Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ansty (that was a short spring wasn't it?)

This sums up our Tuesday morning:

 Karen and Buddy walking in the rain and me driving in the rain  
As heavy rain was forecast in the afternoon but only occasional light rain in the morning we decided to have a cruise until lunchtime and then assess the situation.  There was nothing occasional about as it didn’t stop all morning and it wasn’t light a lot of the time either.

There were still a lot of boats on the move though, and there was a veritable traffic jam when we reached Stretton Wharf:

 Scot driving under an umbrella (well he had a Scottish accent)
I stopped before the bridge to let the boat come through and then pulled through and waited behind two other boats.  They were waiting at the end of a narrow section whilst a very nervous boat came through.  The guy kept stopping as he wasn’t sure whether we were all waiting for him or not 😊

The Oxford canal is very rural once it leaves Rugby although it does pass under the M6 and the M69.  I always feel like we are beginning to leave the Midlands once we go under the M6.

Just a light drizzle as we went under the M6

At one point we watched a water vole swimming near the boat but there was very little else venturing out in the rain and it was definitely not a butterfly day.  Sadly, the water vole is Britain's fastest declining mammal - it is threatened by habitat loss and predation by the introduced American Mink.

After we got through Ansty we moored up for lunch and then decided to give in to the weather and stay there for the rest of the day.

Moored to the west of Ansty

We also gave in to the weather by lighting a fire – so much for no more fires until the autumn

A further update on the Middlewich breach has been issued by the Trust.  They now reckon it’ll take six months to fix starting in June so that means next year; it’s also estimated at costing £2-3m.  They are currently hampered by having to understand badger activity around the breach.  Because badgers are protected they cannot be disturbed but you don’t know if you’re disturbing them if you don’t know where they are.  Consequently, the animals have to be monitored for many weeks before anything can start.

All a bit ironic really as one of the causes of the breach in the first place could well have been the badger setts dug into the embankments.

So today we travelled seven miles with no locks or tunnels and are just under three miles from the end of the Oxford canal at Hawkesbury junction where it meets the Coventry canal.  We are now just 106 miles and 50 locks from our first main objective which is getting to Bugsworth in the Peak District so we can meet up with friends who live there and also climb up Kinder Scout with Judith (my sister) and Nigel who will be staying with us for the weekend.

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