Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Little Diversion

So, where to go from Braunston? We were conscious of the fact that the available time was limited, as we needed to get back to Devon for a wedding in early September and we were also expecting a consignment of garden tools from Switzerland, due to arrive just before we left and back at the bottom of the Buckby locks. We wanted somewhere to go for just less than 2 weeks . . .
In January last year, we had visited the little Ashby Canal, which is about 20 miles long without a single lock. At the time, on board our shared boat for our winter week, we had said it would be a lovely place to visit in the summer. So, here was our opportunity!

We left the wide locks of the Grand Union and headed up the northern part of the Oxford Canal through the edge of Rugby. Here we are going DOWN one of the paired locks at Hillmorton while another boat is coming UP the other one. We only had three locks to go down until we reached Hawkesbury Junction, just on the edge of Coventry, where there is a 'stop lock' with only about six inches change in level – a relic of the old canal companies jealously guarding their own water levels!

Some really graceful cast iron bridges were built along this stretch, and Hawkesbury Junction itself is no exception.

Then up to Marston Junction on the edge of Nuneaton and onto the the Ashby Canal – quiet, rural and somehow secluded as it seems to avoid towns and villages along its route.

There are some lovely stone bridges and one tunnel along its route, which passes through pretty countryside close to the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Near Market Bosworth, we came across a little boat which had lost power, and so found ourselves offering an impromptu rescue service!

Before we left the Ashby, we met 'Kingfisher', a beautiful boat, built in 1928, which was apparently the inspection launch for the Grand Union Canal.

Then on back through Hawkesbury Junction and down the arm that leads to Coventry itself. Some people had told us it was not worth the trip, but we went anyway – no regrets at all! We missed being pelted with eggs by some kids on a bridge (producing a camera to record their faces is a trick we were told ages ago!) and chugged on into Coventry Basin. It was unbelievably quiet, yet right near the heart of the city. Here is 'Zindagi' next to an old wharfside crane, in front of the old wharf buildings. Another peaceful city centre oasis!

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