Tight squeeze

Wilmcote to Wootton Wawen: 3.6 miles,1 lock, 2 aqueducts
          No great distance covered today – but time allowed to make observations. Cleddaubegan her morning cruise along the Stratford Canal in ideal conditions. Speed merchants needing to return to base from the River Festival had passed by yesterday evening and again early in the morning, beating the heat, presumably.  Today, to cruise in warm conditions, in dappled shade and with gentle breezes was sheer boating bliss!
          To pass another boat on this canal requires a degree of concentration, you wouldn’t want to run aground. Tight squeeze in some places.

           It’s always a tight squeeze through the classic Stratford Canal bridge-holes…

Then there’s England’s longest canal aqueduct, Edstone – another tight squeeze…

           Just north of the aqueduct a boat seemed to be broadside on across the canal – why? Its crew got back on board – tight squeeze for her, along with the three dogs on the tug-style front deck..

            It was a tight squeeze into Bearley Lock, the day’s sole lock –

– and in the field close by sheep were tightly squeezed into the shade offered by a hedge!

          

Onward, chasing the shade! Then, inch into the Wootton Wawen Aqueduct, its trough above the road.

         Stretched ahead was a line of empty towpath moorings and glory be, an ideal space under the shade of a tree!

            Nb Tamzul Cloud tied up on the aqueduct, taking water on board – oops, another boat approached, needing its right of navigation. More tight squeezes as one boat reversed through a bridge-hole, another boat eager for the same space!

            Right behind the Captain’s carefully positioned deckchair in the shade was a sign:

over recent years there have been winter walks through this village and summer shopping expeditions but never a peek into the church.
            Lavender bushes stretch across the pathway and

ancient votive crosses are scratched into the porch stonework by pilgrims setting off on  Crusades.

Visitors step inside this airy building and are humbled by its age – the newer part dates from Norman times, the older part is probably 1100 years old. The existing church, Perpendicular in style with high light-allowing windows, is broad with a graceful screen separating choir and altar from the nave.

Move down the right hand aisle, into a covered area (once the Saxon graveyard) and there are 10 billboards tracing the village and church history from pre-Roman times to modernity. These panels helpfully list key events of each period alongside contemporary parochial developments and an artist’s impression of the village as it changed and developed over centuries – fascinating.  There was a “Tight Squeeze” moment on the information panels too,

where it is detailed that tunnels under Wootton Hall may have served as escape routes: this would have been in the turbulent anti-Catholic period of the mid- sixteenth century. Behind the current altar lies the large space of the sanctuary dating from Saxon times.
            Here in St Peter’s Church in Wootton Wawen is yet another fascinating sight, a chained library of theological works.

This ancient place is open daily to visitors. Gaze up at the stonework of the tower to see Saxon long and short masonry; consider too the wording on this panel  recounting a more modern event:


            As for the rest of the day? There was some boat polishing (Captain), window cleaning (Boatwif), after the first outdoor icecream of the summer,

eaten on a bench, just squeezed into some shade!

           Tomorrow: onwards, upwards, towards Lowsonford…

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