Wednesday 5 April 2017

Warwick Parkway and Car Shuffle

Today's Canal - Grand Union

Somewhat better weather today - quite a lot of blue sky but with plenty of thin high level cloud to keep a lid on the temperature. We set off just after 8:30 as we had a schedule today, wanting to do the car shuffle in enough time to allow Andrew to drive back home after an evening meal.

There was about an hour's run to Hatton Locks. The main item of interest along the way is Shrewley Tunnel. It's particular feature is the distinctive horse tunnel which is visible at the northern/western portal. We have never explored it before so Mike hopped off to walk the towpath route.

The horse tunnel only goes as far as the road at the top of the hill. After crossing the rod there was no sign of exact where the towpath continues! In fact there were two paths immediately opposite the tunnel section. Mike set off down the more substantial one but after a 100 metres or so was not convinced so re-traced his steps. After looking elsewhere he resorted to asking in the local shop. Note for the future: this looks a useful village shop, with newspapers. In fact, the first path Mike had taken turned out to be correct but its route back down the hill was not entirely obvious. When he arrived back at the canal the others were contemplating the need for a search party!

As we arrived at the top of the Hatton flight, a single handed boater called out that he wanted to share the locks with us. It turned out that although he has had his live aboard for flour years, he has generally been in the Cheshire area and never before shared a lock with another boat. Since he is on his way down to London, this experience is likely not to be the only experience he will have.

As we reached the lock opposite the CaRT offices a workboat was occupying the lock - a tug plus a pan which was full of rubbish that had been dredged out near Leamington Spa. They had loaded too much so that it was difficult to see where they were steering so they arranged a for a lorry to take a load to the tip. Although they were nearly finished, tidying up took almost as long!

Although this added a short delay to our journey we were on our way once more but with two boats coming up at the next lock. As this was one of the shortest pounds, passing meant a careful operation! We met another two later on but this was in a much longer pound.

By lunch time we had arrived at the bottom lock, although it was more convenient to moor just above it, alongside a footpath into Warwick Parkway station. After a quick bite to eat, Mike and Andrew set off on their car shuffle. Just as they arrived on the platform a train pulled in - could not have been better timed!

It took three trains to get to Stone - although the second one from Birmingham actually passed through Stone station but does not stop! Hence the need for the third train back from Stoke to Stone.

From there they walked back through the town centre - visiting a few shops along the way - ending at the small car park where the two cars had been left. It was about 40 minutes drive to Mercia Marina where Mike sorted out paperwork for our visit and paid a deposit on a security fob. This allowed them to take the car to the new long term car park on the far side of the marina (so new that it is not fully finished yet!)

They completed the shuffle by driving in Andrew's car back to the boat. This route was a bit more tortuous - one of the hazards is avoiding inadvertently being taken onto the M6 Toll Road! There was one slight delay - at the same roundabout in Minworth where Andrew and Christine had visited Asda a couple of days earlier! Altogether the shuffle had taken a tad under five hours.

Christine insists that this photo be posted! (Just to prove that Mike is not always a grumpy old man! - well - he may well one day get old but whether he will even be not grumpy is another matter altogether)

5.4 miles - 20 locks

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