Locked down in Shackerstone

Locked down in Shackerstone

Been here for going on a month now.

Movement is not encouraged on the canal networks at this moment.

Only ‘essential’ travel is permitted. This basically means when your toilet needs emptying, or your water-tank needs filling.

Traffic is down to 0.

Very few boats moving around. 0 this week so far.

Empty narrowboat water-tank
Empty water-tank

This is how my water-tank looked at the end of last week.

That’s about a day’s worth of water in the bottom.

I couldn’t really move because the canal was iced over.

Moving whilst there’s ice isn’t really advisable. Some ppl get shirty when you move past their boats when there’s thick ice. Some ppl get angry even when it’s thin ice. ‘It might damage my boat’.

It’s better to let it thaw out. Plus, thick ice makes it difficult to navigate.

Luckily, when I moved down to get water, a boat had gone on before me and it was just a case of following his trail of broken ice!

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Bosworth -> Shackerstone

Bosworth -> Shackerstone

Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last installment.

Since then I’ve moved the boat 3 times from it’s previous location near the village of Dadlington, where it was quite nice with good wifi and solar.

The three things you need really are 1) parking 2) good phone signal 3) solar to make a mooring semi-decent.

It’s taken a while to find out the next place to stop on the Ashby.

The place I’m stopped in now is in a designated area of special scientific interest. Which means you can only moor in ‘selected spaces’.

Shenton to Congerstone.

Are places I passed through and either the parking wasn’t there, or they had bad mobile or non-existent mobile signal.

The current location is maybe 8 miles or so from Dadlington, the location of my last blog.

Rather than make this journey all in one stretch, I decided that because the weather was bad, it would be better to split it in half.

Shallow canal

The Ashby is shallow compared to other canals I’ve been on. Even the Kennet and Avon is deeper from what I can make out.

I’d say the depth is about 4-6ft. Never any more than that.

Bosworth Field along the Ashby canal
Bosworth Field along the Ashby canal

Progress is restricted by the depth of the canal; the dynamics of the water meaning that progress above a certain speed isn’t physically possible.

Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be tootling along on this one….

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Dadlington Lockdown

Dadlington Lockdown

I’ve been here a while now. In Ashby terms, I’ve just got here.

Boaters don’t tend to move a whole lot on the Ashby.

Remember this picture I took on moving from my first stop.

Stoke Golding Oct

Not one boat has moved since I left one month ago. It looks exactly the same.

Since I got here in early October, 80% of the boats I come across haven’t moved at all. Been in the same place. Completely.

Feel a bit alienated by moving around. Everybody else just stays in one place.

Still there we are. They are probably good people and have special privileges.

Lockdown

We are, however, on lockdown still. Which means that I’ve stuck to my position here in the wilds with nothing but rolling fields, birds and cow noises to keep me company.

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Stoke Golding -> Dadlington in-the-fields

Stoke Golding -> Dadlington in-the-fields

Very much in the fields. This is rural Leicestershire, as it says on the County signs….

Towpaths

Mud, glorious mud.....
Glorious….

Are turning into a mud fest. October was the wettest on record in certain parts of the country https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54561601.

I’m not the greatest fan of muddy towpaths.

Luckily, nowadays, I don’t have to put on any work gear, as there is no longer any work…. otherwise I would be moaning more vehemently about these long skidmarks of mud along my journey toward where the car is parked.

A couple of days I’ve had to don wellies to get through, but generally I can just skirt around the edges.

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Duck corner – Stoke Golding – Ashby Canal

Duck corner – Stoke Golding – Ashby Canal

As they call it.

This is the place of many ducks, which should come as no shock to those familiar with the Ashby canal, which seems to be a ‘duck utopia’.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a gun, or I might be tempted to pop a couple off.

Duck corner picnic spot Dadlington
A world of ducks…

I’m sure they wouldn’t miss one or two of each other.

They were running around in the field today in the rain when I went down the shops. They had muddy flippers and were getting bogged down…

I believe they get a lot of bread and this may be a good space for fishing, (when I get round to it).

Bonnie Lady with Stoke Golding in the background.
Bonnie Lady with the village in the Background

This spot is about 1 mile from where I was previously.

I prefer it as there are no overhanging trees/hedges as before.

Overhanging trees (hedges):-

  • Block the solar panels
  • Drop leaves on the boat (ruins paintwork)
  • Stop the stove from functioning properly (downdraft/lack of wind)

Apart from that, they’re all fine and dandy. They do make the boat a bit cold and dank. If you like cold and dank, then the woods are for you.

Personally, I’m glad I moved on.

Here’s a view from Bridge 22, where I was moored previously.

Bridge 22 Ashby Canal
Bridge 22, Ashby Canal. I was down the bottom on the right.

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Hinckley to Stoke Golding

Hinckley to Stoke Golding

Or thereabouts. Out in the Leicestershire countryside…

Got my weekly shop done with the aid of the panniers I bought for my tour-de-wales whilst I moored the boat close to this bridge.

A47 Bridge in Hinckley

Didn’t really get much of a look around Hinckley. I knew it was going to be a case of moving quick and getting out of the rain.

Which I did.

Contrasts from the Grand Union

First big differences:

  • Less boat traffic: Far less. By 10am moored at my last location, maybe you’ve had 6-10 boats gone past. By 10 here, it’s more like 1-3.
    So, less boat traffic.
  • Lack of noise: Wherever you go in Northamptonshire, apart from Stoke Bruerne and Braunston, you’re going to get the sound of the railway or the sound of the motorway, or both.
    Here’s there’s nothing, just the sound of the birds cheeping.

You could say it’s like a country idyll.

There are a couple of farm shops.

Mooring

It’s got it all! Sunshine… Phone signal…. Parking….

The only thing it doesn’t have is a waterpoint within walking, or even cycling distance.

So not quite all.

Mooring in Stoke Golding

It’s getting there.

There are many ducks.

Yesterday I cycled and picked my car up from Northamptonshire.

Took me and hour and 50 minutes. 26 miles. Not bad.

Anstey to Hinckley

Anstey to Hinckley

The rain stopped shortly after lunch. Rather than sit around and drink more beer, I took the opportunity to move up a bit further toward some of the spots in the Ashby Canal.

Hawkesbury Junction

The first of two junctions I need to pass through in order to get onto the Ashby.

Hawkesbury is on the outskirts of Coventry, and has a pub, a lock and a turning basin. Watching the boats pass amongst these features appears to be a bit of a spectator sport, as I remember from last time.

Today, there is distinctly less traffic. The pub is virtually empty on a Sunday afternoon.

Hawkesbury Junction
Hawkesbury Junction

A COVID emptiness….

Red boards on the Avon

A guy helped by doing the lock for me. There was only one…

He said he was a volunteer on the Avon. A river system which I was planning to visit last week.

He said it was a good job I didn’t, as the river is on ‘red-boards’, or flood conditions.

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