Monthly Archives: August 2014

Day 33: Irthlingborough- Wansford

32 miles
18 locks

We set off in convoy with Bletchley again but after the first couple of locks they had to go and serve customers in several marinas so after topping up with diesel we carried on without them. It was a beautiful sunny day and we made good progress.

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The very last stretch to Wansford was in the dark, arriving about 8:50pm to breast up with another boat on the pontoon.

I’ve spoken to the middle level lock keepers so we’ll be through Stanground tomorrow and back on the Ouse on Wednesday probably.

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Day 32: Northampton Marina – Irthlingborough

18 miles
16 locks

Today was good fun. We shared the Nene locks with fuel boat Bletchley, the crew of which know these waters and are an efficient bunch. With Alan, Alex and Daniel’s help we made record time, getting to Irthlingborough two hours ahead of the canalplan estimate. They cycle ahead where possible and we hardly touched a  landing stage.

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Now we’re tied up at Rushden and Diamonds waiting for our take away curry to arrive!

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Day 31: Nether Heyford- Northampton Marina

10 miles
17 locks

We set off down the Northampton Arm at 10 am after an hours cruising from our overnight mooring on the GU. In contrast to our stressful ascent, this time we had no problems.

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The sun shone, and although the locks were against us we made good progress. Close to lock 16 we had a bit of excitement when we saw a Dawncraft cruiser sideways across the cut. It was drifting so we towed it to the next landing stage.

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It turned out that our neighbours in Cambridge, Jeff and Andi were travelling down just ahead of us and we caught up  on the town quay before heading into the marina.

We tied up one of the pontoons aa directed by John the marina manager, next to fuel boat Bletchley, a big Woolwich.

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By pure coincidence several canal world forum members were gathered together: us, Alan on Bletchley, John and Sam who run the marina and also Richard and Sue on Tawny Owl who were venturing down the arm for the day.

Once we’d done our various chores including making use of the laundry facilities & Morrisons, we met up with them all at the excellent Malt Shovel pub and we’ve just got back from a great evening hence another late blog post!

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Day 30: Hillmorton – Nether Heyford

19 miles
15 locks

We set off up Hillmorton locks and arrived at the top pound, passing the Finchers just as they set off.

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So we were followed by Sickle and Chalice to Braunston, where all three boats stopped.

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We had brunch at the Gongoozlers Rest cafe and Sickle and Chalice stopped at the water point.  They were first to set off again, whilst we were still tucking into our sandwiches. However when we got to Braunston bottom lock we were only two locks behind them due to the queues. We ascended fairly rapidly thanks to a steady stream of boats coming down and then it was through the tunnel. At Buckby top we shared with the boat who’d been a lock ahead and then when they tied up we ended up sharing with a hire boat just one lock behind the Finchers. The earlier rain had turned to a glorious sunny evening so we pushed on along the lock free pound to Nether Heyford, within striking distance of the Northampton flight tomorrow morning.

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Day 29: Hartshill – Hillmorton

24 miles
1 lock

A beautiful sunny morning’s boating, with a stop in Nuneaton for provisions from the Lidl before carrying on to Sutton Stop and onto the North Oxford.

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At Rugby just beyond Newbold tunnel we passed the Finchers on Sickle and Chalice tied up,
and then once we had stopped ourselves at the bottom of Hillmorton, they passed us. We helped them up the three double locks and then met up with them (and Polly who moors nearby) in the pub. It was a good evening, hence the lateness of this blog!

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Day 28: Alvecote – Hartshill

9 miles
11 locks

We left the marina at the same time as Victoria, to fill up with diesel and buy a bag of coal, before heading off in the same direction as far as Polesworth, where Vicky was stopping.

Then it was up Atherstone locks, which were very busy, with boats leaving the rally and it being a popular route. We had to queue at every lock so it took us four and a half hours to get to the top. We had planned to go as far as Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury junction), but we wanted to catch up with a friend (Mark aka The Engineer) who works locally, so we decided to stop near the Anchor pub in Hartshills, where they were having a Pie Night. It was great to catch up and the pies were excellent too. Now tied up and we’ve got the stove on to keep off the autumn chill!

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Days 23-27 Alvecote

A fantastic weekend at our first ever historic boat rally on our own historic boat. We saw loads of people, friends old and new, and it was great to have all our home comforts with us-no camping this time! We arrived on Wednesday night and left on the following Tuesday, so being there for that long, we were glad to have our own space to retreat to.
Willow attracted a fair bit of attention, and there aren’t many Severners about and none which go to rallies.
Lyra was very good, exploring some of the nearby boats but not getting into any mischief. It was all too scary for Thea to go out but she did get lots of people come in to meet her specifically!
Like Braunston, Alvecote also has boat parades, with awards going to the best turn outside the Samuel Barlow pub, complete with commentary and suspenseful music! We didn’t win but we had great fun being involved, and we really hope to return next year!

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Alvecote 1

A few photos from Alvecote so far:

Lyra exploring

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And here’s Willow’s fore end looking particularly bluff compared to her neighbours, Joshers Badger and Hare

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Day 23: Perry Barr – Alvecote

19 miles
30 locks

Starting at the top of Perry Barr, we set off early with the hope of making it to Alvecote.

At the bottom of Perry Barr the canal passes under Spaghetti Junction which is always a fantastic sight.

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Then we were on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, meeting more boats in the first hour than we’d seen on the whole of the Northern BCN over the past few days!

Down Curdworth, we found that we needed to take off all our fenders and hold Willow in reverse against the cill to have any hope of opening the bottom gate!

We had dinner underway and carried on to Fazeley junction and the Coventry Canal, up Glascote locks and finally into Alvecote Marina where, as an historic boat, Willow gets a spot inside the marina for the next few days. Now to smarten up Willow after several weeks worth of bumps and scrapes ready for the weekend! We’ll probably not post every day until we’re off again after the bank holiday weekend.

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Day 22: Brownhills – Perry Barr

12 miles
9 locks

One of those days! It began with a downpour as we set off from Brownhills and although it did brighten up we were forever taking our raincoats off or putting them on. We were pleased to find the Rushall flight open again after a stoppage to repair a broken balance beam and were happily cruising along towards the junction with the Tame Valley canal when we saw this:

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An old iron tube had fallen from its bracket attaching it to the bridge. We simply couldn’t make the tight turn with it there. It was one of three and the other two were quite clearly empty. So in a spirit of self sufficiency we attempted to use the cable puller to winch it up out of the way. Pulling it upwards shifted it and then it became clear that this one wasn’t empty. It contained an electric cable which had evidently had its insulation severed at the point where the tube came out of the ground when then tube collapsed. It started arcing and we heard loud crackles and sparks as well as seeing flames and smoke. This was all happening some metres away from us but of course the lads who had been round the corner fishing all gathered round to see what the excitement was. Thankfully the fire didn’t last long and stopped when we quickly cut the rope which dropped the tube. Shouting for the kids to stay well back we also retreated and called 999 as well as the Canal & River Trust (although I could not get through to their “emergency number” and only got a voicemail message despite it being in office hours on a week day. I called the customer service number instead and managed to get a message to the area supervisor). It took some time for the fire service to find us and by the time they arrived the cable and sheathing at the point where it had arced had burnt itself out leaving just a small pile of ash. They did however have contact details for the electricity company in the area, who also showed up to help.

It turns out that the cable supplied street lights along the M5 and M6.

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We ended up having to wait for 5 hours, but were able to supply all the firemen, CRT chap, and electricity workers with tea. Once the right department of the electricity company turned up, and made sure after visiting the sub station that the cable wasn’t live, we winched the tube up out of the way and went through.

We were stuck for nearly 5 hours, and didnt get through until 6:30, so we’ve joined another boat at the moorings at the top of Perry Barr locks. Loud, but not as loud as being stuck under the M6!

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