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WARWICKSHIRE RING 23 MAY – 2 JUNE 2005

11 Days, 124 Miles, 106 Locks

 

Day
Miles
Locks
From
To
1
14.27
7
Barton Turns Marina
Sutton Road Bridge
2
14.92
13
Sutton Road Bridge
Wood Bridge, Nuneaton
3
18.74
1
Wood Bridge, Nuneaton
Newbold On Avon
4
15.89
3
Newbold On Avon
Napton
5
13.84
25
Napton
Warwick
6
6.06
21
Warwick
Rowington
7
   
Stratford Upon Avon Sightseeing
8
8.35
5
Rowington
Catherine De Barnes
9
18.51
22
Catherine De Barnes
Bodymoor Heath
10
14.71
4
Bodymoor Heath
Fradley
11
4.25
5
Fradley
Barton Turns Marina
 
129.54
106
   

Monday 23rd May 2005
Departing Barton Turns Marina at 9:00 a.m. we headed west up the Trent & Mersey Canal towards Fradley. We are getting used to this section of the canal as it features as the start section for most of our journeys. Soon after leaving the marina we approached Wychnor Lock; this leads on to Alrewas, across the River Trent itself and a large weir to the left, and into Alrewas Lock. The Alrewas section is quite pretty, with some very attractive houses/converted barns alongside the canal. Departing Alrewas via Bagnall Lock leads to a long straight section towards Common Lock, followed by Hunt’s Lock, the first of the locks at Fradley. Hunt’s is followed in quick succession by Keepers Lock and Junction Lock, journey time 2½ hours. At Fradley we turned left through the swing bridge section on to the Coventry Canal. The section from Fradley Junction to Fazeley Junction is 11 miles with no locks, but takes over 5 hours.

Swing Bridge at Fradley
The canal passes by Huddlesford, Whittington, Hademore and on to Hopwas where there are good moorings near The Tame Otter and The Red Lion pubs. We continued a bit further for our first days’ cruising, and moored just after Sutton Road Bridge, about a mile before Fazeley Junction.

Fazeley Junction
The canal changes from the Coventry Canal to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Bridge 78, Whittington and a canal side stone marks the actual point. The Coventry Canal was intended to link Coventry with the Trent & Mersey Canal, but due to money running out it ended at Fazeley, 11 miles short of its intended terminus at Fradley. By this time the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal had been built along its intended route.
Tuesday 24th May 2005
It rained heavily overnight and continued in the early part of the morning, so we opted for a late start. Reaching Fazeley Junction we headed east towards Tamworth, and passed through the 2 Glascote Locks and the 11 locks at Atherstone. We moored for the night at Wood Bridge (Bridge 27) a mile before Nuneaton.

Glascote Locks
Wednesday 25th May 2005
Leaving Nuneaton we pressed on, past Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal joins the Coventry Canal, and on to Hawksworth Junction, or the Sutton Stop, which we reached at 11:45 a.m.. This is where the Oxford Canal joins the Coventry, and is one of the sharpest turns on the entire canal network, under a cast iron bridge in front of The Greyhound pub. It is a stop lock between the two canals, with a height difference of about a foot.

Hawksbury Junction

Sutton Stop Lock
We pressed on towards Newbold On Avon, passed through the 250 yard Newbold Tunnel, and moored up immediately afterwards at 3:30 p.m. outside the Barley Mow pub, where we ate dinner.

Newbold Tunnel
Thursday 26th May 2005

A mile from Newbold we reached Brownsover, where we moored at Bridge 58 for a short while for a quick shopping expedition to Tesco nearby. We pressed on, past the 3 Hillmorton Locks and on to Braunston. Here we took the Grand Union Canal towards Napton, and at Napton itself we turned right towards Warwick. We moored for the night just below the Calcutt Locks at Napton.

Unusual Paddle Mechanisms on the double locks on the Grand Union Canal
Friday 27th May 2005
The first day of the English summer arrived and we had glorious weather! We decided to make the best of it and to press on to The Cape of Good Hope pub moorings in Warwick, which made it a long day. We set off at 9 a.m., and did not reach our moorings until 6:30 p.m. by which time we were ready for a pint in the Cape of Good Hope, along with one of their fish & chip dinners!

The Cape of Good Hope pub
The three Calcutt Locks were the first of the double locks, and they have an unusual winding mechanism. They were followed by the 13 locks of the Stockton Flight and the 4 locks of the Bascote Flight. The first two locks at Bascote are set in a staircase arrangement. There were 3 more locks as we approached Royal Lemington Spa, and the two Cape Locks before we moored up outside the Cape of Good Hope. The first mate was complaining of “windlass elbow” by this time that 25 locks in one day was a bit much, but a large glass of dry white at The Cape of Good Hope eased the pain!
Saturday 28th May 2005
Friends Ann & Paul Harris arrived alongside at 9 a.m., and Ann volunteered to do a stint as “#2 windlass lady” for the Hatton Flight of 21 locks.

Ann, #2 Windlass Lady
We joined up with nb “Florence” in the bottom lock, and it made it easier with two teams tackling the paddles. The flight took some 3½ hrs to do, which was comfortable but without setting any records.

The Hatton Flight

Sue, taking a breather
After leaving Hatton Top Lock we cruised on, past Hatton Station, through the 433 yards Shrewley Tunnel and on towards Tom o’ The Wood moorings at Rowington. You need an umbrella in the tunnel as water was pouring down in cascades!
We had dinner at The Wood at Rowington, previously the Tom o’ The Wood pub which underwent refurbishment and a management change two months ago. An excellent meal!
Sunday 29th May 2005
A day off for the crew! We joined Ann and daughter Bethany for a day out in Stratford Upon Avon followed by a barbeque at their house in Norton Lindsey.

Ladies whot shop, in Stratford
Monday 30th May 2005
Birmingham was now looming ahead! We read from Nicholson that the last moorings before Birmingham were at Catherine De Barnes, and we decided to head for these rather than get half way through Birmingham and be unable to find suitable moorings. A wise decision!
We left Rowington at 10 a.m. and were soon at Kingswood Junction, where the Stratford Canal joins up with the Grand Union. We passed through the 5 locks at Knowle, the last of the double locks on our journey, and reached Catherine De Barnes at 2 p.m.
Tuesday 31st May 2005
The next section, from Catherine De Barnes to Nechels, under the M6 motorway, is not particularly pleasant. The route starts off O.K. in shady cuttings as you pass Solihull, but the water level seemed to be low, the amount of rubbish in the canal increased considerably, and you enter more industrialized areas.

Shady stretch after Catherine De Barnes
At least we were back on to the easy to operate single locks at Camp Hill (6 locks) leading to Bordesley Junction.

Bordesley Junction
Here we turned right on the leg of the Grand Union Canal to Nechels. You immediately pass a newly developed area reminiscent of the centre of Manchester’s developments (Thomas Telford basin area), except that this area, unlike Manchester, is not well kept.

New, but scruffy area
Such a shame, that new building developments alongside the canal in this area of Birmingham have been allowed to deteriorate. Having not had the weed hatch off in the previous weeks cruising, it had been off 3 times by the time we reached Minworth!
We reached the 5 Garrison Locks and continued on towards Nechels. A passing boat told us that there were kids throwing stones near Casino City, just before Nechels, but we did not come across them.

Salford Junction, Nechels, under the M6
At Nechels we turned right, immediately under the M6, and headed for Minworth. It is sad to see the old GKN factory closed just before Minworth, and even the Cincinnati factory seemed to winding down as we entered the first lock at Minworth. There are facilities here, and this is normally the first reasonable mooring place after Birmingham, but the weather was good and we decided to make the most of it and to press on.
We did the 3 Minworth locks and 8 of the 11 Curdworth locks, mooring up after Double Bridge and outside the Dog and Doublet pub. Quite nice moorings and worth making the effort to get there.
Wednesday 1st June 2005
Wet and horrible! Pouring rain. We soon did the remaining 3 Curdworth locks and reached Fazeley. The junction is quite busy and we had to wait for boats turning under the bridge, but we were soon on our way towards Fradley.

At Fradley we went through Junction Lock, and took the last mooring space in front of the British Waterways site there.
Thursday 2nd June 2005
We were soon on our way back to Barton Turns Marina; 5 locks 5 miles taking about 2½ hours. We filled up with diesel at the marina upon arriving, and despite the wind I was able to back out of the diesel point and get to our moorings without valium! Perhaps I am becoming more skilful in handling the boat?