Amusing Ashby

We’ve seen the weird and whacky while doing the Ashby. I think our prize for the ‘best dressed’ boat goes to the Black Pearl, Not the prettiest but very amusing, (and to those close to my heart right now, please accept my apologies if this seems insensitive.) this photo only shows the bare bones of all the adornments added to it and it’s mooring, the only thing missing was Captain Jack Sparrow.

And I still can’t understand why Eric thought keeping chickens would be impractical on a boat. Although they’d have to lay square eggs to stop them rolling about when boats went past too fast.

My wandering spirit was nurtured from a very young age by my Dad as we traveled to far flung places in our VW combi’s  I can remember us having at least 6 over the years. I even arrived at our wedding celebrations 31 years ago in one, but non had horns to match this one.

And just as people can travel in style, so can dogs, this little chap has got the right idea, who needs to do doggy paddle when you have an owner to paddle your canoe.

We celebrated seeing several kingfishers this week and thought we’d struck gold when we saw this amount of iridescent blue, alas no, only a peacock, then as we returned back from the end of the canal we realised it was still standing in the same place and was a sculpture- it had us fooled,

But when all said and done, whatever the wildlife, nothing beats Firecrest. I’ll be quite sad to leave the Ashby.

 

 

 

End of the line

The Ashby Canal is still a restoration project. In the 1940’s the northern 8 miles were closed and filled in because of subsidence from the Leicestershire  coal field.

The Ashby Canal Association Is actively working towards reopening this section to complete the navigation at Moira. As always progress is  dependant upon funds, but the society is currently on a roll with a new bridge, section and winding hole completed last year and the next stage, the Gilwiskaw Brook Aquaduct due to be started in the spring.

I still prefer the look of the old bridges though. 

We walked as far as we could along the prepared route. It’ll be interesting to take this photo again in a few years.

Of couse in the years between the closure and now, there has been housing development over the original route so completing the canal will be partly ‘new’ canal rather than restoration but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Ashby is recognised as a SSSI ( no, not an embarrassing disease, a Site of Special Scientific Interest) because of the wildlife and plant habit, water voles and native crayfish, to name two.

We saw a camera shy vole, and several kingfishers.

The new canal has naturalised very quickly though it lacks the avenues of trees that are a highlight at this time of year. It’s a lovely canal. I’m sure we will include it on our travels in the future.

 

 

 

Nostalgia off the narrowboat

The Ashby has several historic attractions within walking distance of the canal. On Sunday morning before the early morning mist had burnt off we marched up Ambion Hill to walk around the Battle of Bosworth heritage site.

Setting off from our mooring at Sutton wharf, it’s a pleasant 2.5 mile walk through the fields and woodland, with information boards telling the grizzly tale of the final battle of the War of the Roses. Where on 22nd August 1485, Henry Tudor’s small army beat the Plantagenet King Richard III, claiming the crown for himself, ending this civil war thus commencing the Tudor period of English history.

Interesting though this history is, I still get thoroughly confused as to whose who and why they are all so intent on killing each other. (I guess our descendants might say the same about the 21century) but the views from the top of the hill were worth the walk.

Continuing our cruise along the canal we reached Shackerstone, our mooring for the night, in time to stroll upto the station which is the terminus for the Battlefield Line Steam railway.

GWR 2-6-2T Small Prairie Tank No. 5542 at Shackerstone Station

I don’t know what it is about steam trains but the lure to buy a ticket and take a ride was too great to ignor. Sadly it meant we didn’t have time for afternoon tea in the station cafe.

Our journey took us 5 miles down the line to Shenton. This is where we had done the battlefield walk in the morning. The engine uncoupled and reattached itself for the return trip, whilst we got off to look at the engines. There was a 1980’s Diesel carriage engine on our train and Eric was able to fulfill every little boy’s dream and pretend he was the driver. 

One of our fellow passengers was a genuine little boy who took ownership of the drivers seat. Taking great exception to Eric having a turn. And with his limited toddler vocabulary managed to say very forcibly “man off” which caused such laughter it’s no entrenched as our on catch phrase.

Eric did managed to get onto the footplate of the steam engine and chat to the fireman

To round off a brilliant day we ended up at The Rising Sun pub in Shackerstone where there just happened to be a classic 100 year old model T ford parked outside. And the owner was happy to let me sit in the driving seat.

No that’s not the local cat under the rear wheel, it’s the hand brake!

 

 

Autumnal Ashby

We’re often surprised by just how different and individual each canal is. This week we have been exploring the Ashby canal, which meanders through Leicestershire’s farm land. A mix of agriculture, sheep and cattle.

But the first thing I noticed was the abundance of teasels.

 I think it’s because there’s no formal hedge between the field and the canal, just wild vegatation that they are so noticeable, and pretty too. But further along it changes to woodland. Mainly Ash and Willow which turn yellow

But with the occasional Beech tree for some real autumnal gold.

The bridges on the Ashby are beautiful but they carry narrow roads and too many drivers think it’s ok to drive fast over them, papping their horns hoping any unseen oncoming vehicle will give way before they collide. When in reality all it did was destroy the peacefulness.

Of course one of the best things about Autumn is that it brings the welcome return of homemade soup season making lunch the best meal of the day. But we discovered a new delicacy on the canal, “leaf soup” . Autumnal leaves might look stunning but when they fall into the water they become a thick gloopy mess that fouls the prop enough to hinder progress. Thankfully they shake off easily enough with a few revs in reverse.