Thursday 19 October 2017

Oct 17-19 Homewards from Hopwas to Fradley and down the Trent valley to the Erewash Canal

Thursday 19 October Swarkestone to Shardlow then down the River Trent (5 locks, 6.5 miles)
Annie moored above Swarkestone Lock with Derby Canal opposite

Drizzly and overcast, we descended the wide Swarkestone, Aston and Shardlow Locks, John placed the back cover over him to repel the rain, but still gradually got wet as the rain came down harder. At Shardlow, we both got wet at the lock, but decided to press on through Derwent Lock down the Trent through Sawley.
joining the Trent at Derwentmouth below Shardlow

down the Trent to Sawley

Sawley Cut in the rain

Liana in Sawley Locks

John leaving sawley

Trent Lock and Cranfleet Cut
We came downstream with NB Vixen, with Heather and David Fox, a founder member of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, who know our friends Jan & Dave Warsop and John & Barbara Lower from Retford & Worksop Boat Club. We all ascended Trent Lock onto the Erewash Canal, where we winded and moored near the Steamboat Inn. John was impressed by Vixen's paint job, done by Kingfisher Boats (who blacked Annie;s hull) here at Trent Lock. Will we be stuck here for weeks by Trent floods and lock closures, like two years ago? Hopefully not!
Annie and Vixen about to lock up onto the Erewash Canal at Trent Lock

Wednesday 18 October down the Trent and Mersey Canal from Branston to above Swarkestone Lock (3 locks, 12.5 miles)
We slept in, blaming aches and pains to our shoulders, the gale and long day yesterday. John soon wore his thick yellow coat, and later socks on his hands (gloves are still stored under the bed!), as fine drizzle came down. Liana fitted the polished brass banded chimney for the first time and lit the fire. John left the back doors open and fitted the waterproof cover over our semi-trad stern, apart from the corner where he stands/sits. By shutting the back doors, too, warm air from inside the boat kept his legs warm …. ah!
We could see the start of massive housing development by Branston Lock. The view across the vale to the hills beyond will be spoiled, sadly. Through Burton, the noisy A38 is never far away. Liana dashed into the shop at Shobnall Marina for milk, opposite Marston's Brewery, makers of John favoured ruby beer, Hobgoblin ….. ah, again!
Past beginner hireboaters wondering how to turn at Horninglow Wharf, Annie travelled damply by the gravel pits and farmland to Willington, Mercia Marina to Stenson, where we waited for two . This first wide lock is over 12 feet deep, with heavy gates. After nearly four more damp miles, we called it a day above Swarkestone Lock, near services and Derby Canal junction, getting warm and enjoying potato gratin with duck and hoi sin sauce, yum! Tomorrow we may cover 6.5 miles and 5 locks to the River Trent at Shardlow; then downstream to the cut at Sawley Marina; and maybe a mile down river to Trent Lock and a mooring on the Erewash Canal near the Steamboat Inn.

Tuesday 17 October Hopwas to Fradley and onto Branston Water Park (9 locks, 13.5 miles)
Land & Water staff arrived with a chain saw and made short work of the Willow tree trunk resting on poor Annie's roof overnight.
Liana gave the tree a fluorescent jacket for safety!

Land & Water contractor chain sawing tree

tree going

Tree gone with a splash
The gale had finished, we swept the roof as they made logs, then set off in cool but dry weather on the long pound to Fradley Junction.
cutting up the tree

New housing borders the canal more now, and the old airfield is less evident. Opening the swing bridge, a work boat emerged from the top lock below the Swan Inn, so we popped into it and moored below. The new owners made pie and chips or mash, which were ok, although not home made, like the Irish landlord used to provide.
Lichfield Cruising Club at Huddlesford junction

Huddlesford Jumction, left for Ogley Junction, maybe one day!

Streethay Wharf

Liana operating Fradley swing bridge

work boat turning at Fradley

The Swan at Fradley Junction

locking down at Fradley
The good, if cool, weather temp[ted us to continue through pretty Alrewas village and across the River Trent, hrough the watermeadows with their sitches, weirs and sluices, to Wychnor Lock.
Sadly, from here the A38 noise assaults eardrums all the way past Barton Marina, until we moored in the calm of Branston Water Park appears below the scenic little spot around Tatenhall Lock.
locking down onto the Trent at Alrewas

don't get trapped on the River Trent weir

the Sitches (side bridges) allow flood water to flow across water meadows and down the weirs between Alrewas and Wychnor

passing Barton Marina

pretty scene above Tatenhall Lock

below Tatenhall lock is Branston Water Park, where we moored

Monday 16 October 2017

Oct 14-16 from Weedon on Grand Union north to Braunston to North Oxford and Coventry Canal at Hopwas

Monday 16 October near Mount 'Jud', Nuneaton to the 'Tame Otter' at Hopwas

Strange almost Tuscan blue skies; a dim, peach coloured sun, due to sand picked up by hurricane winds; twilight at midday, rather like an eclipse; strong winds: All portents of an interesting day!

Hartshill CRT yard

The sun came out fully after lunch and the strong wind blew us to Hopwas, where we found free wifi by mooring outside the 'Tame Otter'.

Willow tree crashed onto Annie during gale while we were in the pub!

the tree after pruning by John with his bow saw

contacting CRT at dusk

Sunday 15 October Hillmorton to Sutton Stop and the Coventry Canal near Nuneaton

Eclectic mix of stuff at Charity Wharf Bedworth

even Stig was there!

Marston Junction with Ashby Canal

Cruiser leaving Ashby Canal

Boot Wharf

Saturday 14 October Weedon to Long Buckby, Braunston and the North Oxford at Hillmorton
We set off soon after dawn, ghosting through Weedon. There was still an old "Weed"hireboat at the moorings, remnant of the Weedon hire firm. Leaving Weedon, we were both shocked to find massive earthworks where a new bridge is being built over the canal.
Dawn looking towards the Narrowboat Inn, Weedon

Weedon moorings

new bridge near Weedon

the Powells on NB Iris came up Long Buckby locks with us

leaving Long Buckby Top Lock

passing Norton Junction on the way to Braunston Tunnel
We passed the wiggles in Braunston tunnel without meeting a boat, but then met five! Thankfully, all passed us slowly, without incident. We went down Braunston locks with anoither boat, then stopped to visit Phill Abbott at Annie's home, Wharf Narrowboats. John had a shock when he couldn't get out of gear, so had to switch the engine off. The clip securing the outer gear cable sleeve had broken! Phill kindly supplied a steel staple which John fitted. John bought other parts including a stove chimney coolie hat.
Braunston Marina

Gongoozlers Rest café and Stop House, Braunston
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Dunchurch Pools marina being built
the new Dunchurch Pools Marina with its lovely cast iron bridge

Liana and Annie passing the Old Turn, Braunston, with its two bridges. Left to Oxford.
As the day was still pleasant, we carried on past our old moorings at Barby to moor outside the Hungry Horse Old Oak Inn, just before Hillmorton.