Category Archives: Coventry Canal

A Lot Quicker. 3rd June

Whitley Bridge 47 to Power Station Footbridge, Oxford Canal

Better weather today and an earlier start for us than normal, we had water to cover.

Sunnier day

Boats were already going up the locks ahead of us so we pulled out and joined in. NB Piglet was just pulling out of the first lock of the day, NB Trinity waiting below, we pulled up to wait our turn. The pound between this and the next lock is quite short, NB Piglet and NB Trinity ended up both sitting waiting in it, the level slightly low.

Up went Piglet, I waited for Trinity to start emptying the lock before I started to fill the lower one, not wanting to steal the water that was keeping them afloat. We then pulled out and awaited our turn as a single hander came down.

Stuck and not at the cill yet

The pound between locks 8 and 7 was quite low, a couple of boats moored on it were definitely sat on the bottom. NB Trinity was having difficulty getting into the next lock. Pulling on the bow line didn’t help, pushing them over to the other side didn’t either. So some water was let down hoping to lift them off of the bottom and get into the lock. With water coming down and a diagonal pull on the bow they got moving just as two C&RT volunteer Lockies arrived. They set about running more water down to try to return the pound to a better level without starving others above.

Our turn, we suspected our draught was deeper. Oleanna got stuck sooner, Mick reversed her back a touch and tried a different line. Definitely a build up of silt from a bywash, he got her closer to the lock where she stopped again. I got the bow rope, water was let down and bursts of engine got her moving again and over the lump into the lock. Apparently they had had a single hander on the flight who’d been leaving paddles up, not good practice espcially when there isn’t plenty of water about!

Carrying on up

Some boats were pausing for lunch in the longer pound, others stopping to go shopping, but we carried on, too far to go today and the locks were taking that bit longer than normal. More water was let down by the lockies doing their best to get boats floating again. One chap came past enquiring as to when his boat would be off the bottom, just as water was flowing straight through a lock. Have to say if that was us, we’d move our boat at the first opportunity not stay put for a full two weeks and complain about it. But each to their own!

A pretty flight in the sunshine

We carried on up, boats now coming down the flight, most stopping to wait above lock 5 and taking advantage of the water point there. A slight pause below lock 2 for a boat coming downhill and then we were on our way again and at the top of the flight. After half a mile or so we pulled over for some lunch before carrying on.

Bye bye Atherstone

I retired below to work as Mick pootled us through Mancetter, Hartshill, past our favourite mooring near Springwood Haven, slow going through Nuneaton.

Hello NB Cyan!
Turning to the Ashby Canal

At Marston Junction I stuck my hand out of the side hatch to give navigational direction to keep going straight.

Quick glimpse of Charity Wharf

I only just made it out in time to take a photo of the last mannequins at Charity Wharf before they all disappeared behind the willow trees.

Hawkesbury Junction

Approaching Hawkesbury Junction the moorings were full, a couple of git gaps with familiar culprets in the middle of them. Mick carried on would we have arrived in time to get a mooring anywhere?

I hopped off at the Engine House Footbridge and walked across the grass to Sutton Stop Lock. A Kate Hire boat was coming the other way, the lock in their favour. Outside the pub was heaving and a young lady stopped and asked for directions to the Ricoh Arena. I was able to point her in the right direction to follow the canal.

The gate shutting itself behind us

The hire boat were wanting to moor up in front of the pub,I suggested that was maybe not such a good idea as the 180 degree turn from the Coventry Canal for a 70ft boat would necessitate the full amount of space there. They’d be shouted at by the first boat to come through, as soon as they were out of the lock they could see what I meant and rounded the bend to find a mooring.

Conserving my energy for hunting later

Up we went and then started to look for somewhere to pull up. Rather than moor right on a bend we carried on and found space where we’d moored last year very close to the power station. We’d reached our destination with enough time for Tilly to do some hunting and Mick to have a towpath haircut.

Patterns and colour, still some way to go

Today we passed through the pound from Atherstone to Hawkesbury in 5 hours 13 minutes, last year it took us 32 days, 2 hours and 55 minutes!

Best loaf so far

As the evening went on we could hear music from the Arena. Sadly I hadn’t spotted any ticket towts near the Greyhound Inn so we had to make do with the muffled music from the Arena. A shame as Mick had so wanted to see the Spice Girls!

10 locks, 12.96 miles, 2 canals, 1 straight on, 180 degrees left, 2 stuck boats, 15 tissues all day, 1 painting scheme started, 2 friends, 1 quite tasty,  1 sour dough loaf, 4 Spice Girls, 0 tickets.

Falling Behind. 2nd June

Meadow Lane Bridge 50 to Whitley Bridge 47

With precipitation likely for much of the day and snot levels also high we decided to see how things were by the time we got to the longish pound between locks 10 and 9 of the Atherstone flight. Boats were already coming past before we pushed off. A few jobs to do first, yellow water, a load of washing and give Tilly a clean pooh box. We pushed off following on after NB Piglet whom we’ve been playing leapfrog with since Stone or maybe earlier.

Nearly 150 years worth of paint

They pulled in at the services at Bradley Green, so did we to dispose of rubbish, top up the water and have a chat with them. As we filled our tank it started to rain. A steady stream of boats coming past. Here our milometer, if we had one, would have clicked over to 500 miles so far this year.

With chores done we joined the queue at the bottom of Atherstone, I walked up to lend a hand.

A single hander was coming down and an elderly chap from the boat in front of us was giving him a hand with the gates. The single hander pulled out of the lock and the old chap started to close the gate, ‘You might want to keep that open’ I said. He said he wasn’t quite with it yet (taking a swig from his can of Old Speckled Hen), but would be by the time they reached the top of the flight. Maybe the beer helped!

The bottom two locks of Atherstone

Turning to watch for his boat coming into the lock, his wife was struggling, clinging onto the centre line for dear life. The single hander had shot out of the lock at a rate of knots just as she was untying. Mick tied Oleanna up and rushed to give the lady a hand, it took quite a bit to pull it back in. The single hander joked as he passed Mick saying he hoped there weren’t anymore locks, Mick replied with ‘I’m more concerned about the speed your doing!’

1 casualty, a mug

The speed had been so great that Oleanna, tied only on a centre line, had tilted over creating a five drawer moment. Our pull out corner cupboard hadn’t been latched properly so had also pulled itself out smashing a mug in the process! A nice calm morning boating.

Rising in the bottom lock

I helped the octogenarian couple up the lock and a passerby walked up to empty the next one for them. We worked our way up and swapped places with a hire boat coming down. The rain kept coming and going, decision made we’d pull in for the day. My snotty head didn’t fancy the idea of another 9 locks in the rain, it would just mean a few longer days to come.

Tilly was quite happy at the early stop and made the most of her time behind the very thick high sideways trees. Mick pottered away the afternoon. I woke my sour dough starter up, fed it and got a sponge mixed to be able to make a loaf tomorrow after the locks. The rest of the day was spent watching Columbo on the sofa with my second box of tissues.

2 locks, 1.65 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean pooh box, 500 miles, 335 locks, 2nd box tissues started, 90 grams brown rice flour, 120 ml water, 2 episodes Columbo, 1 sofa Sunday.

Flue Fear. 1st June

Hopwas Wood Bridge to Meadow Lane Bridge 50, Coventry Canal

Pootling along today on the flat meant I’d be working, however having a snot filled head did mean that what work I managed to do, in between blowing my nose, may get redone at a later stage. I did manage to draw up my panel design for the boozer, but the painting of it isn’t as good as I’d like.

South please

Meanwhile up on deck, Mick pootled us towards Fazeley Junction where we turned left towards Coventry. This route avoids the numerous locks up into Birmingham and then the numerous ones down again off the plateau that the city sits on.

Joining the queue

Today we’d pass through two locks, Glascote Locks. There are nearly always boats waiting to go up or down and the slow filling chambers mean you have to be patient. Today was no exception, there being what looked like three boats ahead of us. We pulled in behind and waited our turn. The middle boat of the three turned out to be a C&RT work boat moored on the end bollard of the lock landing.

There seemed to be plenty of people around to help, but not many with windlasses. I walked up to help. The first boat rose in the lock as one was coming down from above. As we were mob handed I walked up to help the lady at the second lock, then walked back thinking that the crew would walk up with the boat, but they were the crew from the next boat in line. Snot induced lack of enthusiasm on my part, I stayed put and waited for Oleanna.

No extra pairs of hands for us

With each boat going up one would come down, but no more boats appeared behind us, so we were left to work the locks with just the two of us, everyone else had stopped for lunch.

We pulled up on the moorings above the locks, Mick popped up to the Co-op hoping that there would be a copy of our newspaper left whilst I put the kettle on. Success! After lunch we pushed off again our aim to get within striking distance of Atherstone. However our progress was halted very soon.

Quite a catch

From below I knew from the change in engine tone that a blast of reverse wouldn’t get rid of what ever had wrapped itself around our prop! Mick didn’t even try, instead we drifted to the side where he tied up then loosened the weedhatch. A small duvet and cover was the culprit and fortunately easyish too remove.

Little Chimney Company

I worked as we pootled along spotting various familiar sights, the numerous well kept gardens of Tamworth, Alvecote Marina, the boats that had been ahead of us, the railway coming and going. Passing moored boats Mick would slow us down, one of these boats he’d been keeping an eye out for, The Little Chimney Company Boat. Normally around this area, there it was just before the M42. We pulled in.

Since having Oleanna we’ve been a touch concerned about the height of our flue from the stove. Being a new boat we had to have a double skinned flue fitted, Ricky at Finesse had done his best to get the flue looking good inside the boat, but this had left us with quite a bit of extra height outside, around 10 inches that is fixed. So far low bridges haven’t been a problem, there are still a few we know of to try, but Standedge Tunnel could be a whole other matter.

From this
down to less than half

A second opinion was needed. Kim came along and had a look and could see our dilemma. He could cut it down to a more manageable height, the extra length of flue that we had in a locker we could then use to regain the height we’d be about to loose. But most importantly at low bridges or tunnels we’d have a lot more chance of getting through.

Kim cutting away

Tilly was locked in the bedroom so we could run an extension lead out to Kim for his angle grinder. He marked the chimney five inches lower, covered our solar panel and set to work. With any burrs ground off the cut edge, our extension piece was tried, a fit. Brilliant! Ten minutes of cutting and chatting and we were good to go.

5 inches lower with the top back on

I returned below to carry on working and to let Tilly out from the bedroom. Normally she is either asleep or chomping at the bit to get back into the rest of the boat, but she was nowhere to be seen! Behind the bed by the steps she was cowering, the first time I’ve ever seen her truly scared. I did my best to reassure her that all was fine but she wasn’t having it.

After quite a lot of coaxing she edged her way towards the bathroom. The towel rail must have been what was making all the noise! Low and slow, keeping it in her sight at all times, she edged past it. As we made our way onwards she stayed jumpy and very very cautious of the bathroom, but slowly she started to calm down.

Troublesome towel rail

We reached where we were meant to be tonight, Tilly had I hoped calmed down enough to come home again so normal shore leave was granted, off she went into the sideways trees.

A couple of hours later she reappeared but seemed reluctant to come back on board. Only one thing for it, I stepped off gave her some chin rubs and picked her up, we can’t have a cat afraid of her home! Inside she took things slowly, the bathroom still a problem.

Her litter tray was moved out so she could check behind it, that was fine. Still the towel rail was the centre of her problem, she’d jab at it, at one point even hissed at it! We removed the towels so that she could see there was nothing hiding there, still she was very cautious.

2 locks, 9.91 miles, 1 left, 3rd in line, 0 behind us, 1 full box tissues used, 5 inches lower, £20 well spent, 1 seriously scared cat, 1 very very scary towel rail, 2 hours of trying to hide, 1 hissing fit, 1 cat needing reassurance in her own home.

His And Hers. 31st May

Magazine Bridge 55 to Hopwas Wood Bridge, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

His and Her tissues

Well we tried our best, but failed. I have most definitely come down with Micks cold. He however suggests that it can’t be his as his started off with a dribbly nose and mine with a sore throat. One thing is for sure we now both have a box of tissues. Mick has been improving during the day whilst I’ve been going in the opposite direction.

Very evocative for me

Boats were coming past in both directions in a constant stream, so we pushed out and joined them. The off side is predominantly wood, Ravenshaw Wood which is currently filled with the pinky purple mountains of rhododendron flowers. A fantastic sight. In the garden of the house where I was born we had similar bushes, ours reached about 15ft high and were of varying colours. Here they towered higher 20 to 25ft high and all the same colour, the sun making them different shades as we passed by. Flowers as far as you could see through the trees.

Wood End Lock with it’s cranked beams

After about 20 minutes of rhododendrons we arrived at Wood End Lock. A boat was coming up and another in front of us waiting to go down. As one boat left the lock another would arrived to replace it in the queue. By the time it was our turn there were three below and two behind us. But now we were spaced out with suitable time between us and the one ahead to not have to wait too long at Shadehouse Lock.

Shadehouse Lock ahead

The Trent and Mersey Canal reaches it’s most southerly point and does a 90 degree turn back to the north east. Around here HS2, phase 1, will cut across the canal heading up towards Rugeley. How our landscape will change.

Brian and the walkers

At Shadehouse we had a short pause as one boat finished coming up the lock. The volunteer on duty here, Brian, was very jolly and we had quite a chat. A large group of walkers stopped and watched boats through the lock and then posed for a group photo. Brian did his best to not be too prominent, however he appeared in quite a few of my photos. He watched from the bridge as we made our way to Middle Lock awaiting the next boat.

Brian surveying the scene below

A younger chap worked us through the next lock, he was quite eager to have his lunch break so was a touch disappointed to hear about the boats following us. But when Brian decided to go for his lunch break he’d join him and it wouldn’t be long before he was feeling peckish as well.

Our intention to turn right onto the Coventry Canal was radioed ahead, we’d not be proceeding to the next lock. I walked ahead and checked at the junction, a boat was coming from the south and turning towards Oleanna. It can be quite chaotic at the junction at times, but today everything was quite orderly.

That photo everyone has to get of The Swan and your boat

Mick turned Oleanna and I swung the swing bridge open we then pulled in just past the water point, collected our rubbish up and Mick headed to the bins back round the corner. An early lunch then we pushed off again to head for Hopwas.

Time to add some colour

Now on the flat I retired below to start painting my model. Mick plugged his ears into the Men’s Cricket World Cup and was happy for the next few hours. New large houses just south of Fradley have that 1930’s look, without chimneys or the window onto a quarter landing on the staircase. Hardly affordable housing.

New housing trying to look like old

At around 4:30pm the hard edged section past the Ministry of Defence woods at Hopwas ended and Mick pulled us into the side. Back at Fradley everyone had been suggesting which pub to visit and how much they liked Hopwas. Except we stopped short and let the four legged one out. Tilly spent hours just feet away from Oleanna going round in circles, not knowing which friend to play with. I got the base coat of paint on much of my pub whilst Mick tried to grease the side hatch hinges which are starting to get stiff again.

3 locks, 10.3 miles, 1 mountainous mile of rhododendrons, 3 to come up, 2 to go down, 90 degrees back to the north, 2 Lockies, 1 right, 1 swing bridge, 0 held up, 2 bags rubbish, 3 weeks, 4 sliders, 2 sets doors, 3 tables, 2 bar stools, 6 short stools, 3 friends all wanting to play.