Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas decorations

You can tell how dark a day it was because the illuminated deer on this Kate boat was visible in the late morning.  It was cool and windy too, with a little rain adding to the already soaking towpaths.  Although we had a few days the collective gloom meant we decided on a trip out for lunch and then back to the marina.  The Bridge seemed to be closed at just before noon, with the phone going unanswered, so we went on to the Folly.  The Bridge seemed to have opened by the time we passed on the way home though.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cautionary tale

Six weeks in, and looking at the small print, the advice was “typically two to six weeks, but maybe up to twelve”.  It didn’t stop us enjoying the Autumn colours on the way down to Bascote and back though.P1010908

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Three weeks after

I don’t know why, but when the chiropodist said: “typically two to six weeks to heal from this procedure”, I just assumed I would be at the two week end.  I’ll spare you the pictures of oozing ragged flesh, but suffice to say it was as much as I could do to get to the Folly and back from the visitor moorings.  Probably the last opportunity for outside dining this year too.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Last brood of the season


Spotted on the way to the Folly for lunch.  We moored for the night in Braunston before returning home on Sunday.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Home again


A familiar trip today through the tunnel, down the locks and lunch at the Boat House. 


Friday, 10 August 2012

Weedon to (nearly) Braunston

Onwards again on another hot and sunny mooring to visit the chandleries at Whilton before ascending Buckby locks with a very experienced timeshare boat crew.
After lunch we stopped in the tree lined cutting leading into Braunston Tunnel to escape the worst of the afternoon’s heat and catch up with a little painting.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

On to Weedon

After a night below the top lock we set off in the morning through the picture perfect village, well before the customary crowds had arrived. 
I hadn’t spotted the unusual weather vane on the boatyard next to the services at Gayton Junction before.
The afternoon grew hotter, and we found a shady mooring in Weedon within easy reach of the Indian Restaurant for a take-away.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne

The aqueduct from above:


Unusually we shared the lock flight with two day boats on what became a hot and sunny afternoon.  Dinner in the garden at the Navigation – where the odd mixture of loud background music seemed almost designed to move customers on quickly as soon as they have eaten.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

To Cosgrove

We moored for the night after the Iron Trunk Aqueduct, which is much more impressive from below than above.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Two direct hits

We moved from Linslade to Milton Keynes today, stopping to avoid a soaking.  Little to note except that for the second day in a row I have destroyed an ant’s nest in mooring up.  Yesterday they came swarming out of the ground after I drove in a mooring pin; today they had colonised the space behind the sheet piling that I put a mooring clip into. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Hard aground

Sunday morning saw us, and several other boats, hard aground in the pound above Marsworth’s bottom lock.  The water had gone down a foot or two overnight, perhaps because the gates leak badly, and the top gates always swing open for some reason.  This appears to be a daily occurrence.  We were soon afloat after some water had been let down the flight and on our way. 

Paired with another boat, we made faster progress on the way back down and moored for a late lunch at the Grove Lock, after the shower that was about to hit in this picture.


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Cowroast and back

Torrential rain started almost as soon as we set off from our mooring up the last few locks to the summit.P1010829
Fortunately the sun came out to show the long summit pound off at its leafy best. 
After lunch at the Cowroast Inn we retraced our steps. The White Lion is boarded up and for sale, but the Anglers Retreat was still open for dinner.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Marsworth Reservoirs

This stretch, with widely spaced locks on the way to Marsworth, has some great views of the ridge of the Chilterns.P1010820P1010821_stitch

Thursday, 2 August 2012


P1010815 From last night's mooring just above Stoke Hammond Lock.  If you have the smartphone eNature app then you can report sightings like these to be added to the C&RT database, and also see what others have reported in specific locations.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Milton Keynes

When we first came by this way nearly twenty years ago, there was an information board here titled “Welcome to Wolverton”.  In a precursor to the spirit of social media, someone had spray painted “Don’t bother” over the information below.  It’s pleasant enough now, but somehow a little eerie, and few people seem to stop here except for a quick trip to Sainsbury.  I don’t remember this housing estate marching over the horizon toward the canal even on much more recent visits.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Two weeks on the Grand Union

We’d had all sorts of ideas of where to go on this holiday, but after the spring rains with the floods and closure of rivers to navigation we decided to just see how far down the GU we would get.  The first day saw us through Calcutt locks to a mooring in the Admiral Nelson pound at Braunston.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Bascote and back

An unusually dry weekend for this summer, we went past Long Itchington to turn below the staircase at Bascote.  This bewildered a group on a Viking hire boat who asked whether we just went down and up locks for fun - I thought that was why most people do it - but accepted the explanation that the options were either here or at Radford several miles away!  Sunday dawned warm, calm and sunny.

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Last week Caracol went into dry dock and had new stern gear fitted.  Nice and shiny it is too, at the moment at least.  This weekend's job was to get her to Braunston ready to have a new stove fitted next week.  The one logistical issue was that it is the Braunston Historic Boat Rally weekend.
 It's an interesting event, but last time we visited the parade of boats effectively blocked the canal giving hours of delays.  So an uncharacteristic pre-breakfast start had us on the way by 6:30 and in Braunston by around 9:00 before the heavy traffic started, and with a chance to look around at the various boats.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Caracol in the Warwick Courier

No really, that is her distinctive light blue/dark blue colour scheme on the right edge slipping into the lock behind the dignitaries on the way to Birmingham before the bank holiday. Details here: and

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Hilmorton to Ventnor Farm via Braunston

Braunston on the skyline.

After asking around about stoves, and lunch in the Old Plough, we hurried off back to Calcutt to get through the locks before the overnight closure.  We wouldn't have made it, with the long convoys of boats slowing everything, except that the opening hours had been increased because of the recent rain.

Caracol goes back into the dry dock soon for replacement stern gear, and then will need a replacement stove, so I don't know how much cruising we'll fit in before our next big trip later in the summer.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Hawkesbury to Hilmorton

The remains of a bridge at Ansty, demolished in the last year or two to make it safe.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Atherstone to Hawkesbury

Gusty winds and torrential rain most of the day today.  I think I only got the camera out once.  That was because I was cruising along a straight stretch when I saw something swim across the width of the canal about a hundred yard ahead.  Once I got level I spotted a vole in the rushes while passing, and it obligingly stayed put while I stopped the boat and reversed back to take its picture.  I think it is the first time I've seen one.  We went to the Greyhound for dinner, and enjoyed some idiosyncratic service in the restaurant.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hopwas to Atherstone

The wind was a bit gusty through the congested moorings in Hopwas, but fortunately no rain this morning.  After watering at Fazeley, we pottered on to join the queue at Glascote Locks, still maintaining their reputation for being slow to fill.  None of the pubs in Tamworth appealed, so we stopped for lunch and a walk in the woods between Alvecote and Polesworth.
We went up the first few Atherstone locks before stopping for the night.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fradley to Hopwas

Leaving our mooring at Fradley, we stopped off at Streethay Marina for some advice about our stove installation.  That meant we didn't get to Huddlesford until lunchtime, and since we noticed that the Plough there had reopened since last year we ate there.  The rain held off until we got to the woods before Hopwas, so we stopped there to find them teeming with people.  Unfortunately we spotted that there was a problem with the gas boiler as well as the stove, so just as well the weather had warmed up a bit!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Great Haywood to Fradley

Leaving Great Haywood in better weather, we went as slowly as possible down to Colwich Lock.  As slowly as possible to let any queue dissipate, but it was as busy as ever in the sun.  A stop for provisions at Rugeley, and another at Armitage for lunch at the Plum Pudding.  After lunch we moved on to Fradley which was packed, but we managed to tie up with one end of the boat near the bank in time for a quick visit to the Swan.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Stone to Great Haywood

Through the night the rain pounded on the roof, and in the morning the temperature was about 20 degrees Centigrade lower than the previous Sunday.  It didn't deter a couple of hundred runners participating in an event up the towpath, or some boaters determined to enjoy the Jubilee weekend in their shorts.  Thoroughly drenched, we eventually moored back at Great Haywood for a late lunch and a few glimpses of the pageant on the Thames online.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

To Stone

We decided on a trip up to Stone which we always liked when our share boat was moored nearby at Stoke.  Unfortunately the weather was on the turn, and suddenly everywhere was busy with a queue at every lock.  We walked up from this imposing bridge - actually carrying only a single track road - for lunch in a pub garden in Salt.  After that, onward to Stone where we winded and stopped at the first available mooring , about half a mile out of town.

Friday, 1 June 2012

To Great Haywood

Not so many pictures on another grey and cool but pleasant day.  Caracol seemed to be offering another of those opportunities for recreational plumbing near Stafford, however the kitchen tap fortunately only needed stripping and reassembly to stop the leak, rather than replacement.  Heading down towards the Trent, parallel with one of its tributaries, the wide meadows stretch away from the canal into the distance.