EAST MIDLANDS RING
21st Aug - 4th Sept 2004
Saturday 21st August (Weather - Excellent
Sunshine and Hot)
- Departed from Wetherby at 9am in Jim's car
heading for the boatyard at Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.
- Arrived at Midday and after a pint at a nearby pub,
loaded up the boat ready for departure.
- After a briefing from the staff we left the
boatyard at 3pm heading southwards at the start of our journey.
- Ron suffered his first chastising from a irate lady on
a moored boat and Neil shortly afterwards accurately deflected a passing fibre
glass cruiser into the undergrowth.
- Arrived at Stone at 7-45 mooring near the Stone
Boatyard & Chandlery.
- Visited the "Star Inn" for an evening meal and 5
pints of Marstons Pedigree Ale
- Returned to the boat for Cheese and
Sunday 22nd August (Sun late appearing, but
another excellent day)
- Departed Stone at 8-10am navigating 3 locks
before a short breakfast stop (9-30 to 10-00) near Burston.
- Passed Sandon Lock at 11am, joining a queue of 5 boats
at Weston Lock which took over 1 hour to navigate.
- After passing Haywood Junction, we stopped at 3pm for a
late lunch at Little Haywood, where we enjoyed 2 pints of Ruddles Ale at the
This was followed by an excellent salad lunch on board, departing at 4-35pm.
- Continued through Rugeley and following a collision
with the concrete bank negotiating a tight corner by Bridge 62 (Ron Driving),
stopped for water at 6-40pm.
- Arrived at Handsacre at 7-45pm for overnight stop.
Investigated the 2 pubs and chose the Theakstons "Olde Peculliar" for our
evening meal and 4 pints of Marston's Pedigree (Except Ron).
- Heavy rain all night!!!!
Monday 23rd August (Heavy intermittent rain in
the morning, turning bright in the afternoon, except for a thundery shower at
- A later start at 8-45am because of the rainy conditions,
heading down to the very busy locks at Fradley Junction.
MAJOR CHANGE OF PLANS - Due to the inclement weather
and the large amount of traffic heading towards Burton-on-Trent, for the
National Canal Festival, the consensus was to change the route to
an anti-clockwise circuit. We have therefore turned right at Fradley Junction
onto the Coventry Canal. The current plan is to maintain the same changeover
point, but via an alternative route.
- Breakfast of Porridge and Toast whilst on the move at
- A small collision with the bank occurred with Jim at
the helm, whilst passing two boats in a narrow section. We were however
our way after a hefty push-off with the barge pole on a nearby tree.
- Stopped at the "Tame Otter" in Hopwas at 2-15pm for a
welcome 3 pints of Bass and "Old Hooky" (Except Ron).
- Returned to the boat to find our prop jambed with a
branch, where we drifted helplessly out of control until this was removed by
enabling us to continue on route, at approx 3-50pm, for our proposed
night-time stop at Polesworth.
- Due to a momentary lack of concentration by Alan, a
slight collision occurred with a major bridge abutment.
- Enjoyed a lunch on board of Quiche, cheese and salad.
- Arrived at Polesworth at 6-55pm, ready to investigate
the 2 pubs for our evening meal.
- Found the Polesworth pubs to be lacking in atmosphere,
therefore after 3 pints of Bass Original, we chose to take a Chinese Take-Away back to the boat, which was enjoyed by
- Only Jim found space after for further beer at "The Red
Lion", be-friending a strange local woman.
Tuesday 24th August (Bright and sunny with
occasional heavy showers)
- A prompt start at 7-55am cruising towards the Atherton
flight of 11 locks, which took 3 hours to navigate. Witnessed the
"Wicked witch of Atherton (an unfortunate lady with long grey hair and a loud
- A slight scare at the penultimate lock where the lower
lock gates swing open without warning.
- A late breakfast/lunch at 12-45pm before heading
towards Nuneaton for a lunch stop.
- Arrived at the "Anchor Inn" near Hartshill at 2.20pm,
after a period of heavy rain, whilst mooring, which caused flooding of Ron's
bedroom, due to a blocked drain hole. On entering the pub we were
astonished to discover that they closed at 2-30pm, but managed a hurried
pint of Everards Tiger Bitter, before continuing on our journey towards our
proposed night stop point of Ansty.
- Arrived at Ansty 6-45pm for a spot of fishing before
heading up to the "Rose and Castle" for dinner.
- Excellent fare at the the "Rose and Castle" much
enjoyed by all and well washed down with 6 pints of superb Bass (except Ron).
Wednesday 25th August (Overcast but reasonable
weather, except rain whilst at the lunchtime pub stop)
- A later start this morning, as Jim sleep in until
almost 8am. Departed Ansty at 8-10am stopping on route at Stretton to take
Stretton Stop (taking on water)
- Enjoyed the rural route, without locks, through to
Rugby arriving at approximately 12-30pm.
- Neil and Alan were sent on a provisions gathering
exercise to the local Tesco store, where they achieved a number of substantial
cost saving "Buy one get one free" purchases.
- Visited the local "Harvester" establishment for lunch,
where a two pints of "Bass" were greatly enjoyed. The more responsible
members of the crew declined a third pint, much against the better judgment of the others. Left the pub after the rain had stopped, to cast off at
route for the proposed evening stop at Braunston.
- At the insistence of Ron we stopped in the shadow of
the Rugby aerial masts and enjoyed a healthy lunch of
fruit salad (with only small portions of pork pie).
- Navigated the 3 Hillmorton double locks, see below,
with the Rugby aerials behind.
- With considerable courage and bravery, Alan leapt onto
and rescued a wayward narrowboat that had broken loose from its moorings and was
blocking the canal near the Blue Haven Marine boatyard. Once the
boat was secured, we were able to continue our journey towards Braunston.
- Eventually moored at Braunston at 6-45pm, just before
the locks, after spending some time searching for a suitable berth and was
able to catch up with a little fishing (still unsuccessful).
- Walked up the "Admiral Nelson" for dinner and
four pints of Abbotts Ale (except Ron). Dinner was noted for the very
thick gammon steak and afterwards competing with a game of skittles.
Thursday 26th August (Started overcast, but
turned into and excellent sunny day later on)
- Cast off at 7-25am to negotiate 6 locks before
entering Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards), see below:
- Turned left at Norton Junction - An very tight corner
navigated in an un-usual manner by Ron. Manoeuvre awarded a score of 1 out
of 10 by a local
- A breakfast stop between 10-15 and 10-45, before heading
on to the Watford staircase lock system.
- Arrived at the Watford Locks at 11-45 to meet a long
queue of boats heading upward. Neil superbly guided us through the lock
system with only one "miscalculation". Continued on after the
locks at 3-20pm.
- Continued up and into the Crick Tunnel (1528 yds),
where only a little brick dust was collected on deck after a slight collision
with the tunnel wall to avoid a passing narrowboat. (Alan at the helm).
- Moored at Welford Wharf at 7-30pm, and greatly enjoyed
Jim's Tuna and Pasta bake before visiting the "Wharf Inn" for 4 excellent
pints of Marstons Pedigree (except Ron).
- Entertainment for the crew was laid on by the pub in
the form of a Folk Group, which Jim seemed to know all the words.
Friday 27th August (Damp
and overcast in the morning, but turned into an excellent warm afternoon)
- Heavy rain during the night with cold and damp
conditions in the
morning, but satisfactory cruising weather.
- A later start this morning (except Ron) as the required
cruising time is much reduced today. Ron went ashore at an early hour to
gain extra provisions from a local trader.
- Departed the Welford Arm at 10-20 after a hearty breakfast
with extra rations (2 rashers of bacon and 2 sausages).
- Arrived at Yelverton at 1-25pm and after a little
difficulty finding a mooring place, tied up against the bank and set off for
the "Knightly Arms for 2 pints of Abbotts Ale.
- After an excellent lunch on board of Jim's Cheese and Onion
flan, with cheese and biscuits, we proceeded on to Crick Marina for a full
service of the boat. (Pump Out, Diesel, Water etc.) The
difficult manoeuvres within the marina, including a 3 point turn of the 69ft
long boat were accomplished with hardly any collisions.
- Later tied up early for a spot of successful fishing (1
fish), whilst Ron and Neil investigated the local establishments for dinner.
Jim left early to "Sample the Waters" at both the Red Lion and the Wheatsheaf.
- Later met at the Red Lion for dinner and 5 pints of
Marstons Pedigree (Except Jim). Bottle top left with Neil !!!
- Jim remained for a final pint or two, whilst we returned
to the boat for Cheese and Biscuits on the boat and a little Olympics.
Saturday 28th August
(Overcast, but dry in the morning, with some hazy sun in the afternoon)
- Cast off promptly at 7-15 to travel through the Crick
Tunnel again and to arrived at the Watford Staircase Locks at 8-10.
- No delays through the locks and after filling with
water at the end, continued on our way at 9-20.
- Confirmed with Smithy that the second crew are ready to
leave Long Marston, as planned. All ready at 8-45, but waiting for
CREW CHANGEOVER AT THE
NEW INN, NORTON JUNCTION, BELOW:
- Arrived at the changeover point at 10am to find no
spaces available in the planned position. Therefore moored at a
temporary position whilst we enjoyed our final cooked breakfast.
- At 11am we noticed a position had become vacant
and commenced the complicated manoeuvre of turning the narrowboat at Norton
Junction and pulling the boat backwards up the Grand Union Canal to the
- Colin's transport arrived on time, but from the wrong
direction!!! The changeover was completed and group photos taken
(see below), followed by 2 pints of Green King IPA at the New Inn (including
- The second crew then took the narrowboat
"Stacey" towards Braunston, with Jim at the helm.
- The Braunston tunnel (2042 yards) was successfully
traversed, but with very low visibility due to the fumes from previous boats.
- Moored above the Braunston Locks for dinner at the "Admiral Nelson".
Sunday 29th August
(Rain during the night, but stopped by 7-30am, with another shower later, whilst
in the pub)
- Set off at 8-20 to travel down through the 6 double
width Braunston Locks, along with another private owner, who complemented the standard
- Very busy through Braunston, with many double moored
boats, but no collisions.
- Continued onward, with Smithy successfully negotiating
the Hillmorton Locks.
- Stopped at Rugby for a further visit to Tesco, where
the ingredients were
purchased for a Chicken Curry for the evening meal.
- Called into the local Harvester pub for a late lunch
drink, but as it was Brads birthday (76th), continued to enjoy many more
pints of draught Bass and were still there at 5-45 with little sign of an
- Abandoned all thoughts of travelling on to the proposed
Sunday destination and therefore will spend the night at Rugby.
- Returned to the boat for a dinner of Chicken Masala
& Rice and then back again to the Harvester for further ale !!!
Bank Holiday Monday
30th August (Changeable weather with Drizzle, Rain and Sun at various
points during the day)
- Departed Rugby (At Last) at 8-20am, stopping just
before the Newbold Tunnel (250 yards) to take on water.
- Breakfast was taken "On the move" with Jim
taking his in sandwich form whilst at the helm.
- Continued past Brinklow and Stretton Stop to moor at
Ansty for a lunchtime break, arriving at 1-15pm.
- Visited the Rose and Castle for a number of ales and
then returned to the boat for a lunch of Salad.
- Cast off from Ansty at 2-35pm towards Hawkesbury
Junction with an occasional shower requiring weatherproofs.
- Despite a mooring boat ahead, the tight double turn at
Hawkesbury Junction was superbly accomplished, without an actual collision,
by Captain Jim.
- Travelled past Bedworth to arrive at Chilvers Coton (A
suburb of Nuneaton) to check out the first of the two pubs. On finding
this not to their liking, the boat was taken three bridges further on to
moor close to the "Boot Inn". This turned out to be another
rough and noisy pub, but as the M&B ale consumed took to the crew's
liking, it was decided to settle in for the evening.
- A meal on board of Steak with fresh vegetables is being
prepared by Brad for the crew. This was followed by Raspberry Triffle
and Cheese and Biscuits.
- Returned to the pub after dinner for more ale and then
back to the boat for more Cheese and Biscuits.
- Rumours that Brad was unable to cope with the quantity
of ale being consumed were strongly denied, despite being seen leaving the
pub early for his bed.
- Tomorrow will bring a testing time for the crew with
the Atherston flight of locks (11) ahead of them.
Tuesday 31st August
(Chilly and windy at first, with no rain, but turning into a pleasant sunny
- Cast off at 7-55am to stop just past Nuneaton for a
cooked breakfast between 8-55 and 9-50.
- Entered the Atherston flight of eleven locks, stopping
by lock 5 at 12-25pm for a lunchtime drink at local pub.
- Left at 1-30 to attempt the remainder of the locks,
successfully clearing them by 3-45pm.
- John spent some time at the helm, whilst Brad has two
interesting stints of careful tuition.
- Travelled on through Polesworth to moor at 5-50pm,
adjacent to bridge 64, at Alvecote to investigate the ale and food at the
"Pretty Pigs". Should this prove to be not to the crew's
liking then alternative establishments are available by bridges 69 or 73.
- Plans are to attempt to reach Fradley Junction by
Wednesday night and maybe Sandon on Thursday, assuming the supplies of
Cheese and Biscuits have not been exhausted.
- Failed to stop at the right bridge and ended up at the
"Gate Inn" for a curry dinner and ale.
- Jim felt unwell on returning to the boat and an
ambulance was called at approx 1-30am, where he was taken to the Good Hope
hospital in Sutton Coldfield. John went with Jim in the ambulance and
later returned to the boat by taxi.
September (Glorious hot sunny day)
- Whilst Jim rests in hospital, a much less jovial boat
continued on it's journey back towards Stoke of Trent
- Have established dedicated telephone contact with Jim
on regular basis, who appears to be in good spirit.
September (Another Glorious sunny day)
- Journey continues with a lunchtime stop and plans to
overnight at Stone.
- More telephone contact with Jim, who's main worry is
not his health, but his lack of pyjamas !!!
Friday 3rd September
(Hot and sunny)
- The boat continued on its journey, arriving at the
boatyard at approximately 6-45pm
- The crew were unable to enter the boat yard as the
pedestrian bridge crossing the entrance was down and had to make a difficult
manoeuvre to avoid two fibre glass boats moored nearby. Nobody had
told them that the standard lock windlass can also be used for lifting these
bridges!!! They are obviously missing Jim more than we thought.
- Jim progressing well, but sounds very bored and is
resigned to being in hospital for some time. The hospital do not seem
interested in transferring him to York.
September (Overcast in the morning, but sunny later on)
- The boat was handed back at 9-30am after much work had been carried
out in disguising the new dents that "may" have been
- The crew will be buying pyjamas
and other items and calling to see Jim at the hospital on the way home.
END OF HOLIDAY