Monday, September 30, 2013

Staying on the Oxford

One night at the top of Calcutt where we walked round the reservoir.  Time now to slow down a bit.  During a calm sunny day we moved on up the Grand Union / Oxford canal to Braunston.  Often considered by us to be the start and end of our journeys.  It has been almost a year since we were here on our way north.  This winter we will be staying on the south Oxford canal.

Braunston and its company has changed during the year.  The Plough has changed hands and the local shop is under new management.  At least the Post Office is still there.  The butcher is still operating and a hair dresser has opened.  The bus service has been altered much to the annoyance of the locals.  Bus stops have moved so we were not sure where to get on for Daventry!  So we never went.

When we saw Tim in the marina the first thing he asked was did we want a winter mooring!   It seems that many boaters are moving down to Cropredy!   We stayed a few nights, visited friends or friends visited us, got full and empty and moved south.

During the month of September we broke a few records.  The number of lock miles in a day and the number of hours travelled in a day.  We have done 224 lock miles that month.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On our way up

We stopped near the Saltisford Arm for a few days. Brod came up to visit and stayed a night. The Saltisford Canal Centre is much improved and provided a secure park for his car.

When Brod had left we decended the two locks going through Warwick and Leamington Spa. Five miles on we start the climb at Fosse locks. By now we were joined by another boat with a happy crew.
 Having got past the staircase locks at Bascote we stopped near bridge 27.

Long Itchington

Next day while the sun continued to shine we progressed up to Stockton Top lock. We had waited a while at the bottom for another boat to join us. Then we saw Hadar going down to Saltisford.
The boat that had joined us is to be sold at Braunston. Arabella was unusual in that it was driven by an electric motor. The 240v ac power was generated by a diesel engine purring quietly below the boards. A true Diesel Electric system. A small bank of domestic batteries provided the usual 12 v power while an inverter converted the dc to ac mains power when the engine was not running.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Going down Hatton

We set off after breakfast to stop at the top lock for water, elsan and rubbish disposal. Four boats passed in quick succession and went down two by two as you should.
The Cafe at the top

But when we were ready to go down there was no other boat to join us. Two boats eventually started down but by then we were three locks down. It was quite a struggle with these huge double locks so we usually only used the paddle and gate on one side.
Ugly bridge with decoration

The boats and crew soon caught us up and started to help us. It took us four hours to get to the bottom  the twenty one locks. We found a mooring near the Satisford Arm. Thankfully all done during a dry day.

The Saltisford Canal Centre is much improved with new facilities but almost full of boats. Beyond our mooring the canal edge is all concrete with nothing to tie to if you want to stop.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lapworth, Kingswod and Hatton

We got diesel and gas at Swallow Cruisers before moving down the Lapworth locks. 

Partway down volunteers started to help us.

It was a cool damp day with the sun trying to brighten up the sky.

The volunteers were happy to get us down fifteen locks. By then we had had enough and made tea for two of our helpers.

Next day we travelled down some more locks to Kingswood Junction.

We joined the Grand Union canal that seemed like a motorway being wide and deep. But then the trees closed in and reduced the width.

Yet another tunnel to pass through before getting to the Hatton flight.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fish n Chips

We continued to Hockley Heath, last visited back in 2010.  The shop was closed but potatoes were being delivered and later, cooking oil!  After shopping we got the fish n chips!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

After the locks, tunnels!

We have gone through Tardebigge and Shortwood tunnel and stopped at Hopwood for the night. Then it was on through Wast Hill tunnel, all on the Worcester & Birmingham canal. They were all wide enough to pass boats going the other way despite this being a narrow canal. Only one boat in front and behind going the same way.

It was not long before we turned right at Kings Norton and on to the northern end of the Stratford canal and through yet another tunnel. We got quite depressed with the damp dark conditions and when it actually rained we stopped.

Ann made hot soup while I setup the TV and lit the fire.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


It took another day to get to Stoke Pound at the bottom lock. A very good friend had offered to help us up the next thirty locks. Colin arrived after breakfast and after refreshments we set off at ten.
We were extremely lucky to find most locks empty for us. A boat was following so we opened a paddle to empty the lock once we had gone up.
Progress was rapid to say the least. We got to the top in three hours, an average of ten locks an hour or one every six minutes. 

Colin stayed a while as we discussed our future plans and news of a previous life while consuming Ann's home made soup.

Thank you Colin, we did well and enjoyed you visit.  He then cycled back down to his car at Stoke Pound and drove home.


The Droitwich canal is one of two halves. The southern section is the barge canal with wide locks and the northern section is the Junction canal with new narrow locks.

Another salt town is Droitwich but this one was lucky enough to have a brine spring.
On a walk about we found Vine Park where Molly could run about.

The M5 crosses over north of Droitwich and although quite high the tunnel is very low for boats. One boat is known to have got stuck when the next lock up was emptied, raising the water level! With much removed from our roof we rushed through at speed.

The building of the motorway paid for the restoration of the canal so why did they make the tunnel so low?

There are six locks to get up to Hanbury Wharf at the junction with the Worcester & Birmingham canal. We met Jim at the local pub for a drink and chat. He is the brother of a previous neighbour of ours.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A nine to five trip

We got to Stourport and did some shopping.
Then had a look round the basins. The river Severn was low and slow ready for our trip down.

We set off at nine to go down into the basin for water and elsan dump before doing the four locks down to the river.

A narrowboat called Brief Encounter followed us down to the first lock. As it turned out the crew intended to head the same way as us.

There is just nowhere to stop on the river and after the second lock we soon found the Droitwich canal entrance.

A convenient landing stage enabled both boats to stop and operate the wide Hawford lock. There was already one smart motor boat in the lock but the owner had lost his windlass and was waiting for help. We managed to get both our boats in and went up. 

The locks are all wide up to Droitwich because of the salt barges that used to travel down to the river.

But the canal is now narrowed by reeds although quite deep enough.

Each lock had a new landing stage.
All eight wide locks were completed and a few miles on we found the secure visitor moorings by five o'clock! 30 lock miles in one day is a record for us.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Forgotten canal?

As we travel down this canal we enjoy its beauty forgotten by us since we came this way ten years ago. What wonderful days in sunshine with other boaters helping at the locks.

Down we go through the tree lined canal into the valley and on to Worcestershire.

Down past the sandstone cuttings.

We went shopping in Kinver.

Debdale lock with its horse cave cut into the sandstone.

Then it was on past Kidderminster.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Heading down to Stourport

The river Severn is 294 feet lower than the canal here at Autherley. We have only once been this way in 2003. So often, over the years, we turned north here.

The engine coughed and spluttered on startup but soon ran OK. We called in to Oxley Marine near the junction to have the fuel line and tank cleaned out. The water trap was dirty with grit but not the dreaded bug. Some had got to the fuel filter which stopped it there. A certain amount of dirty fuel was sucked out of the tank. Having replaced the filter and with fresh diesel in the tank the engine ran smoothly again.

I do not know where the grit or dirty fuel came from. Is there a case for the diesel suppliers to ensure clean fuel is put in our tanks. High turnover suppliers should be safer.
Going down the locks

Monday, September 02, 2013

A trip off the boat

I went off on my own from Gailey on a bus n train to Fareham. When the train arrived at Stafford the doors opened but I could not get in. There were so many people with their luggage blocking the entrance! I was obliged to stand for an hour once I had got in. At each station some got off but yet more got on. Roll on more track and rolling stock.

I went to see my brother for his 70 th birthday party. A gathering of friends at the Pig followed by a picnic in the New Forest.

Lunch at Zizzi
I stayed with Brod in his pad at Gosport and enjoyed rediscovering some of our old haunts. A chance to sample life on land and boy, was it buzzing over in Pompy and Southsea.