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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Back to Debdale

Sorry, I didn't take many pics this week

Monday 19th The morning started bright so I put on my shorts, then it got colder! A kingfisher flew past early on and we were away by 8.40 and down two locks to Fradley Junction where we turned right onto the Coventry & then tied up to use facilities......and the coffee shop! It didn’t open til 10 but we had bought a paper at the junction so we were fine, good coffee & away at 10.45. We set off behind two slow boats, one of which stopped at Streethay Wharf, the other at Hopwas. We cruised steadily all day until reaching Tamworth. Carol wanted to cook a certain dish & had used all the eggs so I made a quick run to Sainsburys before we carried on to moor near Pooley Hall, one of our regular stopping points. Whilst I was shopping Carol was hailed by Mick & Crystal, former Foxton Lock-keepers, as they cruised past. 16 miles & 4 locks.

Tuesday 20th a cloudy but mild day and we were away before 8.30 and reached Atherton Bottom Lock at 9.30. The locks are subject to restricted use because of water shortages, so we expected a slowish trip up this flight, but as we left the 2nd lock we met a boat that had started at the top lock that morning & looked as if he would work his way through the flight in just over 2 hours! For us trying to enter the third lock we went aground! Fortunately Lily came free shortly after, the rest of the flight being OK, but slow as we were just behind a working pair with the butty being bow hauled. We met IWA national chairman Clive Henderson about half way up & had a chat, the next boat we met being 1899 boat Enterprise, an ex steamer tug with a lovely 5 cylinder Gardner dating from 1931. A really interesting boat, as was the beautifully restored Joey boat being bow hauled down the locks.

We reached to top in time for lunch & had intended to buy train tickets for next week at the station, except there is no booking office in Atherstone! We carried on to Nuneaton by 3 and stopped near br 21. It was dry whilst we cruised but it poured by 5 & carried on for a long time. Nuneaton station has a booking office & we got our trip to Dundee sorted.    10miles & 11 locks

Wednesday 21st Setting of around 9 we soon pulled over to fill with fuel @ 88p. It was a fine day with a cool wind that was gusty at times. We had an easy cruise to Rugby with a slight hold up at Hawkesbury. We had difficulty getting a mooring by 4.30 when we arrived, but by bashing down a load of Giant Butterbur we were sorted. We dashed off to the cinema to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which was excellent, and with the Orange Wednesdays offer only cost us £6.   19miles 1lock

Thursday 22nd and Happy Birthday Hannah (14 today). Another day that started bright & sunny and then clouded over with a cool breeze. After topping up fresh fruit etc in Tesco we were away around 9.30 for a slowish cruise to the Hillmorton Locks, which are also subject to restriction, but we only had a short wait before starting up. We had an awful coffee at the cafe on the flight, it tasted burnt!
Lily at Sutton Stop

There were many boats waiting at the top to descend the flight, and we passed many more approaching it. Our cruise to Braunston was fairly slow, and when we arrived at the bottom lock we had a wait of about 15 minutes until Warwick joined us enabling our cruise to continue, saving water by pairing up through the flight. Warwick used to be one of the Challenger Syndicate boats, the owners of this boat not having lost too much when Challenger went bottoms up. They now manage their syndicate themselves & have relocated to Yelvertoft Marina.

After meeting 4 boats in it we left the Braunston tunnel before 4 & tied up just round Norton Junction at 4.30, not being able to progress further as Watrford Locks are shut at 4 to save water.

14 miles & 9 locks

Friday 23rd and it started and ended sunny but it clouded over during the day and again the wind was cool. Setting off at 8 we hopped over the fence at Watford Gap services to get a paper and....you guessed it.....coffee. Reaching Watford Locks there was no-one waiting and we entered around 9.20 and volunteer Richard helped us up. He has been working 2 days a week through the cruising season, driving to Watford from Countesthorpe. The lock keepers at Watford really have pushed the boat out to get the locks and surroundings looking tremendous, it was a definite flower competition with Lily.
Flower competition

Watford top lock office

We met nothing in Crick tunnel & tied up at the Wharf to fill with water & to pop over to see Barry at ABNB. Lovely chat, picked some lovely Cox apples and looked across the mooring basin. I was amazed to see Lily Pad tied up in there, the boat we had built in 1992 and sold 10 years later. Freshly painted she looked lovely, and being for sale we were able to look her over. She looked great, our upholstery & curtains still looked fresh & she has clearly been loved since we sold her, it was a real delight to see her again.
A very smart Lily 2 freshly repainted

Two Lilies with us on the water point on the canal

We set off just after a slow boat & we caught up with 2 more. We had a pleasant gentle cruise until we met Hazel & Brian on Willum of Ozney just past br 33 & stopped for the day to have a really good chat after not seeing them since leaving Debdale. 11miles & 7 locks.

Saturday 24th and today we had to juggle Foxton Locks opening times with watching qualifying for the Singapore GP. As such we tried to set off before 8, but were solidly aground. Try all we might we were stuck, but fortunately Brian was up to watch the rugby from New Zealand & he came to add push & eventually we were free.

A very easy cruise saw us meet one boat close to the end of Husbands Bosworth tunnel and carried on to the top of Foxton by about 12. Very few boats are permitted to use the locks currently, only boats & hire boats with moorings between Foxton & Leicester are permitted to use the locks. The reservoirs supplying the Leicester summit & the locks down to Leicester are effectively empty and drastic measures are in place to preserve the little water there is left though the summit was almost up to weir thanks to back pumping at Watford.

A quick trip down the flight and we were back in Debdale by 1.30. This day Carol managed to tip her seat cushion into the water, whilst my hat was removed by a branch as we made the turn in the marina. Both were recovered by some drastic reverse manoeuvres.     Just 12 miles & 10 locks.
Lily at her home moorings

So a really enjoyable cruise, shorter than we had wished. On the Sunday we walked to Foxton to collect papers as we had no car and met John & Jo of Acen who told of their epic cruise from Feb to date, covering over 1000 miles and heaven knows how many locks. It makes our total for the trip at 347 miles and 287 locks sound very lazy, but we loved it so much we are going to repeat much of it next year.

Just a comment on the Foxton restrictions. Only hire boats & boats with moorings between Leicester & Foxton are allowed to use the locks. The flight up from Leicester is woefully short of water, but some people make it up to Foxton, as did John & Jo. These boats are not permitted to go up Foxton, they therefore have to use loads of water to get back down to Leicester and it doesn’t seem to make much sense, especially as water is being run down Foxton each day to keep the Debdale-Harborough pound up.

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