2010 – The Long Dark Tunnel Crew: 6 Duration: 3 days.
Our first weekend adventure. Despite having been out on the good ship Anitu plenty of times, (normally from its old home on the Ashby canal at Hinckley Marina to the Dog and Hedgehog at Dadlington) this was the first time that Admiral Maurice (@voleylockie) had trusted the boat to us for more than a day trip.
We set sail mid-afternoon from Hawksbury Junction at the western terminus of the Oxford Canal and headed to Rugby for an overnight stop at Newbold. Ale and food were partaken in the Barley Mow, the Boat Inn, and the Newbold Crown.
Saturday saw an early start in the sunshine with the intention of possibly reaching Braunston by nightfall – a complete mis-judgement as we arrived by lunchtime. Then came the decision. Despite Admiral Moz telling us not to venture past the Braunston turn - and realising we had an afternoon to kill - we just had to investigate the lock flight and more importantly . . . Braunston tunnel. 1.8 miles of eerie darkness.
A few quick ales in the BoatHouse, and a less quick study of the map left us in no doubt it would be easy. What we hadn’t factored for was the 6 locks had to be completed in both directions, that the tunnel would take considerably longer than anticipated, that canal traffic at Braunston is ridiculous at weekends, that the winding hole we thought was the other side of the tunnel was actually the symbol for the end of the tunnel(!) and that we may have to stop and have a drink . . (courtesy of the New Inn just north of Norton).
We finally returned to Braunston 8 hours later, in the dark, without a mooring, without the chimney (lost in tunnel) and with the pub almost closed. Luckily the bar was still serving liquid calories!
Sunday was far more leisurely . . . . a meander back towards home, with one crew member leaving, and the boat being safely moored in Brinklow for the evening. . .apparently the pubs are not by the canal, and all things didn’t go to plan in the Raven either. The crew finally returned home on Monday morning.
2011 – Firing Range Duration: 2.5 Days Crew: 5 (plus 1)
2012 – Up the Ashby Duration 2 Days Crew: 5 (minus 1)
The Ashby canal doesn’t go anywhere. It starts at nowhere, goes nowhere, and there is nothing of any real note in between. We lost a crew member (to his now wife) on the Saturday night, realised that Higham on the Hill doesn’t have a cashpoint, ate faggots that resembles testicles, adopted pseudonyms, and experienced that what took a day to travel by water takes 14 minutes by car!
It rained - Heavily. However this didn’t dampen the spirits as we steamed along to the greatest grandad anthems on the wireless. Oh, and we watched England in the Euros before a very tasty curry in Market Bosworth.
2013 – The Ring (my precious) Duration: 8 Days Crew: 4
Our most ridiculous idea to date. To complete the Warwickshire ring in less than (as the guidebook say it should take) 10 days. By the end, we did it with 2 days to spare, and that included a morning on land at Kingsbury Water Park. This trip also saw the development of the Social Media Manager, using GPS tracking and this very website, alongside twitter and facebook profiles.
The trip was just as monumental in its planning as in its duration. Plenty of nights in pub gardens with maps and itineraries eventually panned out as followed. Even the attempt to scupper the trip by the canal having no water in it at Minworth (damaged lock and bank), and the boat having no engine in it (recondition) was not going to stop us.
Day 1. Springwood Haven to the Rose and Castle, Anstey, Coventry Evening in the Rose & Castle pub
Day 2 Shilton Rose and Castle to Braunston Turn. Evening in the Boathouse Pub
Day 3 Braunston to Leamington. Evening in the Moorings at Myton
Day 4 Leamington to Catherine De Barnes. Evening in The Lazy Cow, Solihull.
Day 5 Catherine De Barnes to Birmingham Gas Street Basin, Evening at Gas Street Basin
Day 6 Birmingham Gas Street to Bodymoor Heath. Evening at The Dog and Doublet Pub
Day 7 Bodymoor Heath to Polesworth. Evening at The Bulls Head Pub and Indian Restaurant.
Day 8 Polesworth to Springwood Haven. Evening at Home.
Highlights include, losing a table in a tunnel, gaining an immigrant on the way down the farmers walk, completing the Hatton flight in 3 hours 3 minutes, playing the most stupid on variations on trivial pursuits, a 64 pint keg of ale from the Church End brewery, family visitors, Dave own cutlass, walkie talkie watches, hand signals . . . . . . .
2014 – Uncharted Waters: Crew: 4
So after nearly 7 years of boating, and 5 years of boys in a boat adventures, we finally decided to cover the last remaining stretch of localised navigation – The Coventry Canal from Hawksbury Junction, to the Canal Basin. The journey began at Springwood Haven with a crew of 2. The normally flexible Cook Matt not being able to perform his normal Friday WFH trick, and so he joined us later in the evening. What was more worrying was the disappearance of SSM Dave, who we eventually discovered under a bridge with a can of special brew half way between Nuneaton and Bedworth! The trip itself was simple enough . . Springwood to Hawksbury, Ale, Hawsbury to Shilton, Food and Ale, Shilton to Brinklow, turn round and head all the way up the Coventry canal to the basin. Dodge the Polish fisherman. Dodge the homeless alcoholics. Moor up, find a city pub and drink ale. Return to Hawksbury, Food and Ale at the Greyhound. Annoy locals. More Ale, return to Springwood on Sunday afternoon. In All, an easy trip . . scuppered in part by horrendous rain, and the awful attitude of a gentlemen on a houseboat who didn’t like the way we moored opposite him. Sorry not sorry!
2014 (#2) – Boys on a train, (and a slightly bigger boat) Crew: 4
A weekend trip to London, saw the boys in a boat become boys on a train, heading unwittingly into the middle of London Pride to see Miss Saigon, visit the BBC, drink expensive ale at the o2, baulk at the idea of having to pay to stand on the Greenwich Meridian, and cruise up and down the Thames. Hopes of a speedboat ride however were dashed when the social media manager exclaimed that he hadn’t booked it!
2015 - Boys on a train #2. Another weekend trip to London, this time to see the Book of Mormon, drink man in the hat at the Coach and horses, and cruise the Thames for a second time to see the Thames Flood Barrier up close and personal
2015 (#2) – The Atherstone Weekender
ALES and FOOD – places VISITED
The Anchor, Hartshill
The Malt Shovel, Hartshill
The Kings Head, Atherstone
The Bulls Head, Polesworth
Birmingham & Fazely Canal
Dog & Doublet, Bodymoor Heath
The Boat Inn, Minworth
Pitcher & Piano – Birmingham,
Café Rouge – Birmingham,
The Lime Kilns – Hinckley
The Marina - Hinckley
The George & Dragon, Higham on the Hill,
The White Swan – Highan on the Hill
Dog & Hedgehog - Dadlington
Ye Olde Red Lion – Market Bosworth
Simla Peppers Indian Restaurant – Market Bosworth
The Greyhound – Sutton Stop Coventry
The Rose & Castle – Anstey, Coventry
The White Lion - Brinklow
The Bulls Head - Brinklow
The Raven - Brinklow
The Barley Mow – Newbold, Rugby
The Boat Inn – Newbold, Rugby
The Bell & Barge –Brownsover, Rugby
The Newbold Crown – Newbold, Rugby
Old Royal Oak Hilmorton, Rugby
The Boat House - Braunston
Grand Union Canal
The Boat Inn – Catherine De Barnes
The Lazy Cow – Solihull
The Masons Arms – Solihull
The Moorings at Myton – Leamington
The New Inn - Norton