Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The bridge at Evesham

Tuesday 31st. August
A beautiful day today. After a leisurely breakfast we headed off down stream under a clear sky and blazing sun. the water level is dropping all the time and all the indicators are now green. The river is quite picturesque around here, but in some places you are hemmed in by trees.
We are now moored up in Evesham, our welcome was a little better than the last time we were here 10 years ago. That time, just as we were about to moor up the heavens opened and we got absolutely soaked. The Balti restaurant which we treated ourselves to that night is still there, but we'll give it a miss this time.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Weir at WA Cadbury Lock, River Avon

Monday 30th August

This morning we finally said farewell to Stratford. Casting off we first headed upstream through the arches of the footbridge and then the main road bridge. Our destination is the services which are marked on the map just about ½ mile upstream. Interesting find this one, it's different to all others we have seen. It's in the middle of a field, a brick built open structure about 50 yds. from the waters edge. It would be impossible to use this facility if the river was still flooding because the mooring itself would be under water.

After filling with water we set off downstream and soon came to the first lock. We were expecting lock keepers, but no one in site. It seems they don't work bank holidays. No hardship, just that we were expecting it. We did the first lock alone, but at the next we caught up with another boat and then continued to share the next five locks down to Bidford on Avon with them. The Avon doesn't have control gates on the weirs like the Thames, and the river flows freely over them. Some are quite pretty as can be seen from the photo above.

The mooring at Bidford is limited and they took the first one to be seen. We couldn't see any more as we travelled down stream a short way so we turned around to go back to the last lock where we had seen some. Luckily as we passed the main moorings a boat signalled that they were just leaving so we were in luck and slotted in quickly.

Bidford turns out to be a small, one horse place, with very little shopping. There is a butcher and we'll give it look tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Great weekend now over, Damon and Daniel left this morning. This pic sums up the weekend!
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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Gondola on the Warwickshire Avon
Saturday 28th August
We've had a lovely weekend with Damon and Daniel, the sun has shone most of the time. Having a car has been a real boon because with the river high it isn't a good idea to take a run up river to the services or even up the canal (4 locks up and 4 back) so taking the car makes life a lot easier.
Daniel has enjoyed getting into the front well deck and looking over the side at the swans and rowing boats. I don't know if its because of the holiday weekend or just normal for Stratford but there seems to have been a fair few parties (stag and hen) hiring boats. I've just seen a party of nuns going off in one of the trip boats all decked out with balloons and looking decidedly the worst for drink. The picture above is of a bride being sailed in a gondola on the Avon!
This afternoon we took Daniel for a trip around the butterfly farm, a great place for kids of all ages.
All good things must come to an end and they will be off back to Leeds tomorrow leaving us to carry on our travels.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Thursday 26th August

Yesterday and today have been pretty rubbish on the weather front. The river is getting quite high now and the indicator is only about an 1" from the danger mark. Hopefully it won't get too much higher. I don't know what happens around here, that is does someone from the EA come around and tell you to get back on the canal, or if we're moored up we can stay. If it gets very high we will have to think about putting poles down to stop us from floating over the grassed area which could be quite nasty when the tide goes out again.
Damon and Daniel are due to arrive this evening so we're looking forward to that.
Thursday 26th August

Yesterday and today have been pretty rubbish on the weather front. The river is getting quite high now and the indicator is only about an 1" from the danger mark. Hopefully it won't get too much higher. I don't know what happens around here, that is does someone from the EA come around and tell you to get back on the canal, or if we're moored up we can stay. If it gets very high we will have to think about putting poles down to stop us from floating over the grassed area which could be quite nasty when the tide goes out again.
Damon and Daniel are due to arrive this evening so we're looking forward to that.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

After writing yesterday's entry there was a knock on the side of the boat from a chap having trouble with his engine and was asking if anyone could give him a jump start. With all the moorings now taken up I was not too keen on leaving our place to take the boat down to him and then come back and find our spot gone. Luckily next boat along said they would keep an eye on the spot for me.
I took the boat back to his and got out my jump leads, and with his as well we just had enough to reach. It soon became apparent that wasn't his only trouble. There was a reason for his lack of volts and it wasn't just a flat battery. He had a massive short somewhere in his system and it was causing any power, including mine, to disappear down a black hole. With a bit of work we managed to get his engine going but there was no time for me to dive into his system to try and find the short, it's old boat and the wiring is a birds nest. He decided to get off the river and go up the canal while his engine was still running.
Today we've just been looking around town and generally chilling out.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Moored outside The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Monday 23rd August

After a very wet night it had least stopped tipping it down by the time we woke up and had breakfast. We set off to do the final 5 locks down to Stratford Basin, stopping on the way to top up with water and empty a can. As we dropped the more than 30 ft to the basin level we passed a lot of boats going the other way and this raised our hopes that the basin wouldn't be full. When we eased through the final bridge it became apparent that we were not to be lucky, the place was still packed.

Luckily the river front, which yesterday had been completely stuffed with boats was half empty, so we dropped the final 3 ft 10in through the last lock onto the Avon and moored up opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. As we were going through the last lock it started to rain fairly heavily so our luck with the weather had run out.

Just across the park where we are moored there is a Chinese buffet restaurant so we treated ourselves to lunch while watching the rain absolutely throwing it down for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunday 22nd August

We have moved down the 11 locks, 77 ft. of Wilmcote Flight. Top lock was a bit of a struggle, a boat on the way up couldn't get the lock to fill enough to open the gate. There appeared to be something caught in the bottom gate which was allowing too much leakage. After draining the lock we managed to move something from the gate sill and tried again. This time success, they moved out and we sailed in. We continued down the flight but soon noticed that no one was following us. It seems that something else caught in the gate and was giving a huge amount of trouble, we were lucky there. We're now moored up near to the A46 Bridge. There are 5 more locks to do before entering Bancroft Basin.

I took the bike down the towpath into the basin area for a look, there are moorings available at present so maybe there will be something there when we arrive tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Saturday 21st August

Damp and dreary this morning so we sat tight for a while. Our mooring was close to a hire boat depot and it was interesting watching the new boaters, dressed up in wet gear and trying to make the best of of unfortunate circumstances.

Towards midday the weather started to improve a bit. So we decided to set off for Wilmcote, a small village north of Stratford where Shakespeare's mother was born. There is a thriving tourist industry built around the house/farm. A great day out for kids of all ages.

On the way here we passed over the splendid Edstone Aquaduct taking the canal over a road, a railway and a stream who's name doesn't appear on the map.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Friday 20th August

The meal last night was very good. Their reputation for pies is rightly deserved.

Once again the weather forecast was no help! Rain some time, but no specifics.

Cath is suffering from frozen shoulder so can't do much in the way of work. Driving the boat is worse than working the locks, but both are painful for her. Telling her to relax and watch while I handle it all is no good at all and she keeps hurting herself by doing things. To make matters worse I missed my footing at a lock and fell over, it looked worse than it was and I was perfectly all right but of course Cath got upset because I might have been hurt and then we would both be crocked.

A couple of locks down we came across some repair work being done on a lock bypass run, but the BW staff were really good and stopped their work and helped us through the lock as well.

At one of the locks was the Cottage in the picture above. A lot of building has been done here to modify this barrel roofed cottage into some sort of mansion.

After 7 locks we came to a level stretch of the canal which runs all the way to Wooten Wawen where we intend to spend tonight. It's a pretty village with a farm shop and also what they claim to be the oldest church in Warwickshire, The Saxon Sanctuary.

We've managed it again! It didn't rain until just after we moored up!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Split bridge on the Stratford Canal
Barrel roofed cottage

Thursday 19th August

Under a leaden sky we cast off to do the 5 lock free miles to Kingswood Junction. Left turn onto the short joining piece and then left again to go south towards Stratford. Straight away we are in a queue for both the services and the first lock. Luckily the queue was actually for the water point, not the can dump so hardly any time lost there. No.3 in line for the lock and soon we were in and through. Once again, nice narrow locks, but some of the paddle gear is in need of a bit of TLC and the paddles themselves are small so the cycle time could be a lot faster.

This canal has some pretty features, among which are the small bridges in which the sides don't meet in the middle, but leave a gap. This was to allow the horses tow rope to pass through.

We moved down 9 locks, as far as Lowsonford where there is a pub call the Fleur de Lys. This place is supposed to be the where the original Fleur de Lys pies were made and pies still feature heavily in their menu. We will sample the fare tonight.

The rain kept off all day until after we had moored up for the night.

We are just opposite the Fleur de Lys in the link:


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A small part of Hatton Flight

Wednesday morning, up at 7.30 and after breakfast started towards Hatton. As we approached the first lock there was a boat just going in so we managed to pair up for the climb. It was a hire boat with 4 Americans on board who had only come down the flight yesterday and were going back up it today! That's keen. The help was a great boon and we flew up the 146ft. 6 in. flight of 21 locks in very short order. We would have probably been ½ an hour quicker if it hadn't been for a very slow boat which we caught up near the top so the last 3 locks were a bit slow.

Once at the top we moored up for the services and to visit the towpath cafe. A wonderful little place selling great food. The last time we were here it was winter, we were the only boaters mad enough to be out and we sat in the cafe with hot soup, it seemed like luxury.

Were stopping here at the top until tomorrow now. Our mooring is just in the trees to the left of the top lock. Take a tour of the flight using the map, its pretty and a lot of work.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Moved down 2 locks as far as The Cape of Good Hope pub where we will moor for the night. Took a walk into town this morning for a look around, it's about a twenty minute stroll. We've been here before so there isn't much to see. The church is an interesting building with lots of famous old knights planted in it. Got caught in a big thunder storm on the way back but managed to miss the worst of it cowering under a bus shelter.
Hatton Locks tomorrow, oh what a joy!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Lovely lockside house, Welsh Road Lock

Snipe and Taurus with musicians

Bascote staircase locks

Sunday 15th August

A much better day today. Nice lie in, sun shining, and a boat to share the 10 locks with. Not only that but they had a load of crew as well so it all went very easily.

We stopped at Long Itchington to do a bit of shopping and then carried on to the next set of locks. This time there is a difference, the first 2 locks of this flight are a staircase. For the uninitiated this means that the top gates of one lock are the bottom gates of the next, which means that if boats are starting up or down then others can't come the other way until the staircase is cleared. We did the final 2 locks of this flight and then looked for somewhere to moor. We've ended up just above Welsh Road Lock, No.18. Here we met a Hotel Boat pair, Snipe and Taurus stopped for lunch. They even have musicians on board.

Tomorrow we will continue on to either Leamington Spa or Warwick.

Monday 16th August

Another lovely day. We set off about 9.15 and after cycling through lock 18 we were joined by another boat for the next 5 locks which took us down to the lowest level of this part of the canal.

We have stopped now at a very handy mooring with access to a nearby Tesco.

I've also managed to finally get the gearbox oil changed.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Calcott Top Lock

Saturday 14th August

Once again with the weather forecast we decided to get a reasonably early start. After dumping a can at Napton services we set off for the last 2 miles to Napton Junction.

This seems to be a very popular place to have a marina, there are 4 of them near here at the Junction, two of which are enormous. At the junction we turned left towards Warwick and soon encountered Calcutt Locks, the first double locks since the Thames. They were built in the 1930s to replace narrow locks, which can still be seen along side. The Paddle gear is unique to this area and I don't know how it is worked. I think it might be worm and nut, or recirculating ball, but someone else reckoned it was hydraulic, so until I ask someone who really knows it will remain a mystery to me. Dropping down through the 3 locks we continued along for about 2 more miles before the rain started again so we decided to call it a day and moor up for the night about a mile from the next flight of 10 locks, the 8 Stockton Locks and 2 Itchington locks.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Thursday 12th August

Overcast sky with a promise of some rain today. We set off along the summit pound with the intention of stopping if it got too wet. It rained a little, but not too much at first. The countryside here seems to be mainly arable and although fairly pretty isn't spectacular.

When reached the first lock, Napton Top Lock, there was quite a queue backed up, we waited for about 30 minutes for our turn. The rain showers were becoming more frequent so after 2 locks we decided to call it a day and tie up for the night.

I did manage to get an engine oil change done though.

There is no mobile signal here so I won't be able to post today.

Friday 13th August

With the weather forecast promising rain, getting worse throughout the day we once again planned to get a fairly early start. Up with the lark (well 7.30) we sent off to complete the last 7 locks down to the level of the Grand Union. Although it did rain a little it wasn't too bad and we made it to the bottom lock by about 11.30. Here there is a full services place so we availed ourselves of them before moving on. By now the rain had started, still only light but more persistent so we found a mooring spot and decided that was it for the day.

By the way, I saw a lovely sign in a boat the other day:

There are some kind souls who slow down for moored boats,

There are souls who do not!

I just loved that one.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Fenny Compton 'tunnel'

Wednesday 11th August

We set off early this morning from Banbury, After several locks the first land mark is Cropredy. This village hosts a huge folk festival this coming weekend and the place is heaving with boaters. We passed about a mile of moored boats before the village. One of them was our friends in Ramyshome, we met them up on the Leeds – Liverpools some years ago and then bumped into them again when they came to stay for a short while on the K&A. They are now on the move again and had decided to try the festival with friends who attend regularly. By the way the headline act this year is Status Quo so that should get them going.

After Cropredy there were more boats, again about a mile of them and then the start of the final flight of locks up to the summit pound. On one of the locks someone had left a reindeer skin with a sign on it 'looking for a good home'

We've come a couple of miles along the summit and found a mooring at Fenny Compton, a lovely spot. Before this we went through Fenny Compton Tunnel, a tunnel that is no more. It was opened up in about 1868 and is now just a narrow cutting. This a link to our position:


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Monday 9th August

Spent a lovely sunny day wandering around Banbury. Visited Tooley's Boatyard, a must for canal boaters, unfortunately they didn't have in stock the one item I wanted, a 19mm skin fitting.

Cath had her hair done and I bought some oil as an engine and gearbox oil change is due.

Tuesday 10th August

Another lazy day and although it rained a little it was fairly pleasant. We wandered up to the supermarket again as we have decided that when we leave here there isn't much in the way of shopping for many days so we've stocked up on food for about 4 days. Our little fridge is getting quite stuffed!

I took the camera into town today and got a few pics of some interesting places, Banbury has done its modernisation very well, blending old and new in what I think is a pleasing way. The three pics are: The famous Tooleys Boat Yard, Banbury Cross (a Victorian piece to replace the one destroyed on the civil war) and just an old building which has blended well with the new.

Tomorrow we'll set off early because we will by then have now taken 3 days out of our batteries and it will probably take about 6-8 hours to recharge them fully. I'm quite pleased with the performance of our traction cells as they have now been on-line for about 52 hours and are still giving good power readings.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Moored in Banbury
Aynho Weir bridge, where the Cherwell River crosses the Oxford Canal

Sunday 8th August

In glorious sunshine we set off this morning for Banbury. Having heard that mooring may be a problem we were ready to be disappointed if we couldn't get in.

The sun just got better and better as the morning progressed. Aynho Weir Lock is another of the unusual octagonal shaped ones. This leads to another river section, this time The Cherwell is just crossing the cut, luckily with the lack of rain the river is a pussy cat at present because this looks like it could be a bit tricky if it was running hard.

Just passed Kings Sutton Lock we rounded a corner and came across a canal side farm shop complete with mooring for shoppers. It was a lovely find, fresh veg, and something different; they stocked water buffalo burgers and water buffalo milk ice cream. Both of course had to be tried. The ice cream was OK but the burgers will have to wait until later.

Just after leaving there we stopped for a chat with a couple who spotted that we had a Lee's narrowboat. They also have one and are always on the lookout for other owners to compare experiences. Their boat was one of the few Moroccan built ones, one of the features of which is a special coating on the integral water tank which means there is no need to continually re-black the inside.

After several hours travel we approached Banbury Town Lock and after using the services just below it we rose into the town centre. Finding a mooring wasn't too difficult and we got a really good one.

We'll stay here tomorrow and do some exploring.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Looking back from Heyford Common Lock

Saturday 7th August,

The canal continues on its winding way, following roughly the line of the River Cherwell. The countryside bordering the cut is a occasionally tree lined interspersed with wide open fields. Noticeably, the towpath here is on a poor state and even non existent state.

We haven't travelled far today, 6 miles and 3 locks, but a couple of boats have told us that Banbury is very crowded due to some sort of Tom Rolt celebration so we may have a great deal of trouble finding a mooring there. Also there is also a folk music festival at Cropredy which is attended by a lot boats. We've seen a lot of boaters who definitely look like they are refugees from a folk festival.

We are now moored up at Aynho Wharf and will make a decision tomorrow whether to carry on to Banbury or wait until Monday.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Continuing up the Oxford from Thrupp we passed under Aubrey's lift bridge, one of the those rare electrically operated ones.
The first lock we came to was Shipton Weir Lock, which has a very strange shape as can be seen from the picture. This lock takes us up to the River Cherwell for a short section of river. It's very pretty The river leaves us again at the next lock and we continue toward Lower Heyford where we have now moored up for the night. The 5 locks today have raised us 33' 6''. Our mooring is right next to Heyford Railway Station so it may be a bit noisy tonight, but at present the line doesn't appear to be very busy.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Old and new, the new A34 bridge and old lift bridge

Cycling through Isis Lock

Thursday 5th August

After going into Oxford for some provisioning we set off for Osney Lock and the short cutting which leads to the Oxford Canal.

Passing through Isis Lock we said farewell to the River Thames and hello to lovely narrow locks. It's a joy to use these locks, everything is easier to move, and it's the natural home of a narrowboat.

We chugged gently up the cut, passing through several lift bridges, which seem to be a feature of this bit of the canal system. The picture above shows the old and new as stark contrasts. The new A34 bridge and lift bridge 233. These bridges are quite well balanced and one only has to sit on the balance beam while the boat glides underneath.

We've travelled as far as Thrupp today and have moored up for the night.

We're moored up on the bend in this link.


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Just thought I'd write a bit more about what went on today.

The weatherman told us it would rain this morning, he lied again. We wandered into town to do some shopping, I needed to go to the Orange shop because I suspect my mobile dongle isn't working properly. What an ordeal that was. Yes they could let me have a new one, on a new contract which was better than the one I'm on at present. Good says I, so we start the process, but come the end the salesman couldn't complete the deal online, some problem with Orange website (gives one great confidence). So it's on the phone and guess what? The voice at the other end won't let him do it. It seems I'm on a 24 month contract and the new one is for only 18 months and their screens say that a change can't be made. Several phone call later it seems nothing can be done; bear in mind I've now been there and hour and I'm losing the will to live! Finally we managed to get something out of it but it cost me £15.00. Not bad, a new faster dongle and what they call 'happy hour' that is unlimited downloads for one hour every day on top of my allocation, so I should be able to get more pics on the blog, but only if I've got a mobile signal and we all know that isn't a given when on a canal.

By the way, the rain came early afternoon, and boy did it come! Absolutely pouring it down for about 30 minutes, followed by a couple of hours of light rain.

We went into town this morning to do a bit of shopping. After a lot of hassle at the Orange shop I have managed to change my internet dongle. The old one was the cause of a lot of my slow connection problems (I hope). Anyway this one appears to work quite well except until I can get a patch of some sort it won't work with the Ubuntu (linux) operating system I prefer and so am reduced to using windows. However the faster connection has allowed me to at last get a map link for our position if anyone is interested.
We managed to get a few more books to read at Waterstones which will keep us in reading material for a while and this afternoon I cycled back to Maplins to get a headset which will work with the new two way radios we bought yesterday.
Tonight is our last on the Thames, tomorrow we'll be off up the Oxford Canal.
If anyone is interested in our trip photos I am uploading them to Google web albums so I can authorise you to view them if you wish as long as I have you email address.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Lyra moored at Lechlade

Tuesday 3rd August

A gentle trip down stream this morning brought us to a good mooring opposite the western exit of the River Cherwell here in Oxford. The sun threatened to shine for a while this morning but nothing came of it and the day has remained fairly dull.

I cycled up to Maplins for another attempt to buy some two way radios. This time I made the chap test them in the shop as I didn't want another two way trip for faulty goods. They worked fine in the store so I took then back to the boat only to find that the ear piece and adaptor I had bought with them was causing to radio mike to cut out; so its back to the shop tomorrow to get something that works.

This afternoon we walked up into the town for a look see, it rain very lightly for a few minutes but nothing to get wet about.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday 2nd August

Planning a short day today we didn't hurry out of bed. When ready to go we had to turn the boat in the river because last night we spotted a mooring place a bit late and instead of reversing I turned around to face upstream.

We plodded on quite slowly because the washing machine was running and our planned distance today was too short to complete a wash cycle so rather than rush we went slow so as not to have to run the engine for too long while moored.

Our destination today was Eynsham lock where access to the local village is fairly easy, I shopped here on the way up river and still can't get over that such a small village is so well served by shops. In our travels we have come across villages as big as this one with no shops at all, not even a post office.

Once again the internet signal here is rubbish so no pictures or links to our position.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The end of the line, where the Thames-Severn Canal joins the river

Sunday 1st August

We spent a very relaxing Saturday moored up in Lechlade. After a bit of shopping we returned to the boat where I decided to do a bit of painting. The cream lines on our sides are looking a bit sad. They are originally a tape line but I'm painting over the tape. Also I'm touching up some large areas of scratching inside the cockpit.

Sunday dawned overcast and the weatherman said it shouldn't rain, but who believes them?

After a leisurely breakfast we set off on the return journey to Oxford. On the way we passed a couple of small boats with men gathering reeds from the riverside. I asked what they used them for we were told that they were for chair seats.

As we expected the weather forcast was slightly inaccurate and it started to rain. Luckily not too hard and it only lasted about 20 minutes.

We made good time today and travelled 20 lock/miles, we have moored up near Newbridge close to where we stopped on the way upstream. This leaves us with either two easy days or one long push to get to Oxford. We must be off the Thames on Thursday and that should be no problem at all.