Tuesday 2 March 2010

The Famous Three are off on a winter adventure.

After piling the contents of the car aboard, we were by 2pm finally under-way and heading towards Hawkesbury Junction, leaving Hillmorton (bridge 70) trailing in our wake. This was the start of our late winter adventure. In keeping with the season, the weather was overcast, grey and very very cold. The temperature hovering around 2c at best. But the wind chill made it seem much colder. However, I knew the cruise would be OK, when shortly after leaving the Hillmorton bottom lock, I spotted several Bullfinches in the canal hedgerow. A good omen.

In places there appeared to be a different sort of sheen on the water surface. This was created by the wafer thin ice that was beginning to form on the canal surface. As luck would have it, I had many layers of clothes on to keep warm. You can't beat a good fleece for extra warmth, anyway it was good to be at the helm again.

I was aware that we would not make Hawkesbury before nightfall. So we just plodded along intending to moor up as soon as it started to go dark. We soon passed by Clifton Wharf, there were a few boats already moored for the night on the Rugby visitors moorings, but ignoring them, we kept on going. We passed the Brownsover arm, there were many boats moored in this area also. It did not take long to reach Cathiron Lane bridge (50) and off in the distance was Newbold Tunnel.

The Tunnel is illuminated with different coloured lights, and in the gathering gloom the curve of the roof and the coloured light mimics a sort of rainbow. I turned off the bow light to get the best effect. When we eventually emerged from the other side, the day seemed to be quite a bit brighter and so we pressed on further.

We came up to the Hungerford Bridge (35) by this time we were travelling close to the railway. I had also noticed one or two bridges under the railway track at this point. I suppose one of these bridge arches must be associated with the "Great Train Robbery" of yesteryear. I must try to find out! Soon we were at All Oaks Corner and it would be nightfall very soon! I should have stopped here - but we went on a little further and moored up for the night within sight of the M6 motorway bridge (25) and unfortunately we found out later, this mooring was also within easy earshot of the railway! However, as it turned out we had an easy night as everyone was so very tired. Having covered about 8 miles and 1 lock.

The banks were quite soft and muddy and the mooring pins were quite easy to knock in. So I decided to add an extra line to a canalside tree by way of extra security. Later I thought if anyone does come out for a late night towpath walk they might walk into the line, but I was too tired to care! I also thought it was good to see a length of towpath free of dog shit! So I presume not a lot of people pass that way!

I had got the Eberspacher central heating turned on to warm up the cabin, it was very welcoming and snug inside. I lit the Morso stove in the saloon and Mags got busy preparing our first meal aboard, Feeling much warmer, I decided I was brave enough to face the elements again. So, I took Pop's (Poppy) for her first evening walk. We did not stay out long as it was well below freezing with the wind chill sending the wet bulb plummeting. There was no way I wanted to risk slipping on the tow-path at this point. So after a warming meal, we watched a weak television picture for a while but we soon tumbled into our beds. Pops however, chose to ignore her bed in front of the saloon stove and came to join us at the foot of ours. Well it was her first night aboard a narrow boat! special dispensation was granted. It was eventually granted for the whole of our trip!


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