Saturday, 13 May 2017

Glascote Basin and Exmoor

So, it has been a while since our last post, and we have moved on a bit from Dadlington. After departing the Ashby Canal, we turned right at Marston Junction, and over the next four days, we travelled to Achernar's home port at Glascote Basin. We broke the journey with stops at Hartshill, where we visited the largest garden centre I have ever been to, and half way between Atherstone and Polesworth, having descended the eleven lock flight. Glascote Basin was very busy on our arrival, but we managed to shoehorn ourselves onto a berth. Over the next couple of days, we packed up our things, as we prepared the boat for its impending paint job. The boat colours will be remaining the same with only a few subtle changes, and we will be having a couple of smaller jobs completed whilst there. All in all, we will be living off the boat for twelve weeks. We have therefore rented a cottage on the edge of Exmoor for the duration, which allows for the exploration of an area of the country, distinctly lacking in canals.
Whimbleball Lake
The Dam
A Long Way Down
Walking on Exmoor
On top of the moor
The above are just a few snaps of our local area, and the walks that we will enjoy. We have also introduced the furry crew member to the seaside, and he loves the beach. So this is us until mid July, when hopefully all the works will be completed, and we can once again move back on board. Otherwise, we will be sleeping in the beer tent, during the Hudson Owners gathering in July. I will run through all the jobs we had done, and how the end results are, once complete, but just one mention of some excellent customer service. In a previous post we wrote about changing our propeller to an Axiom. When we ordered the new prop, I gave the size needed to Axiom, using the paperwork supplied with the boat. Unfortunately the paperwork was wrong, and instead of getting a prop sized the same, we ended up with the next size down. During a phone call with Axiom, they suggested I try the new one, but if unhappy they would swop it. Well I can report that with the Axiom fitted, many of the benefits claimed are evident. We now stop quicker, but more importantly maintain a straight line. Reversing is easier, and the stern of the boat does not dig in as much when underway. I have also noticed a significant reduction in tiller vibration and wash. The only downside is, that with the smaller prop, the engine revs are higher now to achieve the same cruising speed. True to their word though, despite it being my error in the initial ordering, and the fact that their prop has had a couple of months of use, Axiom have supplied a new one, now correctly sized. This will be fitted during the course of all the other work. So, anyone thinking of an Axiom for their boat, I can certainly recommend them and their customer service is excellent.  

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Dadlington

On Wednesday 12/04 we travelled four miles, and took a mooring position between the villages of Dadlington, and Stoke Golding. I had issued the crew with a brief liberty pass, in order to pop home for a couple of days. Today we walked into Dadlington, to visit the Dog and Hedgehog P.H. for our Sunday lunch. The menu was very extensive and the quality of food superb. We will definitely visit here again. Tomorrow we should make Burton Hastings, after which our brief period on the Ashby Canal will be over. 
  • Totals 4 Miles
  • Running total 93 Miles 19 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Shenton

Yesterday we travelled five miles to the outskirts of Shenton. Prior to arriving at our destination, we had a brief stop at Bosworth Marina for diesel, and a pump out. As predicted the wind was howling across the Marina, which as relatively new, still does not have any trees or shrubs to act as a wind break. The wind was also blowing, in a direction that did not assist, with our attempts to dock on the services pontoon. On arrival at Shenton we secured the boat, and then walked into the village about a mile away.
Village of Shenton
The village is part of the estate, clustered around the 17th century Shenton Hall, and associated church. The reason for our visit was, that it is also home to the Whitemoors antiques centre. There is a small tea room there, so we had lunch. Back at the boat we settled down for a relaxing afternoon.
 
Mooring at Shenton
Today we walked a couple of miles along the towpath, passing Ambion Wood and the supposed site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, arriving at Sutton Cheyney Wharf. We will stop here for water when we move off tomorrow, but today we had lunch in the cafe. Tomorrow we head for Dadlington and Stoke Golding.
  • Totals 5 Miles
  • Running total 89 Miles 19 Locks 5 Tunnels 
 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Shackerstone Update

So this morning after breakfast, we headed off to Shackerstone railway station. As you would expect, it has an old world feel to it, complete with a proper ticket office staffed by a station master, no such luxury with modern stations. We purchased our tickets, 2 adults and a dog, and in exchange for our money, we received the old style card tickets that could be clipped by the guard. The furry one was a little put out, as his ticket was for either a dog or a bicycle, and for carriage in the luggage wagon.
Ticket Office
Once on the platform the carriages were already waiting, and at the far end, the engine, hissing and puffing away. First order of the day, was topping up the water tank.
Water tank filling
The furry one, still not happy about his relegation to the status of luggage, so we relented, and allowed him to travel in first class with us. He had to settle for the floor, as the plush seating was out of bounds.
Oscar in first class
Prior to our departure there was an opportunity to visit the footplate. The engineer and fireman were both busy making final preparations. As an interesting fact, the engine today would consume three quarters of a ton of coal, during its eight trips up and down the line. I also thought that the training to be an engineer would be fairly long, but was informed that the process can be completed in twelve months, with the right aptitude.
Footplate
Hitched and ready to go
The journey to Shenton takes about 35 minutes, with a stop at Market Bosworth on route. On arrival at Shenton we walked up to the site of the Bosworth battlefield information centre, and enjoyed a pleasant lunch in the warm sun. Returning to Shackerstone station, we visited the museum, where one of the staff shared their boiled egg lunch with Oscar.
   
Railway artefacts of a bygone age
Tomorrow we head off for services at Market Bosworth Marina, and then onto Shenton for a couple of days. Needing to enter a Marina will almost certainly guarantee some windy conditions.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Shackerstone

Last night as I put the bungs into the potholes, I saw the evening sky foretold the fine weekend weather ahead. Red sky at night, shepherds delight, as the saying goes.
Sunset at Snarestone
This morning not a cloud in the sky. After breakfast and disposing some rubbish, we got underway. It was 10 am, and the cruise to Shackerstone would take little over an hour. First it was through the crooked tunnel, before emerging back into the warm, glorious sunshine.
Inside the tunnel
As the weather was so nice, I reduced the engine revs below our normal cruising speed, in order to extend our relatively short journey time. This also allowed the opportunity to take some photographs of the Leicestershire countryside.
Views across Leicestershire
All to soon we arrived at Shackerstone. The mooring spot we had identified on the way up was vacant, so we slotted into position. The time 1130, the sun was now high, in the still cloudless sky. This will ensure that the batteries receive a good charge from the solar panel today.
   
Mooring at Shackerstone
After securing the boat, we went off in search of the battlefield line steam railway. It was easy to find, by simply following the sound of the engine whistling, and the huge puffs of smoke, bellowing above the trees from the smoke stack. This was to reintroduce Oscar, to the noise and smells of a hissing steam train. The first blast on the whistle woke him up, but after that he was fine. More about the trains in tomorrow's exciting instalment.
  • Totals 3 Miles 1 Tunnel
  • Running total 84 Miles 19 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Snarestone

Yesterday our journey took us through 'the stones', Congerstone, Shackerstone and finally the terminus of the Ashby Canal, Snarestone. This final stretch of the canal is the most rural and peaceful, so the best has been saved till last. We set off in cloudy conditions, but it was not long before the sun made a appearance. Passing through Shackerstone, we noted the best mooring spots, as our intention is to return here on Saturday, and take a trip on the steam railway. About an hour after passing Shackerstone, the tunnel at Snarestone appeared in the distance. This tunnel is very crooked, and therefore is subject to one way working only.
Crooked tunnel at Snarestone
Once through the tunnel, we travelled the final few hundred yards of canal to the winding hole. Beyond this is a swing bridge, and a section of newly restored canal. This is only a few hundred yards long, and the winding hole at the end is restricted to boats up to 53 feet, 7 feet to short for us. This restoration is the first part of an attempt by the Ashby Canal Association, to restore the canal to its original terminus in Moira. They have about five miles of canal to restore, taking it through the village of Measham. After securing the boat it was lunchtime so a visit to the Globe P.H. was the order of the day. Today after breakfast, we set off on a walk towards Measham, following the route of the original canal bed part of the way. The newly restored section, includes a bridge which although built to look like an original structure, has in fact had to meet modern day standards of construction, and can therefore withstand far more weight than the old bridges could.
 
New bridge over restored canal
 When the Ashby Canal was originally built, one of the main products transported was coal. As we followed the footpaths over the fields towards Measham, evidence of the former coal works could be seen. At one point, we must have been directly over the former seams, as indicated by an information marker.
            
   
Coal seams and depth below ground
Our magical mystery tour, also took us through a stretch of woodland where we had to play hunt the footpath, however we eventually found our way through, with the help of the iPhone gps feature, and arrived in Measham. The village is known for its Measham Ware or Barge Ware, usually earthenware teapots with a dark brown glaze, traditionally associated with canals and narrow boats.
Where is the footpath
Following refreshments in a local pub, our return journey was slightly shorter in time and distance, as we now knew where we were going. The furry one however found a new fun game to engage in, called chase the bunnies. Back at the boat, the afternoon was spent servicing our hurricane diesel heater. We normally use this just to provide hot water in the mornings, and rely on the solid fuel stove for heat. Now the warmer weather has arrived, it is too warm for the stove, so we will now use the hurricane to take the chill off if need be.
Mooring at Snarestone
We will stay here until tomorrow, after which we will have used our allotted 48 hours here. This is however a picturesque canal, and so I expect we will return in the not too distant future.
  • Totals 6 Miles 1 Tunnel
  • Running total 81 Miles 19 Locks 4 Tunnels 
 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Market Bosworth

I knew that in previous posts I should not have mentioned anything about not having a problem, with the depth of the Ashby Canal, because today we found the shallow bits. Indeed in certain places, straying so much as one or two feet off the centre line of the canal, would cause the boat to tilt at an alarming angle. We were aiming for the village of Shenton, a mere three miles away. On route we passed Sutton Cheyney Wharf, prior to which, we encountered another interesting speed limit sign. Quite how you measure 1.2 MPH I am not sure.
Speed limit sign
Next we were to pass Ambion Wood, and the supposed site of the Battle of Bosworth where Richard III lost the battle, and his crown to Henry Tudor. Unfortunately for the tourist industry, it appears that what was long believed to be the battle site, is in fact wrong, and that the actual site, has now been located, some two and a half miles to the south. Shenton is home to the Whitemoors antiques centre, and the initial station on the battlefield line, a short steam railway running as far as Shackerstone. The official mooring area looked a bit dank, and outside of that area it was too shallow for us, so we pushed on. A couple of miles further, and we arrived at Market Bosworth. Just passed the new Marina we found a spot, and after a bit of jiggerypokery we got ourselves tied up.
   
Mooring at Market Bosworth
After lunch, the crew took a walk up the long hill, into the town centre whilst myself and the furry one, did some chores, aka relaxing after a hard days work. Having missed the delights of Shenton, we will probably visit it by steam train, once we reach the top end of the canal. 
  • Totals 6 Miles
  • Running total 75 Miles 19 Locks 3 Tunnels