Wednesday 25th June
Bedworth to Hartshill
Just before we left today, Hazel spotted a water vole crossing the canal. James was otherwise occupied, so he missed it.
We met BCF boat Tarka but we couldn’t stop as there were boats behind us. Jeff and Linda, according to our list.
We passed through Nuneaton without stopping, noticing an amazing expanse of allotments alongside the canal.
We passed the granite quarries, with remains of conveyor belts and railway bridges.
There are good views across the Anker valley between Nuneaton and Atherstone. At one point there is a relic of the past – a telegraph pole.
Telegraph Pole on the Coventry Canal
At Hartshill there is a maintenance yard with picturesque buildings. This time it looked a bit neglected, with weeds growing everywhere.
We stopped just after bridge 33, all by ourselves. By the time evening came, there were six boats in a row, including one we have seen before called Wyrd. He seems to have his radio going all the time – phone in programmes mostly.
We saw a buzzard quite close, circling round.
0 locks, 6 miles, 2hr15
Thursday 26th June
Hartshill to Polesworth
Before we set off today, Rowan cruised past (David and Jane). We said we’d see them in Atherstone. Sure enough, when we arrived at the visitor moorings, there they were. We went shopping, mainly in Aldi.
We had an early lunch before heading down the locks, which were almost all in our favour. Lots of boats coming up the flight as we went down. Halfway down we found Rowan, going down in the lock in front, as they had just had lunch there, before going into Barry Hawkins’ marina, where their boat was built, and where they know lots of people.
The original plan was to moor overnight between locks 9 and 10. We decided to cruise on instead, as the forecast was wet for the next day, and we wanted to do the last two locks in the dry.
We paused at the Sanitary Station, where we had to wait for another boat to finish.
A mile further on we found a Sea Otter moored up and the people hailed us so we stopped for a chat. They come from the Wey, and their boat is called OT, and they are called Les and Lesley. Nice people.
We arrived in Polesworth, and most of the visitors moorings were taken. There was space at the end, where we had to use our mooring pins as the mooring rings had finished.
The next boat was Phyllis May II, owned by Terry and Monica Darlington, who wrote “Narrow Dog to Carcasonne”. They evidently have a different dog now.
The boat beyond them had a dog that spent hours running round chasing a toy. When no-one was throwing it, he barked and barked. Hugo was very cautious about going out.
Eventually Hugo went off down a fishermans path to the river and enjoyed some time exploring.
We decided to go for a curry, and found an Indian restaurant attached to a pub. The food was very good.
11 locks, 6 miles, 4hr05
Friday 27th June
Polesworth to Tamworth
True to the forecast, we had heavy rain in the night, which continued until till late morning, so we stayed put until midday.
As we passed Alvecote Marina, we saw BCF boat Jabez, but we couldn’t stop as there was a boat behind.
Going through Tamworth, we met Dilly Dally with Alan and Hazel Dilnot. Thankfully we were able to have a good chat in the middle of the canal, with no other boats coming.
Alan and Hazel Dilnot
We moored on the visitor moorings by bridge 73, just as the rain started again, with thunder and hail.
Rain at Tamworth
A boat nearby had a notice: “Thank you for slowing down” We made a comment about how polite the notice was, unlike some we had seen which are quite insulting.
We walked up to the locks, where we met an elderly man called Terry. He had lost his wife three years ago and obviously wanted to talk. On the way back, we were given our own “Thank you” notice by the other boat.
We walked half a mile to Bolehall Manor, where the Tamworth Folk Club takes place every Friday. We sang “Long Way Down” and “Well Well Well” There were a lot of performers, and it didn’t finish until 11.15pm. A friendly bunch, they are also a rambling club. They go for long walks, and then play music in pubs. A kind couple offered us a lift back which we accepted gratefully.
Tamworth Folk Club
0 locks, 4 miles, 1hr40
Saturday 28th June
Tamworth to Middleton Lakes
In the morning James had a very low voice and could do the Denim and Carlsberg adverts.
We visited Alan and Joan Dewhurst in their house nearby, and saw their new boat, a baby Springer, which looks really good. However, already Alan has plans for modifications!
Alan and Joan
Mistol went past, and we followed them down through the two Glascote locks.
Glascote Top Lock
At Fazeley we turned left onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, past the Litchfield’s House, where we knew no-one was in – they were all on the way to the Stratford Festival
We moored just past Drayton Brick Bridge where there were rings and piling. This was a mistake, as we could have moored at the next bridge instead, which would have been closer to the nature reserve.
Moored by Drayton Brick Bridge
We walked half a mile down the towpath to RSPB Middleton Lakes, and had a wander round. We saw 36 species of birds, the highlights being Oyster Catchers, a sparrowhawk, Teal, Shoveller, Gadwall, lapwing and little egret. The flowers were also spectacular.
Cinnabar caterpillars - summer is here!
James’s voice now almost nil. We decided to avoid church tomorrow as a result, although we would have enjoyed the lively Anglican church in Fazeley.
2 locks, 3 miles, 1hr25
Sunday 29th June
We had a mouse on the carpet in the morning, so Hugo had been busy. We cruised to the winding hole at Curdworth and back to Fishers Mill Bridge, where there were also mooring rings and piling.
There was another boat there called Tupelo, named after a previous cat. The cat was named after the place in the USA where Elvis Presley was born. The present cat was not allowed off the boat – very sad.
We had another walk round the reserve, and some of yesterday’s birds were not to be found. A fickle pastime, bird watching.
Later James went for another walk in the other direction, past Middleton Hall, up to a main road, and back down another path to the canal bridge.
Sunset at Middleton Lakes
Sunset on the canal at Middleton
0 locks, 2 miles, 1 mouse, 1hr00
Monday 30th June
Middleton Lakes to Hopwas
Four boats came past, so we were number 5. Another boat appeared behind us. Presumably they had all come down from Birmingham, and stopped overnight at Curdworth, the first decent mooring.
We had planned to use the water point by Fazeley Mill Marina, but it was occupied. Rather than wait, we moved on and moored on the visitor mooring just before the junction. We took a bus to Ventura Park and did some shopping in the vast ASDA store, where we also had lunch. Bus passes are useful.
On our return we made our way to the water point almost opposite the junction, then to the BW building where we emptied cassettes and rubbish. The water tap here is at the wrong end of the boat when facing north.
It was after 4pm when we set off from Fazeley, and we couldn’t see any decent mooring places until we arrived in Hopwas, where we moored shortly before the Methodist church.
It had been a long day, so we settled down with some dips and a glass of wine.
The cat and dogs incident
After our meal, James was at the sink, and saw Hugo walking along the gunwale past the window. A few seconds later, two dogs ran past and there was some barking. A few seconds later still, a soaking wet Hugo ran in, leaving puddles all over the floor, wet footprints on Hazel's chair and a wet patch on the dinette seat. We didn't see exactly what happened, but he must have fallen in trying to escape the dogs, or he jumped in to escape them. He's done that before. The dog owner was very apologetic, and Hugo was uninjured, so no harm done.
0 locks, 5 miles, 1hr45