Norton junction

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

We left Foxton last Sunday and have made our way along the GU Leicester arm down the Watford flight which is near the Watford Gap Services on the M1. We are now moored above Buckby Top lock near the New Inn which is now closed. We reversed from Norton junction about 300 yards which was going OK until a Canaltime boat decided to overtake- but it all came good in the end. We are now ready to see Sam from Foxton Boat Services for an engine service tomorrow morning.
We purchased some coal from the working boat Callisto and were watched over by his lovely Calli-although I think she thought we had a biscuit for her.

We went through Crick tunnel which is 1528yards long and takes about 15 minutes,its very wet at is north end.The sun was a warming sight as you reached the exit.

Sunday night we were moored just before bridge 42 at Welford Junction. It was a lovely autumn evening with the sun giving a great reflection of the boat.-a magic moment-gone in a minute.

Foxton flight is a group of two- five stair case locks which are very deep as you enter them(even on sunny days its always damp and dark) going up the escarpment. This is the steerer's view as you enter. There is a lot of water been held behind that gate.

I have come into the light-Anne has opened the lock gates and I am now moving into the next lock to start the process again.

Foxton Locks to Union Wharf Market Harborough

Saturday, 6 October 2012

We made our way down Foxton locks last Thursday and then went along the arm to Market Harborough. As you leave Foxton there are nice moorings between bridges 5 and 6 if the ones nearer the locks are full.
A photograph looking at the remains of the Incline Plane from the observation platform. The boats would have entered the tanks on the left and descended to the bottom which is on the right-some 75ft lower. As one tank went down the other came up, the tanks ran on rails at each end of the tanks. The bases of the tracks can still be clearly seen.

The visitor moorings as you approach Market Harborough are all under trees and can be dark and cold. You can moor in Union Wharf but they do charge £8 per night including electricity. We decided to splash out and have a bus trip on Friday to Leicester. Again we seem to have missed the rain during the day but really heavy rain overnight. 

The only original warehouse left in Union Wharf which is now a restaurant again.

Our mooring for tonight just after bridge 6

Foxton locks

Thursday, 4 October 2012

We have managed to get out again and decided on a short trip along the Grand Union Leicester section to Market Harborough for a couple of weeks. It will also give me a chance to arrange an engine service with Sam at Foxton Boat Services. We have managed to avoid all the heavy showers either due to us having already moored up for the day or they happened overnight- that's a good result for a change.
As normal a few photographs of events or things we have seen on our journey.
Last Sunday afternoon we had moored near bridge 100 just before Braunston when I heard a lot of motor noise from over the hedge. A quick look and it was about 10 vintage tractors all in a line trundling across a field. They could have been going to a ploughing match but they just disappeared into the distance
Two of the  vintage tractors-could be Fordsons?

Later in the afternoon we heard the distinctive sound of a vintage engine coming from Braunston. Eventually motor Nuneaton and unpowered butty Brighton owned by The Narrow Boat Trust. They were fully loaded and were very low in the water.

This is what nb Nuneaton would look like without the load - very impressive and huge bow! It didn't have a name.

This is the stern of the butty Brighton with its lovely paintwork and curved wooden tiller.
Approaching Braunston bottom lock through the bridge. Its always busy and a very boaty location-one of our favourites.

Another one of my play on words-boat name.

We are moored at the top of Foxton flight but I had to walk down a have a look. Its always neat and tidy with lots of people about during the day, its now 6pm.Its a group of 2 sets of 5 staircase locks.  I am standing at the first lock of the second pair of 5 locks. The other famous thing about Foxton is the Incline Plane which operated from 1900 to 1910 when it was closed and eventually demolished- there are plans to reinstate it but need at least £10m!.

Oxford to Cambridge race above Claydon Locks

Monday, 17 September 2012

The weather has continued to be good with only one heavy rain shower overnight. We have been down to Banbury where we met Simon,Debs and Andy on Sunday for lunch and a short trip down through the town lock to the winding hole to turn the boat and back to Banbury to drop them off. A very pleasant time indeed.
We left Banbury at 8am this morning and had a glorious days boating but the wind did pick up a bit in the afternoon. We travelled 7.5 miles and did 12 locks in 6 hours. A lot of boats around but mostly coming down the flight which made our life much easier.
Tonight we have moored above Claydon lock flight just before bridge 143. As I was reading in the cratch a rowing eight came past and then stopped by the bridge- you don't see these on the canal at all. They were going by canal and river from Oxford to Cambridge in a week. Although some parts of the canal are to narrow or winding so they break the boat down into sections and move it by road- in particular the top section of the South Oxford from Fenny Compton to Marston Doles.
The rowing 8 getting caught in the trees

Our mooring for tonight from bridge 143

The local moorhen kept coming on board to look around

and then left as he had come on board.
The ultimate mushroom

Our mooring by Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury from the footbridge to the carpark.

Napton locks and beyond

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The weather window looked good so we upped sticks and came up to the boat last Tuesday and decided on a short trip down the South Oxford canal to. Banbury and back as we have a christening to go to on the 23 September. Life goes on which is a very good thing to look forward to in a positive way. My brother passed away at the beginning of August peacefully at home after a very short illness. It is his new grandson that is being christened so we can look back- but we can all look forward to the new life to come.
We had a good trip up the Napton flight in warm sunshine with plenty of boats coming down. We arrived at the top after 2 1/2hours to find a further 6 boats waiting to go down. It has been very busy with loads of boats around as we made our  way to Fenny Compton- we must all be out expecting glorious autumn sunshine. It hasn't been bad with only one really heavy shower Wednesday evening after we had stopped for the day.
A close up view of Napton on the Hill Windmill which is usually in the distance on most photos.

I just love "the play on words" names for boats.

A farm on the way up the Napton flight has a herd of water buffalo for the supply of mozzarella cheese
Hotel boats Snipe and its butty Taurus making their way down Napton flight.

The view of our mooring on Wednesday evening from bridge 123 in glorious evening sunshine- we are the dot in the distance before the rain arrived.

Gloriana at the Paralympics

Sunday, 9 September 2012

We have not yet been able to go cruising as our son and partner managed to get tickets to the Paralympics for last Friday. It was a fantastic day in glorious sunshine where we watched athletes competing at the highest level after overcoming all obstacles put in front of them. Everything was so well organised from the transport arrangements to the happy and helpful volunteers, It was
 great to be part of it and to be British- we really really did it well.
A view from our morning seat in the Olympic Stadium

The stern of Gloriana
 Gloriana was moored in the centre of the Olympic village on the River Lea. The Queen's Row Barge Gloriana was commissioned by Lord Sterling and built by Mark Edwards who runs Richmond Bridge Boathouse who specialise in wooden boats.

A plague on the walkway through the park records the amount of rubbish that had to be removed from the River Lea

Quick trip into Braunston in good,bad,good and bad weather days

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The last few months have not been very good and we only managed to get up to the boat for a few days this week to check her out and go into Braunston. We left the marina on Sunday afternoon and cruised just a short way to moor at bridge 103. We moored just behind nb Nutshell with Viv  and Julie who we last met on the K&A in 2010 and they were waiting for Steve and Jan on nb Quodlibet who were also on the K&A. We had a very pleasant time together in mixed sunshine and heavy showers.
We all went our separate ways on Tuesday morning-ours was an appointment with Justin at JG Marine at Braunston Bottom lock. We had gone over something on the Ashby Canal which had lifted the boat up as we passed over it. The tiller then appeared to vibrate more than before.
Justin duly checked it over and nothing appears to be seriously wrong just wear in the top bearing and some in the bottom cup bearing.Providing it doesn't get any worse it can wait till the next blacking at the end of 2013.I will just have to keep my fingers crossed.
 This boat cruised past us several times when we were mooed up and it moved very gracefully and sounded lovely. Its nb Pelican an old Icebreaker that had an engine fitted and converted to cruising in 1950

The local boys in the marina- just a thought -could they be employed by the marina to keep down the reeds from growing again.

Black Bess in CRT launch video

When we came down the Hatton flight in June we were filmed entering the second lock by a crew from the new Canal & River Trust PR team. They were collecting material for a launch video to go out on the 12 July 2012. We shared the locks with nb Sheer Madness ,Mervyn on helm and Sophia on the paddles. I have now found the You Tube video and we are there with HRH The Prince of Wales. Click the above CRT link to view it.

Hang on a minute lads

Friday, 20 July 2012

No boating of late due to weather. Just been doing bits at home and watching the olympic torch going through East Sussex. The Cultural Olympiad has come to Bexhill on Sea with a coach on the roof of the De la Warr Pavilion. Richard Wilson has created the art and called it "Hang on a minute lads-I've got a great idea" Its the famous ending of the original film "The Italian Job" its been sponsored by Eddie Izzard and it gently rocks! It looks fantastics but not sure if all the people of Bexhill appreciate it.

Hopefully a trip to the boat soon to do the jobs I didn't do when we were out in June and then out in September with a trip to the Macclesfield Canal in glorious autumn weather- thats what I have ordered- time will tell.


Back to Wigrams via Warwick

Sunday, 24 June 2012

We arrived back in the marina on Thursday 21 June after a really good trip during which we met some great people. We travelled with nb Shear Maddness crewed by Mervyn and Sophia down the Hatton flight and also up the Stockton flight. Its so muh easier to travel in pairs through the wide locks. We had to wait for half an hour at the top of Hatton for them to turn up. Not wasted time as we had a sausage and a bacon sandwich in the cafe- I also had a cappuchino which was excellent- now that was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

We also introduced them to the Saltisford Arm as we had nb Friendship-Stan and Sheila on our way up to Birmingham-who we also met on our second visit as they returned from Stratford on their way back to Milton Keynes.The six of us all walked into Warwick (only 10minutes away) and had an excellent Italian meal together. We stayed for two nights (first free then £4 per night plus electric if required) during which we visited Stratford upon Avon by bus-first time use of bus passes.The lock keeper on the Lapworth flight had said how crowded it was due to The River Avon being closed- and it was.

We had two really bad days- one in which we boated up the Hatton flight the other we stayed put with the fire alight -in total our short trip to Birmingham entailed - 130 locks and 79 miles

Dredging work on the old narrow lock to improve water flow through the flight at Radford Bottom Lock

There was a lot of water flowing down the 21 Hatton locks

Our mooring just past bridge 62 on the embankment. There are only a few nice moorings between Lapworth and Hatton top  lock.

Entering Shrewley tunnel with the towpath going through above us on the right.

Had to include a picture of the classic barrel roofed cottage on the Stratford upon Avon canal at Kingswood junction
Sign at the basin in Stratford - the average lock/miles for all the above is 3.6 lock/miles per hour. Now that is some going as our average over the last 8 years has only been 2.5 lock/miles per hour.

The start of the canal restoration movement. The canal was first owned by The National Trust but taken over by British Waterways in1988.

Old bridges still mark the entrances to long forgotten wharfs near Gas Street Basin Birmingham

Going past Brindley Place on the right. Through the bridge in the distance is Gas Street Basin

Our mooring was on the right near the NIA. 
A panoramic view of Stratford basin from the bridge over the canal as it enters the basin. The lock down onto the river is behind the boats on the left.

Moored near Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Thursday, 14 June 2012

It was an early start 07.00 on Wednesday morning for our final dash into Gas Street Basin. The BW man on Lapworth flight recommended not to moor past the lift bridge 8 at Major's Green until you reach Gas Street basin. So we covered 15 miles in 6 hours, so to get here we have done in total 65 locks of which 19 were narrow and 41 miles in 6 days. Tomorrow we start our return journey weather permitting.

It was well worth the effort as the centre of the UK canal network is very good although it can be noisy near Worcester Bar. We are moored near The Sea Life Centre just past the entrance to the Oozells Loop. Although subject to a major redevelopment there are a few parts of the old still around, with some of the new buildings trying to recreate the old.

Some images of the trip in

Something you would expect on The Thames near Canary Wharf- this development is at Dickens Heath on the North Stratford canal

I do like junctions as they always have an air of excitement on the journey. This is Kings Norton Juction where the Stratford meets the Worcester & Birmingham Canal with its Junction House.

As you approach Edgbaston you can see the Italian style tower of the University called "Old Joe"

Approaching Worcester Bar which used to be a stop lock protecting the water between two independent canal companies. In the late 1700's all goods used to be transferred between narrow boats of different companies.Gas Street Basin is on the right.

Old Turn Junction or Malt House mini roundabout. We came in from the right and are moored behind me, straight ahead is Farmers Bridge lock flight.
Some of the old buildings are still around

This is at the restored Moor Street Station, closed by Beeching in the late 1960's and reopened by Chiltern Rail in 2003 as it used to be,for which it won several awards. The loco is a GWR 2-8-0 which would have run through the station in BR steam days.

We went to see a most unusual National Trust property. A group of back to back houses giving a glimpse of life from 1830's to 1930's- well worth a visit and only 200 metres from the Bullring Shopping Centre
A view down Farmers Bridge locks which are the start of the Birmingham and Fazely Canal