We left Snarestone and motored all day in glorious sunshine enjoying the flora and fauna along the way.
We’ve met one or two boaters complaining about the canal as it is quite shallow in places but we have found that providing you moor where facilities exist, then it is quite delightful. The Ashby Canal is totally lock free along its 21 mile length and is allegedly the longest contour canal in England.
We made contact with the computer shop who advised us that we could pick our laptop up on Friday afternoon. We found a mooring on the outskirts of Hinckley where we could stay for 48 hours.
We passed through a leafy cutting where Kingfishers taunted us. They would take flight alerting us to their existence and then play tag with us as they’d land again some way ahead of us, and just as we were about to draw level with them they’d take off again just as we were about to photograph them leaving us with lots of snaps of empty branches!
We reached the current cruising limit of the Ashby Canal just north of Snarestone tunnel.
The Ashby Canal Association has been working hard to extend the canal a further 8 miles to its original terminus at Moira and we’d been hoping to explore the line this will take. Contractors are currently working in the area however, and the area was fenced off meaning that we had to be satisfied with the information available at the Snarestone visitors’ centre.
We winded the boat and passed back through the tunnel before mooring up for the night so we could explore the village of Snarestone and treat ourselves to a meal out at The Globe.
We moved on to Market Bosworth Wharf where we discovered they are building a new marina that is due to open to boaters in September. The Ashby Canal passes through beautiful Leicestershire countryside with only a few canal side villages. After Hinckley the next biggest town along the way is Market Bosworth; a small and pretty town built around the market place about a mile from the canal.
After having a good look round, we purchased minimal supplies at the Co-Op, bought an ice-cream and returned to the boat and motored on to Congerstone. We were tempted there by the lure of The Horse & Jockey pub. Sadly there was no sign of life and no notice in the window to say when there might be – there were three disappointed boat crews who’d also been looking for something long and cold to quench their thirst on this warm evening.
We left Hinckley and moved on to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. We visited this area twenty five years ago when travelled along the Ashby Canal on a hire boat. However, in that time things have changed – the place where the Battle of Bosworth took place has now moved to the other side of the canal. The area we toured twenty five years ago is now just a nature walk. The visitor centre is still where it was but is not now sited on the battle field. We were a little disappointed as to learn about the battle you now need to watch a video for which there is a charge!
In the evening we visited the estate village of Shenton which was clustered around the Hall which was built in 1629 and appears to have remained in the same family ever since.
We decided to moor closer to Hinckley Marina who advertise an emergency call out service. However, we hadn’t quite reached it when an audible alarm made us jump and the pedestal with all the gauges lit up like a Christmas tree. Our repair had failed and our water header tank was boiling.
We turned the engine off and our momentum carried us to a suitable mooring. From there we walked to the marina but with it being a Saturday their engineer was not available. Until we can fix this hose we can’t run the engine and therefore have no way of charging the batteries from which we run all our electrics including mobile phones.
We caught the bus the mile into Hinckley town centre and found the computer shop who thankfully were open on a Saturday and they said that they would need to carry out some tests on the computer to see if it was repairable and that they would need to keep the computer for the best part of a week.
Anyway, with no boat engineer available, Storm carried out a permanent repair to the hose himself using the copper pipe and jubilee clips and at least this meant we could run the engine again which would charge the batteries so we could charge up the phones.
It is not until you don’t have a computer that you notice how much you rely on them for music, DVD watching etc as well as emails etc. Smart phones are OK for but the screens and keyboards are too small and they don’t hold their charge for long and we are always mindful that we should have at least one phone charged in case of emergency.
Smart phones are wonderful – a telephone call to a local plumber resulted in a shady deal taking place under a canal bridge when 3″ of 15mm copper pipe and 2 jubilee clips were exchanged and which would allow us to repair the damaged hose when we reach civilisation.
However, we had another problem. The computer screen has turned black. We think that as the fan belt went, it maybe caused an electrical surge in the batteries causing this fault. The smart phone helped us locate a computer shop in Hinckley that may be able to effect a repair.
A slight wait at Hawkesbury Junction stop lock where we left the North Oxford Canal and joined the Coventry Canal. We headed out into open countryside and after two miles we turned into the Ashby Canal and reached the outskirts of Hinckley and moored up opposite The Limekilns pub. The gaffa tape repair had lasted all day.
A three mile brisk walk to the Powder Coaters and back in full sun left us crying out for cold drinks on our return. The work will take two weeks so we have time to go on another little jaunt before we need to be back in Rugby and we’re planning to head up the Ashby Canal. We set off towards Coventry at about 10.30am.
We’ve passed this way before along the North Oxford Canal and had forgotten how lovely it is. We spotted a terrapin enjoying the sunshine from his hideway in a now redundant moorhen’s nest.
We didn’t quite make Hawkesbury Junction before we were forced to pull in early as a red warning light and no hot water alerted us to something wrong – the loss of a generator belt! Thankfully we carry a spare but needed to wait for the engine to cool down and the heat in the engine bay to disperse.
The temperature inside the boat was 80°F at 2.30pm and it was a lot hotter outside. A little experiment with the thermometer on the roof sent the mercury off the scale at 120°F. No wonder Max has moved into the shade.
At 5pm Storm went into the engine bay and changed the belt. Unfortunately it has also caught one of the hoses as it went and although a temporary repair with some gaffa tape has sufficed for now, we will be limping to the next boat yard for a more permanent solution.
[7 miles, 1 tunnel, no locks, 1 swing bridge]