A couple of lazy days were spent at Market Bosworth, we only managed one walk up to town but we did manage to catch up with Chris Hubbard, the manager at Bosworth marina. On Wednesday we decided to move on a bit further, this time getting as far as Shackerstone, where we tied on the deserted visitor moorings.
Following the usual pattern, we showered and had lunch before venturing out to the preserved station, home of the Battlefield line heritage railway.
There is a Victorian tea room on the platform so of course we had to pop in and have a cuppa before we returned to the boat and battened down the hatches, ready for the forecast wind and rain to arrive. The rain arrived at around seven o’clock and the wind speed built up steadily after that. By the time we were ready for bed, the noise of the wind blowing through the surrounding trees was terrific, so much so that Sue was unable to get to sleep until after two (I was out like a light within ten minutes though!).
There were more high winds forecast for Thursday but when I went outside just after eight o’clock to check that everything was intact and where it should be, it didn’t seem too bad at all. Just over an hour later, we set off again and made the trip along the last part of the Ashby canal to Snarestone. It was a quiet journey and we met only two boats travelling in the opposite direction along the way. The phantom leaf ball intervened a few times in some of the wooded areas around Gopsall but it didn’t hold us up at all. Snarestone tunnel seems quite tame after Blisworth and Braunston, despite the fact that it has a bend in it and a low roof caused by mining subsidence.
On reaching the end, we again found the visitor moorings deserted so we headed for the service block at the end and did the necessary. By now the wind was really picking up again but for once it was a good thing because after reversing from the services, I brought Caxton to a halt and just let the wind blow the bow into the winding hole. Having let the wind do most of the work, it was simple enough to complete the manoeuvre and tie up at the bridge end of the moorings.
After lunch, Sue walked back to the canal shop and paid for membership of the Ashby Canal Association. We’ll go and inspect the restoration development on Friday when the strong north westerly wind has dropped.
We slept in. We had watched a couple of films so it was late when we had gone to bed but nevertheless waking up at nine thirty came as a bit of a surprise to us. We decided to get up and go, so after reviving the fire which was just hanging on to life with a few glowing embers, we got dressed. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon and by the look of the sky, it wasn’t too far away. After the usual preparations we were underway but with one difference which was a bit of an experiment.
Caxton is a semi-trad boat and like many boats of this design has a canvas tonneau cover which protects the back deck. Unlike most others, this cover has a zipped section which rolls up to give some protection to the steerer from the elements. I have never tried steering with the tonneau in place so I decided to give it a go on the short hop back to the marina. The ambient temperature seemed lower than the day before, the wind was colder and there was no sunshine so it was the perfect test. With the rear doors closed and the hole in the cover being only two feet square, I was protected from draughts. The cabin doors were open so there was a gentle warmth emanating from inside the boat which made the trip a relatively pleasant one given the conditions. Sue reported that it was still warm enough inside and since I didn’t freeze, the experiment proved to be a success, Joe and Lesley – thanks to your design skills, we are once more, forever in your debt!
The trip back was quiet, we only passed two boats on the move, a very short narrowboat with an outboard engine and a two man canoe paddled by two bearded guys who looked like a pair of backwoodsmen. There was a fishing competition near Congerstone but there were only half a dozen anglers there, most of whom were surprisingly talkative. There were another couple of fishermen opposite the winding hole to the north of Market Bosworth and when I asked one of them if he had caught anything, he replied, “Not much, only a f*ck*ng cold”.
It was a bit windy as we entered and crossed the marina which is par for the course where there are wide open spaces but as I have mentioned before, Bosworth Marina is so spacious that there is plenty of room to manoeuvre and very quickly we were safely tied to our pontoon. Within ten minutes, the heavens opened – we had just made it in time!
We had some lunch and then did a bit of cleaning and tidying before packing up the few bits and pieces that we had to take with us into the car.
That was it, our boating weekend was over and despite the temperatures that we had endured, it had been a really enjoyable one.
The gale force winds continued throughout the night, keeping Sue awake until 3am, although she claims that my snoring didn’t help either! We had a late start as a result but once showered and dressed, we were heading up the hill to Market Bosworth where we planned to have lunch. Before we popped into the Dixie Arms, we spotted the current copy of the local community magazine, Aspect featuring a picture of boats, including Caxton, in the marina on its front cover.
We had a lovely lunch, then did a bit of shopping in the butcher shop and at the Co-op before returning to Caxton. The wind had dropped but as the sun sank, so did the air temperature and we were glad to get back to the boat.
After a very quiet night on the Shenton mooring we dragged ourselves out of bed and had breakfast which in my case was this bacon and egg sandwich created by chef Susan.
Goody two shoes Sue had a vegetarian breakfast which I’m sure was very nice but didn’t warrant a photo. By ten o’clock we were ready to face the world and the first person that we saw was Rick on nb Auriga so we flagged him down and bought four bags of coal from him.
With the coal safely stowed away, we untied and headed off in the direction of Sutton Cheney. This section of the Ashby is shallow and at the moment, like all canals is full of leaves which do their best to wrap themselves around the prop so with the strong wind thrown in for good measure, progress was slow. The water point was clear when we reached Sutton Cheney wharf so we pulled up and did the usual emptying and filling that we needed to do. Once serviced, we turned at the wharf and started our journey back to Market Bosworth. A boat moored on the towpath side of the battlefield mooring had come undone as an oncoming boat passed it and by the time we got there it had completely blocked the canal. Sue got off and helped the steerer from the oncoming boat to secure the wayward vessel. They soon discovered that the boat had been inadequately moored in the first place so it was hardly surprising that it had broken free. They soon had the situation under control and we were able to get underway again. Our escape from the scene was difficult, the wind pushed us into the shallows and the prop became clogged with leaves, the breakaway boat was still impeding our progress even though it was now securely tied. Eventually, after reversing until we were back alongside that bloody troublesome boat, we were able to get into the deepest part of the channel and then slowly make our escape. The rest of our journey was straightforward but by the time we reached the marina, the south westerly wind was blowing hard across the entrance with the result that no amount of bow thrusting, tiller or throttle could prevent us brushing the rubber buffer on the way into the basin. We were able to get on to our pontoon without any further trouble and were soon securely anchored in our berth.
After a couple of weeks away from Caxton it was good to be back on board on Thursday evening. I went to work on Friday morning while Sue walked up to town and caught the bus to Woodlands nursery and did a bit of shopping. When I returned in the afternoon, we pondered over whether to venture out or stay put until Saturday. A heavy rain shower made the decision for us and we settled in for the night.
A clear blue sky greeted us on Saturday morning so we got showered, dressed and had breakfast before setting off just after ten. It was quite breezy when we left but there is so much space at Bosworth Marina that manouvering in and out is no problem. Thank you Helen, we are eternally grateful for the generous design.
We made the short trip down the ashby to Shenton aqueduct where we tied up to the armco on the offside.
It was then a case of getting the walking boots on and striding out in the direction of Shenton station. We spent a bit of time in the glass blowing studio there, admiring the work of the resident craftsman before walking up to the battlefield centre at the top of Ambion hill. It was still bright and sunny when we reached the large Sundial memorial next to the huge flags of the houses of plantagenet and tudor.
We plodded on to the centre itself where we hoped to get a cup of tea. As it turned out, the cafe is licensed so while “goody two shoes” Sue had a pot of decaf tea, I availed myself of a nourishing pint of Stella Artois.
Well refreshed, we continued with our walk, this time skirting Ambion wood and eventually reaching the old track bed of the dismantled railway. We followed the path until we were back at Shenton station and then it was back on the road to the aqueduct and our mooring.
Despite the time of year, it was still pleasant enough to sit in the cratch in the afternoon with a lovely view along the tree lined canal, the section that used to be the battlefield mooring before the Stoke Golding discovery was made.
After two weeks driving and spending hours in one office or another, it had been so good to get out and get some fresh air – the perfect tonic!
Having settled into our new berth, we went out exploring on Saturday. We called in at Market Bosworth station for a cup of tea before climbing the hill to the town itself, we wanted to check on the train timetable for Sunday when we intended to visit the Shackerstone family festival. In the station car park was an exceptional example of the Mk 1 version of my favourite car, the Austin Healey 3000.
I don’t profess to be an expert or expect to be able to own one but the 3000 is the car that does it for me!
I’m still recovering so after a walk to town and back we just settled down and watched a bit of television before turning in for the night.
It was already sunny when we awoke on Sunday morning, we got ourselves ready and walked to the station where we caught the train, first to Shenton and then back to Shackerstone some forty five minutes later. Working boats lined the canal, many of them Braunston Rally regulars but quite a few that were new to us. Once we were in the field where the festival was being held, we wandered around and took some pictures. Some examples are posted here, the full collection can be found in the photo album here.
The first air display of the day came in the form of a Spitfire which performed magnificently overhead for five minutes or more before zooming off into the distance. We did wander into the area where the traction engines were but the smoke was everywhere so we turned around and made our way back to the station. We made our way back to Caxton where we settled down in the cratch where we watched the second air display, The Aerostars in their YAK aerobatic planes. We had a perfect view across the marina and it really was an entertaining routine.
And that was it, the show was over, not just the air display but our holiday as well. We quietly got our stuff together and packed it away in the car before locking Caxton up and driving home (for a few days anyway!)
The high winds of yesterday had been subsiding before we went to bed last night and by this morning they had all but gone with just the odd gust remaining. We were boating by 7.30 and pulled up at Sutton Cheney Wharf where we did our chores just over half an hour later. On the way, we saw nb Sunny Brid which belongs to one of the team who electrified Sue’s heart at Glenfield Hospital a few weeks ago.
We attempted to buy some coal from the fuel boat that was tied at the wharf but there was no one board when we called so we had to pass on that one.
We only passed one more boat on our trip to Market Bosworth but despite the cool, dull weather it was a pleasant enough journey. When we reached the site of the new marina we could see that the contractors were preparing to remove the clay plug from the entrance and connect it to the canal. We passed through and winded just beyond bridge 44. This of course was the first time that we had turned Caxton since we left Stone almost a week ago. There were no issues, in some respects, the move was easier in the longer boat because the bow had to be touching the bank and then it was a matter of pushing the tiller over and leaving the rest to the prop.
Half an hour later and we were back near the visitor moorings where we tied up and headed of into town for some lunch and to do a bit of shopping. We had a belated birthday lunch for Sue at the Black Horse before returning to our mooring. After we deposited our shopping at the boat we walked over to meet Chris Hubbard who is the new manager at the marina and he gave us a private tour of the site as well as explaining about the facilities that were being installed there. We returned to Caxton at four o’clock and five minutes later the heavens opened! An hour later and it was a different day altogether, Sue sitting in the cratch with the windows open and the canalside covers up underneath blue skies and full sunshine.
Tomorrow we will need to head back to Hinckley for a few days before resuming our journey to Braunston at the weekend.