Thursday, 24 July 2008

Napton Lock Cottage restoration II

Back in January, I posted about Napton Lock Cottage which had been sold and was being done up. It was covered in scaffolding, and the roof was off. Well, it appears the work is almost finished. The roof is back on, the scaffolding is down, and a new porch has been built. There are also skylights in the other side of the roof, so it's apparently now a three storey house.

What a great place to live. I hope the owners like boats!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Ventnor Farm

Today I've been to Ventnor Farm Marina, on the Grand Union near Napton Junction. I've been past many times by boat, but never arrived by road before. It's a remote spot, on a single-track dead-end road. If fact, when I put the post code into the AA website it said the location wasn't accessible by vehicle; the sat nav took me close, but didn't know the final stretch. The marina itself is very quite, and beautifully landscaped. It has reedy margins and good quality pontoons. There's plenty of space for manoeuvering, too.

I arrived early, so took the opportunity to drive through Napton, which I've only ever seen up on the hill from the canal. It's a pretty village with a useful looking shop. I couldn't resist the opportunity to go to the locks, which were fairly busy with boats in both directions.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


It's still two months until we're next out on Debdale, but planning is already well under way. Actually, it's replanning that's underway, because we already had a plan. Or two.

Plan A was to do the Avon Ring. Starting at Stockton Top, we'd head down the Grand Union to Kingswood Junction, down the Stratford Canal to Stratford, along the Avon to Tewkesbury, up the Severn to Worcester, along the Worcester and Birmingham to King's Norton Junction, down the Lapworth flight, and back to Stockton Top on the GU. With the Hatton flight (twice), Tardebigge, and Lapworth, it would be a busy fortnight but that's what we like.

Plan B added a quick diversion into Birmingham before heading back down the North Straftord, principally because Adrian's mother will be with us, and she fancied seeing Birmingham from the water.

Plan C changed the route out of Birmingham. Instead of turning round and heading back along the Birmingham and Worcs, we'd go down the Farmer's Bridge locks (one of my favourite flights), then at Aston Junction cover some new territory by going down the Ashted Locks, through Warwick Bar, up Camp Hill Locks and on through Catherine de Barnes and Knowle. It added a few hours, but was still easily do-able.

Then Plan D began to formulate itself. Someone on the Canal World Forum posted about going through Birmingham to Dudley and Stourbridge. Then Indigo Dreaming blogged about a weekend taking in Windmill End and Merry Hill. I'd also been to Stourport a couple of months ago for the first time in about ten years, and thought how nice it would be to boat through again.

So Plan D means we'll stay on the Severn until Stourport, then take the Staffs and Worcs to Stourton Junction where we'll turn onto the Stourbridge Canal. We'll be covering new groud again as we go up the Stourbridge 16 and the Delph 9 (although there are only 8), through Merry Hill to Windmill End. Then we'll go through the Netherton Tunnel and into Birmingham.

So we've ended up with a route which CanalPlan AC says is 171 miles and 212 locks. It should take 95 hours, which over a fortnight averages about seven hours a day. I'm not guaranteeing that the plan won't change again, but that's it as it stands at the moment.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

4Evermoore on test

The arrival of the new issue of Canal Boat was met with more than the usual excitement here. It contains my first fully-fledged magazine article, a boat test of 4Evermoore, one of the public's favourite boats from the Crick Show. It looks great, thanks to the excellent photographs by David Oakes, taken at the Tixall Wide.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Guildford Boat Gathering

Today we've been to Guildford where the Boat Gathering was being held on the River Wey. The first event of the afternoon was the Lions Raft Race, and there must have been a couple of dozen competitors with rafts of varying degrees of ingenuity. The theme was children's television.

We walked down the towpath following the rafts, but decided to turn back before the finishing line. It was quite a long way, and some of the crews (particularly the ones who were paddling rather than peddaling) looked rather tired and were going slower and slower.

Back at Millmead, the decorated boat parade was about to begin. I don't know who took the official title but our personal winner was Thomas the Tank Engine, complete with turning wheels and smoke coming out the chimney, with Thunderbird 2 coming a close second.

We stood on the sharp turn where the boats winded to go back to their moorings. Some got round with no problems at all, despite the strong gusty wind. Others made more of a meal of the turn, and one came close to getting wedged across the river.

Among the boats moored along the river was Herbie. We knew Herbie was there because of Neil's blog, but when we walked past there was no-one at home (the repainted roof looks very smart though!)

Thursday, 3 July 2008


As I walked up the Braunston locks on Saturday, I passed nb Milan, escaping from the melee below. It's a beautiful boat, and I had a nice chat to the retired couple on board, who were heading to Bugbrooke.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Water-borne wedding

A couple were getting married on board nb Hadley at Braunston on Saturday. Well, I assume it was just a blessing, as I doubt a boat can be registered as a wedding venue. They then joined the parade, and spent three hours stuck in a boating traffic jam!