CRT guy posing for me at Ned’s lock with the Stratford canal equivalent of a drag rake
Tuesday promised to be a sunny but windy day and I set off for a cruise soon after 8.00 having first had a walk with Buddy to set our first lock of the day - lock 31. The lock cottage there is owned by the Landmark Trust and always seems to have people on holiday in it. A middle aged couple were there this time and told me they had rented it for five days and were using it as a base for country walking.
Barrel roofed lock cottage owned by the Landmark Trust at lock 31 (Ned’s lock).
We have seen all the barrel roofed lock cottages that remain on the South Stratford canal and this one certainly seems to be closer to the original than the others, many of which have had large or ugly extensions.
|Fresh concrete marks the spot
at Ned’s lock where one of Antony Gormley’s statues in the LAND series was
placed for a year (May 2015 – May 2016)|
The LAND series was commissioned by the Landmark Trust with five figures situated throughout Britain to represent the four points of the compass, plus Warwickshire at the heart.
This was when we came through in our previous boat on 20th July 2015…
… and on our way back on 10th August
When I came to leave the lock I couldn’t get the gate to open completely and it certainly wasn’t open wide enough for the boat to pass through. I fished around with the boat hook and barge pole for a while but to no avail – there was something firm stopping the gate opening fully. I rang CRT and they came out in about an hour and used the contraption in the picture at the top to clear the obstruction. They brought a lot of rubble to the surface and also moved something heavy that they didn’t bring to the surface. I have no idea what the heavy object was – it felt as immovable as an anvil when I was fishing around with the poles.
As I was locking down, Buddy was on the deck and therefore stuck on the boat whilst we waited for CRT to turn up. In the end I persuaded him to jump on the roof and then onto the lock side.
Buddy just about to jump onto the lockside
You can’t really tell but there isn't enough room to get the boat out
We got on our way again and fortunately it was still lovely and sunny. There was also a chill wind which probably accounted for the fact that I still haven’t seen any butterflies yet this year.
Once through Lowsonford we went down lock 32
Tranquil scene in the morning sunshine. Karen and I have moored in this spot several times previously as it is a long way from any major roads
|Approaching lock 33|
At the entrance to lock 34 (Bucket lock) is an iron aqueduct. This is the smallest (by far) of the three iron aqueducts on the South Stratford canal and is called Yarningdale aqueduct. The South Sratford aqueducts are unusual in that the towpaths are level with the base of the aqueduct. Generally the towpath is level with the top of the sides of the aqueduct.
|Yarningdale aqueduct and Bucket lock|
After descending Bucket lock I moored for lunch. Mooring was a little tricky as the wind was blowing from the right and the towpath had crossed over to the right so the wind was trying to blow the boat across the cut. When I had moored for the earlier locks the towpath was on the left so it had been easy to moor with the wind assisting me. Mind you I had to wait for lulls before moving off from the side to get into the locks.
After lunch I set off for Preston Bagot. My plan was to decide when I got there whether we would stay there for the night or press on to Wootton Wawen.
We soon reached Preston Bagot and went down the Top and Middle Preston Bagot locks on the three lock flight.
Preston Bagot top lock (36)
Extended (in the 1990’s need I say) barrel roofed lock cottage at lock 37 (Preston Bagot Middle lock)
I moored just above the bottom lock with a good view of open countryside. I did a few chores and then went for a bike ride to Wootton Wawen.
On the way I met Pete and Wendy who had just got back to their boat after work. I have mentioned them before as they work in Warwick like Karen but cycle to the nearest train station from wherever they are moored. Since we first met them a few months before Christmas they have generally been moored about ½ mile in front of us. They haven’t lived on their boat for long but lived in camper vans/buses for about 20 years previously so they are used to the nomadic way of life but the canal system is all new to them. They are loving it and find they never get any trouble unlike when they lived in camper vans. I must admit that is one of the reasons Karen and I decided on a boat rather than a camper van.
After we had had a good chat, I carried on cycling for another mile or so before turning round to get back home. For some reason I was feeling quite shattered even though we had only cruised two miles through seven locks during the day.
|Horse field opposite our mooring at Preston Bagot|