Today would have been mother's birthday, so I've been thinking about her quite a lot, and trying to remember all the places on previous trips from where I phoned her on her birthday. Banbury, back in our Debdale days, and Runnymede stick in the memory for some reason.
We set off at around 8am. Through the first bridge is the Hartshill yard; it could really do with a bit of work to tidy it up, because it deserves it.
It was an occasionally sunny morning, and some of the Warwickshire countryside looked lovely.
Nuneaton, on the other hand, you just have to stand at the tiller and get through it. Last time I thought it had cleaned up its act a bit, but today there were sofa cushions floating in the canal, and the towpath was littered with not just litter, but piles of carpet, which I suspect several boaters had had to remove from their props.
As we're slightly ahead of a not very ambitious schedule to get back to base, when we arrived at Marston Junction, we turned left onto the Ashby Canal.
Over the next couple of hours, we saw more boats going the other way than we have at any other stage of the trip. The canal is pretty shallow anyway, and any deviation from the centre means the boat leans over and you worry about going aground. You certainly can't rush -- we were averaging 22 minute miles. There are nice metal mile posts, showing the distance from Marston and the original terminus at Moira.
As we passed under the A5 at Hinckley, we moved back into Leicestershire, and can again legitimately claim to be exploring the East Midlands. A major feature of Hinckley is the Triumph motorbike factory.
We gradually caught up with an Ashby hire boat. It wasn't that he was going slowly, but that he was panicking a good 300 yards before every bridge hole. At one, he got so far over to the right that his counter was actually out of the water. Fortunately, he pulled in at the Ashby hire base at Stoke Golding.
We unfortunately don't have time to go to the end of the canal. It's a shame; we were last up here on Debdale in March 2009, and a bit more canal has been opened since then. We had to turn around at Sutton Cheney Wharf. The permanent moorings leading up to it have a very specific speed limit in mind.
Winding went fine, which was just as well as the cafe was busy with people sitting outside.
We returned to the offside moorings at Stoke Golding, and went for a walk up the hill to the village. There's an impressive church at the top of the hill, and we saw the converted hosiery factory. We also went to find the former station building.
We walked back along the canal. The bridge we needed to cross to get back to the boat was also being used by a herd of cows going to the farm to be milked.
The hedge next to the boat was full of blackberries, so we've picked a load and will make something with them later.
19 miles, 0 locks. (337 miles, 157 locks)