Thursday, 28 April 2011

Leicester Ring - Calf Heath to Armitage

Leicester Ring 2011
Calf Heath to Armitage
16th April 2011

23 Miles - 14 Locks - 10 Hours

Index of posts for the Leicester Ring 2011:

Post 1 - This page
Post 2 - Armitage to Swarkestone
Post 3 - Swarkestone to Loughborough
Post 4 - Loughborough to South Wigston
Post 5 - Leicester
Post 6 - South Wigston to Market Harborough
Post 7 - Market Harborough
Post 8 - Foxton
Post 9 - Market Harborough to Crick
Post 10 - Welford Arm
Post 11 - Crick to Rugby
Post 12 - Rugby to Polesworth
Post 13 - Polesworth to Rugely
Post 14 - Rugely to Calf Heath

At last, a genuine cruising blog! Sorry for the lack of posts recently - what with a new job, a poorly wife and little canal time I havn't had a lot to say. Well that is all set to change.

Gailey Roundhouse - gateway to the first cruise of the season.

We had ten days available to us leading up to Easter and according to Nick's canal planner 12 days should comfortably see us round the Leicester Ring! My policy is: if the first answer isn't what you want you need to redefine the question. In this case it meant speeding the cruising speed to 3.5 mph and accept 9.5 hour cruising days and hey presto - it's a 10 day trip! Simples.

With time a constant pressure we decamped to Wand'ring Bark on Friday evening, as soon as I got back from London. The weather forecast predicted dryish conditions, but a bit cold in the low teens so we packed accordingly with lots of fleeces and warm trousers. Not a wise move as things panned out.

We awoke to a glorious spring morning with wall to wall sunshine beating down on us.

Easter weekend is one of the two historic boating rallies, the Easter one being at Ellesmere Port near Chester. With a week to go we passed a steady procession of much loved working boats, all making sedate progress in a north westerly direction. It was a veritable feast of old boats thump, thump, thumping their way along - kicking plumes of blue smoke into the clear spring air and stirring up the winter sediment of the Staffs and Worcester. All these boats gave me a great opportunity to test out my new telephoto lens.

I am usually pretty considerate when passing moored boats but as I entered Penkridge a head popped out of an unnamed boat and said, ever so politely, "excuse me for being a pain, but you are travelling too fast, mush too fast". I wasn't aware of any excessive speed so replied with a diplomatic "do you think so?". But it got me thinking. The only times I am ever accused of going too fast is on my first day aboard - so maybe he was right and I was having trouble slowing down to canal speed - or maybe he was a twonk. On reflection I suspect that he was more in the right than me.

Renfrew on its way to Ellesmere Port

As we passed through Gt Haywood we spied the Cheese Boat, which sent Belle scurrying back armed with my wallet. Why is it always my wallet I wonder? After a goodly bit of sampling she selected three specialty cheeses which enhanced snack times all the way to Braunston. The Cheese Boat is a must visit if you see it wound the system.

Cheese Boat at Gt Haywood

Our recommendations:

Green Thunder
Red Devil
Brandy Braf

Welsh cheese sold by a Canadian on the English Waterways. I bet her careers advisor never identified that as a possible means of making a living!

By 5.00pm we were getting a bit dry and spied the Ash Tree pub in Rugely. We extracted our take out plastic glasses and Belle went in search of liquid refreshment - armed with my wallet again! The beer was nothing special - standard Bank's but it really hit the spot after a long day's cruising.

A take out at the Ash Tree pub - Ahab style!

We stopped near a winding hole in Armitage. One day down and 1.5 hours up on the schedule.


Halfie said...

3.5 mph average speed??? That's going some! Did you try reducing the time per lock? I used to find that I lost time on distance, but gained it on lockage. Now I use 2.5 mph as my average speed and set time per lock to six minutes and find that pretty accurate.

Captain Ahab said...

Actually 3.5 mph was for broad canals and rivers - it was 3.0 mph for narrow canals.
You are right about the lockage - I do work faster than the standard. Overall my accelerated speed but standard locking times seem to even out and the travelling time then agrees with the canalplan prediction. My issue was when I hit the bank holiday rush around Braunston and lots of extra hours were needed!