Thursday, 21 June 2018

It's all downhill!!

In the last few days our average number of locks per day has gone up quite a bit.  We've come down the 19 Lapworth Locks and the 21 Hatton Locks and here is the story of those descents:

Last Sunday our friends Maurice and Carolyn cycled to us on their tandem and then helped us down the Lapworth Locks:

Before they arrived we came down the first four locks which are further apart and there is then a gap before the work starts in earnest.  Here we are looking back to the second lock in the flight.

Once down the first four we boiled the kettle and waited for the tandem to arrive.  We found room for the bike on the roof and for the riders inside.  Much cake and biscuits were eaten on Sunday.

The Lapworth Locks are narrow ones and each only averages about 7 feet deep so they are fairly easy, especially with two extra crew.  In this photo at lock 18 near the bottom before Kingswood Junction, Helen is on the left and Carolyn on the right.  Maurice has gone ahead to set the next lock.

Here is Kingswood Junction.  To the right leads on towards Stratford where we went a month ago.  Our way this time lay to the left where one final lock dropped us down to the Lapworth Link which connects with the Grand Union Canal.
We enjoyed our day with Maurice and Carolyn and hope they did too.  We were certainly grateful for their help and the descent of the locks was surprisingly relaxing.  We moored on the Lapworth Link and later said our goodbyes as they left on the tandem to go home.

We could have done the Hatton locks the following day but decided to have an easier day on Monday and stopped a mile short of the top of the locks and carried on down on Tuesday.
On the way we cruised through the surprisingly wet Shrewley Tunnel.  If you look above and to the right of the canal tunnel entrance you can see a separate tunnel for the towpath.  The towing horses had to go through this dark hole.  The inside of the canal tunnel is lined with stalactites and water pours through the roof onto poor unsuspecting boaters at several points.

On Monday a walk from our mooring took us to the Hatton Locks Cafe near the top of the flight, so more tea and cake.  On Tuesday we met Kieran and Christine on Ellisiana at the top of the locks and shared the flight with them.  Being on the Grand Union we are now on a wide canal and two boats fit in each lock.  In this photo Ellisiana is coming out of the top lock as we start our descent together.

This view is looking down the straight section of the flight.  The tower seen below is that of St Mary's Church in Warwick.

The Hatton flight is sometimes called the "Stairway to Heaven" and this gives you some idea of why.

Kieran and Christine decided to moor four locks from the end of the flight but were kind enough to continue on foot to help us down the last of the locks.  A very kind gesture and we were thankful for their help.  We turned off the canal at the bottom onto the Saltisford Arm and this view is taken from our mooring there.  The Arm is owned by a charity and mooring costs £6 a night but it is a lovely spot and the moorers and the manager, Ian, are very welcoming.  It is also closer to the centre of Warwick.
We stayed two nights in the Saltisford Arm and spent Wednesday visiting the sights of Warwick.  It is a lovely town though perhaps has too much traffic going through.  It has innumerable corners full of fine historical buildings.
We  started our day by climbing 160 steps to the top of the tower of St Mary's Church.  Here is the view looking towards Warwick Castle.  We had visited the Castle before so we went instead to other sights.

If you go to Warwick do visit the Lord Leycester Hospital.  This is not a hospital but a home for ex servicemen founded in 1571.  Ex servicemen still live there and show visitors round.  It is a wonderful collection of medieval buildings which date back a further century before its foundation.

This is the Great Hall where James 1 was guest of honour at a banquet which nearly bankrupted the town.  He sat in the chair seen on the left.  The Hall is still used for banquets, usually for weddings.

This is the Courtyard with the Master's House beyond and a galleried landing to the right.

Left is the Guildhall where the town's worthies discussed how the town should be run and organised its government.

The Hosptal has a lovely garden.  The Norman arch was found on the site and re-erected as a garden feature.  The urn is from ancient Egypt.
Part of the Lord Leycester Hospital site includes a chapel over the West Gate to the town.  At the other end of the High Street is the East Gate shown here which also has a chapel on top.

The building on the left is Thomas Oken's House.  He was a major benefactor to the town from the 1500s and a charity he founded still supports the town and its people.

I like the roof lines in this photo taken from the town walls which is also within the Hospital site.
So, we were really impressed with Warwick and after touring the sights, sat down to rest on a bench by the River Avon.  Perhaps one day we'll be able to navigate up the Avon from Stratford, saving a lot of locks up to Lapworth and back down again!

Even more surprising was that we found a proper ironmonger's shop in Warwick - Torry's on West Street.  We have been looking for a 4 inch chimney flue brush for ages and they actually had one in stock!!

So do visit Warwick it is well worthwhile.

Today (Thursday) we've come through Leamington and have moored in open country near Radford Semele.  But more about that in our next posting.

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