Back to boating…
Market Bosworth Marina – Stoke Golding – near Marston Junction – All Oaks Wood (North Oxford Canal) – Rugby (golf course)
Since Market Bosworth: 32 miles, 1 lock and 1 tunnel
After a mid-afternoon departure from Market Bosworth on Wednesday there was a mooring a couple of hours later, back at Stoke Golding, the lovely church spire in full view again. There followed a two-task early morning quest:
Find Crown Hill, site of where Henry Tudor was handed the crown of England and Wales. Partial Tick: There is a modern housing estate now named Crown Hill (notice the crown and thorn bush, seen on all the Stoke Golding street names). Passing along the canal a little later this seemed to be Crown Hill… .
It was a cold cruise back towards Marston Junction on Thursday, tinged somewhat with regret at time running out on this peaceful rural canal. Back past fields of oil seed rape, sizzling with strong colour, past Hinckley, the marina there quiet and the warehousing sheds a little more camouflaged now by the thickening greenery, past blasts of brilliant white from blossom, swans and ducks, passing under age-old stone bridges, enjoying quiet towpaths, too rutted for speeding cyclists, past towpath forget-me-nots and a familiar boat… (thinking of you Kathryn).
A new roof was spied swinging on a construction site near Burton Hastings, (Lego building on a large scale…?) By mid-afternoon Cleddau was moored up a half mile short of the main line – and the Captain continued to polish the starboard cabin side…
Did Friday qualify as a three canal day? There was the last bare mile of the Ashby, the three miles or so of the Coventry Canal past Bedworth to Hawkesbury Junction, and, third canal, a fair few miles on the North Oxford.
Noise! Not much at first, but road traffic sound at Marston Junction seemed harsh after a drifting life on the Ashby Canal. Within an hour it would be worse as both the M6 and the M69 become canal companions. Alongside Bedworth recent hedge-laying looked a labour of love. Also labouring in love was a swan patiently building a nest.
Charity Dock is famed in these parts: a place where old boats go into final retirement and where colourful mannequins brighten the scene.
As the crow flies about a mile away is a similar end-of-service resting place: who else remembers the original VW beetles and VW camper vans such as these…?
Hawkesbury Junction presents a bit of boating excitement: transfer from the Coventry Canal to the North Oxford requires a precise U-shaped manoeuvre under a bridge and forward into a stop lock. The Captain’s moment of precision steering was much delayed by a Nuneaton-based charity boat which turned and then moored at the junction. Turn completed it was onward then, past the unsightly but necessary National Grid switching station, alongside the M6, under the M69 at Ansty, then under the M6 two miles further on.
Boating excitement in these parts is very low key: even the push footbridge at Stretton Stop was operated by another boater. Onwards, definitely in Warwickshire now, through steep wooded cuttings with fallen trees and deeply muddied towpaths to All Oaks Wood – where east of the wood a mooring was found. Hire boaters on bank holiday jaunts and marina escapees made mooring a competitive sport… This, the crew reminded themselves, is the busy Midlands…
Moor up in the right place at Rugby and a vast Tesco Superstore is nearby. There was a shock and horror moment then on Saturday morning to see that a long stretch of Rugby visitor moorings is under repair and no mooring was available… Then, just past the bridge with the rugby mural, a lucky spot was found, Tesco was ransacked by the Captain while Boatwif braved the bus to town.
There was art in the Art Gallery (Crowd), a rugby ball outside it, and another (or was it a football?) in the hands of William Webb Ellis on a statue outside Rugby School. Rugby football aficionados will perhaps know the significance of these trophies (across the road from the statue). The Rugby School Estate is so vast Boatwif struggled to find a gateway or viewpoint. All was quiet (Easter holiday time of course). Then came a chirpy voice. “Need some help? I know the way. I was the Headmaster’s babysitter.” On her good authority Boatwif continued – to gain a glimpse eventually of a Rugby School rugby goal post.
More interesting was a notice referring to an intriguing incident called The Great Rebellion,when, in 1797, the boys were in dispute with the headmaster Henry Ingles. The rebels, who eventually sought refuge on the ‘island’, surrounded by a moat, surrendered after the Riot Act was read out to them, the last time on which it was used in England. (Further detail here and here)
Back on Cleddau the Captain had resolved an electrics glitch and the cruise continued, not far, just a couple of miles further on to a rural mooring – beside a pristine golf course.
What, on a bank holiday weekend, would be the chances then of a mooring spot in Braunston, a prime canal honey spot…?
Stats so far from Higher Poynton: 152 miles and 50 locks