Tickover on the North Oxford

Onley to All Oaks Wood, near Brinklow: 11 miles, 3 locks
           “So where’s Brinklow?” you may ask. In canal terms this sunny evening mooring is midway between the western side of Rugby and the eastern side of Coventry – and quite definitely in Warwickshire.
            As the Captain was about to draw away from the towpath this morning the sage voice of another boater advised him not to bother – he was number 2 in a boat convoy that had built up behind a very slow cruiser. A delay was called for a few minutes (during which time another boat joined the convoy) and then Cleddau set off. The high hedge that skirts the towpath hides all sighting of the Onley Prison, though the Captain insists that its construction a few years ago had been monitored during cross-country road journeys on the M45…
           The canal continues its weaving route through the Northants/Warks county boundaries. Last time along here one of the bridges, minus many bricks, was being supported by scaffolding poles. Now a fine repair job has been done

– you can see the old bricks on the left – and the extent of the new in the centre and to the right. Another new sighting was a Thomas the Tank Engine (minus a face)

in the garden of some holiday cottages. What fun!
            The first (only?) major navigational feature in these parts was to be the Hillmorton Locks. Then, suddenly there appeared a couple of signs for a canal-side shop. There on Hillmorton Wharf (a mile or so before the locks) is a most convenient chandlery–cum–shop.

Richard, from Whilton Locks Chandlery, has relocated to here, bringing with him an excellent display of environmentally friendly loos.

All praise for the Airhead (installed on Cleddau in Spring 2010) and after a happy composting loo chat Boatwif left with some milk and a loaf of fresh tiger bread.
           Aerials (the Daventry radio aerials) hove into view, more and more and more of them:

was the final count of 33 the true total, one wondered…            At Hillmorton Locks (a flight of three paired single locks)

a boater might expect any ascent or descent to go smoothly; rarely is it so.  You might get battered by the wind at the exposed top lock landings or by water flow being pumped into the upper pound; a boat cannot land at the sanitary station above the bottom lock; C&RT seems to allow mooring in odd places and the water point is inconspicuously positioned quite a way beyond the bottom lock. Add to the mix the boat that in its haste to start going up the flight pretty well blocked another lock exit – and the sight of children travelling on a boat’s roof while approaching a low bridge… as ever, the blood pressure was probably higher at the finish than at the start!             Slowly Cleddau proceeded to Rugby, past boatyards and linear moorings, taking avoidance measures when meeting other boats in narrow spots or at blind bridge-holes… In several places wall murals reflect local history, of the canal, of the railway,

of the growth of rugby football. The moorings at Rugby were very busy – and the Tesco 24 hour store nearby doing a roaring trade. (Why can’t hairbrushes be displayed beside shampoos and hair products? No, they are at the diagonal opposite end of the store on an aisle end near the wines and spirits… sigh!)
             Despite the Captain’s cruising plan the journey continued, past sheep, some horses and a  drowsy herd of horned cattle.

A parrot had squawked from a boat at Rugby, there were ferrets on a back deck a few days ago, a pony being exercised in the field opposite tonight and all manner of different birds flying into in an oak tree a few miles back. There was Newbold–on-Avon Tunnel, its lovely lighting now in need of some flood bulb renewal.

Would the approaching boat which bumped and banged its way all the way through have fared better in consistent light..?

            Just before the dense woods start a pleasant sunlit mooring was found, opposite a red-brick farmhouse, some outbuildings and a barn piled high with hay bales.

            Tomorrow: towards Hartshill Wharf 

(For Monkton Moment * fans there was a brief foray into a Pembrokeshire discussion this morning near Hillmorton: it had been started by the mistaken assumption that the boat decoration is a Yorkshire rose (!)

but the speaker did enthusiastically recall that she had spent all her childhood holidays in Tenby).

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