A Trip up the Ashby and making new friends.
Wednesday 18th July
Well folks, I got back yesterday, which was a week longer than I anticipated. Two friends of mine had reported that Stronghold was securely moored up and safe, which was some relief as I had never left her on the towpath before. I was forced by the heat to have a pint in The Bell and Barge, a Harvester house. Great choice of beers with 3 handpumps, Doombar, Doombar or Doombar!, good beer, but what choice! That indicates what type of pub it is.
Sure enough Stronghold was OK, although a thick layer of dust and cobwebs were abundant. It was good to be back on board and I eventually stocked up in Tesco. Shortly after unpacking the shopping, I noticed a familiar boat moored nearby, so I walked down to have a chat with Jane and David Brixey on nb Rowan. They were most surprised to see me and we chatted for about an hour, just catching up on each others news. They moved off later to tackle the Leicester Ring and I took off for Newbold, where there was a decent pub.
The moorings were all occupied and I asked a few if they were about to move, including Noddy boats. There were immense gaps between moored boats and if 2 or 3 had moored sensibly, I could easily have got in. After passing the water point, I moored just ahead of Bix, who had long overstayed his welcome.
Just after mooring up, a hire boat passed by and through the tunnel – this was one of the boats that I previously had asked if they were moving soon. So now I had the task of untying and reversing a fair way back, before doing it all again.
I should mention that nb Bix was now in a very poor state indeed, which is so disappointing, because she was originally owned by Iris Bryce and her husband many years ago. In my first days of hiring boats, I read many of Iris’s books an cruising the waterways and was even invited aboard, when we were on our first ever cruise. I still have the little cookbook that she also wrote. If Iris is still alive, she would recoil in horror at the present condition of Bix.
The sad state of Bix at Newbold.
Thursday 19th July.
I let go at 11am and set off for Sutton Stop, which took 5 hours from Newbold. Another very hot day, but the slight breeze created by moving was of some comfort.
At the north end of All Oak Wood, I spotted Derwent 6 moored up and gave them a toot on my feeble horn, but either no one heard or they thought it was for someone else, because no one appeared. The strange thing is that I was reading their blog only a couple of hours earlier.
This was an incident free trip, with a sincere lack of watering holes on the way. The only respite would be at Ansty Village Club, but the only moorings to be had there were mostly for permit holders only and very few visitor moorings. There are plenty of No Mooring signs on the towpath, so it is not a village that encourages visitors to their club.
A little further on there is The Rose Inn, with a garden adjacent to the cut, but they don’t provide moorings either and the bridge is some way away. Having been there once for a meal, it is more restaurant than pub.
Eventually I reached Sutton Stop and the approach was wall to wall boats and no spaces, so around the turn I went to investigate the Coventry Canal moorings, where I found a convenient spot close to the water point. A dire visit was needed to The Greyhound after a light lunch and I at last could rehydrate on a pint of mild or two, which is much more available in the Midlands than ‘daan saarf’.
I could pick up a very strong wi-fi signal here and it was only when in Rugby that I discovered that the digital TV aerial (Moonraker) had to be redirected to pick up a horizontally polarised TV signal, so that was good too. To determine which is which, have a look at local TV aerials. Horizontal bars indicate a horizontal polarity and vertical bars indicate vertical polarity. Obvious really, but the instructions do not mention this basic fact.
Digital aerial in horizontal polarized position.
Friday 20th July
Catching up on e-mails and writing the blog took up most of the morning – where does the time go? I was still online at 3pm – give it a rest! So I went into the Greyhound for some more mild and it was very full at that time. The favourite pastime here is gongoozling boats coming around the turn and one 60ft hire boat surpassed all others by having to make three attempts at it. There is no doubt that experience counts here; the secret being to turn up the wick to full speed as you push the tiller far over.
Although I intended to do some washing and fix up the better horn, neither jobs were done. The boat is still covered in towpath dust and a light shower made it look even worse.
Saturday 21st July.
I was surprised to see nb Dame du Cane pass by this morning from the Wey Navigation and gave them a welcome smile and comment. They are also going up The Ashby Canal, so we will probably meet up there.
After watering up on a very slow tap, I set off about 10.30 and once again had to smile at the mannequins on parade at Charity Dock.
After an hour of cruising, I turned at Marston Junction onto the Ashby, having been up it once before on Stronghold. I reached the outskirts of Hinckley after 3hours from the junction and it was time to stop for some lunch and there were good moorings opposite The Lime Kilns pub, to which I paid a visit after a snack. Well what an excellent pub this is; there were five ales on tap from different breweries and the food looked to be very reasonably priced and all home cooked. In fact it was so tempting that I ate there in the evening and had lamb in blueberry gravy with vegetables, which was superb. I shall stop here in the way back, without a doubt.
Sunday 22nd July
I tackled the rocker box gasket this morning, having decided to stay here awhile and possibly have a pint with the couple on Dame du Cane at some point. The rocker box was not easy to get off, as there was a Jubilee clip in the way, which had to be loosened and turned 180 degrees first. When it was removed, one of the washers dropped beneath the engine, which delayed things for a while, but eventually it was completed with some adjustment to the retaining strips which were not wide enough for the gasket initially.
During this time Pat and Sue from Dame du Cane came along the towpath for a chat and we agreed to meet in the Lime Kilns for a pint after lunch, which consumed most of the afternoon, but how pleasant it was to have a conversation with fellow boaters.
Eventually, the washing was done and I was surprised that this little twin tub could cope with washing a Guernsey sweater and spin it very adequately.
Monday 23rd July
I was up reasonably early and set off at 09.30 after a light breakfast. It was going to be a very hot day at 30deg C in the shade and after one and half hours I reached what is known as Duck Corner, just north of Stoke Golding, where there are good moorings on the off side and within easy reach of the village along a footpath across the adjacent field.
Before I walked up to the village, I researched opening times for the George and Dragon, the tap house for Church End Brewery and an excellent pub, where I have been a few time before. Unfortunately, it closes on Monday, but there were another two not far away, so surely they couldn’t all be closed. They were, but I was not to find out until I actually got there, so I retraced my steps in the heat and returned to the boat for a tinny, with the cooling fan at full blast. The alternative was the Dog and Hedgehog in nearby Dadlington, which I knew was open from midday, but by that time it was too late and anyway, it was siesta time.
After a very welcome warm shower, I had a light salad and took a walk up to the Dog and Hedgehog, which I have to say was a really pleasant pub with 3 ales on tap and a fair selection of restaurant food. The view from the car park of the surrounding countryside was magnificent.