After 6 fantastic weeks, today is Oliver’s last day of his grand adventure to Llangollen and back.
We started with a beautiful sunny morning, the perfect start to the last day.
In no time at all we were coming up to Braunston junction
Braunston is one of our favourite places to stop and gongoozle, but today we didn’t stop and went through the locks and up to the tunnel. On the way we came across this strange sight:
The tunnel is long and dark, but thankfully as there’s been so little rain recently it was relatively dry for once so we didn’t get soaked like we usually do. Sarah had great fun trying to get some atmospheric photos in the dark, here’s a small selection of them
After the tunnel we were soon back at the junction to Buckby locks, our nemesis. Fortunately we met up with another boat, (The Denby Rose also from Heyford Fields Marina) so shared the work and got through them in good time, before refuelling at Rugby boats and finally returning back to where it all started. Little did we know Dad was keeping tabs on us all the time, and took careful note of our arrival
It feels strange to be back in the marina, but we were delighted to find our neighbours Razamataz back in the water after 6 months of refit after a fire, and it was lovely to see everyone again.
Now we must start planning the next great adventure…. watch this space!
A sticky night on the boat and it’s fair to say I was not looking forward to today and another 21 locks. We had a good hour before we hit the first lock and found ‘Bones’, a single handed chap called Ray waiting for us.
It’s fair to say that I wasn’t impressed as it’s more effort for no reward. How wrong could I be.
We only opened one gate. Toby would go in first and I’d be on the other side with my trusty rope on a Karabina dangling down, Toby would then pass through the centre rope, and I pulled the boat across, Bones came in second. I then opened one paddle and one gate and we carried on like this for the morning.
We did intend to stop for lunch but as the locks were in our favour, so we decided to carry on through the flight at Stockton Locks. Ray was very trusting of Toby and suggested we tie the two boats together and Toby steer both boats into the lock.
All 21 locks done and I hadn’t even broken a sweat! We pushed our luck a bit too far in the late afternoon in the hope of getting to Braunston; it started raining so we decided to moor up a bit early and watch some Wimbledon tennis!
Today was a real melter. We set off at 8:15 to make a start before it got too hot, but it wasn’t long until the mercury started rising. We passed this cute little ‘house’ which made Sarah and I smile
We had some welcome relief from the heat when we went through Shrewley tunnel. What we hadn’t expected was quite such a cooling down from all the water dripping down, we both got quite wet!
The big challenge for today, other than the heat, was always going to be Hatton and its flight of 21 double locks.
Sensible folk would probably have moored up for the day and done it the next morning, but we don’t want to be sensible so we cracked on! Fortunately for us, another boat Verity turned up after we’d only gone down a couple, and with 5 20-somethings on board it made everything a lot easier, even if almost every lock was set against us.
Hatton is never easy and the heat was wilting, but after we refreshed everyone with some ice poles we eventually made it down to the bottom and said farewell to Verity and her lovely crew.
After that we were done in so moored up in the next available spot. We’re still melting, but things are gradually cooling down from the earlier 36C the thermometer was registering.
We awoke to blue skies and knew it was going to be a scorcher of a day. We left Stratford and a family of swans and signets decided to hitch a lift up the next two locks which slowed us down a little. The Wilmcote fight was a doddle with five volunteer lock keepers due to the Stratford River Festival, they welcomed the Cornish farings on offer.
A quick stop for lunch and we found ourselves behind a hire boat which meant emptying and filling every lock, we struggled a little with low water levels in some of the pounds.
The highlight has to be the Antony Gormley statue overlooking the lock Lowsonford, I took quite a few pictures but attach a couple.
25 locks done today but sadly no day of rest tomorrow as we reach the Grand Union Canal and back to double locks and the dreaded Hatton Flight!
A rainy night and a drizzly morning led for a later than usual start, we enjoyed the rest and listened to the radio and the start of the Archers omnibus. The cooler weather was a welcome respite from the previous day’s heat and we made good progress on the River Avon. It was only after we had passed Bidford Bridge that we saw the extent of the lorry crash the previous week.
Peter was following our progress and saw that we were close to Binton Bridge that had a webcam, we had great fun trying to find it and waving at anything and everything that looked like it could be a webcam.
We seemed to slowly move away from the countryside and past some beautiful houses and gardens on our approach to Stratford. Sadly my karabinaeron a rope for Toby to pass the centre rope was left behind at Trinity Lock, all was not lost though as Richard on Casual Water kindly donated a proper karabiner – no pressure on leaving that behind then!
Leaving the River Avon and joining the Stratford Canal is no easy task as there is no landing station at the lock entrance. We certainly weren’t prepared for the number of gongoozlers that steadily grew as we entered the lock, it wasn’t something that either Toby or I enjoyed and prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside. Toby did a sterling job of reversing the boat on to the Pontoon and we enjoyed the evening view over Stratford.
Yesterday’s entertainment with the Pershore regatta continued this morning with more fun on the river, with the start line right next to our mooring.
We had a lazy morning (well I did anyway!) and later meandered up into town to see the old abbey and have a mosey around some of the shops. The jam doughnuts from the bakery on the high street were a definite highlight. We also liked the wood carving in the abbey grounds and the local toy shop!
We then set off mid-morning on a delightful sunny day up the river towards the George Billington Lock. The old rope-ferry across the river is still in operation, and kindly dropped the rope for us to pass over it.
The fishermen were out en-masse for a competition – we lost count but reckon there were well over a hundred of them lining one bank for ages. I managed one single friendly wave from the whole dour bunch of them!
After passing through Evesham we returned to the delights of the countryside
before eventually tying up just after George Billington lock, where there’s a lovely grassy bank perfect for sitting out on and enjoying a cold glass of wine with friends.
We had to navigate a pair of staircase locks – the pound between them was pretty small and they were at an awkward angle making the turn really tricky. Luckily nobody was watching as I made a hash of it on the first attempt, but we soon sorted it out and were on our way on the Severn…
Before long we hit our first lock on the Severn. We were well impressed as the gates were open before we arrived – turns out the lock-keeper has a webcam so he could see us coming!
As well as the steel cables, we also liked how calmly the locks filled compared to the Thames – you could literally hold the boat in with finger and thumb. All in all the locks were a dream.
before we knew it we were in Worcester
Sarah also couldn’t resist taking a shot of this old postbox
We awoke to clear blue skies and warm sunshine, I was keen to get going, Toby however, just wanted to doze! We ended up leaving at the same time as Casual Water, they’re a bit faster than us so we let them go in front at the first lock.
We continued on our way through the various locks as the canal passed alongside various rock formations including one with a little cave entrance. We went right through Kidderminster, it was quite a shock to see all of those people, cars and big out of town shopping warehouses after the calm of the countryside.
We arrived at Stourport just after 1pm and moored after one of the bridges, we walked down to the basins, the staircase locks and the River Severn entrance just so we knew what we were in for in the morning. There were some better moorings lower down so we went down the next lock, did a DIY pump out (never again, it’s no cheaper and it honks!!) and moored in the basin. A quick walk in to town for an icecream and then a BBQ on the marina with Richard and Jane.
Stourport eight…eight locks down today (it’s doing wonders for my bingo wings!!)