Norton Junction to Rugby, 12 miles and 9 locks

A start tonight with two apologies – and a suitably manly bouquet of thanks for Techno Son-in-Law.  When discussions about cruising start Boatwif suggests a destination or two; the Captain drafts and revises the itinerary using a computer program called Canal Planner. En route various maps and guides are used.  The Captain favours Nicholson Guides; Boatwif refers to her collection of Pearson and Geo route maps.  It came to her sometime yesterday that although she had reiterated information from one or other guide book (Friday 9th September) that the Blisworth Tunnel is the longest navigable tunnel in Britain this is no longer true (source used was published in 1995). Up on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in the Pennines the Standedge Tunnel was reopened in 2001 after massive restoration. Its website describes it as “the highest, longest and deepest” tunnel.  First apology then for inaccurate information.

Second apology: eagle-eyed readers of yesterday may have wondered where was the photograph of the green coloured Owain Glyndwr narrow boat. The significance is minor, but any readers who are Penvro Pals (an Old Pupils Association) will recognise that  a Glyndwr boat must be green, that being the colour of the premier house (in Boatwif’s opinion) (NO Picton-red -Captain) in the school. Apologies for the absence of the photo; thanks to the Techno Whizz Kid it is now visible in yesterday’s blog.

So what of today? Breezy and busy. We were sandwiched between boats coming through Braunston Tunnel, queuing for locks at Braunston (6) and at Hillmorton (3). The tunnel allows boats in both directions – but beware the crooked kink in it! Braunston is always fascinating: six locks, at one the Admiral Nelson pub, at another the Crooked Cottage.  Lots of the canal buildings of yesteryear are still in use today, there are boats old and modern – and today (why, who knows!) there was a tiny little sailing boat amidst the rest. Dog walkers and gongoozlers, boaters and visitors vie for towpath space beside the locks. Cleddau was paused for a water top-up and a pop into the chandlery. Wind and the sharp angle of Braunston Turn caused a few engine roars as a hire boat shot the turn from Napton, crashing sharply into the chandlery bank while a boat approaching from the locks reversed sharply to a stop. All good fun – provided it’s not your boat!

        Once beyond Braunston the canal becomes the North Oxford: it’s very rural, the fields showing plenty of traces of the medieval ridge and furrow systems. The canal’s course weaves and turns through small red brick bridges, a crooked course, sometimes in Northamptonshire, sometimes in Warwickshire. A couple of hours at least after Braunston it reaches Hillmorton, where the three pairs of tandem locks are usually easy to operate. Here a queue, blustery wind, back pumping of water into the canal and uncertainty about whether in these water restricted times it was permissible to use the offside lock led to a degree of confusion and a touch of Cleddau chaos. It appears the offside locks are now being padlocked after 4pm. As fast as we could we escaped Hillmorton and powered on for another hour or so, past railway bridges and the huge Rugby transmitters. Now we are tucked up on parkside moorings in Rugby, awaiting the tail of the hurricane. The wind was buffeting the bow strongly an hour ago so Boatwif sought the Captain’s help. He reviewed the ropes and mooring tackle so far used.   

“Pass an extra mooring pin… no, not that one, it’s crooked, pass the straighter one!” So with a straighter pin in the ground, ropes and chains firmly attached to bank and boat Cleddau will sit out the storm tonight.

 If it safe to do so tomorrow we shall be aiming for the Hartshill BW Yard on the Coventry Canal.

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