We left Atherstone after breakfast on Thursday and headed down the remaining six locks of the flight. Although the forecast was for a dry day with sunny intervals it certainly didn’t feel or look like it, but the dark clouds emphasised the yellow of the oil seed rape fields:
At one of the locks on the flight
When we reached lock number 8 we were reminded that last time we moored at Atherstone we got chatting with Terry, the son of the lock keeper who used to live in the lock cottage at number 8 lock. Sadly, all that is left is the path that led to their front door.
The front path to the cottage at lock number 8
Terry provided a lot of insight to the history of the flight and I wrote it up in the blog (click on 11 September 2016) if you’re interested in finding out more, including pictures of the lock cottages on the flight before they were demolished.
The locks on the Atherstone flight are really easy for single-handers as the lock tails are very long so the boat can be left safely when going back up to close the gates. They also come in handy when Karen and I are locking together as she goes to set the next lock whilst I close up the previous one. The lock tails have steps leading back up to the lock side and this one has a lintel over it but I’m not sure of its purpose.
Ideal lock tail steps for dogs and humans
We stopped at Grendon wharf for coffee and to take on water. The permanent moorings at Grendon have always been attractive as they are in a quiet rural spot but, for some reason, there were far fewer boats there than usual – have the charges gone up too much we wondered?
Moored at Grendon wharf
The next town was Polesworth which was where we were first led astray by Mike and Aileen in one of the local pubs. Just before Polesworth is an encampment of caravans by the remains of an old swing bridge . We have always stopped to buy eggs from one of the residents who keeps chickens. They have a sign in the trees saying honk three times if you want eggs. Our plan was to get a couple of dozen eggs from them but as we neared we saw the sign was no longer there. We stopped and tooted the horn a few times, and although there were chickens running about, there was no sign of human life, so we left empty handed.
Before we left I got a picture of a stanking plank store by the old swing bridge that, for some reason, has never made it to my stanking plank page.
Stanking plank store with air holes
We only had a few spots of rain during the cruise although the clouds were dark and heavy, and it was very windy for most of the day. We moored just before Tamworth for lunch and I stupidly cast off on my own whilst Karen was making hot drinks. I say stupidly because it was so windy. I had got the fenders up and undone the bowline but by the time I got back to the other end of the boat to move off, the front had been caught in an extra strong gust of wind and we were practically perpendicular across the cut.
I was so pleased we had replaced our centre lines with longer ones the other day as it made it much easier for Karen and me to rescue the boat. It was my own fault as I knew it was windy and Karen had offered to help: still living and learning, eh? 😉
Whilst Karen worked indoors, I cruised down the two locks at Glascote and then onto Fazeley junction.
The two locks at Glascote
The canal passes over the River Tame on an aqueduct to the south of Tamworth.
Crossing the River Tame – which was named first, the river or the town of Tamworth?
Fazeley junction is where the Coventry canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley canal on its journey from Birmingham up to the Trent & Mersey canal; although, for historical financial reasons, it becomes the Coventry canal again for the last couple of miles before reaching the T&M.
Turning right onto the Birmingham & Fazeley canal
I couldn’t believe how many boats there were in the visitor moorings; so many, that I had to moor beyond them where there weren’t any rings. To be honest it’s better there as it’s more open and the sun is not blocked by the flats that overlook the visitor moorings. I chatted with the guy on the Plant Boat as we passed him, and he said he was the only boat there in the morning, but it had filled up during the day.
Whilst I was mooring up, Steve, my middle son, arrived; he had business in the area for the next two days so was staying over with us. We had a short walk, ending up in a pub, before staying in for the rest of the evening.
Unusual road sign near the pub
We were moored in front of a boat called Mr Blue Sky which is the title of my most hated/feared earworm. I am always filled with dread when I see the boat (it is very distinctive from a distance) and try to pass it so I don’t see the name, but it always creeps in during the following night ☹
There’s another Mr Blue Sky that has a permanent mooring at Hockley Heath on the Stratford canal. As we have spent many weeks in that area over the last couple of years, I often used to have to walk past it with Buddy. Again, I used to look away from the boat as we went past which must have looked strange to any passers by 😊
It looks like rain all day on Friday, so I suspect we’ll be staying firmly moored at Fazeley.
Our journey since Monday