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Warwickshire ring, spring 1988

stratford lock 1
Unusual first lock on the Stratford

A 1-week circular trip from Valley Cruises at Atherstone, via the Coventry Canal, the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, the Stratford on Avon canal, the Grand Union Canal and the Oxford Canal back to Atherstone. This was not quite the conventional ring. The Grand Union was closed at Birmingham, so we had to take this more heavily-locked route through Birmingham and onto the Stratford. Total 101 miles and 120 locks.

Diary extracts:

Sat 1988-04-30
To Atherstone, in two cars. Pub for lunch (more Pedigree), along towpath from boatyard (Valley Cruises). Under way by 1530, deciding to go anticlockwise as part of the Grand Union is stopped and we have to go the long way via N Stratford. Have a good run till 20h, stopping at Amington. Advertised pub closed for renovation, so end up in a crowded, noisy Ind Coope place, the Zodiac.
Sun 1988-05-01
Away at 0750 and up onto the Birmingham and Fazeley. 70ft boat at 4 mi/hr should travel its own length in 12s. Much rain during the night, and some this morning, gloomy and dull. Boat is quite good, but not much storage space in our double cabin. Towards lunchtime the domestic electricity supply went off (flat battery, charging fault). Get the man out to Curdworth Bridge. He fits a new alternator and regulator. Uses a very neat clamp-on ammeter. Get under way again, heading for Birmingham, but just after Spaghetti Junction, after clearing the prop of Birmingham weed and rubbish, the engine would not start. So man out again, to a remote part of the urban wasteland to fit a new connection to the starter motor. Get to Aston junct just as it gets dark, after a mad dash through Aston locks, and stay the night there.
Mon 1988-05-02
Again start early. Day of sunshine, rain and hail, all interleaved. First through the dark recesses of Birmingham on Farmers Bridge flight, then out on the Worcester and Birmingham through Gas St basin (not very impressive). Two weed-hatch stops on this short bit (a V-belt and a branch of a tree), then onto the Stratford. One steerer scares an angler by going straight for him, misjudging a bend, the bows leave a deep impression on the bank. Finish up earlier than usual (before 19h) 5 locks short of Kingswood Junction, near a pub. No breakdowns! Lunchtime to pub on Stratford, nr bridge 3, the Horseshoe. Towpath along most of Stratford is non-existent, and where it does exist it's treacherously narrow and muddy. Some of the locks are a bit dodgy, but it is definitely pretty, with lots of overhanging foliage (and bits of it in the water). Eve to pub 5 locks up from Kingswood Junction.
Tue 1988-05-03
Later start, about 0840. Through the locks and along the GU after clearing Kingswood Junction, up to the top of Hatton flight. Lunch in local pub, then down the 21 in just on 2 hours, mostly in rain, with sunny bits between, ending up just beyond Warwick (bridge 46) at 1630. Eve to pub nearby, awful spit-and-sawdust "Bears Inn" so also to a better Whitbread pub in Leamington direction, with railway pictures and instruments around the bar.
Wed 1988-05-04
Into Warwick to look at the castle. More rain. After taking a short day yesterday and a morning off today, we're going to have to keep going for the next 2-and-a-half days. Get going at 1325 and continue apace through several broad locks, going up (including using ropes) at 5 min per lock, mostly in pouring rain. After most of the locks it brightens up and the evening is very pleasant, going up the last 3 locks to Napton Junction and tackling the 5 miles from there to Braunston. Buy an extra hose connector at Do-it-all as the BWB taps don't all have 12mm hose adaptors. Eve to "Boatman" at Braunston turn; just fitting in an hour before closing time.
Thu 1988-05-05
Start just after 8h, chugging along the N Oxford in sunshine. The sun came and went, but so far (1815) no rain. Stop for lunch at "Stag and Pheasant" in Hillmorton, just after the last 3 real locks. Nicholsons only comment on this pub is "food". It does not do food and has not for the last 10 years. Finish in Ansty, on an embankment above some new houses. About 3 mi short of the Coventry, and 15mi and 1 stop-lock from base. Eve to fairly basic but pleasant pub in Ansty ("Crown"). Despite Nicholsons, could find no shops in Ansty. Also, the indication of bridges in the guide appears to be erratic, and it does not help that most bridges are un-numbered.
Fri 1988-05-06
Start 8h and potter along past Hawkesbury and Marston junctions and through the last 150mm stop-lock, moor at bridge 23 in Nuneaton for 30 mins to find it filthy, noisy and the pub Ansells and nasty-looking, so on to bridge 29 for the "Anchor". Much better. Lunch in the garden, only spoilt by dust and noise from near-by quarry. Then on to bridge 36, 1km from Mancetter, where we moor at 1530. Clean boat and laze in sunshine that we've had practically continuously since this morning. Now only 3/4 mi and no locks from the boatyard. 3-course meal on boat, using up all that is left of the food. Eve walk into Mancetter (the "Plough").
Sat 1988-05-07
Start at 0750 and tootle down in sunshine to boatyard at 0810. Used 66 litres of diesel (40l/100km or 7.1mi/UKgall). Another boat, which we had to overtake yesterday because it was going so slowly, used 100 litres, the other that I saw come in used 32 litres. Only breakage was one wineglass. Boat is probably the 2nd best we've had so far, after Applemint from Snaygill, the principal negative feature being the gas-convector heating, which can't be run at night and provides no drying facilities. Also, it could have done with centre doors. But a 21-metre boat was no more difficult to drive than the previous longest ones we've had.
Day     locks   miles   tau     time    locks   miles   tau	/ tau
Sat     11      8       3.8     4.5     11      8       3.8	-0.2
Sun     27      14+1/4  7.1     8.4     38      21+1/4  10.9	-0.2
Mon     26      18      8.8     9.3     64      39+3/4  19.7	-0.06
Tue     29      10      6.0     5.7     93      49+1/4  25.7	+0.05
Wed     23      16+3/4  7.9     7.3     116     66      33.6	+0.08
Thu     3       19+3/4  6.9     7.0     119     85+3/4  40.5	-0.01
Fri     1       14+1/4  5.0     5.8*    120     100     45.4	-0.2
Sat     0       3/4     0.5     0.3     120     100+3/4 46	+0.4

©nib 2003-03-22..2005-12-07

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