Boatwif Blog

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A fire eater, an obstruction and 36 uphill locks

Shakespeare Marina to Kingswood Junction: 14 miles, 36 locks Stratford is not all about thespians and high culture – or funfairs. Do buskers have to book their pitch – who knows?  Among the street and park entertainers last weekend was a circus-trained performer who ate fire,  used a whip to snap the heads off a bunch of rosebuds, lay on a bed of nails and barefoot scaled a ladder of machetes   – and all while the world mooched by! Sunday...

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Stratford worlds…

 Stratford-upon-Avon (above lock 52) to Shakespeare Marina: 1¼ miles, 6 locks Tickets and liaisons – on 31st May the time had come to do the final four locks down into Stratford and (hopefully) secure a decent mooring.First there was a longish reverse back to the services (filling of water, emptying of rubbish) before proceeding down into Stratford.     Upcoming boaters explained that there was mooring space in Bancroft Basin. Two volunteers are responsible for this floral delight at the...

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Confetti Boat

 Wootton Wawen to Stratford-upon-Avon: 6½ miles, 13 locks  Cleddau left Wootton Wawen to continue her southbound cruise to Stratford. First there was the squeeze across the aqueduct – it’s a weird sensation seeing cars racing along far below the boat…    On through the Warwickshire countryside – but what was this?  A large building with canal-facing terrace, parasols… a marina! It’s Hill Farm Marina, opened apparently since October 2017. Onward, through isolated Bearley Lock before reaching Edstone Aqueduct, England’s longest...

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Curiosities along the South Stratford Canal

Curious about “the wedged boat, the tartare sauce and the mushroom box” ? Read on… South Stratford Canal at Kingswood Junction to Wootton Wawen: 6¼ miles, 17 locks  To transfer from the Grand Union to the South Stratford is akin to transferring from a smooth broad motorway to a narrow rural back road… Cleddau edged through the connecting link    into a basin with space for boats to manoeuvre past each other between the North Stratford and the South Stratford...

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Hallo Avon, hallo Hatton…

Grand Union: From Royal Leamington Spa to Kingswood Junction: 11 miles, 23 locks From the Grand Union Canal Regency Leamington remains out of sight. Though the chimney pots of older properties can be just about glimpsed, there are new builds to be seen behind old walls. Then comes an area of retail parks, with easy access from the towpath for Lidl and Morrisons customers.   About a mile from Leamington is a point of interest for aqueduct spotters: here the...

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The cat’s whiskers

Grand Union: From Calcutt to Royal Leamington Spa: 8¾ miles, 20 locks  It was ten years ago, in 2013, that Cleddau last travelled this stretch of waterway, albeit from the opposite direction… It’s the Grand Union, along which wide beam boats can cruise between London and the outskirts of Birmingham. There are lines of moored and liveaboard boats, some of which have accessorized their moorings with sheds, flags – and in one case, former crew members who’d “been worked to...

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Turning left and heading downhill

From Crick Marina (Leicester Line) to beyond Calcutt (Grand Union): 16 miles, 16 locks, 2 tunnels Getting ready for “Off” takes some effort: haircuts arranged, garden grass cut, clothes sorted for all (or nearly all) seasons, blank screen laptop taken to repair shop – and collected, time shared with friends, bin collection organised, boating paraphernalia assembled, fridge contents sorted and cool-boxed for transport… The Captain, long ago trained to plan aircraft missions to the last detail, checked the roads. The...

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Mishaps and misadventures

The cruise from Crick to Market Harborough had involved 23½ miles, 10 locks, 2 swing bridges and 2 overnight stops… So what was the town like?        On a Saturday morning the place seemed quite lively – the Lions were running charity stalls in the covered area below the Old Grammar School,   there was a craft stall and coffee morning in the vestibule of the Harborough Theatre,  an open fronted fishmonger’s shop was attracting brisk trade ,...

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‘O to be on water…’

With lengthening days and increased light levels Boatwif was in need of some boats… Just before Easter there was a road trip to West Wales. The M4 soars over the wide Severn Estuary on the second Severn Crossing  – the tide was low, there were no boats in view – and certainly no adventurous boaters like those on Cleddau and Tentatrice in June 2015… Down in Pembrokeshire the only vessels in sight were pretty small – a rowing boat out...

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Moist March

Remember dry February? It was proper outdoor paintbrush weather – the picket fence was wood-stained, the trellis was re-greened and the pergola too (until the green paint ran out…) Then in came March, the wettest March in England since 1981, according to Met Office announcements…  Cleddau and crew had made an Out of Hibernation cruise along the Leicester Line in Northamptonshire in early March (see here ). At the time winter works to repair the brickwork on a bridge and...