Up the Ashby
We slipped away from our moorings near Bridge 6 just before 06:30. The day (11th July) was likely to be pretty hot so we wanted to get our cruising done before the day warmed up and also before Paul started work. The levels in the canal were definitely down, but it’s not too bad. You’d be hard pressed to get into a spontaneous mooring, but the signposted moorings seem OK.
It had been pretty dry for a while and the solar panels were looking a bit dusty, so Paul decided to give them a wash as we cruised along, to maximise their efficiency. He used canal water, as it’s readily available. When he’d finished they still looked dusty but more like dust mixed with mud! But it would have to do.
It’s interesting to note that if solar panels get too hot, they can actually overheat. Once a solar panel overheats, its efficiency drops, making them lose a lot of the energy they would otherwise gather from the sun. In a study, it was shown that using water as a coolant decreased the solar cells temperature by 8 °C and increased the panel efficiency by 3%. On very hot days we often give them a cooling bath.
It was getting pretty sticky already and we found ourselves outside Trinity Marina at about 08:30. We had a quick conflab and decided we’d sit out the heat of the day there if they’d have us. And we’d also eat at the adjacent “Brewer’s Fayre” pub, as it would be too hot to cook. One of those decisions turned out to be questionable.
Luckily they had a berth for us and we were soon cosied up on our pontoon. Paul removed all the windows and – being on hook-up – we set the fan to high and settled down for the day. It was pretty tolerable with all the ventilation and movement of air.
I booked a table at the pub – just in case everybody else had the same idea. We had luke warm showers – by choice, not necessity – and used more water than we normally would, just to cool down. Sadly the cool shower effect lasted only milliseconds, much like it does on holiday in a hot country.
There are some pretty huge fish in the basin and we also spotted this lovely old Chevy pick-up, which seems to be quietly deteriorating. Or maybe it was just there overnight? Who knows. But its a beauty.
We walked the short distance to the pub and I could very clearly visualise my drink – just like the film “Ice Cold in Alex“. The sad reality is that poor Paul had a twenty minute wait in a hot pub, way too close to people for comfort. It was heaving and there was one person taking orders, whilst numerous other staff seemed to be milling about with no particular purpose. He took the opportunity to order our food (salads) at the same time to avoid another wait.
The salads arrived in due course and were at best OK. The salad was supposed to have included avocado. Nope. And if you ordered cheese with a salad, you’d expect a little more finesse than a few chunks hacked off a seemingly quite elderly block. Not the best meal ever. We will avoid Brewers Fayre henceforth. They can be very hit and miss.
We went to bed once again with every orifice that could be opened open. It was cooler by virtue of a little breeze blowing, but the temperature was not predicted to dip much below 20C all night.
The alarm went off at 6:15. I had gone out like a light and slept right through. The heat is so enervating. We set off quietly (12th July), out through the very narrow marina entrance. I just don’t get why marina entrances have to be so narrow. Enlighten me someone!
Paul quickly nipped off to return the security fob through the letterbox. We’d agreed to pick up our deposit on our way back through, rather than wait around until they opened.
It was cooler but quite cloudy and there was even the occasional spot of rain, although it obviously wouldn’t be coming to much. We were the only boat on the move, as far as we knew and we tiptoed past moored boats, talking in whispers. This is stealth cruising at its best!
As you pass through the outskirts of Hinckley, you catch a glimpse of the Triumph Factory, where you can vist and do a factory tour. Luckily my motorbiking brother Bruce wasn’t with us or we’d probably have had to stop!
Once you leave Hinckley behind, though, you are very quickly pitched into beautiful, rural Leicestershire. We didn’t cruise for long and found a nice – if slightly shallow – spot just past Stoke Golding.
Stoke G is famous for being the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII was crowned here. We moored by a field of young steers, who are fascinated by me chatting to them. At least, I think it’s fascination. They are adorable. There is no road noise and no rail noise and all is well with our world, for today. There was a beautiful sunset and then an almost full moon. Such a happy feeling.
We had a slighly less early start on Wednesday (13th July) as it was not forecast to be quite so hot until a bit later in the day. It was quite a short trip up to Sutton Wharf, through some lovely countryside. There is a cafe there, with a very good reputation. The menu looks nice anyway.
Just past the water point are some offside CRT visitor moorings. Very smart, but very shallow. We suspect that this is not only because of the low water levels. Indeed, Paul chatted to a CRT guy and mentioned it and he said “Yeah they are”. Such a shame as it’s a lovely place to moor. We had to moor with our rear end just hanging out a bit, but not in anyone’s way.
There is a footpath alongside that leads to the Bosworth Battlefield and we did toy with the idea of going to visit, but we felt it was too hot for the boys. But it looked like tomorrow would be cooler. Maybe that would be our opportunity?
It was a much cooler night and we both slept like tops. As we had a day to kill, we decided to stay put in this pleasant spot. I did some washing while Paul worked and then, after work, we got the bikes off and went for a cycle in the cooler evening air.
We took a path that led us through a copse to the site of the Battle of Bosworth, which took place nearing the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1485. It was a battle that was to be immortalised by Shakespeare, with its famous cry of ” A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” – which seems to have been based on fact, as the story says that Richard III’s horse was felled, leaving him vulnerable to his enemies.
There is a visitor centre there (closed of course) and it was nice to see people walking their dogs and pic-nicing there and just generally enjoying the space. We stopped for a drink and a walk round the Richard III sundial – which is magnificent.
It was quite an eery feeling standing on the spot where so many fell (although, to be fair, the actual site of the battle is disputed), with the flags flying in the stiff breeze. Even if we weren’t in the exact spot, it was very evocative.
We decided we’d cycle back via the country lanes, which was fun – if a little hilly! We arrived back at the wharf and decided we’d stop for a drink. But the food looked so nice, we thought we’d eat there as well! And very nice it was too. And the boys got free dog biscuits so they were also very happy. The cafe has only recently started opening in the evenings (Thursday and Friday) and it looks as if it should be quite popular.
It had been a beautiful evening, but once the sun dipped, it was almost chilly in the stiff breeze. The boat, which we had locked up, felt like an oven, though, when we arrived back!
Friday (15th July) saw me starting on the task of cleaning the boat inside and out – ready for our first-timer guests (Peta and Steve Reading), arriving later. It’s quite a distance from home (about 190 miles) but they were game for it and had even taken the day off so that they could maximise their time with us.
I moved us on from our mooring at Sutton Cheney, to a berth in the lovely Bosworth Marina, arriving there about 2:30pm. It has excellent facilities and would be the perfect place to get our groceries delivered and a nice, secure parking space for our guest’s car.
As luck would have it, work intruded and the Friday traffic had been bad, plus they had taken – let’s just say an “interesting” route. They finally arrived about tea-time, so we had a cuppa and an excited initial catch-up. Once the tea was out of the way, we commenced the serious business. Cocktails. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris to be precise. Lush! They slipped down rather well! We spent the evening chatting and laughing – with the emphasis on the latter!
We had a nice, slow breakfast and showers and then our guests dashed ashore to pick up some more ice as it was going to be a hot one. Thus provisioned we set off. It was an absolute belter of a day – slightly too warm for my liking – but undeniably brilliant weather for a first visit!
We laughed and sang our way along the canal, especially in the tunnel at Snarestone, with its marvellous acoustics, and down to the current terminus. The canal is currently being restored as far as Moira, from whence it used to transport coal. The pit at Moira, Rawdon Colliery, survived the pit closure programme in the mid-1980s that followed the miners’ strike, but ran out of viable coal seams and was closed in 1990. The canal currently terminates at Snarestone.
We winded the boat and made our way back through the tunnel and to a spot out in the country with a bit of dappled shade for those that wanted it and sun for those that didn’t. The plan was to barbecue and the menfolk busied themselves with that while the ladies took care of the more important aspects of the evening – the cocktails. This evening’s choice was either frozen Pina Colada or Mojito – or both. And both equally delicious.
The food went down very well – Halloumi and Steak, salad and new potatoes. Delish. As did the cocktails, once again. We had another lovely evening but all were tired – obviously from the heat and nothing at ALL to do with the alcohol.
Sunday saw us heading back to the Marina where, after lunch and a spot of light packing, our dear friends would leave us for their journey home and we would stay for one more night. We’d had such a great weekend and felt very flat when our guests left. But we got busy with changing beds, washing, showering and tidying to take our minds off it. And tomorrow we’d continue our way back down the Ashby, which we love, and on to new ground.
Before I leave you for this week, this very pretty canal is dotted with benches like the on in the picture, upon which you can take your ease on a canal walk. They are all provided thanks to the Ashby Canal Society. On the outskirts of Hinckley, we saw one where a wag had removed the C. It made us chuckle.