Saturday, October 9, 2010

on the Ashby and Coventry Canals

I am writing this blog as we cruise down the Ashby Canal. The weather is grey and misty with a bit of a breeze. I plan to send it to Blogger this evening or sometime later when we have connectivity through our dongle.

Yesterday we drove from Levisham to Stoke Golding - another driving triumph for Mike through the tiny bendy backroads but mostly on the very busy (up to 4 lane) M1. We bought groceries in Pickering and picked up our information from the Information Centre for our last night at Heathrow - about 3 times as expensive as staying in a B&B - but I wanted to be sure to be at the airport on time - when we leave - in 10 days. We bypassed Worksop, where I was born. It seemed quite strange to be passing so close but there was no reason to stop since we had no address or anyone there to talk to.

We arrived at Stoke Golding about 12:30 and returned the the car - by mistake to Nuneaton rather than Hinckley. Both are so close together, the sat nav took us to wrong place and we didn't realize it until we were being driven back to Stoke Golding by the Enterprise staff - pretty nice service!

We were introduced to our narrow boat. It is a lot like a combination between a trailer and a boat. A bit narrower (7 ft.) and quite a lot longer (35 ft.) You steer and run the engine from a small platform on the back using a big tiller and simple hand controls. The fastest we seem to be able to go is 3 miles an hour. The speed limit is 4. We have a flush toilet, shower, 100 gals of water, a coal burning stove for heat, a gas stove top (hob) and over, a small 12 volt fridge, lots of lights, tones of dishes and cups, even a TV if there is reception, and a dinette which turns into a small double bed - quite comfortable and clean. We also have wet weather gear for motoring in the rain, a pike pole, 3 ropes, a pike pole. Because you go so slowly and there are no real waves or wakes, you can store things anywhere - as if you were not moving. Very strange - but so far true.

We left Stoke Golding at 3:30 after a quick lesson about how to handle the boat and motored along under one bride after another - past rural fields and a large garment manufacturer and motor bike factory (behind the usual shrubby fences. It was Friday also there were quite a few other boats out and everyone waved to us in a very friendly way. There are hazards - but so far everything seems quite lovely. The canal is about 30 ft wide in its widest spots and narrow to about 15 under most of the many bridges. There are trees and bushes along the sides and a tow path on one side.There are lots of mallard ducks and the some swans cruising along with us. There seem to be permanent moorages where people have set up barbeques, chairs, wood piles and even a large canopy.There are also private moorages and you can pay to tie up in the occasional marina or pub.

We had planned to tie up at a place called the Lime Kilns, but had to go a little further than official bollards and rings and actually tied up beside the tow path using our metal stakes stuck into the grassy bank. There were other boats on both sides of the canal.

We managed to get the coal fire lit last night and had our first "home-cooked meal"in 3 weeks. The pub sounded tempting - but we had food with us and the walk back down the tow path sounded a little dangerous in the dark.

We had a good first night and now are on our way again. Mike and I have both had a go at lighting tit is glowing nicely. The kindling is too big to light easily. Now I am going to put my head out for the first time today. I think we have already traveled about 3 miles and gone under quite a few bridges.

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