Sunday, 19 May 2013

Coventry and Heading South

Since our last post we reached the very end of the Ashby Canal and we've then retraced our route and followed the Coventry Canal into Coventry itself.

The Ashby Canal ends just beyond Snarestone, though it used to extend another 8 miles to the mines at Moira.  Snarestone is a village on top of the canal tunnel which is only 250 yards long but has a distinct kink in the middle.
Approaching Snarestone Tunnel

Last bridge on Ashby Canal in the evening sunlight

 We spent one night at the end of the canal and then set off to retrace the 22 lock free miles back to the Coventry Canal.  A young pup watched us as we went on our way:

 Soon after rejoining the Coventry Canal we came to Hawkesbury Junction where the Oxford Canal links with it.  This is a very difficult junction to turn with a long narrowboat and has a pub, the Greyhound right on the turn so that there are lots of spectators when you make a mess of it.
Engine House at Hawkesbury Junction - steam engine used to pump water from a deep well into the canal
This time we did not make the turn onto the Oxford Canal but covered the five miles into the centre of Coventry.  The canal basin in the city was attractive and we were also agreeably surprised that there was much more to see and enjoy than we had expected.
'Cash's Hundred Houses' - top story had steam driven weaving looms

Lych Gate Cottages

New Cathedral seen from the top of the tower of the old Cathedral

Fourteenth Century Houses by the Guildhall

After spending much of the day sightseeing we filled up with water and set off out of the city on Saturday afternoon.  We returned to Hawkesbury Junction and then turned onto the Oxford Canal.  We found it is much easier to make the turn from this direction.  At the junction there is a stop lock lifting Leo a mere 8 inches!  Stop Locks were common at Canal Junctions so that water was not lost from one canal company to another.

After staying last night just after the junction we have continued down the Oxford Canal today in remarkably warm and sunny weather.  Long may it continue.  This part of the Oxford Canal was constructed in the late 18th century by James Brindley who was famous for building canals which followed the contours very closely.  As a result they tended to wind all over the countryside.  This part of the Canal used to be 36 miles long but was shortened in the 1830s by 14 miles, by putting in lots of straight embankments and cuttings.  Some of the old loops which were cut off remain as boatyards and moorings.  These often begin with splendid cast iron bridges like this one:

Towards the end of today's run we enjoyed the shade of the Newbold Tunnel, another short tunnel:
Newbold tunnel - pretty coloured lights
Tonight we are moored just outside Rugby with a field opposite occupied by some wonderful long horned cattle:
Curly horned Bull
A few boats are also moored here, including a second boat called 'Leo'.  The owner was engaging the services of a signwriter, Becky Roberts, and we admired her work on his boat.

In the next few days we will be passing through Braunston, probably the busiest place on the canal network and then joining the Southern part of the Oxford Canal towards Banbury and on to Oxford.

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