Monday, 9 October 2017

Lancaster Canal

A first today — a bit of boating on the Lancaster Canal. Andy the photographer picked me up at Towcester at 7am and after a journey that was rather slow in places we got to our destination at 10.30. The weather was better than expected, at least at first, so we set off on the test boat to get the shots of it on the water. The section of the Lancaster we covered (only a couple of miles) was very pretty, with some lovely views — none of which I took a photo of. We were all done by about 1.30,and the journey back was a bit quicker. I’m staying on board tonight, and will go back home tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Kaleidoscope IX

When we had a visit at Kingswood Junction from my father’s cousin, Horace, (which makes him my first cousin once removed), he brought us a piece of art. Horace is a photographer, and Kaleidoscope IX from 2013 uses some of his photos cut up and rearranged.


The red parts are from photos of narrowboats — you can see occasional recognisable bits, like a dolly or a bit of sign writing. We’re keeping this lovely present on the boat, and it will remind us of that visit.

I came up to the boat this afternoon, as I have a boat test much further north tomorrow. Sunday lunchtime seems to be a good time as there was very little traffic. The boat was fine and the solar panel has apparently still be doing its thing as we’ve used nothing off the electric meter. I had a look at the loo, and as the contents looked very dry and crumbly (even after only a week away) I emptied it. Tomorrow will be a pretty early start.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Jenny Rose on test

The November issue of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test of Jenny Rose by Braidbar Boats.

Monday, 2 October 2017

North West Passage: Stats

Here's the route we've covered over the past five weeks.


We covered 411 miles and 294 locks, and the engine was on for 184.4 hours.

Waterways travelled:

  • Grand Union Canal
  • North Oxford Canal
  • Coventry Canal
  • Birmingham and Fazeley Canal
  • Trent and Mersey Canal
  • Staffs and Worcs Canal
  • Caldon Canal and Leek Arm
  • Bridgewater Canal
  • River Irwell
  • Manchester Ship Canal
  • River Weaver
  • Middlewich Branch
  • Shropshire Union Canal
  • Birmingham Canal Navigations New and Old Main Lines
  • Digbeth Branch
Bold indicates waters we hadn't been on before.

We turned round at:
  • Leek
  • Froghall
  • Castlefield
  • Salford Quays
  • Black Country Museum
  • Smethwick Top Lock (unplanned)
We travelled through fifteen different tunnels, and did seven of them twice (in bold).
  • Blisworth
  • Braunston
  • Newbold
  • Leek
  • Harecastle
  • Barnton
  • Saltersford
  • Preston Brook
  • Cowley
  • Coseley
  • Summit
  • Galton
  • Ashted
  • Curzon Street
  • Shrewley
In total, we spent just over eleven miles under ground.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

North West Passage: Day 37

Just five miles to return to the marina, and we set off at 8 in rather dank and dark conditions. At times it rained a bit. Just past Grafton Regis bridge, a kingfisher was sitting on the tiller of a moored boat, and stayed as we went past. I still didn't manage to get a completely in focus picture.

A bit further on, a squirrel was feasting on fallen apples.

We made the turn into the marina after the usual hour and a half, and reversed easily enough into our berth. Adrian had spent the travelling time sorting stuff out, so it was just a matter of getting bags from the car, packing things, and loading up. Adrian left first but got home second, making the mistake of choosing the M40 rather than driving through the middle of Bicester.

5 miles, 0 locks. (411 miles, 294 locks)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

North West Passage: Day 36

We woke to a nice sunny morning. Before we set off there was a comotion outside on the water. About seven adolescent cygnets were running along the water trying unsuccessfully to take off. Their parents seemed to be showing them what to do. A bit later the adults seemed to be chasing off a third.

We set off about 9am along this very familiar route home. We waved at Del and Al on Derwent6 as we went by. It was sunny enough for shadows, but the breeze had a cold edge to it.

We did a touch and go at Gayton Junction so Adrian could get off with a bag of rubbish and recycling. When we got to Blisworth we moored up in the village to wait for visitors to arrive. Adrian made lunch while we waited, then at about 1pm, Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew arrived for their trip through the tunnel and down the locks. We set off after lunch and saw no other boats apart from the trip boat, Charlie, in the tunnel. As we got to the top of the locks an Alvechurch hire boat with a big crew of enthusiatic children also set off, so we went down together.

It was an efficient decent, and at the bottom we moored up for tea and some of Catherine's lovely lemon cake. By the time they were leaving there were spots of rain, so we decided to stay where we were.

11 miles, 7 locks. (406 miles, 294 locks)

Friday, 29 September 2017

North West Passage: Day 35

With rain forecast this morning and only a few miles to do, we decided we'd wait for the rain to pass before setting off. Adrian had some work to do anyway, so it allowed him to get on with that. The rain was never that heavy, but kept coming and going. By about 11 it appeared to have passed, so we got ready to set off. A few boats had been down, and as we prepared, two more appeared round the corner, followed by a third. I asked the third boat if they were on their own and if so could we join them. They'd actually come down the top lock with the first boat, and the second had only just got in between them. Once we'd sorted that out, a boat moored in front of use also decided to set off, and two more came along from the top lock, so by the time we were on our way down there was still a queue of three.

Things continued very slowly. A couple of locks further down, one of the boats from the pair in front was left behind, as another single boat had appeared from somewhere, so we all swapped locking partners. Boats began to appear in the opposite direction, including two separate single handers. Among the others was a boat we knew well.

Finally we got to the bottom of the locks. It was 1.45 so had taken more than two hours to do six locks. We carried on, having lunch on the move. Just before Weedon, the earthworks where the new bypass bridge will cross the canal and the railway line together are now huge. We also spotted concrete bridge footings; the bridge is due to go in over the winter, with all the work which would normally need a stoppage carried out at night, presumably because they can't stop the West Coast Main Line.

We stopped for some shopping to top up lunch supplies for tomorrow, then stopped again at Rugby Boats for diesel. We had to moor outside two other boats and have the hose passed across to us, as a little 1860 ice breaker was being brought out of water. It had been put in the water yesterday after a three year restoration project, but was today found to be taking on water.

We continued round the corner to the moorings opposite the caravan club field. The M1 and the railway are both a fair distance away here.

6 miles, 6 locks. (395 miles, 287 locks)