Another early(ish) start for us as we wanted to get down through the three Hillmorton locks before they got too busy. Only half of the locks are in operation because one of the middle pair has a broken balance beam. We did actually meet a couple of boats coming up whose crews had obviously had similar ideas but this made our descent easier rather than harder. Once clear of the third lock we stopped on the water point and carried out the services.
Eventually the slow running tap filled our tank and we were off again. We saw only a few boats on the move as we skirted around the edge of Rugby but a special mention goes to the steerer of a Calcutt hire boat that we met on a bend. I could see from his line that there was no way that he was going to make the bend, whether we were there or not. I reversed hard and brought Caxton to a standstill and if he had done the same, a collision would have been avoided. He didn’t do that though and as a result the bows met with a heavy clunk. He apologised sheepishly as he passed and said that he was still getting used to it but he was a long way from Calcutt so we wondered how eventful his journey had been!
It didn’t take us long to reach the visitor moorings at Rugby / Brownsover. A lot of work has been carried out here and it really has improved the area for mooring. Previously, there was a stretch opposite the Bell & Barge Harvester restaurant where the bank was rough and mooring was difficult. That stretch has been upgraded and the towpath resurfaced but it is now a “no mooring” area. The water tap that was along there has been relocated to the offside at the park on the south side of the road bridge and that has thus reduced the mooring space there. That’s where all of the bad news ends. On the towpath side, rings have been installed all the way along and round the bend almost as far back as bridge 59. The towpath vegetation which was around the corner has all been removed and all of the overhanging branches on the opposite side have been removed so that boats can pass easily. All in all a great job and when we arrived we easily found a nice straight stretch to tie up on.
After showering, we walked up to the road bridge and while Sue investigated some of the stores on the new retail park, I investigated the aforementioned “Bell & Barge”. I was surprised to find that there were very few customers there but apparently they have lost trade to a new “Hungry Horse” pub which has been built nearby. After a quick pint, I walked to the other retail park and visited Homebase for a few bits of hardware before returning to the boat where Sue was waiting having returned ten minutes or so earlier.
I have a friend and ex-colleague who lives nearby so I gave him a call to see if he was around and fancied going for a drink. I’ve known Mike for the best part of thirty years and hadn’t seen him since I retired in May. He had other arrangements made but he quickly un-made them and we met up back at the Bell & Barge for a few beers. He came back to boat with me to have a look at Caxton and to say hello to Sue – oh and we had another beer into the bargain.