Wednesday 17th July
It was time to wind the boat at Clifton Cruisers in readiness for the slow trip to Suttons Stop (Hawkesbury Junction). I was awarded 9/10 points by two boaters out sunning themselves at the turn. The guy said I would have achieved 10, but for hitting the bank on the towpath side, which I thought was soft at the time. It was not the usual way I winded there with the bow in first, as a Noddy boat insisted on passing port to port and consequently I had to go past the arm and then reverse in. I passed Alan Fincher on nb Flamingo on the way back, who acknowledged me with a wave and comment after all these years of seeing my face at Braunston.
I was about to moor at the water point by the park in Rugby, but was beaten to it by another boat, but there was a rare mooring on the towpath side and I shot in there before anyone else grabbed it. I will water up in the morning before I let go. Mike and Jenny Morse on nb Guelrose passed by and moored up further down the line and we had a good catchup conversation later as they went off to shop.
Thursday 18th July
After the rain stopped it was time for yet another shopping expedition to get some of my favorite yoghourts, because they were sold out yesterday. When the water point became free I moved across to replenish from the tap and because the rings were too far apart, I used a new method of holding the boat in with the centre line only and in gear with the tiller strings on.
Centre line fixing.
I moved on after that to The Barley Mow at Newbold, where there were plenty of free spaces. There was no more rain, but the forecast is not good for the next few days.
Here is the serendipity part of the sub-title – I had only been moored up an hour when I heard someone shout from a boat, which drew to a halt alongside. Popping out to see what was up, I immediately saw nb Lady Baltimore – it was Mike and Leslie who I mentioned when last in The White Bear at Ricky. I had not heard from them for a while since their crossing from Bristol to Sharpness up the Severn, so had no idea where they were and now they were here. They moored up a few boats away temporarily and Mike came down for a chat about their route and so we swapped a few yarns before they had to depart to get back to Dunchurch Pools for tonight. I walked back to Lady Baltimore to greet Leslie and have a brief conversation before they let go. It was a joy to see them again and most unexpected. They intend hiring a car tomorrow and suggested that we go out for an Indian meal somewhere, which would be great – just like old times.
I went to The Barley Mow for a pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord and it came out of a new barrel and was perfect; in fact it was so good I had to have another! I took the new laptop to charge and the speed is simply amazing. It seems I don’t know what I have been missing all these years! I am still finding my way around, but I suppose I will get used to it all eventually.
When I was talking to Mick in Rugby Wharf, he told me about Brindley’s route past the front of the original two pubs here; The Barley Mow and The Boat, before it went under the churchyard. Apparently, the northern portal of the original tunnel is still visible – maybe I will have a look tomorrow.
Friday 19th July
I took a walk this afternoon during a break in the rain to the church and after walking through the graveyard, I came to a gate in the boundary wall that went down towards a ditch, Sure enough, I had got the right spot as I turned right in the ditch which was the bed of the original canal, because there in front of me was the bricked up portal of the original tunnel, which was built in 1777, but superseded when the new tunnel opened in 1834, so shortening the route by 11 miles.
After taking a couple of shots, I could follow the route along the edge of a field and behind a hedge to a bridge, which was now bricked up also and tarmacked over. After that the canal more or less disappeared in fields of green pasture as it made its way towards Falls Bridge to join up with the present cut.