Spring Cruise (or is it?) - to Warwick

We are on the move again!

The plan is for a spring cruise up the Shroppie to Llangollen, incorporating a wedding in Birmingham. Because we are on a timetable to get to the wedding we tried to start promptly. Getting to Kingfisher Marina on Thursday morning the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The only problem was that overnight on Wednesday temperatures dropped to -7 degrees C causing the canal to freeze over.  It took fours hours for the ice finally to melt - despite the sun. To use are waiting time productively we decided to polish the boat brass- after the wet winter it needed some TLC. In the process Maggie discovered that the back plate on the Brunel stove had fallen off - the retaining bar had cracked. At that point it looked like we were not going to be able to have a working stove for the start of our trip. However, we still had the Alde gas central heating to help. We thought that Midland Chandlers might be able to supply a spare retaining bar, they had supplied one in the past, but it turned out that supplies for the Brunel stove are getting difficult to obtain and they couldn't guarantee delivery.

Broken Brunel stove blanking plate retaining arm and Morso replacement - which isn't a retaining bar but fits!

Arriving at Stoke Bruerne bottom lock in the late afternoon we found bloggers NB Tacet going south. We had seen a working boat pass Yardley Wharf just before we left but there was no sign of them on the Stoke Flight so we went up alone. We moored up for the night just above Stoke Top Lock and went to The Boat to have dinner, play Bananagrams, and warm up. Working boats Archimides and Victoria were moored up outside.

The next day, Friday, the weather had changed to dull and windy although there were some signs that Spring might eventually arrive.

Snowdrops near Dodford

We went into the chandlers at Whilton on the off chance that they may be able to help with stove spares. They didn't hold any Brunel spares but I found a Morso fitting that appeared to be similar (although its function was completely different) and when we moored up at Norton I found that it fitted fine. In the meantime we had got a fine soaking going up Buckby Locks in driving rain.

Getting soaked on the Buckby Flight
The New Inn, Buckby still remains closed

Saturday, it was not quite as windy but it was still raining heavily. We reached Braunston Tunnel just as another boat was leaving the far end. Amazingly NB Emily waited for us at Braunston Top Lock and we went down the flight together. Being Saturday there were some boats coming up so progress was very good. We found workiung boats Archimedes and Victoria had moved from Stoke to Braunston.

NB Victoria at Braunston

We went down Calcutt Locks with NB Emily and then went down Stockton Locks in torrential rain.

Going down Stockton Flight - before it rained
Passing Battersea on Stockton Flight

We moored up outside the Blue Lias pub very wet and muddy. However, a pub meal and another game of Banagrams and a couple of drinks cheered us up.

The weather on Sunday morning didn't appear too bad to start with but it went downhill rapidly. Dull weather turned to rain, rain turned to sleet, and sleet finally turned into snow! And this is Spring!  There was flooding in the fields around Long Icthington with some sheep apparently cut off from the rest of the flock.

Snow at Fosse Way Locks - in mid-March

The weather finally improved as we got to The Cape and we briefly saw the sun. We are moored up at Saltisford Arm tonight and tomorrow we tackle Hatton 21.

Pair of hotel boats moored up at Saltisford, Warwick
(Yes that is the sun!)