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.
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.
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.
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.
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 return journey: August 04 – 15, 2014