile on my face the whole day as is usual when cruising.

Our mooring for the night - aqueduct just behind us and no one else about

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