I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Friday, 26 August 2016

Clifton Bridge 66 (Oxford Canal) – Thursday 25th August

We had terrific rain during the night – it actually woke me up which is unusual though the trains didn’t.

We had some visitors this morning.

We planned to have a quieter day today than yesterday.  Under the M6 with the world speeding above us.  We stopped at Rose Narrowboats for water – this is where Richard and his late wife hired their first narrowboat and Richard’s love of them started.

The next part of the canal is a bit too dark for me added to the fact that the day was grey, dismal and showery, it wasn’t good :-)

However, this part is probably one of the most interesting parts of the canal.  The Oxford Canal was constructed in several stages over a period of more than twenty years.  In 1769 an Act of Parliament authorising the Oxford Canal was passed.  By 1774 the canal had reached Napton, but the company was already running out of money.  In 1775, a second Act was passed allowing the company to raise more funds. Construction soon started again and by 1778 the canal had reached Banbury. Financial problems meant that work on the final stretch to Oxford did not begin until 1786.  The stretch of the canal from Banbury to Oxford was built as cheaply as possible. Many economy measures were used. Wherever possible, wooden lift or swing bridges were built instead of expensive brick ones. Deep locks were used wherever possible, with single gates at both ends instead of double gates.  The Oxford Canal reached the outskirts of Oxford in 1789, and the final section into central Oxford was ceremonially opened on 1st January 1790.

Much of this section of the canal was straightened out in the 1820s, and remains of the original less direct route can still be seen in places with the lovely original wrought iron bridges.

I don’t think I would like to be this close to the water!

Through Newbold Tunnel and passed Rugby.  It’s six years since we came this way and my memory is totally different to the one I saw today!  I must be thinking of somewhere else – but where???! 

I love this footbridge alongside a roadbridge.

We wanted to moor up by the golf course as I had been in touch with fellow blogger Tom from NB Waiouru and I knew the boat was moored there.  Sadly, Tom is in Belgium (what lengths some people will go to not to meet me!) but he has left Jan behind so we had a good long chat mainly about how we have noticed that the personalities of boaters has changed over the years.

Question – why is it that when you come across another boat at a bridge or narrows and you slow down to let them through you always know that the boat coming towards you at a snail’s pace is a hire boat?

9.63 miles
0 locks
1 swing bridge

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Hollyhill Bridge 19 (Ashby Canal / Coventry Canal / Oxford Canal) – Wednesday 24th August

We had a long day ahead of us so Richard got underway while I showered.  One of the things I love about boating is drying my hair when we are going along!  You may think that is odd but our bedroom is at the front and I can see the countryside changing as I waft the hair drier about – it just makes me happy :-)  I’m not sure it does the same for Muffin!

We passed the Triumph factory.  Triumph Motorcycles is the largest British motorcycle manufacturer; it was established in 1984 by John Bloor after the original company Triumph Engineering went into receivership. The new company (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd) continued Triumph's record of motorcycle production since 1902. As of mid-2012, the company produced 49,000 motorcycles and employed 1,600 staff.

We picked up a hire boater going on tick over – he isn’t going to get very far doing that speed.  We hoped he would turn right at Marston Junction but he went the same way as us.  We followed him all the way to Hawkesbury Junction where he spent an age turning around delaying 3 other boats. 

We continued down the Coventry to New Inn Bridge (8) where there is a Tesco.

I only took one photo on our way towards Coventry as, quite honestly, there was nothing to photograph!  We got something around the prop at one stage so it was a visit down the weed hatch.  Richard continued down to wind while I jumped ship at bridge 8 and walked to Tesco – it is HUGE!  I think it’s probably the biggest I have ever been in.   I did a shop and scan and got everything on my list then realised that it all had to be carted back to the boat – there weren’t any nice canal side moorings.  Richard came to help but I was pretty knackered carrying four heavy bags in the heat.

We got back to Hawkesbury Junction and heaved a sigh of relief that we hadn’t encountered any more problems. 

We had a lock to do – haven’t done one of those for a while!

Richard decided that he wanted to get past the M69 before stopping but then found that the bank wasn’t conducive for mooring against.  We ended up stopping just after Bridge 19 however we weren’t very far from the railway!

As it got dark, even though it was raining, there was an amazing sky.

16.91 miles
1 lock

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Barn Lane Bridge 19 (Ashby Canal) – Tuesday 23rd August

The sun was shining and the sky was blue as we headed to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  We walked through Ambion Wood where the sun was shining through the trees – it was so lovely.

It wasn’t far at all to the Centre – in fact we almost walked past it thinking it was a farm!  We had a wander round but didn’t do the exhibition which I now regret though we did have a very good cup of coffee. 
We saw, what looks like, a water trough but it turns out to be a stone coffin and may be 2000 years old.  During the medieval period, monks and friars used stone coffins, sometimes reused ones, to bury their important dead.  This coffin was used as a water feature in a large house.

We picked up a leaflet showing us a walk round the battlefield and our first port of call was the sundial and memorials to both Henry VII and Richard III.

On the 22nd August 1485 Henry Tudor brought a small rebel army to face the much larger Royal army of King Richard lll.  The Stanleys, whose loyalty to either side was as yet unknown, were positioned between the two armies, but to one side.  The Earl of Oxford was Henry’s military commander and he led the main army and attacked King Richard’s right flank, commanded by the Duke of Norfolk. Eventually, the Earl of Oxford defeated Norfolk’s army and the Duke himself was killed.  Meanwhile, the Yorkist Earl of Northumberland, standing with a sizeable army supporting Richard’s left flank, did not move, possibly because of the marsh in front of him and the Stanleys on his flank.  With the battle not going his way, Richard saw Henry Tudor with only a small force of soldiers on the field. He rallied his mounted knights and led a mounted charge across the battlefield trying to kill Henry. At this point Sir William Stanley attacked - on Henry’s side.  Richard was surrounded by his enemies, and lost his horse in the marsh. However, he fought on, vowing to win or die as the King of England.  King Richard was cut down “in the thickest press of his foes”. Even his enemies describe him as dying like a valiant prince.  His crown was picked up and given to the Stanleys who unofficially crowned Henry Tudor as King Henry VII of England at Stoke Golding straight after the battle. 

Can you visualise going into battle knowing that one of the armies could fight either way! Imagine if the Stanleys had decided to support Richard and not Henry - history would have been very different!

After King Richard III was killed he was taken to Leicester where he was laid out for public viewing for two days and then quietly buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary on 25th August 1485.  Many people believed that his body was dug up in 1538 when the Friary was closed down by Henry VIII and that his bones were thrown into the River Soar.  This was reinforced by sightings of a stone coffin, claiming to be King Richard’s, outside two different Leicester pubs in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Memorials to King Richard III and King Henry VII
Based on the written theories available in 1973 Leicestershire County Council chose Ambion Hill Farm to be the location for the Country’s first Battlefield Interpretation Centre to commemorate and tell the story of the bloody events of 22nd August 1485.  Since 1973, many have expressed doubts about the validity of the site. To mark the 500th anniversary of the battle, Dr. Colin Richmond published an article in August 1985 claiming that the battle was actually fought elsewhere. Dr. Richmond’s account was controversial enough to make the front pages of both The Times and the Guardian newspapers.  This was just when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were due to visit the heritage centre for the anniversary.  

Since the 1780s it was thought that the Battle of Bosworth was fought on Ambion Hill.  In 1985 Colin Richmond challenged this, using an early 16th century document describing a chapel for the Bosworth dead at Dadlington to suggest that the Battle was fought on Dadlington Hill.  Further documentary and landscape reaseach concluded that the Battle was fought on the low-lying ground to the south and west of Ambion Hill.  From 2005 to 2010 Leicestershire County Council and the Battlefields Trust undertook a survey to try and find the Battlefield.  The results concluded that the most likely location for the Battle was Dadlington.

Our walk took us to Shenton Station, the end of The Battlefield Line.  We hadn’t timed things very well and had over an hour to wait for a train and then when it did come it was a diesel car :-(  Apparently they only run the steam trains at the weekends and on Bank Holidays but it doesn’t say that on their website.  “Locomotive hauled services may be occasionally substituted for railcar on some days.”  When Richard went to speak to the guard Muffin leapt aboard – he just loves trains.  However, we decided not to go as it is the steam trains we love.

The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway opened on 1st August 1873.  The railway was primarily built to transport coal from both the North West Leicestershire and South Derbyshire coalfields.  The railway also moved livestock to and from Market Bosworth, bricks and tiles from factories as well as passengers.  Timetabled passenger services finished in 1931 apart from special excursions which continued until the early 1960's. The line closed completely in 1970.

We walked back on the lower path and ended up on the towpath.  Our walk took us on the other side of the canal to Mary H and I managed to get a decentish photo.

We crossed the canal at Sutton Cheney Wharf and stopped and the café for lunch.  I had a fabulous prawn salad.

It was then back to the boat and, as the weather was so nice, we decided to move on.  We stopped at bridge 23 again and I went back to the Spinneybank Farm Shop as the meat I bought there the other day was amazing.  I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Elaine in her shop.

We finally pulled over just before Hinckley at Bridge 19.

I’ve just worked it out that our visit to the Battle of Bosworth site, wherever it actually is, was 531 years ago yesterday since the actual Battle!

4.35 miles
0 locks

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sutton Cheney Wharf (Ashby Canal) – Monday 22nd August

Yesterday I got a Tweet from Jan on Qisma suggesting I look back at one of her blog posts from last year when they were on the Ashby.  I looked eagerly for a nude man but was disappointed!  However, at the car park I did see a man with two spaniels – don’t think it’s just the same though Jan!

Through Snarestone’s 250 yard tunnel (with a kink in the middle) and up to the top of the navigable Ashby – well it’s as far as we can go as the winding hole at the top is only big enough to wind a 50 foot boat. 

We bought a couple of souvenirs and some loo bloo from the Ashby Canal Association shop and had a chat with the chap there.  Apparently they hope to have the stretch of canal from Snarestone to Measham open in 5 years.  In 1944 the stretch of the canal between Donisthorpe and Moira was officially closed, following unsuccessful attempts by the canal company to overcome the effects of mining subsidence. Later, in 1957, a further length was closed, down as far as Illott Wharf, south of Measham. In 1966 local residents and anglers and waterway enthusiasts unsuccessfully protested against the closure of a further stretch, north of Snarestone. It was out of these protests that the Ashby Canal Association was born in 1966.

Richard struggled a bit winding Mary H as it was very windy but he managed it eventually!

We pulled over at Shackerstone for lunch and then went in search of a post box as my sister has a very special birthday on Thursday.  We passed a work boat called Becky that was selling rope fenders.  On her side was written Mal Edwards MBE – well me being me had to try and find something out about him.  It turns out that Mal was granted his MBE for 14 years at the helm of a Llangollen trip boat and is now a full time fender maker and well known singer of canal songs.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the Bosworth Battlefield and the Battlefield Railway Line.  We thought there were special offside moorings near the Shenstone Aqueduct but they are no longer there.  We tried to moor at Bridge 35 but we couldn’t get near the side so had to continue on.  We ended up just short of Sutton Cheyney Wharf where a pontoon has been built – maybe these are to replace the original ones up the canal. However, they are very nice and up the ramp is a nice field for Muffin to play in and a footpath which I think leads to the battlefield. 

12.25 miles
0 locks

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Timms Bridge 56 (Ashby Canal) – Sunday 21st August

Thank goodness the wind died down over night and the rain appeared to have stopped.

We pulled pins at 10.30am aiming for Bosworth Wharf or rather just before Bridge 42 – a journey of 25 minutes.  We were short of milk and there is a Co-op in Market Bosworth.

As we were mooring up Muffin found a new friend, Louis the Maltipoo.  He was gorgeous and such a pretty face.

We started our trek up into Market Bosworth.  It’s about a mile and uphill – but at least it was downhill with the shopping!  The first thing we found was a cairn stone - a specially commissioned memorial to mark the dedication and sacrifice of those involved with the J.J. Churchill factory in Market Bosworth during the Second World War.  The stone honours members of the Churchill family - a Battle of Britain hero and two secret agents - as well as the commitment of staff who worked on plane engine components, a vital part of the home front war effort.

We then came across, what I thought was a bungalow with a lovely garden, it turned out to be the local fire station! 

The town of Market Bosworth is very pretty.  Local building work revealed evidence of settlement on the hill since the Bronze Age. Remains of a Roman villa have also been found. Bosworth as an Anglo-Saxon village dates from the 8th century.  The Battle of Bosworth took place to south of the town in 1485 as the final battle in the Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Following the discovery of the remains of Richard III in Leicester during 2012, on Sunday 22 March 2015 the king's funeral cortège passed through the town on its way to Leicester Cathedral for his reburial.

Before going shopping we went to the Red Lion for Sunday lunch.  I had lamb and Richard had beef – it was very good but it’s going to be very difficult for any pub to match up to last Sunday’s roast in Alrewas. 

I did my bit of shopping in the Co-op.  The shop is fairly small but I got what I wanted – our next shopping will be at Tesco on the outskirts of Coventry on Wednesday.

It is a very pleasant walk from the town to the canal.  There are some very different houses, from a very old thatched cottage to a couple of very large modern detached houses behind electric gates.  We got back to the boat and moved on about 2.30pm.  Richard just seemed to keep going and going until he finally said “how about here”.  By that stage anything would do but in fact it is very nice though the wind seems to have got up again. 

6.29 miles
0 locks

Welsboro Bridge 37 (Ashby Canal) – Saturday 20th August

We woke up to dryish morning but it was very windy.  I couldn’t hear my windmill going round and was worried it had blown away but it is still there spinning happily.  We have had so many comments the year about the windmill and people asking where we got it from – well it came from the Outer Banks in North Carolina, USA.  I bought it last year and strangely enough I don’t think anyone commented last year!  The first photo is of it stationary and the other going round.  I’m quite impressed with the difference!

There was a Mummy duck with six tiny babies by us last night – I couldn’t get a photo of them all together as Mum seemed to have very little control over her brood!  I just hope they survive.

We were getting very low on Elsan cassette space so moved on to Sutton Cheney Wharf where there is water, rubbish and elsan emptying though neither Pearsons nor the Geo map says so.

We stopped at the Shenton aqueduct so I could visit the farm shop – the milk is getting desperate now!  It is quite a climb down rickety steps to get to the road and the farm shop wasn’t worth going to – very disappointing.

Richard was getting fed up with the wind so we pulled over before Bridge 37 and settled down for the rest of the rocky day!  I actually felt a little sea sick at one stage as the gentle rocking doesn’t do anything for my constitution!  I discovered this when I used to sail – give me a strong wind and rough sea and I am usually OK but give me a swell and slaloping and I will be sick!

During the afternoon we were trying to decide what we are going to do over the next few days.  Looking at the map there are some great village names locally.  Sheepy Magna and Sheepy Parva (from the old english sceap + eg meaning 'island or dry ground in the marsh where the sheep graze – Magna being great and Parva meaning little), Ratcliffe Culey (The toponym "Ratcliffe" is derived from Old English, referring to the local red clay and the fact that it is on high land. Culey is the name of a former lord of the manor), Norton-Juxta-Twycross (Norton is believed to be derived from North Tun, Tun being Anglo-Saxon for settlement – Juxta means alongside - 'Twycross' because its centre lies at the intersection of three roads), Newton Burgoland (The place-name is first shown in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Neutone. It is referred to as Neuton Burgilon in 1390. The name 'Newton' means 'new homestead or village'. The 'Burgoland' element refers to the Burgilon family, the name meaning 'Burgundian') and, best of all, Barton in the Beans (once known as "Barton-in-Fabis" meaning grange i.e. an outlying farm within an estate.  Faba being Latin for bean).

4.71 miles
0 locks

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Stoke Golding (Coventry Canal / Ashby Canal) – Thursday 18th August

A sad farewell and a new canal.

We had to say goodbye to Days Away, Aaron, Michelle, Trinity, Oscar and Oliie   Trinity was close to tears which made me close to tears too.  We have had a wonderful 10 days with people we just happened to share some locks with.   We shall miss them and have already said we will try and catch up with them next year.  Now we have to get out of holiday mode and back into our “way of life” – oh and detox too!!

I had read in Pearsons that there was a small milepost near where we were moored so I went and took a photo.  It doesn’t say where it is 13 and 14 miles too!  Apparently it is over 200 years old.

As we moved off I could see a strange looking hill.  It turns out to be Mount Jud which is the spoil heap from the old Judkins Quarry.  It was once one of the largest granite quarries in the UK and the spoil heap is the biggest local landmark and can be seen from many miles away. 

We finally parted company with Days Away at Marston Junction as we turned onto the Ashby Canal – waters new for us.

The turning onto the Ashby is quite narrow as with a lot of the smaller canals as there would have been a stop lock here once.

We had a lovely cruise in the sunshine.  The canal is windy (as in turn not breezy!) and more like a river.  The water level is down a bit but we only draw 18 inches so hopefully we will be OK.  We stopped for water at The Lime Kilns and then continued on passed Hinkley to Bridge 23 where there is a farm shop.  We needed milk which sadly they didn’t have but I did get some steak, sausages and a couple of lamb shanks.

We pulled over somewhere around Stoke Golding got the chairs out on the towpath but there was nobody to share it with this evening.

There was a lovely moon tonight but sadly I am hopeless at taking night photos.

13.74 miles
0 locks

Friday 19th August

It was a wet and horrid day so we didn’t move on – in fact neither of us did very much at all!  Oh yes, Richard hailed Callisto and got some fuel!