20150725_A Walk so good we did it again …… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

 20150725_A Walk so good we did it again

…… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20150725_Reprise of a short walk near Crick, Northants

a short walk near Crick

When : 25 July 2015
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on flickr.

20150725-04_Seed Head Starburst

Seed Head Starburst

This is to be a short post, even shorter than my last post which describes this exact same walk only repeated a little over a year later. Again it was a Saturday, again the sun was shining and it promised to be reasonably warm, without being hot, so it occurred to me that a drink and maybe a meal on the sun terrace would be a pleasant way to spend a Saturday lunch-time, with the possibility of a min-walk afterwards …. And so it panned out.

Without much detail :

20150725-01_Lunch at The Moorings - Crick

Lunch at The Moorings – Crick

Drive Rugby to Crick. Then the Crick Bypass (A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon and Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance, over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a roughish drive to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

Found an outside table, bought drinks, and found some menus. Wife and son decided they were a little cool in the canal-side breeze (despite the sun being mostly out). Settled down in the leather sofa and chairs. Decided on our food order. Relaxed, chatted, slowed down, ate the excellent and interesting food and was told that yes we could leave the car in their car-park whilst we went off for our walk.

And then we set off on our stroll :-

20150725-03_Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

Through a gate by the side of the buildings to exit onto the A428 road.

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge.

Across the road to drop down to the canal towpath.

 

 

20150725-05_Dominating the Landscape

Dominating the Landscape

Headed north on towpath, with canal on our right.

Past a marina (on the opposite side).

Bend to the left, to reach an arched red-brick bridge (No.13)

Climb away from canal to cross the bridge

Follow the path/bridle track ahead (north) in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left).

 

 

20150725-06_On the Fringes

On the Fringes

Crest the rise then descend still heading straight north.

Enjoy the views from the slightly raised elevation.

Reach the canal again, cross over a bridge and drop down to the towpath.

 

 

20150725-07_Light Play

Light Play

Turn right to follow towpath (water on our left) in a big loop.

Follow the canal turning through 180 degrees in a big anti-clockwise loop.

Reach Bridge No.13 – Cross under and continue on tow path.

 

20150725-08_Stranded and Abandoned

Stranded and Abandoned

Continue on tow path, now bending around to the right.

Pass the marina entrance again (on the opposite bank).

Rise back to the A428 and return to The Moorings.

20150725-09_Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, to finish, we had another quick drink before heading off, back around the Crick bypass, under the M1, through the vast DIRFT warehousing/distribution site and back into Rugby and home.

So, once again, when the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick
When : 17 May 2014
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

20140517_A wander near Crick, Northants

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20140517-02_The Moorings_Crick

The Moorings – Crick

This is to be a short post, as it was a very short walk (a quite impromptu one at that). I’d gone in to work for most of the Saturday morning, which isn’t the greatest way to spend a week-end, especially with clear blue skies and the promise of the warmest day of the year so far, when I got a phone call from my wife saying she’d found a bar/restaurant near the village of Crick that she thought sounded could be a good place to visit, especially as it was beside a canal with the possibility of a mini-walk. Of course, I readily agreed … With the promise of food, beer and a walk, how could I possibly pass on that offer. In fact, the idea sounded doubly great, as our son was away camping at the seaside for the week-end and daughter was working until 5pm and it would have been a shame to waste the opportunity of some quality “us-time” in favour of the normal run of the mill housework, gardening jobs, shopping, etc.

20140517-29_Reflections_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

So off we set for the short drive out of Rugby on The B4429 Ashlawn Road, A428 through Hillmorton and then through a massive DIRFT warehousing / industrial / distribution development, followed by passing under the M1 at junction-18, around the Crick Bypass (still on the A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon/Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance we crossed over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a side drive signed “The Moorings” and then followed the roughish track around to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

20140517-39_Green+Red against Blue

The Moorings – Crick

You can sometimes get a good feeling of a place from the moment your eyes see it, and this was one of the moments. The conglomeration of red-brick buildings, canal side setting, and sun terrace with a scattering of tables and parasols/umbrellas was very attractive and we soon settled at a table (luckily just vacated).

We ordered food (mixed olives, breads with balsamic and oil dips, chicken burger and a Portuguese style fish stew) and including a beer for me. We chatted, ate food, had another beer and chatted some more along with a touch of people-watching …. and started to burn in the sun. It was a VERY relaxed couple of hours, which I really needed after the stresses of work the week before.

 

20140517-06_Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

The speed of service fitted in with this scenario and actually forced us to slow down – It certainly wasn’t what you could call fast-food, but the quality was excellent and the staff very pleasant to deal with.

Anyway, after a good while, we decided to drag ourselves upright and head off for a wander and so prevent what might have turned into an imperative to have another beer and so set off, finding a gate by the side of the buildings to exit out onto the A428 main road.

20140517-28_Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge allowed us to drop down to the canal towpath, where upon we headed north with the water on our right, soon passing a marina off on the opposite side. What a super little place and what a lovely thing to do; the sun was shining, there were flowers in the hedgerows, narrow boats were moored, a few passed us heading in both directions, and the nicest thing? People, complete strangers, actually said hello, passed the time of day, nodded or waved … it was an almost timeless scenario.

20140517-03_b+w_Narrow Boats_Grand Union

timeless scenario.

20140517-07_Arch_Bridge 13

Bridge 13

20140517-09_Cattle

Cattle looking for the lushest morsels

After less than ½ a mile along the canal, it bends around to the left following the contours of the land and very soon reaches a typically arched red-brick bridge (No.13) passing over the canal. There were a bunch of bullocks on the opposite side of the cut, all lined up trying to reach some waterside plants growing lushly on the canal banks. A single line of barbed wire prevented them from making any meaningful meal of the vegetation. All except one (and later two) of the beasts, who found that they could slip inch by inch under the barbed wire. In fact both ended up completely under the wire and the smaller brown one started sinking in the soft bank and had to struggle backwards reversing onto firmer land. My lovely wife was quite concerned for their welfare, convinced they’d either fall in the canal itself or just remain stuck on the wrong side of the barbed wire. But, they seemed happy, so we moved on. This entailed leaving the towpath, to rise up to and over the brick bridge and then over the canal. The path/bridle track ahead rose ahead in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left), this was easy going and didn’t take long to crest and then start descending still heading straight north. The slightly raised elevation afforded some pleasant views over the surrounding countryside. Nothing spectacular, but pretty and understated and probably under-appreciated as much of the Midlands countryside is.

20140517-12_Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

The path brought us back to the canal, again crossing via a brick bridge and a side path dropped us easily down to the towpath once again. You’ll probably have realised by now that as the bridle track was dead straight, the canal must have bent around through 180-degrees, which is exactly what it had done in a big loop contouring around the hill. Our route now, was to follow around this loop, so we passed under the bridge and headed off on the tow-path (water on our left).

20140517-14_Protective Parents on Guard Watch

Protective Parents on Guard Watch

There was a large hedge with trees on our right, pretty much blocking any view in that direction, but on the opposite side of the cut, fields festooned with yellow buttercups stretched away from us – Beautiful. A couple of geese stood sentinel on the opposite bank at one point, quite odd really, as you’d normally expect them to be grazing. But their bolt upright stance became understandable, they had goslings nearby and we spotted a heron flying in the mid-distance and perching in some of the trees. The adult geese had obviously seen the threat long before us and parental protection was behind their strong demeanour.

20140517-16_English Reflections_Narrow Boat

English Reflections_Narrow Boat

20140517-17_Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

20140517-11_Happy Cheerful Buttercups_crop

Happy Cheerful Buttercups

The day was proving to be absolutely lovely, with blue skies, more flowers, vibrant greens of spring, and perfect reflections in the canal and all the time in the world to appreciate what a wonderful place we live in.

After a while another long narrow boat, with pristine classical paintwork, came towards us. It was just shouting out for a photo or two. The chap at the tiller as he passed by asked if I could post a copy to his face book account …. Well how could I possibly refuse and so duly did later that evening having found his pages …. It turned out this was their maiden voyage which would explain the perfect finish of the boat.

20140517-23_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

20140517-25_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Well, the canal loop, ermm, looped around, bringing us back to the bridge crossed earlier on and passed straight under (the cows had extricated themselves from the wrong side of the barbed wire), and we were soon back to the marina area and then back to The Moorings Café/Bar/Restaurant.

20140517-38_Green+Red against Blue

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-33_Red Parasols_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-30_Paired Up_Parasol Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-41_Beer Glass Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

What to do now ? … go home, go somewhere else, stay put for another drink? … it was just soooo pleasant here that the last of these was chosen, with a phone call to daughter at work to come and join us after she’d finished, which she dutifully did to cap off a lovely day.

When the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20140517-42_Narrow Boat Reflections

Narrow Boat Reflections – From The Moorings – Crick

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2
When : 31st December 2014

Who : Just me

Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry

Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663

20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic Walk

Route Map – Traced out on WalkJogRun Website

Distance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)

Significant heights : None to speak of – Very gentle

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry

I’ve split this walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-2 of 2. So if you want to read post-1 first, please use this link :- GO TO BLOG POST 1 OF 2.

If you click on a photo’ [when I’ve added them] it should launch my set of imges on my photostream on Flickr

20141231-41_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge

Bridge over entrance into Braunston Marina

The tow path had led to another attractively arching iron bridge spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into the large marina at Braunston. Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge, to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to gain a different perspective on the area, including the boat-works, just a short walk along the water’s edge.

20141231-25_Braunston Marina - Static Crane

Standing Crane Winding Wheel + Gear

Just outside the works buildings (near a car-park) I came across a standing crane, the upright steels and boom painted a shiny jet black and the winding gear a vivid bright red. This really stood out against the lovely blue sky. I took far too many pic’s here, (most of which I later dumped into my computer’s recycling bin upon close inspection).

20141231-45_Braunston Marina - Workshop Walkways + Ice

Braunston Marina Workshop Walkways

20141231-26_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boat Workshop

Braunston Marina – Boat Works

Moving on over a few narrow walkway bridges, I met a chap who was working in the boat-yard and I stopped for a chat, during which I asked if I had permission to go further into the marina area. He was very pleasant and accommodating, saying yes there was no objection to me continuing on, but he asked politely that I refrain from falling in the water, as it was a tad cold [typically English understatement] and he really didn’t want to fish me out. I really wasn’t planning on going for an impromptu swim, so I readily agreed to his request. During our conversation he mentioned just how many people take photo’s of the crane just left behind, which kind of took away some of my earlier feelings of discovery. Still I didn’t really believe I was the first one to have ever taken a shot or two of the structure. After some final felicitations, we both set off in separate directions.

20141231-32_Braunston Marina - Crane - Cogs

Braunston Marina – Crane Cogs + Gears

Heading further into the marina area, it didn’t really matter which way I looked, there always seemed to be an image to be captured, but none more so than another black and red crane, this one on wheels and track and sporting a handsome array of deeply toothed cogs and associated wheels, ratchets, pulleys and such like. Again, many pic’s were taken here, but more “keepers” for storage on my lap-top and eventual upload to my “photostream” on Flickr.

20141231-37_Braunston Marina - Crane - Boom and Hook

Braunston Marina – Crane Hook

More wonderings and meanderings, resulted in even more photo’s – The whole place just screamed (in a quiet understated English sort of way) please take my photo again and again …. And again!

20141231-28_Braunston Marina

Braunston Marina – Narrow Boats

 

20141231-42_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge + Winding Gear

Braunston Marina – Winding Gear

 

20141231-44_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats

 

I was starting to feel a little chill now, so I headed into a shop (maybe a chandlers or similar) and asked if they sold teas or coffee – They didn’t. This was a shame because the boat-café on the canal by the marina entrance was not open today either, so when I had negotiated the slippery icy pathways back to the canal/iron bridge/marina entrance, I just continued on over the arching bridge and then back on the tow path once again, again with the canal on my left.

20141231-47_Braunston - Brick Bridge - Narrow Boat Joey - Grand Union Canal

Joey – Narrow Boat in Braunston

There still weren’t many boats moving around but I was in the right place at the right time as the boat “Joey” came towards me to pass under one of the brick bridges that straddle the canal. To repeat myself from a past blog-post (with no apologies) I like these old brick bridges, they’ve been around for so long they’ve sort of weathered their way into the landscape, taking on a natural patina of lichens and with mosses hanging on in the many hollows and cracks. The surface of the brickwork has certainly seen better times, and there are now some pretty major looking cracks appearing in places, but I like the unkempt look and today the reflections were just stunning in the icy water.

20141231-49_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats

20141231-51_Sheep + All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

Sheep – All Saints’ Church – Braunston

I could’ve headed straight under the bridge arch, but there was a way up onto the bridge, where a foot-path crosses the canal here. After just a few yards along the path, it facilitated a view back over the marina. The elevated position gave an opportunity for some interesting pic’s looking back down the marina, using my long lens to try to foreshorten the perspective in an attempt to make the boats look all bunched up, hopefully in an arty kind of way. Rather than move far along the path, I headed back down to the towpath and continued in the same direction as earlier. The tow path separates the canal (on the left) and the marina (on the right), and a little further on is a narrow footbridge that must be negotiated. There is no alternative to be able to carry on, because it passes over another access point from the waterway into the moorings. This foot-bridge is accessed and exited via some rather steep steps; not too much of a problem for walkers, but decidedly awkward for people pushing push chairs and equally if not more awkward for cyclists.

20141231-53_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boat

Narrow Boat – Braunston

This little walk was beginning to take quite a long time, but I suppose it always was going to be that way, with a very slow pace, especially as it was such a stunningly beautiful day and it had been planned out as a photographic walk. I normally describe myself as a walker who takes photo’s, but today I was far more a photographer who was going on a bit of a walk. Anyway, trying to push my writings on a tad, the tow path led on to the bottom lock and its collection of nearby buildings. Along the way I passed 20141231-52_Tree Trunk Detail _ Barkmore moored boats, views across sheep fields to the church, shiny light playing on the ice, interesting textured bark on trees, smoke coming out of boat roofs and hanging about in the cold air, old pump house buildings, another boat-works, and more… All these things were interesting to see and at least worthy of a little note. Also worth noting, is a small shop adjacent to the bottom lock (I’ve bought ice cream here in the past, in warmer times) and I hoped they would sell hot drinks – I was disappointed again, they didn’t! Perhaps on my next frosty walk I’ll remember to make up a flask of hot drink

Although continuing a few hundred yards past the bottom lock, I now consciously chose not to continue up the canal, foregoing the chance of a visit to The Admiral Nelson pub next to another lock and further on the entrance to Braunston Tunnel. This Georgian engineering feat is now well over 200 years old and over a mile long. The tow path ends at the tunnel entrance, which is set into the hillside like a black mouth waiting to swallow up any boat heading eastwards or regurgitate anyone who’d travelled from the Welton end.

20141231-56_Braunston - Bottom Lock - Grand Union Canal

Bottom Lock Reflections

20141231-60_Braunston - Jetty Fields - Seat with a view

Jetty Fields Seating – Braunston

Today I felt I didn’t need to head that far up the canal. Instead I returned to and headed over the brick bridge at the bottom lock, to climb a gently rising track away from the canal side. After a hundred yards or so, upon reaching a minor road (it goes down to The Admiral Nelson pub) I turned left on a footpath and then soon after, right, heading gently up a small public area of grassland (Jetty Fields) with some individual large trees and seating. The tree branches hereabouts took my eye, being old and gnarly and full of nooks and crannies. I liked the contrast of this against the blue winter sky.

20141231-59_Braunston - No smoke without fire

Smoke

I also liked the billowing shapes in a cloud of smoke from a fire created by a couple of workmen (thinning a hedge I think) just down-a-ways towards the canal. A warm outdoors job on a cold frosty morning. A short way up the slope the trees become closer together forming a small coppice where I stopped a while to watch several pairs of blue tits flitting about in the branches above me: a charming sight.

20141231-62_Braunston - Jetty Fields

Jetty Fields Path – Braunston

Continuing on, the path narrows between some properties, to emerge on the principle road through the village (named Welton Road and High Street). The aspect is quite open here with a number of grassy greens and verges with The Wheatsheaf pub directly opposite. I again resisted the temptations within, instead turning left along the road side to pass an eclectic mix of red brick, mellow stone and half-timbered houses/cottages both old and new. I knew there was a small café (Poppies) along the road, but was again disappointed, as it too was shut, so preventing the purchase of a cup of tea or coffee. Almost opposite is a small convenience store (a Londis I think) – again no hot drinks, but it did give the opportunity of picking up a couple of sandwiches and a cold drink.

20141231-66_Braunston - High Street - Cottages and Windmill

Braunston Cottages + Windmill

Soon after I passed by yet another pub (The Old Plough) before reaching the western end of the village, dominated by thee buildings:- The first an old windmill, now a home minus its sails. The second a typically English church with tall spire pointing skywards (or should that be heavenwards). And thirdly, Braunston Manor on the opposite side of the road from the church.

20141231-67_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church – Braunston – Cathedral of the Canals

 

20141231-70_Graveyard Cross_All Saints' Church - Braunston

All Saints’ Church – Braunston

 

20141231-71_War Memorial_All Saints' Church - Braunston

War Memorial – All Saints’ Church

I spent a few moments outside the church, often known as The Cathedral of The Canals, and yes you’ve guessed it, taking some more photo’s but with a little more time in contemplation at the war memorial in the corner of the graveyard; perfectly positioned to be seen from all angles in full view as it should be, in memory of our fallen forebears; local heroes of a time rapidly becoming history rather than current affairs.

From the church grounds, I re-joined the main road to pick up a footpath (directly opposite the junction with Church Road), to the side of Braunston Manor, the first or in my case today, the last building in the village. The path drops diagonally half-right to rejoin High Street, just where it meets the A45 main road. I now had a tiny bit more tarmac path to use, alongside the A45, over a canal bridge and then very soon afterwards turned left on a pathway (still quite slippery with frost) dropping down to the tow path.

20141231-73_Twin Arched Bridges - Braunston - Grand Union + Oxford Canal Junction

Twin Arched Bridges – Braunston Canal Junction

The walk was almost over, having now come full circle back to the canal. Once on the tow path I immediately turned left, under the bridge I’d just crossed over and I was now on ground previously walked on earlier in the day, only now the water was on my right. I then re-passed The Boat House pub (on the opposite bank), reached and crossed the double-span iron bridge at the canal Tee-junction and swung right past moored boats again to meet the other utilitarian bridge carrying the A45 over the cut.

20141231-74_Braunston - Oxford Canal - Bridge - Stagecoach Bus

Utilitarian Bridge – A45 over Canal – Braunston

Most of the ice had now melted, leaving only a few places where the canal was still frozen, on the whole it was now mostly free water – I suppose the ducks must have been much happier and far less bemused now. I was still taking photo’s, but not as frequently now and after rising up the side path (just before the bridge) to the A45, the last couple of images taken were back to the church again before arriving back at the lay-by and my little car which had sat patiently in the cold for my return. It was still parked all alone by the road-side, I wonder if it had had any fellow vehicles parked here during the day to keep it company whilst I was away.

Well, that’s about it for this walks diary ….  When I’d made the short drive home, a nice warming cup of coffee was high on the agenda, and I was really ready for it as I sat down in the friendly warmth of my home and family. What a simply super few hours.

I’ve attached (or will be attaching) a selection of photo’s from the day, but there are more to be seen on my flickr account if you want to see just images of Braunston (and nearby) please use this link, or go to my photostream for all photo’s I’ve posted.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston (Post1of2)

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 1of 2

When : 31st December 2014
Who : Just me
Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry
Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663
20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic WalkDistance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)
Significant Heights : None to speak of – Very gentle
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry

Summary : An opportunity for a few hours to take some wintertime photo’s down on the canals in Braunston (Grand Union and Oxford Canals) …. but it’d be a perfectly nice walk to do without a camera, There are a couple of pubs by the canal side and a couple in the village as well if that’s your want from a walk (or crawl).

I’m splitting the walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-1 of 2. (Use this link for post-2).

If you click on a photo’ it should launch on my photostream on Flickr where you’ll find a few more images to those shown here.

It was a very cold and frosty morning, ice on the roads and a typically wintry blue sky with light high clouds and the promise that it was going to stay fine for the day. So, it was an easy decision to spend a few hours out and about on a mini-walk with my camera. The more difficult bit was deciding just where to head off to.

• Did I want to drive ?
• If not, it meant walking on very familiar ground, yes or no ?
• Did I want a pub ?
• What type of scenery did I fancy : Farmland, Woods, Town/village, canals, country parks, or even a city ?

In the end, I decided to drive, chose canals as a good base subject, assuming the waters might be frozen-over in places, the potential for good reflections and maybe some mists swirling around above the water; Once that was decided, that led to the next decision – Where to go ?

• Hillmorton Locks ?
• Newbold-on-Avon (and the long tunnel) ?
• Crick ?
• Cathiron ?
• Braunston ?
• And one or two other places here-abouts ?

Well, in the end, Braunston won despite me having been there many times over the years … Why ? … Because it’s not very far away, has a pretty canal 20141231-22_Braunston Marinajunction, various styles of bridges, a large marina, boat works, historic buildings, several locks, one end of a very long canal tunnel and several pubs. Of course there’s also the village itself, including a long main street with an eclectic mix of buildings, including an old windmill next to a typically English church on a hill. If I needed anything else, another good reason, is that my photography tutor (David Harding / Percival Guildhouse) likes the area, and I thought it’d be interesting to compare our images at some point in the future.

Anyway, I packed up my camera, couple of lens (complete with polarizing filters), grabbed walking boots and headed off, the drive firstly taking me through the famous village of Dunchurch and then on the A45 heading towards Daventry; Braunston village being just off the main road a few miles before the Northamptonshire town.
On the way, not quite a mile past the small village of Willoughby is a reasonably sized lay-by (on the left hand side) just before reaching Braunston – This is immediately before the road passes over the canal and is often used by people parking their cars in a line here, I assume mostly by fishermen; I decided this lay-by would suit my purposes just fine, and actually today it was completely free of other cars.

If this hadn’t been available, there’s road side parking in the village itself (take a sharp left turn just past The Boat House pub/restaurant) or there is a large car-park at The Boat House itself, which I know people use whilst going off for a walk, but I don’t like doing this unless I intend to use the pub as a patron, it just doesn’t seem right otherwise.

20141231-01_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church, Braunston

20141231-02_Braunston - Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming

Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming – Braunston

Enough of the pre-amble, I’ve been rambling on somewhat, so on to my walk itself. After donning my boots, I set off on the rough grassy verge by the side of the road, although you may find this surprising, away from Braunston and the canal. This wasn’t by accident or bad map reading, no, on the drive down the A45, there was a superb view of Braunston’s church spire silhouetted against the pale blue sky and in front, the land was striped with shadows formed by some ancient ridge and furrow field structures. In order to try and capture this image, I had to head back up the road to find a place where I could see over/through the large hedgerow alongside the road. Despite walking several hundred yards and being well over 6-foot tall, I still needed my long zoom to get anything like an acceptable shot.

Turning around through 180-degrees and once back past the car I reached where the road crosses a canal; near here the church was more hidden from view but the ridge and furrow field was far more evident and the views up the canal were very pleasant with a couple of boats moored in the icy waters.

20141231-03_Braunston_Frosted Barn

Frosted Barn – Braunston

20141231-05_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Oxford Canal

Moored Narrow Boats, Oxford Canal, Braunston

From here I crossed the main road, to where a path drops down to the tow path, where initially I turned left, under the quite ugly steel and concrete road bridge and continued up the tow path for several hundred yards. I had to adjust my camera settings to suit the different quality of light by the cut, as I was in quite deep shadow now. Anyway after taking a few shots here, I about-turned, walked back under the utilitarian road bridge and continued on the tow path (water on my left/hedgerow on my right).

It had been a very cold night (and it was still a very cold morning), so much so that the canal was completely frozen over, the narrow boats moored along the banks being iced in and the local ducks appearing very bemused. One pair were walking, (well slipping) about in the center of the canal, I suppose looking for some clear water to swim in.

20141231-07_Braunston - Mallard Ducks - Skating on Ice

Bemused Ducks Skating on Ice

20141231-08_Twin Arched Bridges_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Approaching the Twin Ironwork Bridges, Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals, Braunston

20141231-10_Braunston - Life Bouy - Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days – Please do not fall in here !!!

A little further on, as the canal takes a sweeping left bend, there are a couple of attractive arched black and white iron-work bridges; the perfect twins forming a double span over a Tee-junction of canals. I could have just crossed straight over the pair, but instead chose to take the right hand canal branch, going under the arch of the first bridge, before heading off in a south westerly direction on the well surfaced tow path. I particularly liked the way the low sun picked up and highlighted attractive patterns in the ice and whilst I was composing a couple of photo’s here, a couple walking over the bridges stopped to pass the time of day with me and then moved off towards where I’d come from a few moments earlier.

20141231-11_Braunston - Look-out cat - Window frame

Look Out Cat, Braunston

After a very short stretch along the towpath, I used a brick built bridge to cross to the other bank and then back (north-eastwards) towards the iron bridges and the canal tee-junction once again, passing a brick-built cottage en-route. An emergency buoyancy aid caught my eye hung on a wall here, but I don’t know how much I’d trust it, as it looked well past its best. A cat was sat in a widow frame here also, obviously enjoying the warmth of indoors watching the world go by, rather than braving the chill outside.

20141231-12_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Breaking the Ice – Hard to turn the corner.

As I reached where the canal splits left and right, a strange loud cracking scraping noise suddenly struck up. It was very odd and I just couldn’t place what it could be. It didn’t even seem to be coming from a particular direction, the sound seeming to fill the cold air all around.

 

 

20141231-13_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Didn’t manage the bend Hit the bank with a glacing bump !

It soon became apparent though, as the couple who’d I spoken with earlier had unmoored their small narrow boat and as they moved off they were breaking the sheet ice on the water’s surface. In fact, as the boat tried to negotiate the bend the ice resisted the crafts desired path forcing it over into the bank with quite a bump.

 

 

20141231-14_Ice Breaker_Braunston - Grand Union Canal

Hector – Moving on. Alls well now 🙂

The blow turned the bows as the boat glanced off the bankside and allowed the chap on the teller to move off in the right direction.

I guess his journey to where-ever he was heading wasn’t going to be an easy one, especially when passing other boats on the cut.

 

 

20141231-15_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Ironwork railings – One of the Twin Arched Bridges

I then turned my attention to trying to create some arty shots of the double span of bridges. At the very least, I tried to find some different angles/view points compared to previous visits as I’ve taken pic’s here on numerous occasions in the past. I’m sure they must be one of the most photographed features around Braunston – I defy anyone with a camera to just walk by without taking at least one photo’ despite how many times they may have been here before … These bridges really are very photogenic.

20141231-18_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Twin Arched Bridges – Very Photogenic. Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals

 

20141231-19_Relections in Ice - Braunston

Icy Reflections

Moving on, I took the tow path away from the bridges (water on my left again). On the opposite bank here is a small area of light industrial units closely followed by The Boat House pub mentioned earlier. The pub is a tad modern and twee to be truly photogenic, but I did like the distorted reflection of a far more pristine looking buoyancy ring in the ice-covered water.

20141231-21_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church – Braunston

Soon after, I passed under the A45 road again as it crosses overhead via another utilitarian and not very attractive modern bridge.

The dominant view here is across the canal to the opposite bank with fields and hedges rising up to the church spire and some impressive looking houses which kind of draw the eye away from the canal and moored boats.

However, I did like the smoke emanating from a few of the boats’ stubby little chimneys, obviously some kind of coal/wood burner inside keeping the residents warm and cosy.

 

20141231-20_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Grand Union Canal

Approaching the old Toll House

The tow path then led me past the old toll house, where the major point of interest soon changes back to the canal on the near bank, as another arching iron bridge is reached, spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into a large marina with a plethora of craft moored in a multitude of lines. As I’ve written before, the craft here always make a very colourful sight, all bar none painted in bright primary colours – Canal folk just don’t seem to do pastels in their boat liveries. As always, I don’t think there was a shabby looking boat in sight!

Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to try and gain a different perspective on the area including the boat-works just a short walk along the water’s edge.

I think here would be a good point to switch to the second blog-post as this seems a kind of natural break in the time-line of the day. To continue reading please use this link : GO TO BLOG POST-2 OF 2.

T.T.F.N.
Gary

20130113-17_Moss _ Lichen – Canal Bridge Braunston

20130113-17_Moss _ Lichen - Canal Bridge Braunston by gary.hadden
I like the detail in the English landscape as much as the wider view … These mosses and Lichens on a bridge over the Grand Union Canal at Braunston  are almost like a world in miniature ; clinging onto life in nooks and crannies in the brickwork.

20130113_Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic Walk

20130113_Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic Walk

When : 13th January 2013

Who : Just me

Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry

Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663

Distance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)

Significant heights : None – Gentle rise up side of flight of locks – otherwise mostly dead flat on good tow paths.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry

20130113-33_Canal Side pump House + Narrow Boat - Braunston by gary.haddenSummary : A walk specifically for me to take some wintertime photo’s down on the canals in Braunston …. Grand Union Canal and Oxford Canal …. but it’d be a perfectly nice walk to do without a camera, not to mention a couple of pubs by the canal side and at least one more up in the village.

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

Well, the morning had been quite fine (for a change), and the afternoon was forecast to OK too. So, I decided that it’d be a good opportunity to go play with my camera and I decided the canals at Braunston would be an excellent place to head for. My beginners photo’ course tutor from last year at Rugby’s Percival Guildhouse [ David Harding ] often goes there and posts some images on his flickr account, so, as I both know and like Braunston anyway I figured it’d be worth a couple of hours “me-time” down by the cut.

I grabbed tripod and fitted a polarizing filter to the front of my Pentax K200D camera, wrapped up warm (it wasn’t raining but it was very cold) and headed off through 20130113_Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic WalkDunchurch and down the A45, passing signs for Grandborough, Onley (Prison), Barby and Willoughby en-route to Braunston. Not quite a mile past Willoughby there was a space in a lay-by just before reaching Braunston – This is just before the road passes over the canal and is often used by people parking their cars in a line here, I assume mostly by fishermen; I decided it would suit my purposes just fine. If this hadn’t been available, there’s road side parking in the village itself (take a sharp left turn just past The Boat House pub/restaurant) or there is a large car-park at The Boat House itself, which I know people use whilst going off for a walk, but I don’t like doing this unless I intend to use the pub as a patron, it just doesn’t seem right otherwise.

20130113-01_Frozen Flood Waters Braunston by gary.haddenAnyway, enough of the pre-amble; I set off by the side of the road, towards Braunston, soon crossing the main road where a path drops down to the tow path. Before going down here however, I noticed a finger post corresponding with a footpath I’d never walked on before; so I dropped down the bank to a stile and crossed into the grassy field. Well, I say grassy field, it was really an extensively flooded field, and more than that, it was a frozen extensively flooded field.

20130113-02_Winter Sky - Braunston by gary.haddenThe low sun, wispy clouds and a tiny arc of an ice halo (looks like a mini-rainbow) were quite beautiful and the atmospheric effect gave me my first photo opportunity of the day. The footpath, well that still remains to be walked in the future, apart from it heading off in the wrong direction, it also headed off straight through the middle of the flood and I really didn’t fancy skating out into the mini-lake! …. so, I returned to the road and dropped down the afore-mentioned path down to the canal tow path where I turned right.

20130113-03_Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenImmediately, I liked the quality of light on the water and there were some super reflections, but I soon realised that the low sun and deep shadows would be a bit of a challenge for me, so I spent a few minutes playing with camera settings, determining in my mind to avoid using the auto settings on the dial as much as possible.

A little further on, as the canal takes a sweeping left bend, there are a couple of attractive arched black and white iron-work bridges; the perfect twins forming a double span over a Tee-junction of canals. I could have just crossed straight over them but instead chose to take the right hand branch, going under the arch of the first bridge, before heading off to the south west on the well surfaced tow path. After a very short stretch I used a brick built bridge to cross to the other bank and then back down to the iron bridges and the canal tee-junction once again. Again turning 20130113-07_Church Spire Reflection - Braunston by gary.haddenright, I continued along the tow path; on the opposite bank here is a small area of light industrial units closely followed by The Boat House pub mentioned earlier. Soon after, I passed under the A45 as it crosses overhead via a utilitarian, but not very attractive modern bridge. The dominant view here is across the canal to the opposite bank with fields and hedges rising up to the church spire and some impressive looking houses. 20130113-09_Brauston Marina off Grand Union Canal by gary.haddenThe major point of interest soon changes to the near bank however, as another arching iron bridge is reached spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into a large marina full of narrow boats and barges. The multitude of craft make a very colourful sight, all bar none painted in bright primary colours – Canal folk just don’t do pastels in their boat liveries, I don’t think there was a shabby looking boat in sight! Most of the boats moored on the canal side were equally pristine, and one in particular caught my eye with ropes sat on the rooftop coiled into perfect circles – most tend to just throw the ropes on top in a heap.

20130113-11_Brauston Marina off Grand Union Canal by gary.hadden

20130113-12_Coiled Rope - Narrow Boat - Braunston by gary.hadden

20130113-13_Narrow Boat - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenIt felt very cold down by the waterside, and there weren’t many boats moving around on the cut …. I was lucky enough to be in about the right place to take some pic’s as a bright yellow and green vessel came under one of the several brick bridges that straddle the canal. I like these old brick bridges, they’ve been around for so long, they’ve sort of weathered their way into the landscape, taking on a natural patina of lichens and with mosses hanging on in the hollows and cracks. The surface of the brickwork has certainly seen better times, but I like the unkempt look.

20130113-18_Moss _ Lichen - Canal Bridge Braunston by gary.hadden

20130113-19_Decaying Brickwork - Canal Bridge Braunston by gary.hadden

20130113-16_Silhouetted walkers - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenJust like the quietness of traffic on the canal, there were also considerably fewer people walking the canal tow path than I’ve seen before (in summer it can be rather crowded on the towpath), but there were are few hardy souls (just like me) who’d ventured out into the chilly afternoon. Half way alongside the marina is an old narrow footbridge that has to be negotiated (over another access from the canal into the mooring area). This bridge is accessed and exited via some rather steep steps; not too much of a problem for walkers, but decidedly awkward for 20130113-24_Narrow Boats - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenpeople pushing prams and equally awkward for cyclists which I witnessed first-hand as I waited patiently for a family to cross in the opposite direction. Still, it gave the opportunity to try to take some interesting pic’s of some more run down looking boats that were moored nearby. Once over the walkway, the way ahead was dead easy, and the boats moored (a holiday hire company predominantly) became much better maintained again, however there were lived-in boats hereabouts also, 20130113-25_Still Waters - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenevidenced by the smoke emanating from the small rooftop chimneys; the smoke instead of rising skywards seemed to be suppressed by the cold and hung around like a mini-fog around the boats. There was hardly a breath of a breeze, and this facilitated some super mirror like reflections, although finding a setting that worked well was a tad tricky in the falling afternoon light; in places it was becoming quite gloomy as the weak sun dropped towards the horizon. Still the sun did introduce a pinky-orangey glow to the sky, and warmed up the tones of the brickwork of the bridges, locks and canal side buildings.

20130113-27_Bridge Reflections - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.hadden

20130113-29_The Admiral Nelson - Pub in Braunston by gary.haddenContinuing on, I’d now passed the small complex of old pump house, bottom lock, bottom lock cottage (shop) and boat-works and then past a number of locks including one adjacent to The Admiral Nelson pub; a super place for an evening drink in warmer conditions. I was tempted to head on inside for a warming drink before turning back down the cut to the car, but instead chose to continue up the flight of locks, past the top lock and thence on into a cutting to reach and stop at the entrance to Braunston Tunnel. I’d never been this far up the tow path before, and even with a tripod I found it difficult to set my camera up to cope with the now quite dark conditions down in the cutting. The tow path ends at the tunnel entrance, which is set into the hillside like a black mouth waiting to swallow up any boat heading eastwards or regurgitate anyone who’d travelled from the Daventry/Welton end of the over 200 year old construction.

20130113-26_Late Winter Sun - Braunston by gary.hadden

There is a plaque that commemorates the Bicentenary of the opening of the tunnel (1873 m / 1.9 km / 6145  feet / 1.16 miles long) and the 9 mile stretch of what was then called The Grand Junction Canal between Braunston and Weedon on the 21st June 1796. I find it quite incredible how something approaching 217 years old is still being used – It’s a superb feat of longevity – I wonder how many modern pieces of civil engineering being built today will not only survive but continue to prosper in the year 2213 and beyond ?

The only way to continue would have been up the side of the cutting bank on a large path. On my map this leads to a track running above the tunnel; I assume, as there is no tow path through the tunnel, this would have been for the unhitched horses that used to pull the barges (before motorisation) and leading them to the other end whilst the boats were “legged” the long distance through the tunnel. Legging is where two people lie flat on their backs on a plank laid cross the boat and then “walking” the boat along by placing their feet on the tunnel’s ceiling/sides … Can you imagine how hard this would be, even with an empty boat, but when fully laden it must have been an incredibly hard task and claustrophobic at the same time. I’ve read that eventually after an unsuccessful attempt at a powered rope haulage system, a steam tug was introduced with costs varying depending on the weight of the load. The tunnel is so long that there are air shafts dropped down to it from the surface, with chimney shaped constructions above ground. I’ve also read that the Georgian engineers building the tunnel got it just a little wrong, where their tunneling from each end didn’t quite meet up perfectly, resulting in an S-bend in the middle.

20130113-34_Bottom Lock Cottage (shop)- Braunston by gary.haddenAnyway, that’s by the by, I didn’t walk up the side path, instead turning around to retrace my steps all the way back to the car. Although the same distance, this took considerably less time as the light was fading quite quickly now making my camera almost redundant, although I did get a few images where I spent a bit of time setting up and “playing” with settings.

20130113-36_Narrow Boat - Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.hadden

20130113-38_The Boat House Restaurant_ Canal Reflection Braunston by gary.haddenEventually I reached and passed The Boat House pub, crossed the twin iron bridges at the junction of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals and reached a modern concrete and steel bridge where the A45 passes overhead and near to where I’d parked my car.

20130113-39_Modern Bridge A45 over the Grand Union Canal - Braunston by gary.haddenI kind of liked the way the soft reflected light bounced off the steels, but it wasn’t easy for me to get a usable image in the last of the days light. 20130113-40_Frozen Flood Waters Braunston by gary.haddenI thought that was probably that, for my photo-taking, but upon reaching the road side, I decided to try and capture a last shot or two of the fading sunlight playing on the still frozen flooded field and then to try and get some “light-trail” pictures of the passing cars by using long “bulb” exposures. Looking at the exif data on my images between 1 and 2 seconds at F/5.6 seemed to work best.

20130113-43_Head Light Light Trails Braunston by gary.hadden    20130113-41_Tail Light Light Trails Braunston by gary.hadden

Well, that’s about it for this walks diary write up. By the time I got home, it really did feel that night had arrived and I settled down for the evening with my family in front of the TV.

I’ve attached a selection of photo’s from the day above, but there are more to be seen on my flickr account if you want to go see, just use this link.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20120908_Hatton Locks Circular Walk (Warwick)

20120908_Hatton Locks Circular Walk (Warwick)

When : 8th September 2012

Who : Me and my wife Justine

Where : Hatton Locks near Warwick, Warwickshire, England.

Maps used : OS 1:25000 Outdoor leisure map no.221 Coventry & Warwick

20120908-16_Narrow Boat - Hatton Locks by gary.haddenStart and End Point : SP243,669

Distance : Approx 9.7 km (6 miles)

Significant heights : Nothing to speak of really, but approx 40m (130ft) from bottom lock to top lock and all on a well surfaced tow path spread over approx 1.5 miles.

Summary : A lovely gentle late summer / early autumn walk with my lovely wife  starting and finishing just off the A4177 at Hatton flight of locks on The Grand Union Canal, taking in a loop of Warwickshire farmland to the west of the county town of Warwick

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream  … Or use THIS LINK to see just the pic’s and a few more as well.

Ermmm, how to start this diary entry ? … well, it was a Saturday morning; daughter was to be dropped off at her place of work in Rugby and son was going to be spending most of the day at singing rehearsals with The Warwickshire County Choristers / Boys Choir at a school in Warwick. This left me and my wife Justine with several hours together all on our own before 20120908_Hatton Locks Circular Walk - Warwickhaving to collect our son mid-afternoon … This just doesn’t happen very often, so after a quick discussion and a glance over the map, I picked out a circular route based on the superb flight of locks near Warwick on The Grand Union Canal at Hatton, figuring the local Pub would make for a good lunching place.

At the risk of boring you with our driving route on roads around various Warwickshire towns and villages (including Rugby, Bilton, Princethorpe, Western-Under-Wetherley, Royal Leamington Spa, and Warwick itself) we ended up heading out of Warwick on the A425 in a pretty much westerly direction, now minus our two children and with the prospects of a nice gentle country walk ahead of us. The A425 led us to a large island junction with The A45 Warwick Bypass where we picked up the A4177 which runs pretty much parallel to the canal, to turn off into a sign-posted side road near the top of the rise at 20120908-22_Dragon Fly Sculpture Hatton Locks by gary.haddenHatton, [if you pass the nearby Hatton Arms pub, you’ve gone too far and will need to turn around]. The side road is not very large, more of a drive really but leads to a small pay and display car-park by the canal side along with a collection of buildings occupied by some small businesses/workshops. We parked facing a small balancing pond, with a rather attractive large dragonfly sculpture positioned in the middle.

It was a lovely morning, with a fantastic forecast, so we were able to travel light with just the one rucksack between us, and that was just for some water and a small 1st aid kit (and a few nibbles). I’ll let you guess who carried it – you want a clue or two? : Well, it wasn’t the female one of us and was the least good looking of us!

The obvious route would be to head straight down to the tow path, but our chosen route was away from the canal back up the driveway road 20120908-23_The Hatton Arms (was The Waterman) near Warwick by gary.hadden(not very imaginatively, but very accurately named Canal Road) and onto the main road A4177 where we turned left and walked up hill, passing The Hatton Arms (used to be called The Waterman) after crossing to the opposite side of the road en-route. We passed a cottage with a large attractively manicured garden where the owner has obviously got a sense of humour, as there was a full sized multi-fingered, finger post, one of them saying pub … clearly immediately across the road and easily within crawling distance.

Continuing on for another couple of hundred yards brought us to a surfaced farm drive heading off to the right …. 20120908-02_Farm Drive_Approaching Home Farm_Hatton by gary.haddenThis was our route and we soon reached Home Farm. The footpath is then picked up, down the right hand edge of the farm yard, heading into a small wooded area. However, before we could reach the gate across the yard a nasty, angry, snarling, aggressive dog rapidly emerged from the buildings. I hate when this happens – why should we accept being threatened like this – we were on a public right of way and this should be open access with no restriction, including aggressive dogs!!!

20120908-03_Hay Bales - Rotoballe_Home Farm_Hatton by gary.hadden

Having said that, it stopped about 6 feet away from me snarling and growling  – maybe it was intimidated by my size and me standing my ground directly facing him and having my walking pole readied, allowing Justine to reach the other side of the gate into the wooded 20120908-05_Log Pile_Home Farm_Hatton by gary.haddenfringe of the farm. I rapidly followed and left the nasty creature behind. The path down side of the woods (Green Grove) doesn’t last long, emerging into open farmland with some surprisingly open vistas to enjoy. By the side of one of the farm tracks we were following, was a pile of logs heralding a short stop – it’s always a subject I can’t resist photographing. The farm track continues on and by the time it reaches Beausale Lane we’d almost turned through 180 degrees from our starting direction, now heading pretty much in an easterly direction.

20120908-06_Warwickshire Farmland - Wheat Field - Far Focus by gary.hadden

We now had all of half a minute of road walking (after turning right onto the road), before turning off again to the left on another broad farm track heading for Turkey Farm, where we walked down the left hand side of the farm buildings to reach a t-junction of tracks. We turned right to the corner of a field and then 20120908-08_Warwickshire Farmland - Farm Drive by gary.haddenanother left along the side of the hedge (not heading into the local housing estate).

So far it’d been a lovely relaxed stroll in the sun (apart from the nasty dog episode) and this wasn’t to change as we now had just over a mile of easy walking, with minimal map-reading, following a bridleway in a long sweep generally  in a south easterly direction. The route followed field edges, passing ripening wheat fields , small areas of woodland and just generally pretty countryside as we chatted and nibbled on chocolate raisins and even [shock horror for a married couple] held hands occasionally. Part of the route meant passing Wedgnock Park Farm where the bridleway became another farm track to 20120908-09_National Express Coach_A4177_Traffic Lights_Near A46 Warwick by gary.haddenemerge onto the A4177 very close to the large island on the A46 on the outskirts of Warwick.

After the tranquility of the countryside just left, the A4177 and its large traffic light junction with the smaller Old Budbrooke Road was a bit of a shock to the senses; it’s quite incredible really just how much noise and hustle & bustle is created by our traffic dominated lifestyles. I can’t complain too much though as it was only a short time ago that we’d driven through here ourselves allowing us to do the walk in the first place.

Anyway, we crossed the main road by the pedestrian crossing and headed off down the aforementioned Old Budbrooke Road (heading towards Hampton Magna and Hampton on the Hill). This took us down past a works entrance (Warwickshire County Council County Highways Warwick Area Office) to a bridge over the Grand Union Canal. A few minutes earlier, there had been an almost hidden path coming off a drive on the right side of the road (on the opposite side of the road to the highway works) which in hindsight we should have taken to get down to the towpath, but instead we dropped down a short but steep bank on a narrow dirt path at the northern end of the bridge (obviously a lot of people have done this over time), and then a left turn for a few yards to bring us down to the canal just under the bridge.

Rather than turn right to head up the tow path straight away, we turned left under the bridge and soon arrived at the bottom lock and its simple but quite attractive Bottom Lock Cottage. If we were to have continued on, we’d have followed the 20120908-13_Bottom Lock Cottage - Hatton Locks by gary.haddencanal under the A46 and then on into Warwick, but this was to be the nearest to Warwick we were going to be and we used the bottom lock balancing beams to take a short drink and nibbles rest-stop. On the opposite side of the “cut” is a small car park (descriptively called Hatton Bottom Lock Car Park), to which I crossed over the bottom lock gates to reach. I didn’t see any pay and display machines/signage, so I suppose parking here may well be free (although I guess I could be wrong) – but either, way watch out! as the gates are locked at 4pm (quite early to my mind) and there’s a hefty call out charge to extricate your vehicle should you inadvertently get locked in. The entrance to the car park is via a short drive (off The Old Budbrooke Road), so this could be a start and finish point of the walk if you wanted it to be.

20120908-14_Lock Gates - Hatton Locks by gary.haddenAnyway, we started off again, heading uphill, and I could easily have put my map away now, as all we had to do was follow the tow path passing alongside the flight of locks and their black and white painted gates all the way back to our car, parked just below the top lock at Hatton. These couple of sentences although accurate from a map reading point of view, do not 20120908-20_Cyclists on Tow Path_Hatton Locks by gary.haddengive due weight to the scene as there was so much to see; The canal and locks themselves are simply attractive in their own right, but there was a pleasant hustle and bustle of dog walkers, cyclists, fellow ramblers, people just strolling in the sun and of course a mixed selection of boats working their way up and down the flight at an enforced leisurely pace.

…. // ….

20120908-17_Ugly Bridge - Hatton Locks by gary.hadden

…. // ….

20120908-22_Dragon Fly Sculpture Hatton Locks by gary.hadden

One place of note is a road bridge, known as “Ugly Bridge” with a piece of graffiti art-work looking oddly and completely out of place (a bi-coloured blue bumble bee with a strange expression on its face). I guess the bridge isn’t the most beautiful in the world, but I’ve seen far worse and I think its name is probably a little undeserved. Anyway we had to go under here to continue up the tow path with the canal still on our left. After a while we reached the dragon fly sculpture effectively completing the full circle of the walk.

We were very soon back at the car, off-loading ruck-sack and walking poles to then wander up to The Hatton Arms pub via a path climbing up a green grassy slope. The late summer sun had brought out a plethora of people all enjoying a quiet drink, and we headed up to the balcony area to find a table to join them 20120908-24_The Hatton Arms (was The Waterman) near Warwick by gary.haddenhaving some lunch. After a little walking up and down, some people indicated they were leaving soon and a short while later we were settled down to read a menu. Quite a few minutes later a member of staff arrived, we thought probably to take our order, but no, he asked us to vacate the table, as he’d already promised it to some other people currently waiting in the bar. We felt this a bit off really as there hadn’t been a reservation sign or anything to indicate the table was allocated already, but we got lucky in that the people on an adjacent table also said they were leaving, so preventing potential upset as we really didn’t want to get up from our seats.

What did we have for lunch ? …. We both chose an open hand carved ham sandwich with thick cut chips and a side salad plus a chunky pear chutney [£5.95 each] and a shared Mediterranean salad with feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, marinated green and black olives all scattered through mixed dressed leaves [£9.95] plus some drinks – Not a cheap lunch by any means and the service wasn’t fast, but the young man serving us was very personable and polite. However, we soon allowed ourselves to drift into the laid-back pace (not having the kids with us helped) and chatted, ate, drank and people watched, including a table of people who really couldn’t cope with a few wasps buzzing about.  We couldn’t quite justify the cost of dessert though, nice as we thought they’d be.

20120908-34_Top Lock Cafe + Narrow Boat - Hatton Locks by gary.haddenWell, although now fed and watered, we still had some time to “kill” and so wandered back to the canal, crossed via a bridge, and turned right to join the tow path which switches sides here. It didn’t take long to reach the top lock cafe, which was selling ice-creams which we couldn’t resist – and a lot less expensive than the puddings at the Hatton Arms! It was just so nice in the sun that we continued up the slope passing the top lock and then further along the tree lined canal for another couple of hundred yards or so. I really liked everything around 20120908-31_Grand Union Canal Reflections - Hatton by gary.haddenus: the lush green surroundings; super reflections; blue skies; wispy white clouds; boats; folk enjoying themselves in the sun; but most of all just being with my lovely wife.

Eventually however, we had to return back to the car, drive back into Warwick to collect Craig after his singing day, and then motor home where we were later reunited with Katie after her day at work … Over-all, a pretty good day all-round … and that’s that…. Perhaps a diary to revisit in the cold grey depths of an English winter to remember we did finally get a drop or two of sunshine on our backs during the pretty dismal summer of  2012.

If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary