Warwickshire ring, spring 1988
Unusual first lock on the Stratford
A 1-week circular trip from Valley Cruises at Atherstone, via the Coventry
Canal, the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, the Worcester and Birmingham
Canal, the Stratford on Avon canal, the Grand Union Canal and the Oxford
Canal back to Atherstone. This was not quite the conventional ring. The
Grand Union was closed at Birmingham, so we had to take this more
heavily-locked route through Birmingham and onto the Stratford.
Total 101 miles and 120 locks.
- Sat 1988-04-30
- To Atherstone, in two cars. Pub for lunch (more Pedigree), along towpath
from boatyard (Valley Cruises). Under way by 1530, deciding to go
anticlockwise as part of the Grand Union is stopped and we have to go the
long way via N Stratford. Have a good run till 20h, stopping at Amington.
Advertised pub closed for renovation, so end up in a crowded, noisy Ind
Coope place, the Zodiac.
- Sun 1988-05-01
- Away at 0750 and up onto the Birmingham and Fazeley. 70ft boat at 4
mi/hr should travel its own length in 12s. Much rain during the night, and
some this morning, gloomy and dull. Boat is quite good, but not much storage
space in our double cabin. Towards lunchtime the domestic electricity supply
went off (flat battery, charging fault). Get the man out to Curdworth
Bridge. He fits a new alternator and regulator. Uses a very neat clamp-on
ammeter. Get under way again, heading for Birmingham, but just after
Spaghetti Junction, after clearing the prop of Birmingham weed and
rubbish, the engine would not start. So man out again, to a remote part
of the urban wasteland to fit a new connection to the starter motor. Get
to Aston junct just as it gets dark, after a mad dash through Aston locks,
and stay the night there.
- Mon 1988-05-02
- Again start early. Day of sunshine, rain and hail, all interleaved. First
through the dark recesses of Birmingham on Farmers Bridge flight, then out
on the Worcester and Birmingham through Gas St basin (not very impressive).
Two weed-hatch stops on this short bit (a V-belt and a branch of a tree), then
onto the Stratford. One steerer scares an angler by going straight for him,
misjudging a bend, the bows leave a deep impression on the bank. Finish up
earlier than usual (before 19h) 5 locks short of Kingswood Junction, near a
pub. No breakdowns! Lunchtime to pub on Stratford, nr bridge 3, the Horseshoe.
Towpath along most of Stratford is non-existent, and where it does exist it's
treacherously narrow and muddy. Some of the locks are a bit dodgy, but it is
definitely pretty, with lots of overhanging foliage (and bits of it in the
water). Eve to pub 5 locks up from Kingswood Junction.
- Tue 1988-05-03
- Later start, about 0840. Through the locks and along the GU after clearing
Kingswood Junction, up to the top of Hatton flight. Lunch in local pub, then
down the 21 in just on 2 hours, mostly in rain, with sunny bits between,
ending up just beyond Warwick (bridge 46) at 1630. Eve to pub nearby, awful
spit-and-sawdust "Bears Inn" so also to a better Whitbread pub in Leamington
direction, with railway pictures and instruments around the bar.
- Wed 1988-05-04
- Into Warwick to look at the castle. More rain. After taking a short day
yesterday and a morning off today, we're going to have to keep going for the
next 2-and-a-half days. Get going at 1325 and continue apace through several
broad locks, going up (including using ropes) at 5 min per lock, mostly in
pouring rain. After most of the locks it brightens up and the evening is very
pleasant, going up the last 3 locks to Napton Junction and tackling the 5
miles from there to Braunston. Buy an extra hose connector at Do-it-all as the
BWB taps don't all have 12mm hose adaptors. Eve to "Boatman" at Braunston
turn; just fitting in an hour before closing time.
- Thu 1988-05-05
- Start just after 8h, chugging along the N Oxford in sunshine. The sun came
and went, but so far (1815) no rain. Stop for lunch at "Stag and Pheasant" in
Hillmorton, just after the last 3 real locks. Nicholsons only comment on this
pub is "food". It does not do food and has not for the last 10 years. Finish
in Ansty, on an embankment above some new houses. About 3 mi short of the
Coventry, and 15mi and 1 stop-lock from base. Eve to fairly basic but pleasant
pub in Ansty ("Crown"). Despite Nicholsons, could find no shops in Ansty. Also,
the indication of bridges in the guide appears to be erratic, and it does not
help that most bridges are un-numbered.
- Fri 1988-05-06
- Start 8h and potter along past Hawkesbury and Marston junctions and through
the last 150mm stop-lock, moor at bridge 23 in Nuneaton for 30 mins to find
it filthy, noisy and the pub Ansells and nasty-looking, so on to bridge 29 for
the "Anchor". Much better. Lunch in the garden, only spoilt by dust and noise
from near-by quarry. Then on to bridge 36, 1km from Mancetter, where we moor
at 1530. Clean boat and laze in sunshine that we've had practically
continuously since this morning. Now only 3/4 mi and no locks from the
boatyard. 3-course meal on boat, using up all that is left of the food. Eve
walk into Mancetter (the "Plough").
- Sat 1988-05-07
- Start at 0750 and tootle down in sunshine to boatyard at 0810. Used 66
litres of diesel (40l/100km or 7.1mi/UKgall). Another boat, which we had to
overtake yesterday because it was going so slowly, used 100 litres, the other
that I saw come in used 32 litres. Only breakage was one wineglass. Boat is
probably the 2nd best we've had so far, after Applemint from Snaygill, the
principal negative feature being the gas-convector heating, which can't be
run at night and provides no drying facilities. Also, it could have done with
centre doors. But a 21-metre boat was no more difficult to drive than the
previous longest ones we've had.
Day locks miles tau time locks miles tau / tau
Sat 11 8 3.8 4.5 11 8 3.8 -0.2
Sun 27 14+1/4 7.1 8.4 38 21+1/4 10.9 -0.2
Mon 26 18 8.8 9.3 64 39+3/4 19.7 -0.06
Tue 29 10 6.0 5.7 93 49+1/4 25.7 +0.05
Wed 23 16+3/4 7.9 7.3 116 66 33.6 +0.08
Thu 3 19+3/4 6.9 7.0 119 85+3/4 40.5 -0.01
Fri 1 14+1/4 5.0 5.8* 120 100 45.4 -0.2
Sat 0 3/4 0.5 0.3 120 100+3/4 46 +0.4