Friday, September 30, 2011
To Stratford and the Avon!
Just about the only part of the UK waterways system that we had not yet visited was the Warwickshire Avon, from Stratford to Tewkesbury. We had thought about nipping in at Tewkesbury when we were going up the Severn in early October last year, but decided to try to get there in the summer months, and pencilled it in for 2011. So, after a couple of weeks in Blisworth, we set off in early July.
We needed to take a familiar route to get there. Up the Grand Union to Norton Junction, on to Braunston and Napton and then DOWN the Stockton locks before going UP the (in)famous flight of 21 at Hatton near Warwick again. Here we are, going down the Stockton flight . . .
. . . and sharing a lock about halfway up the Hatton flight – see some of the others in the distance! We were really glad to find another couple going up at the same time as us – sharing the work is easier and faster!
We had an unusual welcome as we started down the narrow locks on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. The gentleman with the alpenhorn said that he was from the Swiss Midlands but had lived in the English Midlands for many years. He liked to play the horn here as the lock and the landscape gave him good resonance!
Narrow locks, split footbridges and barrel-roofed lock cottages – with those three factors together, we couldn't be anywhere else but on the Stratford! One story is that the barrel roof design resulted from using the timber formers (which had been used to construct the canal road bridges) as the main roof timbers when they came to build the cottages. The split footbridges allowed the tow rope to slip through without having to detach the horse from the boat.