21st March 2020
After an overnight stay in Hinckley to pick up provisions we left the following day. We had a lovely cruise with plenty of sunshine but that wind was still icy cold. We passed Trinity Marina where we were going to stop to pick up some diesel but they were closed so we continued to Ashby Boat Company where we filled our diesel tank, emptied our cassettes and disposed of our rubbish. During this journey we also stopped at the farm shop at Bridge 23 and managed to pick up some meat and a few vegetables which would hopefully tide us over for a few days before we needed to visit the supermarket again. We then moored between bridges 26 and 27 just passed Willow Park Marina. Here we met up with Andrew and Julia from NB Lingalonga. We first encountered Andrew when we were moored at Reedley Marina just after our launch day on May 2018, he helped us to our pontoon as it was exceptionally windy the day we arrived. He was just fitting out his boat which on completion, he and Julia were to become continuous cruisers.
We didn’t actually film this part of our journey as we had intended to have a break from filming until we reached the top of the Ashby Canal. We would then film our return journey. However things did not go to plan as on 23rd March the Prime Minister put the country into lockdown and everyone except key workers had to stay at home to prevent the spread of the Covid 19 virus. We wasn’t sure what effect this announcement would have on our movement, however the Canal and River Trust then released a statement that continuous cruisers who lived aboard were only allowed to move their boats for essential journeys only. This meant that we could only move to use boaters services or to pick up food. Although we had stopped at Hinckley for provisions we were only able to pick up a few supplies as some people had already started to panic buy some products. Meat and vegetables had been in short supply along with toilet rolls, soap, hand sanitiser and quite a lot of tinned and dry goods.
24th March 2020
So this is where we pick up from in the video!
As we knew there was another water tap not too far ahead I had completed a couple of washing loads in the few days that we moored here. So on 24th March we took a short journey to the boaters facilities at Sutton Wharf, it was a beautiful cruise on a beautiful spring day and for some reason we felt really guilty for moving the boat but we had almost depleted our water supply with the washing I had done!
Heading in a northerly direction the canal meanders carelessly pass Dadlington towards Sutton Chaney Wharf where we use the boaters facilities before mooring opposite Ambion Wood. This was a lovely quiet mooring spot opposite King Richards Well and the site reputed to be the last significant battle of the War of the Roses that extended across England in the latter half of the 15th century. ( more about this in a later vlog!)
We stayed at this mooring for 2 weeks, but more about that in the next vlog!
17th March 2020
We have spent the last couple of days catching up with some boat jobs whilst moored between bridges 2 and 3 on the Ashby Canal. We managed to clean the towpath side of the boat and checked out what painting we needed to do. We had a bit of a clean to the bow of the boat as during the winter period it had become a bit of a store for bags of coal.
We take a cruise up to Bridge 6, the industry and suburbanism of the Coventry canal has been replaced by peaceful farms and fields. The only evidence of another world being the tall electricity pylons carrying overhead power lines criss crossing the landscape. Here we stay for a couple of days before moving onto Hinckley.
The weather remains cloudy and overcast and still really cold, we cruise up to Hinckley where we fill our water tank at the tap by bridge 15 before mooring just beyond Bridge 17 where there are some visitor moorings to pick up some provisions. We walk the mile into town where we find a Lidl to pick up some supplies. Over the last few days the Covid 19 virus has been accelerating and many people have been bulk buying on many items like toilet rolls, pasta, rice and soaps for when they have to self isolate. There hasn't been any hand sanitisers in the shops for the last couple of weeks either so I really wasn't expecting to find much in the shops. Surprisingly we did manage to get most of what we needed to feed ourselves for about 7 days and with a planned visit to the farm shop by bridge 23 we would hopefully extend that to about 10 days. I do sometimes find it to be a bit of a struggle to fit in supplies for much more than 10 days.
10th March 2020
We have moved out of Atherstone and moored at an isolated spot near Hartshill Country Park for a few days. We take a walk to the 137 acre site before moving on towards Nuneaton where we have ordered some prescription medicines to pick up from a local pharmacy.
13th March 2020
The wind seems to have dropped a bit and it doesn't feel quite so cold today so we make an early start (well early for us) and leave our lovely mooring before bridge 33. We negotiate a fallen tree before we pass Hartshill Yard a former 19C carpenters workshop and blacksmiths forge overlooked by a splendid clock tower, now a canal and river trust maintenance yard, where we pick up some water before continuing our journey. We visit Springhaven Marina to stock up on coal as we still have the solid fuel stove alight 24/7 and Pat picked up some oil ready for the next engine oil change. We moor just before bridge 24 as we don't want to moor overnight in Nuneaton. We had a few problems with our GP surgery sending our E prescriptions to the pharmacy so I chased them up and phoned the pharmacy to see if they had received them.
14th March 2020
Our prescription medicines are ready so we high tail it up ( well at 4 mph) to Nuneaton, where we stop for a few hours to visit the town. It was quite a pleasant cruise with some sunny intervals, its still a bit cold and once again there are some icy blasts of wind. It's very suburban here and we pass a housing estate with gardens backing onto the canal followed by lots of allotments in various stages of planting. We stop just before Boot Bridge opposite a boatyard and moor for a few hours, where we take a trip into town to pick up some more provisions and return a parcel which turned out to be a bit of a palaver. We ended up going to the library to print out the label as the post office wouldn't do it as it was Parcelforce and not Royal Mail. On our return to the boat we had some lunch before pressing on towards the Ashby Canal, here the landscape takes a turn for the better as we meander through open countryside before we take the sharp left turn at Marston Junction onto the Ashby Canal and finally moor between bridges 2 and 3.
9th March 2020
We’ve been at Pooley Country Park for a couple of days, and while here we take a walk up to the Gold Leaf Monument, installed in 2011 on the top of a mound of colliery waste to become the centre piece of the country park. The tower is a stack of aluminium strips formed in the shape of a birch leaf and the outer surface is covered in gold leaf. The gold finish is a reference to the wealth that was created by and for those who exploited the coal. It was commissioned as part of the regeneration of Pooley and was chosen following consultations with local people to help revitalise and create a strong identity for the area's regeneration. There are extensive views to be had for those who climb to the top the hill.
We pass under the M42 motorway and head south through Polesworth, which underwent rapid growth in the coal mining and clay industries in the 1770’s when the Coventry Canal was built.
Coal has been mined at Polesworth since the Norman Times and by the 17th century was well established. In 1951, several of the local mines had been combined but by 1965 they too were closed down.
The canal then passes some arable land before arriving at the bottom of 11 locks which take the canal through Atherstone. We moor up however between locks 6 and 5 to visit the town to collect some provisions, which is only a 10min walk into town. The town runs along side the canal by the bottom half of the locks, with some housing and gardens backing onto the canal, but despite this most of the Atherstone flight feels detached from an urban setting. However, the busy A5 runs between locks 6 and 5 and with the railway line also close by this was a very noisy mooring and we only stayed one night before moving on.
This is a trip of 5 miles with 6 locks and took us approximately 3.5 hours.
5th March 2020
We’ve been at or near Fazeley Junction for ten days, as we head in a North easterly direction we pass over the Tame Aqueduct built in 1785-1790. Watch out though for the recent addition of a World War 2 pillbox built in 1940-41, modified in 2000 into an artificial bat cave!
We continue up the two Glascote locks and read about the Tale of Leaky Lock. We head through the suburban area of Tamworth, pass a couple of boat yards and Alvecote Marina before mooring beside Pooley Country Park.