Having run the gauntlet of Nuneaton, not too unpleasant but the towpath was heavily studded with large-dog excrement, which says a lot about the folks who frequent the bank. This makes hopping on and off the boat to tie up a bit of a crap-shoot (sorry I couldn’t resist). We took a left turn off the Coventry canal into new territory and discovered there are very few accessible mooring spots on the Ashby, most of the banks are either crumbling, full of rushes or very uneven. You could probably land someone from the bow of the boat and drive pegs in fore and aft and remain a couple of feet away from the bank but it is very windy which would likely dislodge the pins and further damage the bank, so we plumped for a length of armco - a sturdy aluminium rail set into the bank by CRT which provides a secure mooring and protects the bank, in addition when it was installed the canal would have been dredged/dug deep enough to get alongside, however the stretches of rail are rather few and far between, some are marked on the book, others are newer possibly after bank repairs. When looking to stop (particularly at the end of the day, we grab the first available spot and then I walk on further to scope out any better places, with a sunset view or cows. It’s not easy or fun to have go backwards. It also requires practice to determine is a length of bank between two other boats is the requisite 57’ 6”, the gap seems to get smaller the closer you get.
I took a walk further down the bank to see if there any other suitable moorings a mile or two ahead but it was a treacherous walk. I was wishing I had my ice grippers, I nearly did a single point landing several times slipping in the mud and was keen not to slip into the canal. When I set out there were lovely blue skies, but when I looked behind me there were bands of rain heading my way. I turned around and sheltered under a bridge until the first downpour abated, and then made my way back to the boat on the now even more slippery banks.
This canal winds through a few villages with wonderful double-barrelled names, Marston Jabbett, Burton Hastings, Sutton Cheyney, Stretton Baskerville (eliminated in the 16th century), Stoke Golding, but as yet they don’t have much connection to the canal in that you can see a few houses on a hill but few old wharves.
We made a record number of stops (for us) two to try to find a weekend paper, one for a worthwhile farm shop, one to empty a cassette and then Market Bosworth, a half hour walk up from the canal. It was a bit of a pleasant surprise, after striding up an everyday suburban road with the requisite speeding cars, you suddenly emerge into a cobbled market square with beautiful buildings dating back to the 1500s. Including a school that was first established in 1501. Lots of thatched homes, every straw of which appeared to be immaculately manicured.
Not much in the way of useful stores such as hardware, butchers or bakers but several boutiques and a fancy coffee shop. Atherstone was much more useful.
We have now completed the full length of this canal and turned around at the last winding hold long enough for us to turn, there is another mile of canal that has been restored but only a 52’ winding hole. We’ve only seen two other boats on the move, one a hire boat (who seemed to on a mission to complete) and another boat that has been leap frogging our progress all the way.
Lots of boats seem to be temporarily left moored to the bank (you can do this for up to 14 days in many places) and there a quite few ‘alternative’ lifestyle boats, mostly in hard shape rather like their dreadlocked inhabitants, it’s a quiet out of the way spot and I’m sure the CRT don’t bother them often.