Friday, September 27, 2013

Cruise to Warwick with Christine and Mike - return journey

Friday, 20th September - day 6 We had seen a demonstration of the use of crossbows and longbows (and other assorted medieval weapons) at the castle on Thursday, and the man responsible - a man of no mean skill with the bows, and a good knowledge of history) spoke of nearby St Mary's Church as being "the finest in Europe". While I took this to be hyperbole founded in his ignorance of all of the churches across so many lands, we all thought that it sounded worth a visit, so we set out back to the town to do some sightseeing.

Much to our disappointment, we found St Mary's closed for three days for the filming of a couple of episodes of "Songs of Praise". The best we got was a look down the nave through a glass wall just inside the west door. Grace and I will have to visit by car some time.

Returning to Kantara, we had lunch, then made our way the few miles to Bugbrooke Junction with the Salford Arm, where we winded and started our return journey to Yelvertoft.

We ended our day in the lovely rural setting of Bull Lane Bridge, no. 34.

On Saturday, we got off to a late start, stopping soon at Fosse Wharf for services. There we met an Anglo-Welsh hire boat which had broken down - overheated, with much water in the bilges. How very annoying for them. They can't have been out for more than two days.

We had an early lunch above Fosee Top Lock. The weather was warm and sunny as we climbed Bascote Locks, and we were hot and sticky when we moored past Bascote Bridge, no. 27.

An hotel boat
Sunday was hot and sunny from the start. We moved on to Little Itchington where the other three went to the local Co-Op for supplies, and I rested a back which was threatening to be a pain. The canal was really busy, and everyone was enjoying the improved weather. We had lunch at that spot, then ascended Calcutt Locks on far better weather than that in which we had gone down some days earlier. We went singly again. The weight of traffic was headed the other way from us.

Turning left at Napton Junction into that beautiful, wide stretch of the GU, we went to bridge 103, where we moored for the night.

Monday, 23rd - my 62nd birthday! The sky was full of white cloud, but the air was still, and it wasn't at all cold. Mike spent the day at the tiller under the watchful eye of Grace. He took us on to Braunston, then left onto the Oxford Canal. We had time to spare, so decided to do a bit of a detour here, before getting back to Yelvertoft. It was lovely to be on the Oxford again. It really is a beautiful canal at this point. 

We stopped for lunch at bridge 81, west of Barby, then moved on to the winding at Torry's Bridge, where we turned and returned to bridge 81 for overnight mooring.

We felt very sorry for a young man who stopped running to ask us if we knew exactly where we were. He was part of the crew of a hire boat waiting for him down in Braunston. They had left a windlass at the top of Napton Locks, and he was going back, hopefully to retrieve it. Unfortunately, we had to tell him that he had just run three miles up the wrong canal!

On Tuesday morning, we headed back to Braunston, the weather mild but overcast. We stopped to take on water, then moved on to moor outside Braunston Marina before having lunch at The Gongoozlers' Rest - the best bacon, cheese and mushroom toasties imaginable!

On to the Braunston Flight now, singly again, with Christine and me locking in increasingly hot and weather. Waiting for the bottom lock to fill - very slowly - I nipped in to the Boat Shop, jokingly to suggest to the proprietor that he had done something to the lock to slow it down, thus allowing boaters more time to buy more goods from his shop. Not recognising the humour, he assured me that he'd done no such thing, and that the lock had got slower over the years without any help!

We moored just a few hundred yards short of Norton Junction. It was a sunny, warm evening.

Wednesday started mistily, giving the canal an air of mystery.

With time on our hands now, Grace navigated slowly to the Junction and turned left onto the Leicester Line. The locks were ready for us to ascend. We stopped at the top for services, then made our way very slowly to Crick Tunnel. We moored past bridge 11. Later that evening, Christine and Mike took us for an excellent meal at The Moorings.

On Thursday, we left Crick fairly late, travelling the last few miles to Yelvertoft in twice the time it would normally take. We arrived at the marina in something of a strong breeze, but Grace took her time and backed Kantara into her berth with no problem. 60 miles and 76 locks. Christine and Mike left to return to Torquay within the hour. We'd had a really good time together. Our thanks to both of them for sharing it with us. See you next year, guys!

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