Thursday, 6 December 2007

December Cruise - Part One

Day One - Saturday 1 December

We were up early and left home at 7.30, heading for Stockton Top. We arrived a couple of hours later, and found Debdale on the mooring outside the marina (facing in the wrong direction as usual!) We unloaded the car, and set off at 10am bound for the Stockton Locks. We'd decided to go this way as we hadn't done this route for a while, and because of stoppages in other directions. The weather was far better than forecast, with blue skies and wintery sunshine.

As we left the second on the Stockton Locks, we noticed a boat just starting its decent. So we re-set the second lock for them, and waited in the third lock. It turned out to be another OwnerShips boat, Castleber, which is a reverse layout cruiser stern. The only boats we met coming up were two single handers: they were a couple taking a friend's boat to Wigram's Turn to be sold. As the four boats crossed in the short pound, it almost looked like a busy day.

Having reached the bottom of the flight, plus Shop Lock and Itchington Bottom Lock (which are very close but don't seem to be counted as Stockton Locks), we moored up for lunch just past Bridge 26. We also got the fire going, as the boat was pretty cold. In the afternoon, we did the four Bascote locks and moored up for the night just through Bridge 29. We last moored in this lovely quiet spot in a hire boat in May 2006.

4 miles, 14 locks.

Day Two - Sunday 2 December

A lazy start as the weather was awful. We had a lie in listening to the rain pounding on the roof, then had eggs and bacon for breakfast. But the rain cleared earlier than forecast, and we decided to set off at 11am. Almost immediately a shower came over, but it proved to be the only one. The first lock, Welsh Road Lock, looked slightly odd, with the balance beams in under-coat grey.

As time went on, the weather improved, and soon the sun was out. At Wood Lock we met Castleber coming back (partnered with another boat) , and another OwnerShips boat, Sojourn, was waiting to come up. Then it was onto the Fosse Locks. We stopped after the top one to take on water.
The last lock of the day was Radford Bottom Lock, which dropped us onto the Leamington Pound, the lowest point of the canal in these parts. We wondered if there was a name for the low pounds, equivalent to "summit pound", but if there is we couldn't think of it.

The stretch into Leamington Spa was into a very strong head wind. At times, it felt as though we weren't making any progress at all, and the canal appeared to have waves. The moorings before Bridge 40 in Leamington are very scruffy, so we went through the bridge to the slightly nicer looking ones. We had a late lunch on board, then walked into Leamington to have a look round the town and the shops.

4 miles, 6 locks (8, 20)

Day Three - Monday 3 December

A bright, still morning, but quite cold. We set off at 9am through the outskirts of Leamington, and over the River Avon. There's a plan to make the river navigable up to this point, and this is where there would be some sort of connection between it and the Grand Union. The Stratford and Warwick Waterways Trust, which is behind the idea, says it would be done by building some sort of boat lift.

We were soon going through Warwick, and up the Cape Locks. We continued to the junction of the Saltisford Arm (or more accurately, the junction of the Warwick & Napton and Warwick and Birmingham canals), where we winded and retraced our steps to the top of the Cape Locks. We hadn't seen another moving boat all day.

We spent the rest of the day in Warwick, of which more later.

4 miles, 2 locks (12, 22)

No comments: