Thursday morning, and we cruised down the remaining delights of the Ashby Canal; after lingering over lunch we turned back onto the Coventry Canal at Marston Junction. There’s a brief rural respite before reaching the outskirts of Nuneaton. Although the canal winds more or less through the middle of the Nuneaton conurbation you don’t see a great deal of the town. Lots of back gardens. Miles and miles of allotments, without the same allure of Miles and Miles of Texas.
Eventually breaking free of Nuneaton, there’s another pleasantly rural stretch, but with business to do in Atherstone we pressed on, eventually mooring up at Mancetter Wharf, just before one gets embroiled in the Mancetter / Atherstone megalopolis.
A twenty minute run on Friday morning had us tucked up on Atherstone Visitor Moorings at the top of Atherstone Locks, conveniently close to the Post Office delivery centre, a big pharmacy, and a handy cafe, rather less so from the large Co-Op at the other end of the high street.
Mail collected, shopping and lunch completed, loins were girded and we set off down the Atherstone flight of locks. There were bored volunteers at the top lock, but not so bored they helped work us down anything other then the top lock. There was little traffic coming up, and the locks were mainly against us.
Towards the end, we encountered Nuneaton a historic boat operated by The Narrow Boat Trust locking up, aided by some more CaRT volunteers. As it was ready to leave the lock, one of their crew said “Would you mind awfully if we turned the lock round and brought the Butty up before letting you down?” Not overly happy about this – it had already been a long day – we said it rather depended on CaRT’s attitude about wasting a lock full of water, but the volunteer said they’d plenty, don’t worry. Meanwhuile, before asking they had already bow-hauled the Butty under the bridge immediately below the lock and jammed it up against the bottom gates, so it would have been a major faff to pull it back by hand and out the way for us to go down with the lock, so we waited while they emptied the lock unnecessarily, then hauled the butty in behind us by hand, crashing into lock gates, while Nuneaton backed onto the top gates. Careful they weren’t.
we weren’t overly impressed: it would have been nice to have been asked beforehand. The crew following behind us – professional boat movers still with a long way to go – were even less impressed.
It was getting on by the time we got to the bottom of the flight, but fortunately there are some nice moorings just at the bottom, and the only other boat there a fuel boat who was delighted to fill us up. Here’s a picture of exactly where moored, but taken almost exactly a year ago in similar weather.
Only three miles but eleven locks… seemed like a long afternoon!