Sutton Stop – Huddlesford 28 miles 13 locks
Our friends Jason and Charlotte recently bought an old boat to live on: a beautiful unconverted small Woolwich butty, Betelgeuse. Jason is also an owner of the wooden Claytons tarboat Spey so that was the obvious choice to tow the butty from Braunston to Stone where they will be based. They invited us to join them for part of the trip, and we readily agreed! Boating with a pair of old boats is even more fun than boating with one!
We drove to Nuneaton railway station and got a taxi to the Greyhound at Sutton Stop, having visited ASDA in Nuneaton for supplies. We arrived at the exact same moment they did – we could hear Spey‘s distinctive single cylinder Bolinder as we approached! Time for a few drinks at the Greyhound before bed – we were sleeping on the cross bed in Spey‘s forward tar tank, which is surprisingly cosy!
Next morning we set off up the Coventry canal, the butty on cross straps. At Bedworth we passed fellow bloggers Halfie and Jan on Jubilee, who took some photos. James did a fair bit of motor steering, and I took the butty helm – it took some getting used to but it was a new and exciting experience for me. We’d set up a couple of hammocks in Betelgeuse‘s hold, which were a great place to relax and watch the canal pass by. Down the Atherstone flight, I helped the motor with Mac, another Spey owner, steering and the others bowhauled Betelgeuse down the flight. In the long pounds we waited to tow the butty, whilst I set ahead.
We stopped at the Samuel Barlow for the night, breasted up to Tench and Ilford. Late that night Tom also joined us, and as we had a shorter day to Fradley the next day we set off after breakfast. When we got to the Plough in Huddlesford, we got a taxi to Lichfield Trent Valley and a train back to Nuneaton and the car home. A great weekend, and a big thanks to Jason and Charlotte for inviting us on their first trip – we wish them well with the further work they have planned on the boat and hope we get a chance to give them a tow with Willow one day!