Wednesday 29 February 2012

Grand Union and Stratford canals. Kingswood Junction.

It was just as well that we climbed up Hatton locks when we did; this was the scene a week later.
And this is what we did with it.
As it was all melting away down here we jumped into the car and journeyed north to York (where it wasn’t) to join these good people and celebrate our dear friend David’s 60th (can you believe that?) birthday.
We’ve known these guys since their kids were the age their grandchildren are now, David was best man at our wedding and we hadn’t seen them since we left these shores 18 months ago. It was emotional.

Although there was still a fair bit of ice still around we slipped our moorings and headed away from Hatton to the Tom o’ the Wood moorings at Rowington. Bob and Mandy came on board for the day and then treated us to dinner in the pub in the evening. The idea was that they were going to pick our brains about live-aboard boating, as that is what they intend to do. Which was all well and good but left us feeling a bit fraudulent; they’re experienced hirers and have done far more boat miles on many more canals than us. Anyway it was good to see them and we enjoyed their company immensely. It was also interesting to compare our live-aboard lifestyle in which we don’t go very far very often, (and when the weather is poo we don’t go anywhere at all) with that of the holiday hirer who, while not exactly rushing around – this is boating after all – are still on a schedule and have to be at point B by a set time. The first hire for these two was for a week; the sun shone and they loved every minute. The next time they went for a fortnight and did the Cheshire ring; it rained every day and, once you start on a ring there’s no stopping. Guess what? Yep, they loved every minute. Nearly.

Our new headlight (1960s 2cv – how cool!) got its first test in the little Shrewley tunnel. It failed. We think it’s a blown bulb; it was working just before it got all dark and of course you can’t tell until you’re in there, by which time it’s too late to stop and do anything about it. Still, we could see the other end and with all the interior lights on it wasn’t that difficult. This is us emerging from the other end.
The chains were used by horse drawn boat crews to pull the boat through while the horse was led through the little upward sloping tunnel you can see above the main one. Quite why the horses had a separate tunnel and why the path didn’t just zig-zag up the side of the cutting we don’t know.

This is Kingswood Junction; our last few yards on the GU before we turned left under the bridge and onto the narrow Stratford-upon Avon canal.
Unlike the industrial sized 1930s waterway that we’ve just recently been used to, the Stratford is chocolate-box pretty, with cast iron spit bridges, unique winding gear and a real sense of tranquillity everywhere you look.
Except for here.
This is the scene at Bucket lock which is between us and Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s due to open up again with new gates on March 9th. While we wait we’re moored at Lapworth, just below Kingswood Junction. Instead of sitting around twiddling our thumbs we’ve been up to Buxton to borrow Wiltz’s garage and service the car, we’ve been to Anne’s for our post, Dave’s been to the dentist and the bathroom transformation is almost complete. We’ve also been out walking in the lovely Warickshire springtime. As you can imagine we’ve got hundreds of pictures of scenery- here’s just a couple.

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