Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bridge 10 to Bridge 27 on the Ashby Canal

Today we travelled from our previous moorage between Bridges 10 and 11(near Burton Mills) to Bosworth Field near Stoke Golding. We stopped briefly at the Ashby Boat Company in Stoke Golding for a pumpout - which, it turned out, we didn't really need. We had thought that all the water we used went into a holding tank - but it was actually only the toilet (black) water. Our washing up water and shower water (grey) actually just goes straight into the canal. The pumpout was done from a little three wheeled wagon that was on the dock at Ashby Boat Company and the whole thing only took a minute.

We then proceeded along the Ashby Canal, thinking we would go right to the end of the canal at Shackerton. There is a 250 yeard tunnel just before Shackerton which goes right under the village and we were geared up to go through it today and then back out tomorrow. However we changed our minds.

This afternoon, as we putted along we noticed some signs about the Battle of Bosworth Field and the fact that it was here, right beside the canal, that a battle brought the Tudors to power and ended medieval life in England. We decided to stop and make a brief visit to the site and museum. However, the museum turned out to be so excellent, with displays and videos describing how Richard III was defeated by Henry VII in Bosworth Field, that our brief stop became a little longer. Then after we had gone through the display, we found some pamphlets describing an excellent loop walk that would give us some much needed exercise. So, instead of going to Shackerotn, we walked a 12 km loop called the Ambion Way from Bosworth Field. back to Stoke Golding and then back to the canal. The path was pleasant and quite well marked and took us through woods, across many grassy or ploughed fields, over many stiles and along part of the tow path. A surprise at the end was that instead of the road taking us Over one more bridge OVER the canal, the road actually went UNDER a bridge that went directly UNDER the canal. The boat was on another aquaduct and we hadn't realized it. We got back to Badger by 6 pm - just around sunset.

We had one bit of excitement on the canal when a woman who was steering a boat that was coming toward through the narrow canal turned her tiller the wrong way and almost rammed straight into us. I was below cleaning the ashes out of the stove and Mike dodged her by heading for the weeds at the side of the canal -about 8 feet away. She apologized that she was avoiding a shallow patch - which we ended up in but really she just turned the tiller the wrong way. Her husband commented "That's boating." Luckily we did not go aground so we "stayed calm and carried on." This reminds me that yesterday when we had stopped for lunch at the side of the canal, the boat we had met in Coventry came steaming down the canal towards us. We all waived to each other and the husband yelled, "We'd love to stop but we still have daylight!" In other words, the days are getting shorter and we need to make use of every minute!

One comment about the canals. They were established a long time ago before there were roads or motoroized vehicles. The Ashby Canal was used to move coal from the coal mines in Ashby. The boats were towed along the tow paths - I think by horses. The cuts were ugly dirty gashes in the landscape. In the 1920s the boats began to have motors installed in them and the canals continued to be used for commercial purposes until the 1960s. Now, the canals are only for recreational use and to preserve the plants and animals that live in and along them. There are different types of fish, including bream, lots of swans, ducks and geese especially near the popular moorings, and lots of hawthornes, oaks, wild roses, blackberries, bull rushes, grasses and willows a long the edges. Today we actually saw a little brown vole swimming in the water and then disappearing into a hole in the side of the canal. Apparently this was "Ratty" in the "Wind in the Willows."

The Ashby Canal is, as the guide book says, "bucolic" and a very nice place to be.

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