Braunston to Stone

We moored up Albert at Braunston from March 28th until Wednesday 2nd April when we began the second part of our journey to Aston Marina. With family commitments we had only five days for the journey. I had intended to post daily during the journey but having forgotten the vital cable that allows me to download photos to the laptop, I decided that blogging would have to wait until we got home.

Day 1 saw us take Albert up the North Oxford Canal to near Marston Junction on the Coventry Canal where there is a quiet mooring we have used before. The weather was relatively kind and going through Hillmorton Locks it was actually pleasant.

Gates engraved with thoughtful messages - Hillmorton Locks

Grantham's Bridge

Nick Wolfe from NB Aldgate was uncovering some old stone work around the balance beam of the middle lock at Hillmorton. After the locks we took on water and had lunch. With an accurate water level gauge we tend to fill up less often.

NB Aldgate at Hillmorton

At Clifton we passed bloggers Derwent 6. As we approached Rugby the rain began and it continued for the rest of the day

As always an immaculate NB Derwent 6 near Clifton Wharf

It remained showery and windy all the way through Brinklow to Hawkesbury Junction. On a wet mid-week late afternoon it was quiet. 

Sutton Stop

The rain abated a little as we travelled through Bedworth, passing the famous Charity Dock, and we moored up just North of Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal branches off. 

Charity Dock

Marston Junction, Coventry and Ashby Canals

On Day 2 we left early in the morning and worked our way through Nuneaton and Hartshill to Atherstone. The weather was dull. On the Atherstone flight a group of CRT volunteers was busy tidying up and rubbing down the gates ready for painting. We always enjoy the Atherstone flight with its easy lock mechanisms and pleasant environment. Chatting to the volunteers it appears that the flight will have a volunteer lock keeper throughout the summer.

Curious (and useful) set of steps on the Atherstone Flight

Pooley Hall, Polesworth
Fine collection of working boat fore-ends outside the Samuel Barlow at Amington

Having met hardly any boats the whole day it came as something of a shock to find a small queue for the locks at Glascote. It is probably because the two locks are "piggy-bank" locks to quote the Pearson Guide - slow to fill and quick to empty.

A WWII gun pill-box on the Thame Aqueduct

Fazeley Junction had changed a little since we passed through last year. Although the construction work on one of the buildings was still continuing slowly, a piece of decoration now adorns one of the industrial buildings.  

Birds at Fazeley Junction

Wishing to make as much headway as possible we boated on to Hopwas arriving about 6:30 and mooring close to the village school. A long ten and half hour day - but still enjoyable. 

On Day 3, Friday, we had another early start. We have travelled through Hopwas Woods in spring before so I got the camera ready. As before there was a fine display of wood anemones. in the military area.

Wood anemones in the Military Area at Hopwas

Short Boat on the Coventry Canal

The morning had started with a disappointment, we had for the very first time run out of gas in both bottles. I had assumed that the bottle not in use was full and failed to check - not a good idea. Fortunately it wasn't cold like last spring and there was a prospect of getting replacement bottles fairly easily. As we headed towards Fradley Junction we came across the brand new Kings Orchard Marina. Last spring when we passed by soil was still being shifted. The services wharf was very handy and we went for works - gas, diesel, coal and pump-out. The pump-out was very quick. The wind was not very strong, but it was in the wrong direction, and we had to reverse off the landing stage and turn in the centre of the marina.

The very new Kings Orchard Marina - lots of free berths

Fradley Junction was busy with people but not many moving boats. We turned onto the Trent and Mersey feeling that we were making good progress. There had recently been a vintage car rally and in the car park was a delightful red Austin Chummy, probably dating from 1929. 

Operating the pedestrian swing bridge at Fradley Junction

We had lunch on the move. Here is another boatmen's lunch picture - a bacon sandwich with fresh tomatoes.

We passed through Armitage and Rugeley without any problems and made Great Heywood around 5:00, another long but successful day's boating. Great Heywood was very quiet, not to say deserted. We found an excellent mooring overlooking Shugborough Hall. Being dry we polished some of the external brass-work that had become rather grubby over the winter.

Moored at Great Heywood

Day 4  was not going to be difficult because we only had to travel to Aston, a journey of about three hours. We had a more leisurely start and headed north. A few boats were moving, since it was Saturday, but it was by the usual standards quiet. At Weston we were attacked by an aggressive swan who pecked at the rear fenders for over half a mile. It appears that he hadn't singled us out for treatment since NB Caxton received the same treatment later on

As we passed near Burston  NB Caxton (a.k.a Manley Ferry) and NB Ferndale, both Aussie bloggers who had just finished over wintering at Aston Marina were going south. We exchanged cheery waves. 

We finally moored up at Aston Marina just after midday and sorted out our berth, electric hook-up etc., and generally got familiar with the place. 

Moored up (and hooked up) at Aston Marina

We just had to visit the bistro that evening.

Fine dining at Aston

On Sunday, Day 5 of the journey, we travelled home by train from Stone. Only 1 hr 40 mins to Milton Keynes.