Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Grand Union

 Soon after joining the Grand Union we came to the Stockton flight of locks.  These are wide locks taking two boats side by side, unfortunately there were no other boats around to share with so we did the whole flight (13 locks) alone but as we were in no hurry we managed to get by just using one paddle & opening one gate.

Looking down the Stockton flight
Our next stop was Leamington Spa where we had a pleasant stroll through the town where the planners have managed to update the shopping area whilst still keeping the towns Regency Heritage in all it's splendor. 

The Pump Room, Leamington Spa

Our next challenge was the Hatton Flight (21 Locks).

Hard work but we managed to share the load by alternating driving & manning the locks.

We also had a little help from the Rogers family who were just out for some 'Gongoozling', but the boys were willing to help with a lock.

Shrewley Tunnel, built in 1799 is built below the village and has a separate tunnel for the towpath.  See

link to Stratford canal

Just after the bridge to the Link to the Stratford Canal  we picked up a couple of Hitchhikers who we rescued from a couple of angry swans who were nursing their cygnets on the towpath and wouldn't let anyone pass.
Sue & David from Birmingham
We ran aground trying to pick them up & had to pole off the bottom, before giving Sue & David a ride to the next bridge hole.  Good deed for the day :)

We met up with friends Richard & Yo at Knowle, who's garden backs onto the canal.  We had a lovely evening with them, then Richard joined us in the morning for bacon sarnies 

before helping us up the Knowle flight.  We then had a short journey to Catherine de Barnes, which we were recommended was the last safe mooring place before setting off around Birmingham.

Early next morning, 7am! we set off through a deep cutting, lined with trees and surrounded by all sorts of rubbish.  GRIM! There was even a sunken boat no one had bothered to remove or even mark as a hazard.  It was very shallow & we scraped the bottom a few times.  Other parts were very industrial,

we even went under Spaghetti Junction.  The only bright spot all day was that Tony saw a couple of Kingfishers.  To quick for photos unfortunately.

Spaghetti Junction
At Minworth Top Lock we encountered our first boat in 7 hours and the vista opened up to corn fields.  A welcome sight after all the grime of the day.

Takes us up to 2nd July.

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