The Travels of Little Blue NarrowBoat

Not making waves!

Little Blue’s soon to be replacement: Rocinante

Little Blue’s replacement Rocinante will be a 64′ narrowboat that’s currently being built and fitted out in Sheffield by Jonathan Wilson and his team.

Rocinante photo 184 August 17

Little Blue tied up alongside Rocinante (Rocinante photo 184 August 17)

Rocinante photo 183 August 17

Rocinante photo 183 August 17

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Rocinante at its mooring in Braunston Marina (Rocinante photo 182 August 17)

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Rocinante photo 6

Several weeks later, Rocinante is starting to take shape with the cabin added

Several weeks later, Rocinante is starting to take shape with the cabin added. The rectangular holes cut in the back of the cabin are for recessed panels that will add style and character – in my opinion 🙂

Rocinante photo 2

Rocinante photo 2

Rocinante photo 2

Rocinante photo 2

Rocinante photo 2

Rocinante photo 2

 

The very early stages of the construction of Rocinante

The very early stages of the construction of Rocinante – photo 1

Oxford to Braunston on the Oxford Canal, 2015

June 30 – July 5, 2015.

July 5: Braunston

July 4: The Folly Bridge, Napton

July 3: Cropredy

Grant's Lock in the early morning mist

Grant’s Lock in the early morning mist

July 2: Twyford Bridge

Twyford Bridge

Twyford Bridge

June 30: Thrupp

Moored at Thrupp with Aubreys Lift Bridge (221) in the distance

Moored at Thrupp with Aubreys Lift Bridge (221) in the distance

Moored at Thrupp

Moored at Thrupp

 

Taking on water in Oxford

Taking on water in Oxford

 

Limehouse to Oxford 2015

June 20 – 30, 2015.

June 29: Oxford

Osney Lock Oxford

Osney Lock Oxford

Cows

Cows

 

June 28: Wallingford

Waiting at Goring Lock in the rain.

Waiting at Goring Lock in the rain.

June 27: Pangbourne

Pangbourne Meadow

Pangbourne Meadow

June 26: Sonning

Moored at Sonning

Moored at Sonning

Hurley Lock

Hurley Lock

June 25: Marlow

June 24: Runnymede

Moored at Runnymede

Moored at Runnymede

June 21 – 23: Shepperton

A goods train passing over Woodham Junction

A goods train passing over Woodham Junction

Woodham Junction on the Wey Navigation for the Basingstoke Canal

Woodham Junction on the Wey Navigation for the Basingstoke Canal

Coxes Mill at Coxes Lock on the Wey Navigation

Coxes Mill at Coxes Lock on the Wey Navigation

Thames Lock on the Wey Navigation

Thames Lock on the Wey Navigation

Happy family at Shepperton

Happy family at Shepperton

Moored at Shepperton

Moored at Shepperton

Saturday June 20: Tidal Thames Limehouse to Teddington.

Passing Richmond on the tidal Thames

Passing Richmond on the tidal Thames

Somewhere on the tidal Thames heading to Teddington

Myah reading her book while her father sleeps! Somewhere on the tidal Thames heading to Teddington

Heading up the tidal Thames with Hetty

Heading up the tidal Thames with Hetty

 

Braunston to Limehouse

May 26 – June 19, 2015.

Limehouse Basin Visitor Mooring 2

Limehouse Basin Visitor Mooring

Limehouse Basin Visitor Mooring 1

Limehouse Basin Visitor Mooring

Progress temporary halted! The drained pound between Hawley Lock and Kentish Town Lock

Progress temporary halted! The drained pound between Hawley Lock and Kentish Town Lock (another view)

drained-pound-between-hawley-lock-kentish-town-lock-1

Progress temporary halted! The drained pound between Hawley Lock and Kentish Town Lock

 

Denham Deep Lock. Where's my centre rope?

Denham Deep Lock. Where’s my centre rope?

Car parking at Stocker's Lock

Car parking at Stocker’s Lock

Batchworth Lock Rickmansworth lift bridge over River Chess

Batchworth Lock Rickmansworth lift bridge over River Chess

little-blue-batchworth-swan-family

Family of swans at Batchworth

Locking up

Locking up

little-blue-stoke-bruerne-2015

Moored at Stoke Bruerne

 

 

 

Braunston to Cropredy on the Oxford Canal

September 02-06, 2014.

Just a short journey to take advantage of the fine early September weather.

Although I’ve made the trip twice before, travelling north from Oxford to Braunston, this is the first time I’ve travelled south on the South Oxford Canal.

Napton Junction for the Grand Union Canal North

Napton Junction for the Grand Union Canal North

Windmill on Napton Hill the Oxford Canal

Windmill on Napton Hill the Oxford Canal (you have to look very closely to spot it! 😉 )

The Folly Public House at Napton Bottom Lock. Very fine it is too!

The Folly Public House at Napton Bottom Lock. Very fine it is too!

Napton Bottom Lock on the Oxford Canal

Napton Bottom Lock on the Oxford Canal

Boundary Lift Bridge on the Oxford Canal

Boundary Lift Bridge on the Oxford Canal

The Brasenose Arms Cropredy

The Brasenose Arms Cropredy

Oxford Canal Lock 10. Napton Locks 3.

Oxford Canal Lock 10. Napton Locks 3 with pillbox.

 

 

 

Braunston to Llangollen

July 16 – August 02, 2014.

Having only 2 weeks until I meet a friend and his daughter, Peter and Myah, at Ellesmere on the Llangollen Canal, I thought I’d better make a start.  I made it to Newbold-on-Avon which is on the fringe of Rugby and 11.25 miles and 3 locks (Hillmorton Locks) from Braunston. It’s also, more-or-less, halfway to Hawkesbury Junction the end of the Oxford Canal where it joins the Coventry Canal.

Hillmorton Locks 4 & 5 on the Oxford Canal

Hillmorton Locks 4 & 5 on the Oxford Canal

Hillmorton Locks 2 & 3 on The Oxford Canal

Hillmorton Locks 2 & 3 on The Oxford Canal

Pillbox on the North Xford Canal

Pillbox on the North Oxford Canal

My second day out and my aim was to make it at least onto the Coventry Canal, approximately 11.5 miles and just 1 lock – the stop lock a Hawkesbury Junction. Setting off from Newbold the canal took me through Newbold Tunnel which at only 250 yards in length is a relaxing cruise underground compared with the Braunston Tunnel for example. Passing by Brinklow and Ansty Villages and under the M6 and M69 motorways it took me approximately 4.5 hours to reach Hawkesbury junction and pass through the stop lock to join the Coventry Canal.

Newbold Tunnel 250 yards in length

Newbold Tunnel 250 yards in length

The Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction. The Engine House used to pump water from a well into the canal.

The Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction. The Engine House used to pump water from a well into the canal.

After a short break for lunch I continued up the Coventry Canal travelling a further 7.5 miles passing by Bedworth, Marston Junction- the entry to the Ashby Canal and through Nuneaton to finally tie up for the day just beyond Wood Bridge (27) about 3 miles from Atherstone.

Marston Junction

Marston Junction

An interesting mooring on the Coventry Canal

An interesting mooring on the Coventry Canal

This is my first time on the Coventry Canal, and it’ll my first time on the canals I’ll now travel on to Llangollen. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Coventry Canal, both by the countryside and condition of the canal and the locks which is good. So far, apart from the 3 Hillmorton locks and the Hawkesbury stop lock, my journey has been lock free. Today, my third, is to be different. Through Hartshill the canal winds through the countryside and past what were once quarries and slag heaps but you’d hardly guess as they’ve all been landscaped and blend into the landscape. Continuing on, approaching Atherstone where the Atherstone locks have to be negotiated – 11 in total spread over approximately 2 miles. Once through the Atherstone locks it’s a lock free cruise for approximately 8 miles before the 2 locks at Glascote are reached just before Fazeley Junction. Continuing on from Fazeley Junction the canal becomes the Birmingham & Fazeley with bridges having names rather than numbers. There are no locks on this section between Fazeley Junction and Fradley Junction. Once the canal reaches Whittington Brook it becomes the Coventry Canal, and the bridges are again numbered until it reaches it’s terminus at Fradley Junction. I didn’t make it that far and moored for the night at a village called Hopwas about 2.5 miles from Fazeley Junction on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Surprising how attractive the Coventry Canal is.

Surprising how attractive the Coventry Canal is.

Atherstone Top Lock. The first lock of thirteen on the Coventry Canal

Atherstone Top Lock. The first lock of thirteen on the Coventry Canal

The only pillbox I've spotted on the Coventry Canal. It guards the Tame Aqueduct.

The only pillbox I’ve spotted on the Coventry Canal. It guards the Tame Aqueduct.

Fazeley Junction where the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Fazeley Junction where the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Setting off the next morning from Hopwas, it was Saturday and raining, however, the rain was forecast to stop for several hours approximately an hour after I set off so that was okay as I would dry off in the sun. The rain did stop but for only a short period from when it alternated between heavy and torrential. It was a wet day. Soaked through I made it onto the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley Junction and my first locks for the day.

The swing bridge at the terminus of the Coventry Canal at Fradley Junction

The swing bridge at the terminus of the Coventry Canal at Fradley Junction

Fradley Junction

Fradley Junction

Trent & Mersey Shadehouse Lock (19)

Trent & Mersey Canal Shadehouse Lock (19)

Another view of Shadehouse Lock (19)

Another view of Shadehouse Lock (19)

Rugeley Coal Fired Power Station from the Trent & Mersey

Rugeley Coal Fired Power Station from the Trent & Mersey Canal

Aqueduct over the River Trent on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal

Aqueduct over the River Trent on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Tixall Lock on the Staffs & Worcs. Canal

Tixall Lock on the Staffs & Worcs. Canal

Going up in Tixall Lock

Going up in Tixall Lock

View from Deptmore Lock On the Stass. & Worcs. Canal

View from Deptmore Lock on the Staffs. & Worcs. Canal

Taking water on at Penkridge Lock on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Taking water on at Penkridge Lock on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

The M6 motorway running parallel to The Staffordshite & Worcestershire Canal between Otherton Lock and Rodbaston Lock

The M6 motorway running parallel to The Staffordshite & Worcestershire Canal between Otherton Lock and Rodbaston Lock

Autherley Junction on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal for the Shropshire Union Canal

Autherley Junction on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal for the Shropshire Union Canal

Autherley Stop Lock on the Shropshire Union Canal

Autherley Stop Lock on the Shropshire Union Canal

Moored at Brewood on he Shropshire Union Canal

Moored at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal

High Bridge 39 Grub Street Cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal

High Bridge 39 Grub Street Cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal

Narrow cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal

Narrow cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal

High Bridge 57 Woodseaves Cutting the Shropshire Union Canal

High Bridge 57 Woodseaves Cutting the Shropshire Union Canal

No stopping between Tyrley Locks 4 & 5 on the Shropshire Union Canal!

No stopping between Tyrley Locks 4 & 5 on the Shropshire Union Canal!

Happy fishermen on the Shropshire Union Canal

Happy fishermen near Tyrley on the Shropshire Union Canal

Happy Fishermen at Tyrley on the Shropshire Union Canal

Gongoozlers on the Shropshire Union Canal

Butty Saturn moored at Audlem Wharf for the Historic Narrow Boats Gathering July 26-27

Shropie Fly Boat Saturn moored at Audlem Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal for the Historic Narrow Boats Gathering July 26-27

Hurleston Junction on the Sropshire Union Canal - Welcome to the Llangollen Canal

Hurleston Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal – Welcome to the Llangollen Canal

Lift Bridge on the Llangollen Canal

Wrenbury Church Lift Bridge 19 on the Llangollen Canal

Moored on the Whitchurch Arm of the Llangollen Canal

Moored on the Whitchurch Arm of the Llangollen Canal

Hassell's No.1 Lift Bridge 33 on the Llangollen Canal

Hassell’s No.1 Lift Bridge 33 on the Llangollen Canal

Llangollen Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company Warehouse at Ellesmere Wharf

Llangollen Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company Warehouse at Ellesmere Wharf

Ellesmere CRT Yard

Beech House and Ellesmere CRT Yard

Llangollen Canal Chirk Aqueduct leading into Chirk Tunnel

Llangollen Canal Chirk Aqueduct leading into Chirk Tunnel

Llangollen Canal view from Chirk Aqueduct

Llangollen Canal a view from Chirk Aqueduct

Llangollen Canal moored at Chirk

Llangollen Canal Chirk Tunnel

Llangollen Canal moored at Chirk

Llangollen Canal moored at Chirk

Llangollen Canal Vale of Llangollen Plas Isaf Bridge 37W

Llangollen Canal Vale of Llangollen Plas Isaf Bridge 37W

A view of the River Dee from the bridge over the Dee in Llangollen Town

A view of the River Dee from the bridge in Llangollen town

Llangollen Canal Ty Craig Bridge on the canal between Llangollen and Horseshoe Falls

Llangollen Canal Ty Craig Bridge on the canal between Llangollen and Horseshoe Falls

Llangollen Canal view of River Dee

Llangollen Canal view of River Dee

Llangollen Canal view of River Dee

Llangollen Canal Horseshoe Falls

The return journey: August 04 – 15, 2014

Llangollen Canal Historic Shropie Fly Boat Saturn moored below Grindley Brook Locks

Llangollen Canal Historic Shropie Fly Boat Saturn moored below Grindley Brook Locks

Spotted on the Shropshire Union Historic Fellows, Clayton & Morton Narrowboat Viceroy

Spotted on the Shropshire Union Historic Fellows, Morton & Clayton Narrowboat Viceroy

Coventry Canal Landscape Scene

Coventry Canal Landscape Scene

Birmingham & Fazeley Canal Hopwas

Birmingham & Fazeley Canal Hopwas

CRT's Hartshill Yard on the Coventry Canal

CRT’s Hartshill Yard on the Coventry Canal

Another Coventry Canal Landscape Scene

Another Coventry Canal Landscape Scene

 

Braunston to Llangollen – Planned Route

This is the planned route for my next journey from Braunston to Llangollen:

Oxford Canal from Braunston to Hawkesbury Junction

  • 22.75 miles
  • 4 locks
  • 22.75 miles
  • 4 locks

Places on route:

  • Rugby
  • Hawkesbury Junction

Coventry Canal from Hawkesbury Junction to Fradley Junction

  • 32.5 miles
  • 13 locks
  • 55.25 miles
  • 17 locks
  • Bedworth
  • Nuneaton
  • Atherstone
  • Tamworth
  • Glascote
  • Fazeley Junction
  • Fradley Junction

Trent & Mersey Canal from Fradley Junction to Great Haywood Junction

  • 12.75 miles
  • 5 locks
  • 68 miles
  • 22 locks
  • Rugeley
  • Great Haywood Junction

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal from Great Haywood Junction to Autherley Junction

  • 21 miles
  • 12 locks
  • 89 miles
  • 34 locks
  • Autherley Junction

Shropshire Union Canal from Autherley Junction to Hurleston Junction

  • 40.75 miles
  • 29 locks
  • 129.75 miles
  • 63 locks
  • Market Drayton
  • Nantwich
  • Hurleston Junction

Llangollen Canal from Hurleston Junction to Ellesmere

  • 25.75 miles
  • 19 locks
  • 155.5 miles
  • 82 locks
  • Whitchurch
  • Ellesmere

Llangollen Canal from Ellesmere to Llangollen

  • 19 miles
  • 2 locks
  • 174.5 miles
  • 84 locks
  • Llangollen

Braunston Historic Boat Rally 2014

The Braunston Historic Boat Rally for 2014 was held over the weekend June 28-29.

 

Some of the tugs attending the rally

Some of the tugs attending the rally

Raymond and Nutfield

Raymond and Nutfield

Nutfield and Raymond executing a manoeuvre to reverse into the marina

Nutfield and Raymond executing a manoeuvre to reverse into the marina

FMC boat Vulcan with guest Timothy West

FMC boat Vulcan with guest Timothy West

FMC boat Monarch formerly a steamer

FMC boat Monarch formerly a steamer

Tug White Heather

Tug White Heather

White Heather and friends

White Heather and friends

White Heather was built in 1932 for the Borough of St Marylebone as a refuse tug.

White Heather was built in 1932 for the Borough of St Marylebone as a refuse tug.

Steam Canal Tunnel Tug Adamant

Steam Canal Tunnel Tug Adamant

Tunnel Tug Sharpness

Tunnel Tug Sharpness

Steam Tunnel Tug Hasty a remake of the original that possibly operated in Braunston Tunnel towards the end of the 19th century

Steam Tunnel Tug Hasty a remake of the original that possibly operated in Braunston Tunnel towards the end of the 19th century

 

Oxford to Braunston on The Oxford Canal

June 21 – 24, 2014.

Starting the day on the Thames in Oxford at Osney Bridge we took the Sheepwash Channel and turned onto the Oxford Canal at Isis Lock. Dave was back as crew for the day and our target was Lower Heyford nearly 14 miles and 10 locks away.

The Isis Lock entry from the Sheepwash Channel  onto the Oxford Canal

The Isis Lock entry from the Thames Sheepwash Channel onto the Oxford Canal

The Duke's Lock entry to the Oxford canal from the Thames Duke's Cut

The Duke’s Lock entry from the Thames Duke’s Cut onto the Oxford Canal

The Oxford Canal is not for people who are in a hurry. It’s narrow locks that can take only one boat almost inevitably mean that sooner or later you will find yourself queuing to go through them. Despite this, we made Lower Heyford, where Dave could catch the train back to London, comfortably after stopping for lunch and a pint in Thrupp.

This isn’t the first time I’ve travelled up the south Oxford Canal from Oxford to Braunston and consequently I had a plan of where I wanted to stop at the end of each day’s cruising. Leaving Lower Heyford the following morning my planned destination was Kings Sutton, or more accurately, the moorings at Twyford Bridge opposite Twyford Wharf.

Wild flowers on the canal bank

Wild flowers on the canal bank

Railway viaduct close to Aynho Bridge 190

Railway viaduct close to Aynho Bridge 190

On a very hot day, that took in Somerton Deep Lock, where I had an accident last year (my gear cable snapped!), it took me longer than expected to make Twyford Bridge due to queuing at the locks. I was lucky to secure the last space to tie up for the night.

Moored at Kings Sutton Twyford Bridge 177

Moored at Kings Sutton Twyford Bridge 177

I was away from Twyford Bridge early the next morning in order to get through lift bridge 144 in the centre Banbury before the town became busy. The bridge is operated with your lock windlass. This I managed and I reached my next destination Cropredy at mid-day, just in time to visit the Red Lion for a bit of lunch. Unfortunately, it being Monday, the day they don’t serve food, I had to make do with a drop of lunch 😉

Moored at Cropredy

Moored at Cropredy

The Red Lion Cropredy

The Red Lion Cropredy

After an easy day yesterday I left Cropredy with the intention of reaching the moorings just round the corner from Napton Bottom Lock. To do this I had negotiate 17 locks in total that included 2 lock flights – Claydon 5 locks and Napton 7 locks – as well as 3 locks leading up to the Claydon flight and 2 further locks at Napton leading down to the Napton flight. The gap between the first 8 locks and the 9 Napton locks is big and involves several hours of lock free cruising – plenty of time to recover for the Napton flight. I managed to make Napton as planned but unfortunately all the mooring spaces were taken. Rather than tie up in the middle of nowhere, I was looking forward to a couple of pints after a long hard day, I decided to press on to Braunston another lock free 7 miles. By the time I reached Braunston I’d been on the go for 12 hours.

Pillbox on the Oxford Canal

Pillbox on the Oxford Canal

Junction with the Grand Union Canal north

Junction with the Grand Union Canal north

Back in Braunston Marina

Back in Braunston Marina

 

Reading to Oxford on The River Thames

June 18 – 21, 2014.

Having started the day on the Kennet & Avon canal just downstream from Ufton Swing Bridge 25, with Dave who joined me for the day as crew,  I was back on the Thames at Reading by mid-day finally mooring at Pangbourne Meadow mid-afternoon.

Pangbourne Meadow

Pangbourne Meadow

The journey from Reading to Oxford on the Thames is approximately 40 miles distance and includes 13 locks. Today’s leg took me through just 2 locks – Caversham Lock in Reading and Mapledurham Lock – and covered a distance of approximately 7 miles.

Single-handed again and leaving Pangbourne early in the morning before the lock keepers come on duty, the first lock of the day, Whitchurch Lock, was set to self-service. This suits me, as I’ve written before, operating the locks is straight forward if you can press a couple of buttons in the correct sequence, and I prefer doing things at my own pace rather than being needlessly rushed, which can be a struggle when single-handed, as sometimes happens with the lock keepers. Passing by Beale Park it’s 4 miles before I reach the next lock of the day at Goring, which too is set self-service, however another boat is already there setting the lock and I can cruise straight in. Leaving Goring lock it’s less than a mile to Cleeve Lock, my last lock of the day which is manned, although I still have a further 6 miles to travel to my intended destination Wallingford.

Pillbox on the Thames

Pillbox on the Thames

Travelling from Cleeve Lock to Wallingford I spot my first pillbox on the Thames. I’m sure there are many more but I’ve missed them. I also passed the boathouse in the photo below which looks interesting and appears to be a home, possibly being renovated.

Boathouse house

Boathouse house

Hnaging on in Wallingford!

Hanging on in Wallingford

After a relatively easy day yesterday I decided I wanted to try and make it to Oxford today. Making an even earlier start I managed to get away before the person who collects the mooring fee of £5 for Wallingford turned up – terrible I know 😉 It’s not always free on the Thames!

A  few of the locals come out to greet me

A few of the locals come out to greet me on my journey to Oxford

I managed to make Oxford after 9 hours on the river, travelling 22.75 miles and 8 locks (according to the Nicholson Guide 7) including a short break for lunch at Abingdon. Moored up on the Thames just before Osney Bridge I’ve a couple hundred yards to travel in the morning before turning off onto the Sheepwash channel that will take me onto the Oxford Canal for my journey up to Braunston.

Moored on The Thames Oxford just above Osney Bridge

Moored on The Thames Oxford just before Osney Bridge