Sunday 15 October 2023


Today's Canal : Coventry

Today has been very bright and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was chilly to start with (time for extra layers) but by mid  morning it was much warmer. 

We set off in good time with a lot of level cruising ahead of us.

Oh no! Not that pic again.

Bright autumn sunshine really dos highlight the scenic views, even if few leaves have turned yet. 

Hartshill was once an important part of the canal's maintenance capability, firstly for the original canal company and later British Waterways. Modern management techniques, with an added layer of political interference, mean that much less use if made of workshops like this, staff are more mobile and a lot of work is put out to contractors. However, this depot does show again that utilitarian buildings can still be made to look attractive.

One of the major contractors specialising in work on waterways is Rothen who have a base at Mancetter. As well as building a small marina they are gradually smartening up the maintenance base. It looks as if yet another work boat hull is being made ready for action.

Today we have long looks at the passing scenic views so you too can have another glimpse.

We arrived at the top of the Atherstone flight of 11 locks just on 11 o'clock. Only a couple of volunteers on duty today (we were told that it is much harder to persuade volunteers to sign up for weekend rosters) One had to look after the office and small visitor centre at the top lock leaving the other to see what help he could give on the first three locks. We were following a single hander but even so we made good progress.

Two of the locks have recently been fitted with these warning signs which seem to have sparked some discussion. We wonder how they are seen to be correct as it is when the gates are closed that the greatest danger exists, especially when trying to get around the end of the balance beam to work the bottom gate paddles. On the other hand, it may be being a little clever and taking into account that visitors not used to canal terms may see the balance beam, as a gate. Presumably an incident has given rise to this signage.

After Lock 5, Andrew popped to the nearby Co-Op which we have used several times before, leaving two of us to continue down the flight. It turned out that this store has closed and is to be converted into a tesco. Fortunately Andrew was able to get what was needed at and Aldi (not our favourite store usually) as well as Profiterole Gateau for tonight's meal. (That was not on his shopping list!) Later update: Andrew never expected to go to the Co-Op and planned on Aldi all along . . .

All of the locks at Atherstone once had working side ponds (several years ago we did manage to make one work) but all have now been abandoned and most of the paddles removed to prevent temptation to try!

These are yet another design - these cannot be filled in as they also provide the bywash channels. We assume that the idea was to keep the ponds topped up so that they were generally available to use for upcoming boats.

Only Lock 10 has had the blue sign treatment - at all the others boaters have to rely on the numbers carved in to the balance beams to know where they are! What is special about this one?

Here we are at the bottom lock - as you can see, Andrew re-joined us with the shopping after about three locks. We left the bottom lock two hours and 11 minutes after starting - not a world record but adequately respectable for us! We do not have many records (if any) of our time non-stop as mostly we seem to have spent time going into town.

Below the lock there was a good mooring - handy as it was now lunch time. When we set off again we only went a short distance before the Grendon service block for a quick empty of the elsan.

We were then back into level cruising mode again. The direction of the sun and sometimes its brightness made photos a bit difficult so only a couple of selected views. 

We passed Alvecote, the Samuel barlow and the large marina. This has long been a haven for odl canal boats, some restored, some re-purposed and otherwise made very smart. Just three of many more in one picture.

From Alvecote through to Fazeley the canal runs through a pleasant mostly modern suburb of Tamworth. It is unusual in the number of bridges that still remain - no sooner had we passed through one and we were lining up for the next!

By now the sun was quite low in the sky, even if still very bright, but occasionally making it difficult to spot oncoming  boats. On a day with much later sunset we might have continued down the Glascote Locks but we felt that at this time of year that would be a bit of a stretch that might leave us with limited mooring options. Hence we stopped in a place we have used before, just short of the locks.

14.5 Miles - 11 Locks

No comments:

Post a Comment