Monday, 2 April 2012

Newbold to Atherstone

(Boat Sickle - posted by Cath)

Another cold morning, but this time we had managed the range better, and it was quickly brought back up to hot enough to make coffee. Outside, as the sun rose the mist began to rise on the canal.
The sun rises over Newbold

As we were on schedule we were a bit more relaxed about getting started. I went down to the local Co-op store for supplies, and we got going. We weren't sure how far we would go, probably slightly short of Atherstone, as there is a flight of 11 narrow locks, and we didn't want to get caught in the middle of the flight overnight.

Tree surgeons in All Oaks Wood

A lot of miles without locks, we took it in turns to steer, while the other did other things inside the boat, tidying, cooking, washing up, there is always something to do on a boat.

Sickle turns onto the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction

At the 'stop lock' at Hawkesbury (only six inches, the remains of a boundary between two canal companies) we turned right, onto the Coventry Canal, through the old Coventry Coalfields. The canal maps are marked with references to the old 'arms' out to the coal fields, where the boat people used to pick up loads for factories in the South. All of these arms are nothing more than 'site of...' now.

Nuneaton proved to be far worse to travel through than a year ago. At every bridge hole 'Sickle' slowed and lurched, with graunching noises coming from under the hull. What are they throwing off the bridges there? With the amount of slowing, and the heaving of the hull it seemed like we were going over car bodies at least - but probably nothing more than shopping trolleys.

For me, this has been a difficult journey. Only last year we took Chalice up this route for our summer holiday. Every few miles I found myself thinking, "this is where I walked Charlie the dog", "this is where he kept jumping in", "this is where we talked to those people". I am very torn, he was ill, we had no choice, what he did was unsupportable, but I do so miss my dog. This journey is a constant reminder.

Passing 'Pelican' on its way to the Droitwich Festival
We got to the top of Atherstone locks and decided to set off down them, planning to stop somewhere towards the bottom if it began to get dark. I got my bike off, which speeded things up quite a bit, and very soon we began to meet with boats coming up, meaning that almost all locks were ready for us.

Making good time down Atherstone Flight

Spring Blossom

Sickle on the Atherstone Flight

We stopped at the bottom of the flight, moored and then ate the dinner that I had put in the oven at the top.

Newbold to foot of Atherstone Locks
Miles: 24.6, Locks: 12

Totals for extended trip....
Miles: 74.2, Locks: 36

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