Friday 19 October 2018


Today's Canal - Stratford

We awoke to a strange mist rising from the canal - but even then we could see that when it cleared we would have a wonderful bright blue day.

Mike walked down to the first lock whilst Andrew readied the boat and set off.

As we continued through the succession of locks, the views into the fields alongside looked very promising.

By the time we reached Lock 33 the promise had been fulfilled and we enjoyed  remarkable sunshine for the rest of the day.

The mile markers along the southern Stratford have been provided by SONACS (Stratford on Avon Canal Society) They are quite small and easily missed, especially if surrounded by excess of grass or weeds.

However, we have gradually noticed the frequency of bare metal posts. At first we wondered if they were like the Distance posts on the Oxford Canal (which determine priority when two boats approach in opposite directions at almost the same time) but they were not sufficiently consistent. Eventually, by checking the distance between them, we concluded that they were originally quarter mile markers but the plates have been removed at some time.

Yarningdale Aqueduct is very short and only spans a small stream but it does look like a trial for the construction of larger aqueducts.

Just a couple of metres further is the top of Bucket Lock - the former barrel roofed lock keeper's cottage looks splendid on the sunlight but it is almost dwarfed by the large extensions (not all make it into the photo) which have been built onto it.

After dropping down through Preston Bagot Lock we had a much longer level stretch.

At Wootton Wawen was passed over the slightly larger aqueduct over a main road.

The level pound continued - the surrounding countryside really looked great in the sun.

Hill Farm Marina was where we stayed for a short while at the start of the season. They seem to have a few more boats now but still plenty of room for new moorers or visitors - the facilities block is  coming on as well.

After working through he isolated Bearley Lock we arrived at Edstone Aqueduct - as thew sign says, the longest canal aqueduct in England (thus ignoring the really famous one at Pontcysyllte but that is in Wales!) It is still quite a challenge to those who find it hard to cope with unguarded heights!

We had lunch on the go so that we could start on the long Wilmcote flight without delay. Luckily there was a volunteer lockie on duty who set the first half of the flight for us. However, he then met a boat coming up that he felt needed his help more than we did!

The CaRT workshop and office for the volunteers is looking smart - it was re-built since we last came this way when it had recently been damaged by fire.

We departed the last of the eleven Wilmcote locks just about 70 minutes after starting at the top.

Valley Cruises is a hire base and boat yard just on the outskirts of Stratford but it does have public elsan and water facilities. We only needed the former so we made the briefest of stops. We guess that the facilities existed at a BW site before the hire company moved in and are required to maintain them. It was a tight squeeze to come alongside between all the hire boats not currently out.

Four more locks and we squeezed through the narrow and low road bridge in the centre of town that marks the entry into the large basin just above the lock to the River Avon. There were several free spaces on the Visitor Moorings and, earlier than we had expected, we moored up just before four o'clock.

We did not have a large shopping list but walked to the high street to the rather limited Sainsbury Local. Alas it did not stock most of what we wanted so Andrew offered to walk to the Aldi on the retail park whilst Christine and Mike looked for a few other items, including a paper. We did eventually find some fish cor tonight's meal. We took so long over our limited shop that when we returned to the boat, Andrew had already reached there before us! He was very much successful in finding what he was tasked with finding!

10.9 Miles - 26 Locks

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