And on the Seventh Day, they entered the Ashby Canal


Yea, verily, after a long six hour cruise, we made it to bridge 5 on the Ashby canal. Said goodbye to Rugby, Newbold, Brinklow, All Oaks and then the Hawkesbury Junction, up the Coventry for a bit and then Marston junction. 0915 to 1530. A long day for us but our old mate, Mark on Tamsin, was waiting for us there and we had a cold bottle of Cava that needed sharing (again).

Viv steers over the aqueduct . . . and past (not in this time) M&S . . . .

Busy, busy but no boats behind . . . a very scenic and much cooler day

Past Lime Farm marina

Here’s one for Stephen & Lucia . . . a bridge 42

At last, Toby, happy to be asleep on the rear deck. Not much room here but a happy-ish and a very tired dog . . . Are we there yet??

You can tell the temperature has dropped to near normal, as we’re eating soup again and very nice it was too.

This place in Bedworth is still for sale . . . nice if you’ve a million to spare.

Marston junction – tricky to get in but we do.

Welcome to the Ashby Canal

A notoriously shallow (in places) canal but very rural and peaceful


Day 6 – Rugby


Well, it did chill down a tad. From around 30 degrees to 22-25? I still got a bit singed on the back of the boat. Viv drove through Hilmorton’s three locks and then we tied up, took on water and then went to the twee cafe for lunch. On our return we chugged the 48 minutes further on to the visitor moorings at Rugby – the town is actually a fair way off but the shopping centre is nearby – so a Tesco shop is in order.

Sheep on the bridge

Steve works the locks

Hilmorton VM where we take on water at a very slow water point.

The inside of Canal Chef – a very quirky little canalside cafe, full of canal memorabilia.

After stuffing ourselves with 8 oz burgers, chips, jacket potatoes & beans (and beer), we staggered back to the boat and wearily did the last stretch to Rugby.

There’s a big building programme, where they are putting in a road bridge to lead to a huge housing estate that runs all the way along the canal right back to Hilmorton.

Mum’s boat!

Extremely busy moorings here – despite CRT putting in dozens of new mooring rings. It was stuffed but we found one spot, opposite the water point. Noisy but we can cope for one night.

Meanwhile, I took the dog for a walk along the old disused Brownsover arm.  Quite a surprise – it went on for miles and passed by a hotel and Swift Valley park – a hidden gem.


Days 4/5 – Wallowing in Willoughby


Well, the ¡Ola de Calor! (heatwave) is due to calm down from Wednesday, so we have decided to wallow here in Willoughby for a few days. It’s still pushing 30 degrees in and outside of the boat. Leaving the bedroom around 28 at night – it does cool to 22 later but it’s still “all-too-much”. Where are we? Just a mile or so outside Braunston on the North Oxford canal – very ruralated. (That’s my new Pam Ayres-like new word)

As you can see, we started in Yelvertoft and have almost doubled back on ourselves to Willoughby. Tomorrow, Hilmorton locks (busiest on the whole system), take on water then either stop there or move on to Rugby, I think Viv wants to visit M&S at Idiot’s, sorry, Elliot’s Field shopping complex but it needn’t be. We will then head for Hawkesbury junction (or Sutton Stop) before entering the Ashby Canal. Making a b-line for Stoke Golding and our favouritest pub of all time – the George & Gragon – owned and run by the Church End brewery.

The other night we moored up fairly early on – just behind these guys

And the next day, they carried on with their pile driving – putting in new Armco. Good to see them doing this and an interesting bit of kit. Noisy though.

After the long day coming thru Braunston, we had earned ourselves some Cava but it wasn’t chilled enough, so we used our frozen granite cubes to help plus Steve’s science idea of making a freezing mixture (ice & salt) and it seemed to work, although the cubes did make for nucleation points, increasing the amount of bubbles and flattening the Cava – better drink it quick then and lo, we did.

An evening visitor in the adjacent field, just yards away. A Hare-y moment! And two more from Viv: Hare today, gone tomorrow . . . + Hare’s to the next time . . . (Henry Hall’s theme tune)

So we shuffled our boat along from the workmen, to a quieter and more serene spot.

Toby always seems to get in the shot! Bliney, 29.3 inside the boat Roll On deodorant.


Day 3 – That tunnel, those locks & Braunston


Yes, the well trodden route – back to Norton junction, down thru Braunston tunnel – 3 or 4 boats met us, including an old boat with a dazzling headlamp and no leeway given. Luckily we shared all the locks with a nice group on their timeshare boat from Gayton (Malvolio) and as it was so busy, we had lots of boats coming up, so all the locks were ready for us. A brief stop for lunch and we decided that it was too busy & noisy here. We likes it rural we does. So, on to Willoughby – a regular stop. Under some trees and it was pushing 30 degrees – again!! Here’s some graphs from the weather station (faithfully erected everyday):

This shows the outside temperature from June until today (max was 33.1)

This shows days of sunshine plus how many hours! Most astonishing for Britain.

Some fairly recent babies . . .

Big, old and heavy gates but we did have lots of help. Just six to do.

Under some trees and that’s it for the day. 1300 and time to stop – easy life, eh?

Strange pose from my crew member/admiral? Speak no evil? The herb planter is looking good – thyme, savoury, mint x 2, parsley and marjoram! Plus the two pepper plants are now producing fruit.  Not surprised in this tropical Summer.

A beef tagine has been cooking on the slow cooker – with apricots, chick peas and ras-al-hanout spices. Should be good.

Meanwhile, here’s the techy bit for today.

Steve’s new toy – the Victron BMV-712, battery monitor (with bluetooth – so you can see it all happening on your phone!). That’s the grey round dial. The Smartgauge, next to it is very good but it just gives you the %, which is nice but % of what exactly? Aha, the new gauge tells me how many amps have been eaten since we turned the engine off. Yesterday it was 36Ah and the Smartgauge said down to 91% – Oer, so that means, roughly that 100% should be about 370Ah? Hmm, our batteries are 3x200Ah=600Ah. So a fair bit down then, if this new bit of elastic trickery is to be believed.  Still, the lights stay on and we can also watch TV, DVD player & sound bar . . . but I feel a new set of batteries will be due soon.


Day Two – Watford Gap


A quiet night in Crick then up earlyish to bimble on to the Watford flight of locks. Just as we set off another boater quickly cast off and pushed in front of us – now is that rude/not part of the boater’s code? He also zoomed into the Crick tunnel, even though a boat was almost out. We waited. Saves the stress of going into a tunnel – for us and the outgoing boat, too. And down at the flight of locks was our old friend Adrian, on duty.

They do keep these locks looking good – with lots of flowers and even a batch of herbs.

Viv is driving this time and Steven does the locking – with help from the volunteers.

Bit of a nervous first one (does it show??) but after that Viv does well.

Seven locks and a drop of 16 metres – staircase locks in the middle – meaning, you can’t pass other boats!

Does she have her eyes closed?

This pic shows just how deep these locks are, as the top gate is also the bottom gate of the next lock, if you see what I mean.

The locks are not interconnected – instead you open the paddles (red ones then white ones) which allows water to flow in and out of the side ponds.

We did have a bit of a wait – about 2 hours before we even got into the locks but they let us down and by this time Viv had mastered the art of getting a 65 foot boat just 6’10” into a lock just 7′ wide – that’s just an inch either side!

And on to our mooring, just 20 mins away, past the Watford Gap services, outside Weltonfield marina. Quiet & scenic.


And very rural too but still bl**dy hot! 29 degrees in and outside the boat.

Cratch cover looks good. Better this burgundy than the old black one.

We did see dozens of narrowboats going to and fro – well it is Saturday, in August, darling. But this was a new one (tender to a widebeam, Great Escape)


Cruise #2 – a wee start


Well, after 17 nights in Whitstable, helping Mum to sorts all things out (she did make a huge list!) it’s back on the boat for our second cruise of the year.

A nice half pin of Oatmeal stout in the Tankerton Arms on Sunday.

Yes we did a fair bit of cooking and drinking! A nice lasagne – several portions still in your freezer Mum!

Well, the open (water) road is a calling and it’s time to be off . . . .

Not before the doggy gets his swim (and then a good shower afterwards) – when will it ever cool down???

Tha boats all polished. The fridge & larder is all re-vittled. Dog food collected and so we chug off at 3 ish, just an hour away, no sense in rushing, stands to reason. In fact less than a mile, as the crow flies from our mooring. To Crick and some shade.

Tomorrow – through the tunnel and down the Watford flight of locks to a quiet and shady mooring near Welton. Plan A is to head to the Ashby canal, as, well, it is August and the schools are out, holiday hirers will abound and the traffic will surely increase. So find us somewhere quiet and lovely and well, good pubs and what better pub than the George & Dragon in Stoke Golding.