Hut Havens 02
Tuesday’s report Downhill in Warwickshire 02 appears under Wednesday’s date. The Blogspot server link was broken last night and a re-posting this morning put it in under Wednesday’s date.
To today ( Wednesday): Alvecote (Coventry Canal) to Fradley Junction (Trent and Mersey), 15.5 miles, 5 locks
“Better than yesterday!” remarked one boater after another. “Been tied up here for two days,” said one, in what was probably a Rhodesian accent. Celebrate! The wind did not blow, the rain did not fall, so it was a perfectly good day, weather wise, for boating. Temperatures, however, began to fall during the morning, so windproofs were donned – and one lady boater dug out her fur-trimmed hat!
As Cleddau cruised under Bridge 63 on the Tamworth outskirts there was a yowl of recognition from the Captain; the throttle was slammed into reverse to allow, again, a photograph of that distinctive canal side garden curiosity, an East German border post. Is this the land of individual garden design or of kitsch…?
Garden ornaments abound, inanimate ducks vie with live ducks and even Pooh Bear has a garden home of his own. There are thatched roof summerhouses, gazebos, smart huts with windows, a pagoda shaped structure with shingle-like roof tiles, workhuts, mundane sheds and outside wooden offices. Variety is all! Near Tamworth there are views over a vast pig farm. A tractor driver worked to haul a pig arc from one area to another. Inside the line of arc enclosures piglets jumped and scuttled in the hay. Were they Tamworth Old Spots? We could not tell. Certainly they seemed happy with their hutted accommodation. Near tonight’s mooring is the large Fradley Pool, which is a reservoir for the Trent and Mersey Canal. It is the centrepiece of a very popular nature reserve now, and of course it has its huts, its bird-watching hides. To maintain the hut theme, a boat by that very name was passed!
At Fazeley Junction (passed mid-morning) a canal goes south to Birmingham. On the junction new building jostles with old structures, and refurbishing work of a once industrial use building looks as if it will be put to residential use. But mostly, once past Tamworth, the canal is rural, slowly curving through the villages of Hopwas and Whittington. Later, tucked low on the towpath, a stone marking the exact division between the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal from the Coventry Canal was spotted.
Eventually the Coventry Canal ends at Fradley Junction, now a honey pot place for canal fans. Straight ahead is the Swan Inn. It was right here that the self-confessed canal anorak we met in Milton Keynes in July was first inspired to walk the towpaths of England. (See: http://boatwif.co.uk/uncategorized/learning-curve-for-the-hen-parties/) A pub, a couple of cafes and a few gentle walks attract the crowds. Eleven people today observed every action and movement of the Cleddau crew at the lock on the turn. “Can I ask a question?” asked the gentleman who had settled himself onto a convenient seat for a grandstand view. “Why is it the ladies always get to do the hard work?” It’s that sort of place, where people chat, gaze and chill, against a background of boats coming uphill from the Nottingham direction, downhill from the Stoke and Cheshire direction or just arriving from the Midlands!
The Swan Inn, server of pub food, overlooks the water right on Fradley Junction. That’s where the Cleddau “aquaholics” ate tonight.
Tomorrow: onward to the other side of Burton-on-Trent.