In the end, we decided to leave Hawkesbury on Friday morning rather than Saturday. We had toyed with the idea of travelling to Atherstone for a couple of days but in the end, decided to return to the Ashby canal instead. Looking at the forecast, we could see that Friday offered sunshine and light cloud whereas Saturday looked dull but dry. Either day would have been good for travelling but sunshine on our return to our home water seemed appropriate. I was about to start this post with, “We’ve lost count of the number of times that we’ve travelled along the first six miles of the Ashby canal” but then I remembered that all I had to do was to go through the log book that we have kept since we bought our first boat, Phoenix III. The grand total came to 88 times! (44 in each direction of course).
Most people find that when they are driving home by car that there is a point where, because they have driven it many times before, it feels like they are already home, even if they still have twenty minutes left to go. We’re like that with Hawkesbury Junction; once we’ve made the turn on to the Coventry canal, we feel that we’re nearly home even though we’re still three hours away. It makes the trip easy to do as there is never a time when you’re unsure of your surroundings, how far you’ve travelled or how long you have left to go. The trip on Friday morning was just like that; we worked the lock, passed under the cast iron bridge and reversed on to the service point where we did all of the necessary things before setting off in the bright sunshine. An hour later, we reached Marston Junction which we had to ourselves long enough to make the turn unmolested by other craft. Soon we were passing under the West Coast mainline for the last time on our trip, we have crossed it, run along side it and slept within earshot of it for most of the way on our return from the bottom of the Grand Union. Just for good measure, we even travelled on it when we returned from our short break in July. Now we were leaving this strange travelling companion for the final time, well until we make trip number 89! On we went, meeting the odd narrowboat now and again and being overtaken by a trailboat but that was on one of the few straight and wide sections of the canal so that caused us no problem. An hour on from the junction saw us at Burton Hastings, after passing the long term linear moorings there and rounding the first bend, we caught our first sight of the warehouses next to the A5 and we knew that half an hour would bring us to the Limekilns bridge where the A5 crosses the canal.
Sure enough, the A5 suddenly came into view with its constant stream of Friday afternoon traffic. Seeing that the visitor moorings on our side of the road bridge were completely empty, we pulled in and tied up.
Our mooring for the night is only a ten minute walk away from where we live so we had lunch on board and then went to check that our home was still standing. Everything was in order so we quickly opened the post and returned to the boat for the evening.
We were up and about early this morning since we wanted to get close to home before the temperature drops in the next few days. A few months ago! we found out the hard way that it is not possible to wind Caxton at Wash Lane in Nuneaton so it was on to Springwood Haven before we could turn and head for home.
It was 10 am before we returned to the spot where we had been moored for the previous two nights. We turned on to the Ashby just before 11am and cruised northwards in the sunshine. It was cool and windy but under blue skies, our journey was very enjoyable. We pulled up opposite the Lime Kilns pub where we have moored for our last evening out on Caxton. The wind is forecast to drop overnight so first thing in the morning we will return to our berth in the marina.
Happy New Year everyone!
It was misty and chilly when we set off from the Lime Kilns this morning. Visibility wasn’t great either as we navigated our way around the outskirts of Hinckley but as and when we met other boats, it was always on nice straight stretches. When we reached the Barge moorings near bridge 21, we had to stop to let a boat sort itself out after getting grounded and then wrapping something around its prop. The sun was doing a good job of burning the mist off and by the time we passed Dadlington, the skies were blue and the temperature was rising. The Ashby canal is shallow in many places between Sutton Cheney and Market Bosworth and we foundered a couple of times as we passed the steady stream of boats heading south. We didn’t lose any time and we were soon pulling into the marina where we reversed Caxton on to its home pontoon. After lunch it was simply a case of carrying out the usual chores before loading a couple of bags into the car and heading for home. The first bank holiday monday of the year has been a cracker, lets hope it’s a sign of things to come.
Happy Easter everyone!
We got up at half past seven, had some coffee, emptied a couple of cassettes, untied and left Coventry basin. Facing blue skies and moderate temperatures, we enjoyed some reasonable conditions as we threaded our way out of the city and into the countryside. It was an uneventful trip, we only saw three boats on the move and they were all in convoy. A few pedestrians and dog walkers passed the time of day otherwise it just the two of us travelling in the April sunshine.
Two hours after setting off saw us passing through Sutton’s Stop and another hour brought us to Marston Junction where we turned right on to our beloved Ashby Canal. The sun came out again and accompanied us as we picked our way around the bends of the Ashby until we reached the Lime Kilns where we tied up on the garden mooring before going in and having our Easter Sunday lunch. After that we retired to the boat and flopped in our chairs, listened to the radio and let our dinner go down.
We were resigned to yet another day iced in at the Lime Kilns when we went to bed last night. During the day I had carried a cassette to the elsan at Trinity marina and the prospect of making the two mile round trip again today didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm. At eight o’clock, everything changed when a convoy of five boats crunched through the ice heading north. It seems that they had smashed their way off the Coventry canal yesterday before mooring on the other side of the A5 for the night. It seemed a bit pointless to resume our journey towards Marston junction since we would only have the benefit of the broken ice for less than half a mile. The two remaining options were to stay put or to reverse Caxton all the way back to Nutts lane and attempt to wind in the entrance to the brick wharf. I decided to try the latter with Sue walking ahead to warn of any oncoming boats. In the event, there weren’t any and the trip was fairly easy. Turning around wasn’t so easy because the entrance to the wharf was frozen still but with a bit of manouvering, the ice broke and Caxton was pointing in the right direction again. We stopped at Trinity marina where we emptied the rubbish and the cassettes but failed to fill the water up because the supply was either turned off or frozen. The shop was shut so I wasn’t able to buy gas. As we were about to get underway again, I was approached by another boater who had seen me lift the empty gas cylinder out of the locker and then put it back. He told me that if we were desperate for gas, he had a full spare that we could have and he would buy another when the shop opened on Friday – how kind! The great boating camaraderie is alive and well and living on the Ashby canal. We have enough gas but I thanked him for the offer anyway and we restarted our journey. We met a couple of boats along the way but it was otherwise a lonely cruise in the sunshine. At duck corner, I could see the five members of the ice breaking convoy tied up but facing south. When I questioned the captain of the lead boat, Sextans, he told me that they had turned at Sutton Cheney because the ice was too thick to carry on. We reached the wharf about an hour later and could see that they had given up just after the water point. We struggled a bit to get alongside but eventually made it and filled the water tank before reversing on to the visitor moorings and tying up for the night.
The temperature is predicted to keep rising through the night until reaching 12 degrees tomorrow afternoon, what we don’t know is whether it will be sufficient to melt the ice. With the temperature set to drop again on Friday, we will have to pick our time well for the short hop back to Bosworth marina.
I don’t mind mistakes as long as lessons are learned.
The sky was blue and the sun was shining, there were odd patches of snow but in essence the day had the makings of being a good one for cruising. The first thing I did was to wrap up warmly from the outset, adding yet another layer than I had had on the day before, this was lesson one! With the usual checks done, we were off into the sunshine once more. Sue was working away inside Caxton and soon produced a sausage sandwich for me and a mug of tea to wash it down with.
The entire Ashby fleet was present when we passed through Stoke Golding wharf and we only passed two boats travelling in the opposite direction before we reached Trinity Marina at Hinckley. Every so often in a boater’s life, there comes that dreaded day and today was that day, yes the filling of the diesel tank! We took the opportunity to do the other services while we were there in the hope that it would take my mind off the fuel bill but 220 litres of diesel is 220 litres regardless of the price of a barrel of Brent crude!
Everything done, we pootled on to the mooring opposite the Lime Kilns, passing Stu and Treena on Carpe Diem along the way. Jim was tied up outside the Brewers Fayre but was nowhere to be seen.
Once secured, I remembered my second lesson and sorted out the satellite dish before fixing the canvas cover over the rear deck of Caxton.