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Wed Oct 13th - Atherstone

Tuesday Oct 13th – Hillmorton to Ansty


Clive popped his head out of the hatch this morning and immediately came back inside to fetch the camera.  It was absolutely beautiful outside, the sun was coming over the hill but it was all misty – he couldn’t resist taking some photos.


Misty morning at Hillmorton


By the time we had had breakfast and were ready to set off the sun had burned the mist away and it was a stunningly beautiful Autumn morning!  There was a definite nip in the air but the sun was really quite warm, the coats we had donned ready to set off were soon discarded and weren’t needed again all day!  I have actually got a pink nose – imagine getting sunburned in Britain in October!


I walked to the first lock, as it was just around the first bend. The Hillmorton flight is made up of three “duplicate” locks.  This means there are two single locks side byside.  I set the lock on the left and just as Clive was putting the boat in I noticed another boat coming up behind us so I set the right hand lock as well so that it was ready for them.  A few minutes later and another boat pulled in behind them – wow I can’t believe how busy it is on the cut at the moment!

Hillmorton Locks


The boat that was immediately behind us was called Rosie II (evidently named after their Jack Russel!) and the couple on board were very Welsh indeed to goodness!  We exchanged pleasantries (as you do) and they asked where we had come from – I explained that we had been on the East Anglian waters for the last three months and the husband asked how we had got there. I explained and he was really surprised – he said they had been living on board their boat for five years cruising the waterways and didn’t even realise that the link to East Anglia existed!  Oh dear, he said, I don’t think we are going to live long enough to do all the waterways!  That surprised me actually because we have covered quite a lot of the waterways already and we’ve only been at it a year!


We soon arrived at the bottom of the flight and within a very short time we were cruising through Rugby.  We moored up at one point because there was a large Tesco’s very near to the canal so we grabbed the shopping bags and headed off to do some shopping.  It didn’t take us long and whilst I was unpacking the bags Clive untied the boat and set off again.  I had just made some sandwiches for lunch when we arrived at the Newbold Tunnel. This tunnel is a bit unusual, firstly because it has a walkway running all the way through it and secondly because it is illuminated, which is very unusual indeed!  Not only does it have floodlights but they are coloured too!


Illuminated Newbold Tunnel


We emerged from the tunnel and cruised along through several cuttings and then we arrived at All Oaks Wood.  This is a really lovely wooded stretch of the canal and the sun streaming through the leaves made it all the more pretty.  We saw several Jays flying around, some with nuts in their beaks! Unfortunately though I just couldn’t get a photograph of any of them, they are very elusive birds and by the time you’ve realised what you are seeing its gone!  One of these days……..!


Cruising through All Oaks Wood

We carried on cruising for a few hours and at around 4ish we decided to call it a day.  We had intended mooring up at Hawkesbury Junction but in the end we stopped at Ansty opposite a canal themed pub called the Rose and Castle!  However we didn’t bother sampling its ales we decided to stay put.  We have now resorted to lighting the stove in the evenings as it has been a bit nippy of late and once it was lit this evening we decided to just stay in and keep warm.


Wednesday Oct 14th – Ansty to Atherstone


We slept in again this morning!  Clive got up first and was surprised to find it was almost 9.30am!  He brought me a cuppa then after a quick breakfast he started the engine and within  a few minutes we were off – I was still in bed, again!  However I soon got up and dressed, had my breakfast, washed up and joined him on deck.  It was rather overcast this morning but it wasn’t cold and we didn’t need coats on, just jumpers.  There was only one lock to negotiate and that was at Hawkesbury Junction.  This lock is really just a “stop” lock and the difference in the water level was about a foot!  These locks were used when one waterway joined another one, in this case it was the Oxford Canal and the Coventry Canal.  Immediately after the lock is an extremely acute bend under a very grand bridge. Once you have done the turn you are actually running parallel with the Oxford Canal for about 100 yards, that is just how acute the turn is!


The going was very slow after the junction as there are residential moorers on both sides of the canal, leaving only a narrow channel in between.  You can only go slowly along this stretch and we also met several boats coming the other way so it was a bit of a squeeze!  Eventually we left the moored boats behind and finally Clive got to put his “foot” down and we were soon cruising at around 3-4 mph! 


A short time later and we were passing the allotments of Nuneaton. There are lots of these along this stretch and we could see plenty of vegetables growing on the plots – especially leeks!  After Nuneaton we cruised through the countryside again and it was really lovely.  By now the sun had broken through the clouds and it was very pleasant indeed.  We soon saw a very familiar sight up ahead – Percy’s cottage – right next door to the Hartshill Yard.  We came this way at the very start of our adventure and moored next to the bridge for the night.  We met Percy walking his dog.  He was a lovely guy, a fellow musician (banjo and guitar) who was delighted to show us his collection of instruments, which he keeps in his “music room”  - a room underneath his cottage.  He also had a collection of bicycles in there as well as he used to be a very keen cyclist in his younger days. Unfortunately we saw no sign of him today so didn’t get chance to renew our acquaintance.

Percy's cottage with his "music room" underneath


We continued on for a little while longer then decided to moor up at Atherstone before the lock flight, we will save that for tomorrow!


Last year when we came this way we met a guy walking his dog whilst we were going down the flight. He was admiring our cratch cover and asked who had made it for us.  It turned out that he was a canopy maker tooand he gave us his card.  We are toyingwith the idea of having a “pram-hood” cover made for the stern and so we gave him a ring the other day.  He is going to come and meet us on the way down the flight tomorrow in order to take some measurements and give us a quote.  We don’t know for definite whether or not we actually want one but it would certainly make a difference during the winter months. Anyway we’ll see what this guy comes up with and then we will make a decision.


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