The end of our voyage is close, as we moor near the small village of Radford Semele. It is just four miles to our destination at Kate Boats in Warwick. Our quota of locks, tunnels, swing and lift bridges for the year is accomplished and soon all of us will be able to wind down to rest for the winter.
Unlike last year’s tumult of major engine breakdown on the Chesterfield Canal, the resultant but nonetheless thrilling tow on the tidal River Trent and the necessary but very expensive replacement engine at Stretton Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal, by comparison this year we have enjoyed a quiet excitement.
The season has been different to those in the past in that ‘Futurest’ and I have been accompanied for the whole period by Janis and ‘Roots and Wings’.
And such a success this has been too.
While being able to maintain my role as a single hander, this year there has been somebody else always close by to share every experience. To a limited degree this has happened in the past of course as in this travelling life one is always able to make new acquaintanceships by sharing locks and even moorings for a time. Many firm friends I have made in this manner. But our period together has been for a limited period only and always we have needed to separate after a few days, or a month maybe at the most, in order to accomplish our own personal plans. This year Janis and I set out from the beginning with the same cruising plan in mind and with the intention of staying in close convoy together for the whole time.
The plan has worked well.
All the machinery on board ‘Futurest’ too has worked so well and using the new Russell Newbery has been a very definite pleasure. She has always answered my commands very faithfully and has never let me down while ‘Futurest’ herself (bless her) has been a tower of strength and reliability too. I have given her some very difficult tasks sometimes but she has always uncannily kept me out of trouble. She behaves very promptly and is wonderful.
It is sad that all this has to end soon.
But next year is another year that I am sure will be equally as memorable.
At Rugby Janis returned after her visit to Newark, and we set off eagerly to the south glad to be en route again. All the way the autumn weather remained perfect for our passage. Sunshine was with us all the time and we made good progress as far as Braunston Turn.
Our arrival at Braunston Turn
There was no need for us to moor at the village itself, which wasn’t on our direct route towards Napton Junction. Instead we decided to moor on the Oxford Canal somewhere just round the corner but within walking distance of the village shop, where we needed to buy bread and milk. However we soon realised that nothing was available along this route so in the end needed to reverse approximately a hundred yards back to the junction. Neither ship has a bow thruster but we didn’t need one anyway. We both accomplished the manoeuvre brilliantly and, with great satisfaction, were happy to tie up at the mooring outside the ‘Boathouse’ pub for the night.
Peter, a friend of Janis, having cycled from Long Eaton, joined us here during the day and later we all enjoyed a meal at the pub together. The following day, just prior to our departure, Peter left to cycle all the way back home.
‘Roots and Wings’ Passing on the way to turn round at Braunston
On Friday afternoon, having descended the Stockton Locks, we moored for the night at Long Itchington, a small rural Warwickshire village sitting near the River Itchen, in an area of pretty, criss-crossed footpaths and disused railway lines. On Saturday Janis and I went on a long walk to explore what we could. The weather was wonderful and the day was a great success.
Autumn Poplars reflecting the sunset at Long Itchington
Entering the lower chamber of Bascote Staircase Lock
Though we could have travelled from Long Itchington to Warwick in a day, we have decided that while the weather remains so favourable we’ll make the season last for a few more days and arrive at our destination sometime towards the end of this week.
Janis has to leave for her planned flight to New Zealand a week on Thursday.