Friday, 24 June 2011

June Cruise - Day Fourteen

Last night we went for a walk round the junction after dinner, taking in the rubbish point which includes useful recycling bins.  Just as we got back to Briar Rose the rain started, and it was quite heavy for the rest of the evening.  It also rained overnight, I'm told, although I didn't hear it myself.

This morning boats started leaving Fradley Junction early.  We set off at 8.10, which proved to be not quite early enough.  We thought the boat in front was going slowly, but it turned out to be the one in front of him.  Fortunately, he pulled in at Huddlesford to let the two of us pass.  But it seemed we were still in a long procession -- a boat was passed going the other way at Whittington said we were the seventh boat he'd passed in five minutes.

Because of this, we were expecting to be in a long queue when we finally reached Glascote Locks.  But three boats stopped at Hopwas, more appeared to be tying up at the Fazeley moorings, and boats were also on the two water points there.  It meant that as we went through the junction bridge at Fazeley there was no-one in front of us.

At Glascote, the bottom lock was empty so we went straight in, and someone was just coming down the top lock so that was ready for us too.  We stopped just above the locks for lunch.

We haven't done the section between Fazeley Junction and Marston Junction (which we'll reach tomorrow), for four or five years, and I'm quickly realising why we haven't rushed back.  The suburban gardens of Tamworth (many with little boats moored up) lose their appeal fairly quickly; Alvecote marina looks very tired, if not a little delapidated; Polesworth by canal is nothing to write home about; and the next section's main features are a ramshackle smallholding, a sewage works, and the Trent Valley railway line.  Perhaps the only bright spot is the Pooley mining heritage centre, with a brightly coloured pit wheel outside.

We got to the bottom of the Atherstone Locks to find no queue, but lots of boats coming down.  Two further boats then arrived to follow us up.  The people coming down said the flight had taken them hours, as everyone seemed to be going in the same direction, and they'd all tried to set off at the same time.  These locks also fill painfully slowly.  I helped an eccentric single hander who was broadcasting Steve Wright in the Afternoon to the whole of Warwickshire come down the final lock, then it was our turn.  We'd already idintified the long pound above the second lock (lock 10) as a potential overnight mooring, but did consider carrying on up, if all the locks were likely to be in our favour.  But the pound looked very inviting -- in the country, decent piling, a few other boats moored, and a hill to protect us a bit from the train noise -- so we moored up.

We then walked into town, mainly to buy a cork screw, as the bottles of wine I bought on special offer at the Tesco in Fazeley yesterday have old fashioned corks in them.  On the way we spotted Elsie and Eric from Bendigedig, and stopped for a chat, mostly about the problems they've had with their Travel Power.  We got back from the Co-op just in time, as the rain started and looks set to go on for a while.

20 miles, 4 locks.  (194 miles, 199 locks)

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