Adrian drove up to Brinklow Marina last night after work; I worked a night shift, then got the train to Rugby this morning. There's lots of canal spotting to be done on the way, particularly towards the end of the journey when the railway line passes close to various marinas, including Whilton, over the Buckby locks, and over the bridge at Hillmorton. Amazingly, along one stretch of canal I spotted the boat of a Canal World Forum member, who moors at Napton Junction. The chances of that must be pretty slim.
Adrian suggested that rather than going direct to the boat, we go and have a look at the new Barby Moorings -- as we've booked to move there after our long trip in September. The basin is in water, and the first paying boats are moving in this weekend. There's still some work to do, not least installing the pontoons. The owner was telling us that they've been pre-fabricated and will be floated into place, which is apparently much cheaper. We went to find our berth, which is off the central island. The most fascinating thing was the bridge which is being built to connect the island to the mainland; it's being done in a very traditional fashion. It was good to see the place in more detail, and we're quite exciting about moving there in the autumn.
Back at the boat, after a reviving shower and a cup of tea, we set off at 11.30 and turned left out of the marina. It was immediately very busy and we met boats at every bridge hole. At one narrow section, the crew of a little plastic boat jumped off -- and the harder the woman pulled on the bow rope, the further out across the canal the back end went.
We were pleased to see a few spaces at the moorings just past All Oaks Wood, where we stopped on the final night of our June trip, but we carried on towards Easenhall Bridge, where there's a double width work boat moored, which splits in half to get through narrow locks. There was a long line of boats coming through the subsequent cutting, where there have been a number of landslips which reduce the width of the cut. Among them, was the Muddy Waters hire boat from Oxfordshire Narrowboats. The helmsman asked if we were going to a Braidbar convention, as we were the sixth Braidbar Boat he'd seen.
Just before Rose Narrowboats was the coal and diesel boat Callisto, moored alongside its butty. Naturally, a boat was coming the other way. At Rose Narrowbaots, we turned in the arm and headed back to the moorings we'd spotted earlier. Of course, some of the many boats we'd passed had stopped for lunch, but we still managed to fit into a gap, although it was on a bit of a bend. An hour later, when one of the boats left, we moved back a couple of spaces onto a straighter length.
During the afternoon, we went for a walk, and I polished the mushroom vents and portholes. One passing boater said it was looking good; I said I'd be happy as long as he could tell which mushrooms I'd already done.
It's been very busy all afternoon, with boats coming past the whole time. We're getting a taste of the canals on a summer weekend in the school holidays.
4 miles, 0 locks.