Leicester Ring Day 7: Fradley to Branston

Sunday was not entirely a rest day. I took the opportunity to do lots of boat maintenance. This included getting down into the engine compartment armed with a long pole…

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…and some disposable nappies! It might be a bit hard to see in the picture below, but they are the perfect thing for soaking up bilge:

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This greaser handle, by the way, has to be turned every day, to prevent water getting in. Needless to say “greasing the stern gland” is the subject of much ribald humour on board.

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Anyway, this morning saw us setting off early towards Fradley Junction, where the Coventry canal meets the Trent and Mersey. This proud fellow kept pace with us along the way:

Both herons and kingfishers seem to like to keep just ahead of the boat like this. Not that we’ve seen a kingfisher yet on this trip, but we remember that behaviour from years gone by.

Fradley Junction is full of history. The Swan is a great pub and one of the most photographed locations in  Britain, apparently. Martin from MGM boats (our builders) grew up near here and remembers it in the days before it served food. It’s still pretty authentic inside, though, and the beer is excellent, as I discovered yesterday. Note the old wharf building next door, too.

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The turn right onto the T&M was quite difficult because of the high winds and all the other boats around. We had to go through three locks in quick succession too. We kept Rosie on board for this bit, because there is a road right by the canal. She prefers to run around and stay close to Louise, but sometimes safety rules.IMG_2133IMG_2136

The T&M is a great canal, full of beautiful scenery and interesting sights:

As we passed through Alrewas (pronounced olwerus) we encountered our first river section. Quite exciting!

There were dangerous weirs to avoid, lots of weeping willows, strange navigational signs, and a general sense of open country and unfamiliar sights.

We passed through nine locks in total today, which was quite tiring for Louise in particular. They were mostly widely spaced apart, which was slightly annoying because just as we decided to put the kettle on another lock would appear and we’d have to switch it off again.

Our final destination, after five hours cruising, was Branston Water Park. The moorings there had been recommended by our old friends Sean and Theresa on nb Dilligaf. It was an excellent recommendation, not least because of the The Bridge Inn, which does fine Italian food. We really felt we had earned this supper:

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The plan tomorrow is to get to the River Soar. It’s quite a long trip and includes the rather daunting River Trent turn. But today’s experience has given us more river confidence and the weather forecast is pretty good, so we are looking forward to it.

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