Goodbye to Black Bess- you have been fantastic

Monday, 9 July 2018

After only 3 weeks we said goodbye to BB today as her new owner is moving her to the River Nene/Ouse area.

My most favourite picture of BB was from our first long trip which included Llangollen in spring 2008. On that occasion we came down the Shroppie but turned right at Autherley Junction onto the Staffs and Worcs towards Stourport. The picture below has Anne on the helm with me doing the locks. The sun had suddenly come out and provided a lovely scene dominated by the red rock as she eased BB  beautifully into the lock.

It's now time just to say - its good night from me and goodnight from her.

Nb Black Bess For Sale

Thursday, 21 June 2018

After 14 fantastic years of cruising with Black Bess we have, after a great deal of heart searching, decided that there are a lot of other things we want to do especialĺy in the UK away from the canals. That is why  our last trip out with her to Llangollen ended at Crick Wharf where we delivered BB to ABNB.

We will have everlasting memories of our time spent on the canal system and in particular:-

-the lovely people that you meet at the locks and at the moorings at the end of a day’s cruising.

- who says you cannot get away from people and light pollution. All you have to do is cruise sections of the network. In particular for us is the South Oxford canal above Marston Dole and parts of the Shropshire Union.

-the sheer delight of not knowing what is round the next bend or through the next lock or bridge.

One journey ends and new ones begin.

I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings. Anne did not always agree with my comments!!!!!

Thank you for following us.

A final picture of BB at Crick Marina.

Through Braunston and now at Crick Wharf.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

We have continued to wend our way from Hillmorton but each time we have moored up we have been in the mobile black hole. That is why this is a bulk post to catch up on the final part of our trip. For the first time in a long while we didn’t turn right at Braunston Turn but went straight on up the locks. We moored above the top lock just before the tunnel so that we could have an early start through in the morning. At 06.50 we went through and did not see any other  boat. I just don’t like it as there are several bends in it. I suppose that isn’t surprising when it was completed in 1796. We turned onto the Leicester Arm and went up The Watford flight which includes a group of four staircase locks - ie the second gate of the first lock becomes the first gate of the next lock and so on. It is one of my favourite groups despite the fact it nestles between the West coast main line and the M1. Neither of which would know the locks existed.

We are now moored at Crick Wharf and getting ready for the next phase.

The lovely converted nb Arcangel

Passing Braunston Turn - to turn right for Napton

The turn into Braunston Marina.

Waiting our turn at the bottom of Braunston locks

The very uninspiring entrance to the 2042 yard Braunston tunnel.

The plaque on the wall as you enter the tunnel.

Entering  the first of the 4 staircase Watford locks

Through Hawkesbury Junction and now below Hillmorton locks.

Friday, 8 June 2018

We continue to make steady progress although the weather has changed its approach. Compared to the last few weeks its been a cloudy and chilly start with the sun finally making its appearance during the afternoon. Last night we were moored at Hawkesbury Junction There are not many suitable moorings as you head south towards Rugby so we had a longish day of nearly 6 hours to do 16 miles. We are now moored just before the bottom lock at Hillmorton. Now all the building work on the new M1 link road has finished for the day it's very rural!

Hawkesbury Junction is a classic canal location. As you approach it the first thing that you see is the old engine pump house that used to feed water into the Coventry Canal.

At the junction we have to turn left. This means a 180 degree turn under the cast iron bridge.

Anne closing the lock after I had made a perfect turn - as usual nobody was around to appreciate it. We are now on the Oxford canal. The Coventry canal is behind the building on the right.

Interesting Mural on an old railway bridge support.

In the style of the old Brighton Bell train

Through Fradley Junction and up Atherstone flight

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The great weather continues to follow us although we have had a few very chilly mornings that have taken to the early afternoon before warming up. Over the last few days we have left the Trent  & Mersey Canal at Fradley Junction where we turned on to the Coventry Canal. Yesterday we managed one of our longest days of 7.2 hours in which we did 4 locks and 18 miles. We moored last night just past Polesworth where we met Mervyn and Sophia on nb Shear Maddness. They are on the way to the Llangollen Canal and return in under 4 weeks which involves 11/12 hour days. It will have taken us 8 weeks.

Tonight we have gone up the 11 locks of the Atherstone flight and are moored just before bridge 36.

Looking up to Fradley from the Trent & Mersey canal which is coming up  from the River Trent at Shardlow

Fradley Junction behind me to Shardlow,straight ahead the T & M to Great Haywood and to the left is the Coventry Canal where we are going.

The large working boat Hadley approaching the top lock at Fradley.

It's so lovely to see cygnets taking a ride on mum's back

A new type of water taxi

Our mooring tonight past Atherstone and just before bridge 36.

I missed these two large birds on a wall going through Fazeley Junction last time
 Another varied selection of boat names and things people collect on their boats- enjoy!

Great weekend in Great Haywood

Sunday, 3 June 2018

We have spent the last few days around the Great Haywood area. Yesterday we moored at Tixall Wide which feels like you are mooring at the side of a lake. The other bonus is that it has a very low down tow path which makes it very easy to touch up the paintwork along the side of the hull. This morning we left early and went to the junction with the Trent & Mersey canal and stopped for water. There were loads of boats moored but we managed to find a mooring above Haywood Lock. On walking back later the junction was chaos with boats appearing from all directions - a smug smile to each other for coming through earlier!!!

We then met Jeff and Sylvia at the Farm Shop cafe by bridge 74 for lunch. The main reason was to catch up on news and secondly for Jeff to deliver my new 0 gauge coach ordered when we last saw them in April. A short cruise followed before we said our goodbyes. We then had a very pleasant late afternoon cruise to Wolesey Bridge no 70.

A narrow boat anchored out in the middle of Tixall Wide something you do not see at all as most narrow boaters would not feel comfortable unless moored to something solid.
A lovely evening photo of reflections in the Wide.

Late evening reflections in the Wide

A final view as we leave Tixall Wide

Jeff & Sylvia  just before we all say goodbye

This is the last remaining lock keepers  bywashed toilet

Wolseley Bridge over the River Trent from our mooring tonight.

Our mooring from bridge 70 tonight
This is it a Dapol 7mm model of a GWR 59ft auto trailer

Just past Acton Trussell next stop Great Haywood

Friday, 1 June 2018

Another very humid day but a very pleasant cruise past Acton Trussell where we moored above Deptmore Lock. The only event during the day was a boater having problems with his gearbox who managed to ram a top gate on a lock. Luckily there was no damage done. A similar event this week at lock 4 on the Audlem flight has resulted in a short closure and some heavy Canal & River Trust equipment to sort it out.

This was a trader moored at Penkridge selling coffee and ice creams amongst other things. I was more interested in the bird on the roof.

The stern of Lady Hatherton a classic inspection launch built for the Staffs & Worcs Canal Co in 1898 - details can be found in the Historic Narrow Boat Club.

This is the boat moored ahead of us tonight. It's built by Steve Hudson in a classic style of a traditional working boat and fabulous it looks too. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago and these boats are no longer being built.

Our mooring tonight in open countryside just above Deptmore lock No 42.