Wilmcote to Chessetts Wood
19th May 2011
14 Miles - 18 Locks - 8 Hours
Ah, holidays! Instead of me contacting Jeff whilst I am on a Pendelino heading for Euston, he wakes us up with his routine 9.00am call on his way to college. We make rattly clanking noises but he isn't fooled - he has caught us napping in bed and making a lazy start to the day.
A relaxed Captain
The reason we stopped at Wilmcote, apart from the rain, was to see Mary Arden's house which opens at 10.00am daily (price £9.00). The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust don't make a lot of the house itself but they have created an Elizabethan Farm complete with characters in costume going about their business. Given her foraging interest, Belle was particularly taken with the organic garden full of old herbs and plants destined for the dining table.
Mary Arden's Cottage
We were off at noon, drifting up the long central pound without a care in the world - perfect shorts and tee shirt weather with barely another craft on the move. One of the few boats were the Oak and Ash combo, working their way down to Stratford with a complete compliment of customers. As is so often the case, we passed a few familiar boats with whom we had been playing leapfrog for the last few days, but these were moored up at Yarningale. The South Stratford has gone to sleep.
Oak and Ash
We pressed on through the locks, some for and some against as if in a dream. Maybe those two pints of homebrew were stronger than I thought! We became more and more laid back as the afternoon wore on, passing Sarah and the Book Barge at the Fleur De Leys where she had given up the water in favour of a few days of home comforts.
Barrel roofed cottage on the Stratford Canal
Along the way some cheeky ducks landed on the roof, an appearance which Belle encouraged with some suitable cooking arrangements.
We made it to Kingwood Junction at 6.30pm and then struck out up the Grand Union for bridge 67 to be near Baddesley Clinton for a visit in the morning. When we arrived I had a moment of realisation. Baddesley Clinton is near bridge 66, a mile back down the canal. Belle is unwell and in no state to to walk the extra two miles so it was on to the winding hole at the Black Boys and then back the two miles to Bridge 66. I guess I will be returning to Kingswood tomorrow morning to wind again - I am getting to know this stretch very well.