We had a brilliant weekend staying at Lauren and Lewis’s in Reading; most of our children were there too. Sunday was our annual family Christmas curry day – we normally hold this on the first Saturday of the new year but had to cancel this year as I was ill, the first time I had been really ill since we started living on the boat. Looking back on the weekend I can’t believe we didn’t take any photos!
When we set off for Reading on Saturday there were two peacocks pecking around the car so it was lucky I had Buddy on his lead. Quite often I haven’t bothered putting him on a lead when going to the car at Lapworth as there is just one lane to cross to get to where we park so the peacocks didn’t realise how fortunate they were on Saturday.
Buddy waiting for us to leave the boat and go to Reading on Saturday morning
The plan for Monday was to move on to Lowsonford as we have stayed at Lapworth long enough and the lock at Lowsonford was opened on Friday. We have actually been at Lapworth for seven weeks and a day and feel like we have become part of the dog walking and local boater community. Before heading south I had to reverse up lock 22 to Lapworth basin to fill up with water and get a pump out.
Our first violets of the year by the water point
|Pump out machine closed off|
To my dismay the pump out machine was out of action. This meant a rapid re-planning as we are pretty close to full and need to get a pump out. The next place for a pump out is at Wootton Wawen (pronounced Wootton Woe-un) and we weren’t planning on getting there for another few weeks. It looks like I’ll have to get there in a few days instead.
Even though it was raining really hard it felt good to have a few hours cruising but I’m not sure Buddy felt the same. After filling up with water we went back down lock 22 and set off for Lowsonford.
|Drying out but for how long? The picture is also meant to give Karen comfort that I don't forget my buoyancy aid when I'm on my own|
As we reached Dick’s Lane lock (no. 25) the rain started again and just as heavy as when we first set out.
Coming out of Dick’s Lane lock – typical barrel roofed lock cottage of the South Stratford canal on the left
The picture above clearly shows the split in the middle of the lock bridge. These splits are another feature of this canal and allowed the horse towing rope to pass through the bridge without having to untie the horse.
When we got to the M40 it was time for lunch so I moored up underneath the motorway. That meant I could get all my wet weather gear off in the dry before getting onto the boat. It also meant I could give Buddy a good towel down before letting him on board too. As usual he had a shake as soon as he went through the galley so I had to wipe down the surfaces and floor before preparing my lunch and Karen's packed lunch for the next day.
The rain didn’t look like easing up so I set off again after eating.
I presume lock 27 is within the Lapworth boundary so hence its name. There are 27 locks on the flight stretched over two miles and Karen and I always enjoy the Lapworth locks as they are all in pretty settings.
Lock 28 – Finwood lock with another quaint barrel roofed cottage - not so many extensions as most though
Lock 29 would be one of Karen’s favourite single width locks if it was in a more open setting.
Karen’s favourite single lock is Branston lock on the Trent and Mersey canal and those of you that know the lock will recall that is in a very open setting amidst farmland and rolling hills. Standing by the lock you wouldn’t know you’re only a few miles from Burton on Trent.
On the outskirts of Lowsonford we went through what used to be a railway bridge before the line was dismantled. It used to be a GWR branch line from Lapworth to Henley-in-Arden - apparently the Lowsonford villagers petitioned for a station for many years in the late 1800s but a station was never built for them.
|The old railway bridge at Lowsonford|
We arrived at lock 30, the lock that had been closed for maintenance for the last few weeks and thus impeding our progress to Stratford. I was going to moor for a week or two above the lock but as we didn’t have a pump out in the morning I am going to have to carry on cruising on Tuesday. As I was wet and it was still raining I carried on through lock 30 and moored just below it – that way there would be fewer locks to do tomorrow.
I just don’t understand why the bollards on this canal are square
Our mooring in Lowsonford
The rain stopped as we moored up and within 10 minutes the sun came out.
White wild violets next to where we are moored. Wild violets are usually blue as in the picture at the top but can be white or yellow too.
|Once again the clouds cleared as the sun was going down|