Noting Locks. 2nd December

Springwood Haven to between Locks 5 and 6 Atherstone flight

Grey and misty. The hill opposite came and went as we had our breakfast. A call to the marina to check on their diesel price, £1.63 confirmed that we’d be continuing onwards without topping up the tank, maybe we should have pulled alongside the boats at Armada where it was £1.44.

Flying roof

We pootled onwards. At Hartshill the first building of the yard sits by the bridge. Today it had scaffolding up around the two chimney stacks. This brought our attention to the interesting roof line on the left. The building curves round into the yard, a common feature so let horses and carts turn the corner more easily. This means that the roof line is cut off with the curve, the gutter staying low .

The Mancetter Marina now looks more settled than when we last passed and soon afterwards the Rothen work boats line the off side bank. Looking up above the moorings to their yard you can see boats and skip boats stacked up on racks ready to be selected for the next job on the canals.

Coming into Atherstone people are starting to get with the Christmas festivities. Trees in houses and bankside Santa hats.

Will this building have a new life?

The moorings seemed to be busy, but we’d have found room for Oleanna if we’d wanted to stop. The end nearest the old hat factory was empty, a recent fire and road closure have most probably put people off mooring at this end.

Atherstone top lock ahead

Mick walked up to the top lock a paddle already raised to keep it full. As he opened the top gate two volunteers popped out from their hut. As the blackboard suggested we’d be the first boat through the top lock today.

First through the top lock today

One chap walked ahead to set the second lock as Mick and a chap in high vis emptied the first one. High-vis man stayed at the top letting the other chap walk down with us.

Autumn yellow

We made steady progress down the top five locks, Mick hopping back on board below and the volunteer heading back up the flight.

Last lock of the day

The moorings in the longer pound had plenty of space for us. We pulled in about half way between the two roads. Lunch first, then a top up shop. As we walked back up the towpath I could see feet at Lock 5, a boat was coming down, the second through the flight today. Considering the amount of boats we’ve seen moving in the last few days it was a surprise not to see more boats on the flight.


Today I tried adding notes to my Nebo voyage at each lock we entered. This gave us an extra page on our log, with times. Nebo is looking to be the way we go, except we’ll be wanting to run it from the trip computer inside Oleanna, so adding notes won’t be so easy as on a phone. More thought is required on this matter.

We started our shopping in the Co-op, but the lack of eggs and price of a few things took us across the way to Aldi where the gaps were filled in.

Back at Oleanna Tilly wasn’t too impressed with the outside, muddy and some sideways trees, but not enough for a stamp of approval. I got on with making some mince pies.

The recipe from my gf River Cottage book for frangipane topping had appealed and I wanted to see if the extra that Adam adds to his pies would work. I rolled out my pastry and lined the muffin tin, blind baked them.

Whizzed up the frangipane topping. Spooned in the mincemeat, added a blob of cream cheese and then topped with the frangipane. The recipe said to bake them for 30 minutes, but I could smell they were doing well long before that. The tray was turned round in the oven, a chance to notice the topping had splurged across the top of the tray and not sought height.

They splurged a bit!

They were left to rest for ten minutes, a knife round them to free them from the tin, gluten free things always stick, a greaseproof circle used at the bottom to aid removal. Then another ten minutes before it was time for quality control to test them. They were very fragile and a plate and fork needed. Verdict yummy, Adams addition a very good call! The rest were left in the tin to firm up more before removing.


A second mince pie was enjoyed for pudding this evening. One thought was that maybe the frangipane topping was a little bit treacly. The recipe uses light muscovado sugar, maybe the next batch I make will just have caster sugar instead, see what that does. All the same they are very nice.

5 locks, WE 4.19 miles, Pip’s Nebo 4.4 miles, Mick’s Nebo 4.3 miles, 5 notes added, 2 much walking, 12 mince pies made, 4 consumed, 2nd night of chilli on the stove, 1 unimpressed cat.

8 thoughts on “Noting Locks. 2nd December

  1. finstallcrosswi

    Those mince pies look really delicious, Pip. I have never thought to pop some cream cheese in mine. Something to try! Fragipan topping is a favourite of ours. Instead of a circle of greaseproof paper, I add a long strip that sticks out both sides, so I can grab the ends and lift the mince pie out. Jennie x

    1. Pip Post author

      The cream cheese is something Adam does. It is a very good call, but then I am someone who loves apple pie with wensleydale cheese.
      Gluten free anything sticks like glue to tins, so greaseproof on the bottoms is a must! But I may try a hybrid method, both bottoms and strips. Thanks for the tip. x

  2. Adam

    I’m rather behind with my blog reading, so just catching up with your mince pies! I can’t really claim the cream cheese idea as my own — I use an old Jocelyn Dimbleby recipe which is where that came from. It also uses orange pastry, with the addition of orange zest, and using the juice instead of water to bring it together. I wonder whether that would work with gluten-free flour.

    1. Pip Post author

      Ooh! Now orange in the pastry sounds interesting. Planning a second batch next week so might try the orange juice, I add water to bring the pastry together so it should work. Thank you

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