Saturday, 21 April 2018

Hawkesbury Junction

Well, we made a good choice weather wise departing the Marina this week, on our seven month cruise. Monday 16/4. we visited the service pontoon for a pump out, and to fill the diesel tank to the brim. We said our goodbyes in the office, and to a furry friend who visits the bird feeder at the end of our pontoon.
A healthy looking rat
We turned left from the Marina and headed towards Crick. Our transit of Crick tunnel was unopposed, but we got a thorough soaking from the leaky roof all the way. Once beyond Crick tunnel, the countryside comprises of open fields, which are slowly filling with new lambs. On arrival at the top of the Watford flight of locks, we were pleasantly surprised to find no queues, and were able to commence our descent immediately. The first mate, (the furry one) stayed on board with me, whilst the second mate performed their lock duties. Once at the bottom of the flight, we cruised the final couple of miles to Norton Junction, and found a mooring in our usual spot. The next day, Tuesday 17/4. a gale was blowing. We decided not to move as it would have been decidedly unpleasant, and we did not fancy buffeting around in the six wide locks we would have to navigate. Four legs was taken for a walk, beyond the New Inn and on down the Buckby flight. This took us past the canalware shop, which has often relieved me of so many of my hard earned pounds. It did it again today. Wednesday 18/4. we set off after breakfast turning right at Norton Junction, and joining the main Grand Union canal. Today was the beginning of the reported heatwave. After cruising a couple of miles, we reached the entrance to Braunston tunnel just as a boat was emerging. We were informed there was nothing following which is always nice to hear, especially until after we have navigated the kink in the tunnel. Our transit remained unopposed, and significantly dryer than Crick. No sooner do you exit the western portal you arrive at the top of Braunston locks. Unfortunately there was nobody waiting to share the locks with. Descending always seems easier than ascending, especially when the locks are in your favour, as was the case for us. Beyond the bottom lock we had a short stretch to navigate before arriving in Braunston, and we found the landing outside the Boathouse Pub empty. It was clearly fate, so we pulled in and stopped for lunch. Following refreshments we resumed our cruise, and at Braunston Turn, we took the right hand fork joining the Oxford Canal heading north. We passed our usual spot about a mile out of Braunston, and found someone occupying it. Luckily we didn't want it. We passed the newish Marina at Onley which is rapidly filling with boats, and then navigated the Barby straight passing beneath the M45. We found the spot we were aiming for vacant, and secured the boat. It was by now very hot.
Cruising beyond Braunston
  Thursday 19/4. was going to be another warm day. Setting off for Hillmorton locks about a mile ahead, we chuckled to ourselves about how it had taken four days to get here by boat, but only takes 10 minutes in the car from Yelvertoft Marina. Hillmorton locks was busy, but as the locks are in pairs, we were not held up. At the bottom of the flight we stopped for water. The tap here is well known as slow filling, but this suited our purposes today. About 40 minutes later, we were once again underway. Passing through Rugby, and navigating Newbold tunnel, we carried on towards our planned stopping point at All Oak Wood. Friday 20/4. started misty but soon the sun was up. Today we had a short hop to Hawkesbury Junction, with no locks, and only the small swing bridge by Rose Narrowboats to navigate. On arrival we found the mooring relatively empty, and so picked our spot. Once the boat was secured we took lunch at the Greyhound Pub, overlooking the junction.
Mooring at Hawkesbury Junction
Today Saturday 21/4. we took four legs for a walk along the Coventry Canal heading towards Nuneaton. This is the way we will be heading on Monday, as we aim for the Ashby Canal.
  • Totals Monday 16/4.      7 Miles 7 Locks 1 Tunnel
  • Totals Wednesday 18/4. 9 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel 
  • Totals Thursday 19/4.    8 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel 
  • Totals Friday 20/4.        8 Miles
  • Running totals              56 Miles 18 Locks 3 Tunnels 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Yelvertoft Marina

Following our overnight stop at Hemplow Hills, on Monday 26/3, we returned to the Marina, parking the boat for a few days over the Easter break, whilst we visited family. Back at the Marina following the holiday weekend, we are in the process of having a box made to store our anchor, and this is expected to be completed around the 15th April. Our intention is to stay put till then, before finally departing on our 7 month summer cruise. This morning however, we woke to clear blue sky and warm sunshine. It was far too nice not to be cruising. Sadly, the carpenter had phoned making arrangements to attend the boat for a final fitting of our anchor box. It was just after midday when things were concluded, we got underway turning right from the Marina. Once we cleared the outskirts of Yelvertoft village, we stopped for lunch. This was in the vicinity of bridge 22. Having secured the boat, Oscar the furry crew member, decided that a photo was required. He took up his position posing in the well deck, but was most put out, when he was photo bombed by a very noisy Chinook flying overhead.
Photo bombed by a Chinook
After a brief lunch we set off for the winding hole at bridge 28. On arrival we encountered a fisherman, who soon realised his swim was about to be ruined for the day. He took it in good grace though. Once winded, it was back to the Marina arriving a little under four hours after we had initially left. 
  • Totals Monday 26/3. 5 Miles
  •          Thursday 5/4. 6 Miles
  • Running total 24 Miles 2 Locks

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Hemplow Hills

This morning we felt cheated. Waking at 9 am when really it was 8 am, meant we had missed out on an hour of sleep. The weather however made up for this, as the sun was bright and the sky clear blue. After the furry crew had been on his morning walk, we wandered off back towards the Wharf Inn for Sunday lunch. Today it was roast pheasant, followed by treacle tart and ice cream. Returning to the boat we got ourselves ready to get underway, it was 1.45 pm. Today we were aiming for a spot somewhere between bridges 36 and 32, roughly four miles away. We navigated through the lock and along the Welford arm, turning left at the Junction. The canal was surprisingly quiet, especially as today was the warmest day this year so far. We found our spot midway between bridge 34 and 33. The towpath is wide, flat and grassy, we have a 4g phone signal and satellite reception, perfect. This will be added to our list of favoured locations, and from the picture below you can probably see why.
Mooring Hemplow Hills
Having secured the boat, the weather was so fine the starboard side got a wash. Unfortunately, our stay here this time will be brief, as we have Easter activities to look forward to.
  • Totals 4 Miles 1 Lock
  • Running total 13 Miles 2 Locks

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Welford

Well our internment at Yelvertoft for the winter is now over, and we are once again in cruising mode. The winter months have allowed us to conduct some essential maintenance tasks, and the boat has also successfully passed its first BSS (Boat Safety Scheme) check. We did manage a few days trips, along the Leicester section summit of the Grand Union, and we have survived unscathed, from the harshest winter we have experienced since owning the boat. The engine has been serviced, and we have restocked our supply of filters, oils and other consumables, ready for the year ahead. We have also purchased an anchor, which will allow us to use some of the river navigations from now on. Our departure day was set as Wednesday 21st March, but upon waking, we found the Marina had frozen overnight. Fortunately the sun was up, and after a few hours, the crust of ice had turned to mush and we were off. We were aiming for a regular mooring spot near bridge 28, and after cruising for an hour and a half, we reached it to find it empty of other boats. The following morning, we got underway after breakfast, heading for Welford Junction. There was no sun shining, and the wind had picked up a bit. It felt much colder. Not long after setting off, we noted two boats astern who seemed to be traveling a bit quicker than we wanted to. We pulled over to allow them past, then continued our slow dawdle. On arrival at the straight moorings prior to the Junction, we once again found it completely empty of other boats.
All alone at Welford Junction
After lunch we took four legs for a short walk, heading towards North Kilworth. This took us past the new Marina, which has been under construction for a few years. It has recently been filled with water so it must be getting close to completion, although there still seems a lot of work needed to finish it off.                           
North Kilworth Marina
We continued on to the Wharf opposite, and purchased some firelighters. We didn't really need any, but we always try and support the smaller canalside businesses. Back at the boat we settled down for a peaceful afternoon. Friday 23rd March, after a solitary night we set off for Welford. Turning right at the Junction we soon encountered a work boat blocking the canal. The workers were busy clearing substantial overgrown vegetation. They moved their boat allowing us to continue our passage along the Welford arm, towards the single lock ahead. Once through the lock, we trundled along to the end of the arm and found it completely full. This is where all the boats are. We winded, and took a mooring just prior to the lock landing. With hindsight this is a better spot, and may well become our regular spot for future visits here.
Mooring at Welford Lock
After securing the boat we had lunch at Totty's Tea Rooms, before returning to the boat for a relaxing afternoon. We will stay here for a couple of days, but keeping an eye of the changing forecast for the weather next week.
  • Totals Wed.    21/3. 3 Miles
  •           Thurs. 22/3.  5 Miles
  •           Fri.      23/3. 1 Mile 1 Lock
 

Monday, 11 December 2017

More wintery snaps

Well the snow clouds have cleared revealing bright blue sky and glorious sunshine. The temperature however has not risen above freezing today, and the clear skies are the reason it will drop like a stone tonight. Currently -2 and forecast to drop at the rate of one degree per hour reaching -10 by dawn. 
 
 
 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Yelvertoft in the snow

Well it had been forecast for several days now, but it is still a surprise when it arrives. We awoke this morning to about 5 inches of snow carpeting the pontoon, and the four legged crew could hardly contain himself. I on the other hand, was not looking forward to taking him out for his morning walk.
 
 
Looking at the forecast for the next few days, I think we have seen most of the snow, however on Tuesday, it is possibly going to reach minus 10 overnight, and that is blooming cold. Luckily we have plenty of coal for the stove.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Yelvertoft Marina

Yesterday after what was supposedly the coldest night of the year so far, we awoke to frost on the ground, and mist rising from the surface of the canal. After breakfast we gave the starboard side of the boat its winter coat of wax, then got underway heading for Yelvertoft. The sky was clear blue and we had uninterrupted sunshine, but it was cold. We had a very pleasant four hour cruise through the Leicestershire countryside, with a brief lunch stop near bridge 27. On arrival at the Marina we slipped into our berth just as cloud started to cover and the temperature began to drop. We have a few things planned over the next couple of weeks but if the weather is fine in early December then hopefully we will get out on the cut again before Christmas, otherwise it will be in the New Year.
Sunset at Yelvertoft
Just looking back through our previous logs there seems to be an emerging trend in our boating activities.
  • Year 2015 - We did 652 Miles 327 Locks and 23 Tunnels 
  • Year 2016 - We did 424 Miles 241 Locks and 17 Tunnels 
  • Year 2017 - So far  274 Miles   60 Locks and 14 Tunnels