Thursday, 26 April 2018

Atherstone (our memories aren’t that bad)

Wednesday was due to be another day of rain but with bright spells during the morning, so we set off from Ansty at 7 o’clock (early for us).

Leaving Ansty on Wednesday morning – weather a bit different to when we moored up on Tuesday

It was only a few miles to the end of the Oxford canal at Hawkesbury and as it was quiet, boat-wise, when we arrived we stopped in the stop lock and got rid of recycling and rubbish at the boaters’ facilities. The gated compound is not padlocked, it is right next to the Greyhound pub and therefore very easy for the public to access.  The bins were overflowing (apart from the recycling bins) and a lot of the rubbish looked like household waste, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this facility is on CRT’s list of potential sites to close.  I will be getting in touch with CRT about the possibility of padlocking the entrance gate to the bin compound.

Waiting in the stop lock whilst we disposed of our rubbish and recycling

Karen drove through the junction for her first time and made a perfect 180 degree turn without having to use any reverse or hitting the sides 😊

Buddy waiting whilst Karen brought the boat from the Oxford canal on the left, under the bridge and continued turning 180 degrees, onto the Coventry canal


Now on the Coventry canal – in an old stop lock by the engine house that used to house a steam driven pump

I keep finding that I’m including pictures and writing about places we’ve been to before but then having to stop myself and remember that I only need to write about new experiences or places (as everything is stored in the blog entries for previous visits).  It’s over two years since we were last heading this way but we both still remember things that happened, good places to moor for lunch and places to avoid etc.

At 9 o’clock we moored up outside Bedworth where we knew there was a short stretch of Armco and went for a walk into Bulkington, a place we haven’t been to before.  It seemed to be a fairly modern village and we found nothing of note to report but at least we had a walk even if we didn’t take any pictures 😉

Sign on the Bedworth road bridge over the canal at Bulkington

Just after setting off again we passed a boatyard at Bedworth that always tickles us; the residents all seem to be into life sized effigies and they line the banks outside their boats.

   
  

Part of the yard is a bit like a good old-fashioned breakers yard.  The sort we used to go to when we were young to take out starter motors from Ford Anglias etc.  Health & Safety wouldn’t allow that these days of course

 
We passed several families of mallards and realised we had only seen three families so far this year, before today:

   
I mentioned yesterday that we saw a water vole.  Well, one stretch has had these pieces of coir matting installed with retaining stakes.  They are there to help the water voles get up onto the bank on sections where the sides are either concrete or Armco.

   
When we arrived at Marston junction (where the Ashby canal meets the Coventry canal) it seemed there were boats going in all directions.  As we were just going straight on we went through the other boats to get out of their way whilst they were waiting to either turn off or turn around.

Boat waiting to come out of the end of the Ashby canal

Soon after midday the skies went black and the rain started so we decided to moor up for lunch.  Fortunately, we had just put on our wet weather gear so were prepared when the rain became torrential whilst we moored.

Karen togged up before the dark clouds burst


Our lunchtime mooring after the rain stopped

The next place we went through was Hartshill which has a picturesque (to me anyway) old boat yard still used by CRT.  When we’ve been in this area before we’ve had many walks around the abandoned granite quarries and collieries, but we didn’t stop today even though the visitor moorings were strangely empty.

Boatyard at Hartshill

Our aim for the day was to get to Atherstone where we could top up with food and drink as the next decent supermarket place will be at Rugeley which is a good few days away.  We would go down five of the 11 locks on the Atherstone flight where there are plenty of moorings and then walk into town.

The sun was out occasionally but as it was so windy there were very few butterflies around.  A male orange tip landed on a pot of pansies in front of me as I was driving but the wind wouldn’t let him open his wings fully:

  
Another shot showing the camouflaged underside as well as the bright upperside

When we passed the visitor moorings at the top of the Atherstone flight they were completely empty.  Usually it is really busy and the last time we came it was full, so we had to go down five locks before we could moor up.  It was the last thing we wanted that day as we had had a long cruise and it was beginning to get dark and cold.

Empty visitor moorings at the top of Atherstone

This time we were carrying on down five locks to the visitor moorings at the half way point. There were three boats in front of us at the top lock with none coming up so it was a slow journey down.

Karen back in the swing of narrow locking


Ironically, when we reached the visitor moorings between locks 5 and 6 they were nearly full!

We’re the last boat in the far distance just before the next lock

We walked into town to get the shopping and then stayed in for the rest of the day.  Another busy day for us - 13 miles and 6 locks 😊  We will now stay on the Coventry canal until we hit the Birmingham & Fazeley canal at Fazeley junction, probably on Thursday.

This is the route we have travelled since we left on Monday
To finish, here are a couple of shots of the scenic Coventry canal from our cruise today:


   

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