Atherstone to Rugby
27th July 2010
22 miles - 1 lock -7 hours
We were off by 9.00am, weaving our way through the now beautiful remains of the quarries that line the route. It's hard to imagine all the industry beside this once busy waterway. We paused for water at the ever enchanting Hartshill Wharf complete with workshops, antique cranes overseen by the clock tower.
The canal wound into Nuneaton, town of a thousand allotments which stretch on for nearly two miles and are clearly staging something of a renaissance. Then it was on to the understated Marston Junction, a simple brick archway and entrance to 23 lockless miles of canal to nowhere. We have never cruised the Ashby, an omission we need to put right in the near future. The area is also rife with abandoned arms with names like Griff, Arbury and Newdigate - all offering scope for land based exploration one of these days.
Perhaps the jewel in this silvery crown is Charity Dock, a most amazing pile of old boating bric a brac which would do justice to an episode of Scrapheap Challenge.
We passed through Hawkesbury Junction / Sutton Stop, diving into The Greyhound to purchase a couple of pints of Marston Pedigree. This junction is something special with its 180 degree bend, graceful iron bridge and of course the pub. Again, another unexplored arm reaches 5 miles into Coventry - another destination yet to be travelled.
We finally passed under the M6 and then started past a seemingly endless stream of bends cut off during the 1829 and 1834 straightenings, each marked by a Horsley Iron Works bridge picked out in black and white. The end result is a schizophrenic canal, sometimes a winding contour canal and then at others a cut and fill waterway to rival the Shoppie