What a difference a week makes. We've now definitely left urban Birmingham and for the past few days have been exploring the rural Ashby Canal.
First though we joined the Coventry Canal at Fazely Junction. We last passed through here in 2009 when we first bought Pas Mèche and moved her to her then home mooring of Ely in Cambridgeshire. In our defence there has been some redevelopment around the junction but we were surprised how little we recognised it.
We moored near the junction and set off on foot to do a bit of shopping in Tamworth but quickly thought better of that idea and came back for the bikes. Tamworth is a fair distance off the canal! Although there is a lovely cycle path all the way to the town centre.
Amazed how little we could remember from our trip of five years ago, we decided to cycle back the way we'd come that time (left in the photo above) to see if we could jog our memories. No good, we barely recognised anything that way either. Just to make sure we had a pint at the Red Lion in Hopwas to see if that would help us remember. We decided we must've been so terrified in 2009 having just taken charge of PM that we couldn't even take in our surroundings. Either that or we're getting old!
The following day we climbed the two Glascote locks on the edge of Tamworth and passed through Polesworth. The weather has turned really hot recently and once we moored up before Atherstone the temperature in the boat reached 33 degrees C. On days like this we're glad we painted the roof cream as it helps to keep the temperature in the boat down. Still, it was a day for sitting in the shade and pondering whether a cooling dip in the canal was worth the risk......
Saturday was wet but actually quite a relief from the heat. We followed a few boats up the 11 locks of the Atherstone flight, almost enjoying the rain as a break from the recent heat.
The Atherstone locks are pretty slow to fill but an interesting flight as the surroundings change from countryside to town as you climb. We'd pretty much given up trying to recognise sights from our journey in 2009 but the yard by Atherstone top lock did at least look vaguely familiar.
There are nice moorings as you leave Atherstone but we carried on to Hartshill on a recommendation from someone we met at the locks. We moored up just in time for about the biggest downpour we can remember. The rain was so heavy it even bounced under the mushroom vents on the roof and into the boat. Unfortunately our geraniums took some damage...
On Sunday we cruised through Nuneaton and turned left at Marston Junction onto the Asby Canal.
The Ashby is a contour canal so wiggles all over to avoid changes in altitude. It is also pretty shallow so progress is slow but at least that gives you time to enjoy the scenery. The canal is constantly rural, passing through some idyllic Leicestershire countryside, especially towards the limit of navigation at Snarestone.
Here there is a (crooked) tunnel followed by a dead end with a winding hole. We moored here but access off the canal is restricted due to works to reinstate the canal towards its original terminus at Moira.
Today we've headed back south and moored near the site of the Battle of Bosworth. Pas Mèche is high up on the aqueduct over Victoria's left shoulder in this photo. We cycled to the battle site and into Market Bosworth. Lovely countryside.