Tuesday 21st September 2010
Weather – Bright mostly sunny – warm! Day 11
Set a long one for the guys today as the scheduled 12 miles would have put us in some not so nice parts of the canal – sorry Nuneaton but all through you have poor mooring places
and parts where some of your inhabitants think its fun to untie ropes during the night and throw mud and stones. As one of my briefs was to try and find secure moorings to protect the kayaks then it was stop short or go longer – we went longer. Fortunately for the kayakers today included the Atherton flight of 11 locks and it was decided to carry the kayaks through on Elysium as the locks are spread out in such a manner that the guys would have been having to get the boats in and out of the water too much. Justin had of course to walk this section to complete his challenge as carrying the kayaks round locks is acceptable.
Chance then for my other Australian guest Steve to try his hand at the tiller, another box would be ticked in his remarkable tales of his exploits around the world. He also didn’t want to be outdone by his big pal Mitch who did the job so admirably up Heartbreak Hill last week!
After ten minutes on the tiller and a bit of advice from me in the first two locks I was able to leave him for all the rest. To be honest I was a bit miffed as until then I enjoyed a reputation as a bit of a boatman. Now they all realised it was not so difficult after all! Mind it was a lovely still day which does help – Mitch was working in high winds and rain most of the time!
Atherstone is a nice place to visit – pity we had to go right through and press on. Steve rejoined his kayak and off they went for Hawkesworth Junction some 14 miles on! This was around midday and I was not to see them again until 5.30 pm when I arrived. As I have said before they don’t have to slow for moored boats and its only now that I realised how much they can affect the planning for a cruising journey in terms of time.
The canal is pretty in places although as I alluded above Nuneaton is not very attractive from a canal perspective, and I was surprised at how poorly the bankside of the towpath were maintained – I had understood that small trees and growths in general would be cut back by BW – not on this canal!
Along the canal from Nuneaton past the outskirts of Bedworth there are some quite unusual house gardens. A stretch known as Centenary Way on the canal has high embankments on one side and the properties are set back and cant be seen however all have worked on terraced gardens dropping down to the water edge. One in particular catches the eye as a work of real love – uneven terraces with a wide range of shrubs and trees created a real country natural feel in a country garden way.
On arrival at the really lovely and historical Hawkesworth Junction ( also known as Suttons Stop after the first lock-keeper and toll-man in 1815 or so) there moored immediately out side the well known Greyhound pub was our next Community Boat lent to us by the London Project based in Braunston. Chris and Di had already made contact with the guys and Jane and were rightly proud of the 12 berth vessel they had brought us. PJ and Steve were “well happy”
The Greyhound is a very traditional and well known pub with an excellant reputation for good pub food and plenty of it! For a Tuesday night it must be the busiest pub around full of boaters who use this junction as a regular stop.