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Trialing "Earnest"- Newark to Braunston

Tour 1999

One of the main reasons for having "Earnest" launched at Newark was that launch date coincided with the Easter holidays and therefore the Arlidge family had ten days to get the boat to Braunston Marina in readiness for the Braunston Boat show. Neil also thought that a trip upstream on the River Trent would be a good test for "Earnest" in readiness for the main summer maiden voyage. After a few days at Newark Marina shaking down a few teething troubles we made an early start on Saturday 3rd April as we wanted to get to Nottingham that night. "Earnest" took a steady 8½ hours to get to the "Sainsbury's" Nottingham Canal moorings in the centre of town. We obviously took it easy, Neil frequently checking the stern tube and engine for signs of over heating. Owing to Linda's "love" of rivers, and having the time we decided to go up the Trent and Mersey Canal to Fradley junction and to Braunston via the Coventry and Northern Oxford Canals. That night Charlie, R&D's electrician joined up with us to fit a missing bit of the Electrolux Travelpower so this could be commissioned and we would have 240v to power the washing machine. We spent the next morning in Nottingham shoving off at 1.30 as we only wanted to get to Cranfleet Cut that night so we could meet up with Keith the engine fitter on his boat "Misty Dawn". We arrived at 4.30 and that evening met up with Keith and his wife to show off "Earnest" in its finished state. 
The next day we started at 8.00am and had a 9 hour day to Branston on the Trent and Mersey Canal. The Meile washer dryer was given its trial run which proved successful. Tuesday 6th April saw us getting to Hopwas on the Coventry Canal, a 6¾ hour day. Hartshill one of our "set" stopping places was our next port of call, a 7 hour day. The Atherstone Flight of locks was dispatched in a leisurely 2 hours. We had spent the last three nights in, so we trekked up the hill to Hartshill village to have a pint and an enormous mega mixed grill in the "Stag and Pheasant", doing our shopping in the Spar on the way back. We had been toying with the idea of going up the Ashby Canal, but there was not enough time as Linda wanted to go to the Battlefield Visitor Centre on our next journey up there. The next day, the 8th saw us taking 4¾ hours to get to Coventry Basin, to see it in its now finished state. A lot of tiding up has been done to the tow path, the same can not be said for the navigation channel. We grounded under three bridges and at one point stalled the engine with the remains of a mattress round the prop. It took Neil 20 minutes to remove with a large pair of wire cutters. That night we ate out at one of the numerous Indian restaurants. The next morning another boater asked if we had heard all the commotion last night, apparently one of the artisan units in the old warehouse had been broken into again and one of the boats that side had its mooring ropes cut. It is just as well we left "Earnest" chained and padlocked up on its large centre fender eye to one of the not too numerous mooring rings. We think that it is imperative that B.W. supply rings and not trendy looking bollards in inner city mooring places.

Front entrance to Coventry Basin.

Coventry Basin.

Coventry Basin.

Coventry Basin. Notice stupid "catalogue" bollards. Only few rings present.

Exit from Coventry Basin. New sanitary station to left. "Earnest" bumped over much gravel and silt to get through bridge hole!

Pump house on Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction.

"The Greyhound" at Hawkesbury Junction.

Hawkesbury Junction. Sutton's Stop lock cottage, will it survive the re-development?

Hawkesbury Junction. We have just started on Northern Oxford, going through Sutton's Stop. 

Rose Narrowboats, Stretton Stop. Formally Maidboats Brinklow.

Stretton Stop, Rose Narrowboats, where as Maidboats Neil started his canal cruising in1969.

            We started the next day at 11.00am, which was a mistake as the trainee yobs were out. Not far from the basin two boys not older than 10, pelted us with railway ballast, in full view of a young mother walking with her young children, obviously this behaviours is still accepted around here. There was nothing we could do as the canal was not deep enough to get any where near the bank to get off. The main area of attack was the signwriting at the back. The portholes and the actual writing was missed, but "Earnest" now has three touch ups covering small dents in the 4mm plate! We passed Hawkesbury Junction at 1.00pm without further incident and headed off down the Oxford Canal. We stopped that night in Rugby at 5.05pm, after having passed Stretton Stop. This is the home of Rose Narrowboats, in1969 it was Maidboats, Brinklow, where the first Arlidge canal holiday started. We have found by experience the best place to stop in Rugby is at the non towpath picnic area, just below Bridge 58. The moorings before the bridge are shelved and you normally have to use a gang plank. This spot is handy for Sainsbury's, just over the bridge. 
The final night was spent in Braunston, but as we not due into the Marina until the next day we stopped in the quieter Visitor Moorings, just above Bridge 90. This day had taken 3½hours and that night we dinned in the "Mill House", aka "The Boatman", or "Rose and Castle" as Neil visited in 1969. The boat deck cabin part of the restaurant (now demolished) Neil remembers as being quite new in1969. We booked into Braunston Marina about 10.00am and they bunged us down the far corner, which was even a fair walk from the field parking. It goes to show how spoilt we were at Harefield Marina, where you can unload your car only feet away from the boat.
The final trial was directly after the Braunston Show, when we spent a wet 7 days going up the Oxford, Coventry and Ashby Canals to the present Terminus at Snarestone. We stopped for one exceptionally wet day at the Battlefield Site and got soaked walking to the very excellent Battlefield visitor centre. Another stop was just to the south of Hawkesbury junction, a present park like green site, which up to about 1980 had been a power station! The "Greyhound" was visited for a meal, but was found to be disappointing. We had time in hand so spent our last night at Napton and went back to an old favourite pub of ours, "The Folly". The pub and beer side were still up to scratch, but in the restaurant the pies and service seemed a bit bland. "Earnest" got back to Braunston on 6th June and was not to go out again until the start of the Maiden Voyage on the 2nd July.   

Tour 1999

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