We came out of Atherstone lock 11 with the Beer Boat tied up to Miss Ellie 1 and brought both boats to Lock 10. There were now boats beginning to arrive at 11 behind us and at 10 in front - this was going to be quite slow progress and the tension was building as other boaters wanted to pass through the locks quicker than was possible with us in the middle.
Helen was about to blow a fuse with another boater who was in a hurry, he was shouting at us to let him through first even though the lock was in our favour! Narrowboating is certainly not for him, we've all met someone like this along the way, thankfully not too often. Our good friends Elaine & Howard from Eynsham arrived with windlasses in hand - along with their crew, just in time as the impatient boaters head was turning purple with rage.
As quick as they had arrived we were through lock 10 with Miss Ellie 1. The impatient boater came through next, going down, we operated the gates for him and as not a word of thanks. Next the Beer Boat was brought up. This steady progress continued all the way up Atherstone, even better, once we reached the last 3 locks there were some lock keepers on duty who made the passage even quicker by setting the locks for both boats as we moved up. Much appreciated.
We moored up for a while on the south side of the bridge, after the top lock, where Elaine & Howard had left their boat. I also forgot to mention they had walked all the way down the locks to meet us!! These guys epitomise true boating camaraderie.
We all headed off to the local pub for a well deserved drink or two (or three...could have been four!)
The pub didn’t have any food on offer so we went back to the boat and decided to try and find somewhere near Hartshill later in the evening.
With light starting to fade, we needed to find somewhere quick - finally arriving at the Anchor Inn at around 08.30pm. We couldn’t believe it, Easter Sunday and the pub was closed! Just as well the trusty iPhone had a good signal, a quick check on the local pubs, we found the Malt Shovel further up from the canal was open. A quick phone call secured the table, we had to get there before 9.00pm to order food.
The towpath was like a mud-slide had just happened! We walked back the way we came to the next bridge then up the bridge to the road, now facing a very steep hill (no exaggeration) up to the pub, all marching as quick as we could to get there before 9pm, the tendons in my ankle were asking me to leave them behind. That first pint in the pub, well you know that feeling, sheer bliss, followed by an absolutely lovely meal and friendly service. Can definitely recommend Malt Shovel - Nuneaton, Warwickshire - British Restaurant | Facebook
The following day, 6th April, we set off and soon passed Springwood Haven Marina this has to be one of the most scenic spots for a marina, we stopped to fill with water and set off quickly again as we wanted to gain some distance.
At around 6.00pm we arrived at Hawkesbury Junction and as usual it was packed with people outside the pub.
We turned under the bridge at the junction to head south on the Oxford Canal and brought both boats round to the pub and untied to bring Miss Ellie 1 through the stop lock. Then the Beer Boat was hauled through, much to the interest of all the gongoozlers having a drink.
We tied up again with the intention of carrying on to Rugby, however we spotted a decent mooring for all 3 boats and moored for the evening. We were getting close to Hillmorton now so it was good to rest and unwind a little.
The next day, 7th April, we set off mid morning to head to Rugby and get some provisions from the Tesco superstore, the sun was shining most of the way - a lovely change after all the rain and muddy towpaths.
We passed Wyken arm junction an old colliery junction, then passed through Stretton stop where Rose Narrowboats are based. We soon passed Brinklow junction and then Armada Boats just before the Newbold Tunnel.
We arrived at Rugby and moored just opposite the Tesco superstore. Helen went off to Tescos with Elaine, Tara & Leah, whilst Howard and I stayed behind to check on the boats and have a tidy up.
We decided to stay in Rugby as the weather was fine and we also planned to have a meal at the simple Harvester that evening, then take the final leg of the journey the following day.
8th April, we were soon off again wiggling our way through the Rugby moorings, with boats moored both sides we were very lucky not to meet an oncoming boat.
Passing Clifton Wharf where Clifton Cruisers are based, we had to send someone ahead to check that all was clear, as anyone who knows Cliftons will know there is passage for single file only as all there hire boats are always moored three deep.
We passed under Kent Road Bridge and I knew Hillmorton was just around the corner, this part of the journey was nearly over. We slowly cruised towards Hilmorton bottom lock and moored just before it.
We untied the Beer Boat for the last time (we hoped) and using our poles, slowly edged it forward towards the lock.
I went up to see Dave at the yard to see where he wanted the boat, he asked us to moor at the bottom lock and they would help bring the boat into the yard the following morning.
We tied up on the offside mooring at the bottom lock, the sun was setting so we set up a few chairs and had a drink to celebrate arriving.
The following morning on 9th April 2015, Dave and Liam Smith (Hillmortons joinery specialist) came down to help bring the boat up.
The picture above was one of the last few taken before we were to see the boat again on the 23rd June.
We were going to take Miss Ellie 1 on a trip to the Llangollen for a five week trip, while we were away Liam was going to construct the boatmans cabin and Dave was going to change the half finished Lister engine for a reconditioned Russell Newbery DM2. After weeks of phone calls to the administrators rep at Hudsons boat yard it was apparent that the missing parts on the Lister engine installed so far, might be available but at a hefty price.
On discussing things with Dave he offered us a really good deal on a reconditioned engine, so we decided to have the Lister taken out as we couldn’t face dealing with the administrators rep at Hudson's yard anymore.
Months later the Lister would be picked up by a local specialist to start a new life.
But, on our return from the Llangollen trip...it soon became apparent that I was to be more involved in the boat build that I had originally thought.