About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Her mind was made up.

Yesterday Ken and Sue (Cleddau) came past heading for Snarestone Wharf, within 2 hours they had returned and moored in front of FS. We came out to greet them but the greeting was short-lived as boy did it rain! It had us all scampering inside diving for cover. So we never did get to have a decent natter because shortly after the rain had stopped, our friends Lynda and Tony arrived.

 It was not a good meal! Tony and Ian's fish and chips were fine but Lynda and I ordered Beef Lasagna, the warning from the waitress was not to touch the plate because it was hot...well that was the only thing that was! We both objected to eating a lukewarm meal so sent the two lasagna back. 10 minutes wait later and the lasagnas were returned, this time mine was fine but Lynda, instead of being given a beef lasagna ended up with a vegetarian! Another complaint, the waitress came and asked if she could look have a good look at it. Well…after a bit of poking  with a fork, she still maintained it was beef, the fact it was heavy with peppers and other veg and no beef was found at all, didn't change her mind one bit! The only saving grace was the offer of a free pud! This was another pub scrubbed off our list, shame really because it really is a very convenient spot for meeting folk!

So this morning we got up late, thought we may have missed Ken and Sue but no, they were still moored. As soon as Ken appeared I poked my head out of the cratch, Ian got off the back and walked up to say hello. Well that catchup was long and we even got a present given to us by Ken. He made quite a few of these key ring fobs and I got to pick which one I wanted, The green and red did it for me (boat colours) and this will be a lovely way to secure the tiller pin. So thank you again Ken.

So now we await the grandchildren. Blogging will have to wait until our duties are done, and after all, the waking moments will be occupying one very lively 9-year-old and keeping the 14-year-old from morphing into a typical non-verbal, unresponsive teenager!

Tuesday 29 August 2023

End of the line

 Aug 28th

So we didn't stay at Market Bosworth, because poking my head out of the side hatch just as a boat heading back from Snarestone passed, I asked if the moorings at the Globe were full. With a favourable answer of "Completely empty luv"  made us stir our stumps, put the tiller on and set off. Low water was still a bit of a problem but nowhere as bad as the stretch between Stoke Golding and Market Bosworth battlefield. Our revs could increase slightly although there did appear to be a noticeable amount of reeds encroaching the channel so when we met another boat and had to head toward the side, that didn't bode well. A jaunty angle achieved as we passed each other, both boats finding the silt!

Reaching Shackleton we very nearly stopped. Moorings available and the Rising Sun pub so near, could this be a better place to meet up with our daughter. But the time limit for staying was only 48 hours, not long enough as we wouldn't be seeing her until Thursday. Best keep going then.

Made the moorings by the Globe Inn and before we stopped, in the distance Snarestone Tunnel was seen. All boats have to proceed through this tunnel to the terminus, it's the last place to wind before heading back. Not for us today though, and glad too seeing how busy it was.

 The Globe moorings had only one boat moored, that chap this morning was quite correct and we had the pick. Deciding to stay well back from the trees, it did mean a bit of a walk to the Globe. 

From the towpath we could see right through the tunnel. This was not what could be seen from a travelling boat though. We found that out the next day.


Aug 29th

Yesterday evening we WhatsApp our friend Lynda and Tony who used to be our neighbours when we lived in Barlestone. A new plan was formed, they would come and meet us at the Globe today for a meal. Because these moorings were so empty and without any fear of them filling up if we left, FS was untied and we set off toward the tunnel. From that view shown above to this view there was a very different perspective. It looked just like a black hole with no ending! 

Ian was sent below to race to the bow as lookout, he waved me on, all was clear.

Snarestone Wharf was but a 10 minute cruise. Here we could wind, water up, get rid of rubbish and do the loo. A very nice new lock gate was across the channel, ah... so this was why loads of boats had come past when we were moored at Sutton Cheney. They were all there for the grand opening.

Once the biz at the facilities were complete a walk across that new stop gate to say hello to Maria. I asked as to what the workman were doing. The answer was unexpected. Apparently ever since the new section had been completed, leakage from the new walls had occurred. It got so bad that the crops on the other side of the hedge failed due to being water logged! So for the last 9 weeks these men, contracted from the council, have been drilling holes of up to 3 feet and then filling those holes with silicon. It appears to be working and the last of the length of canal by the stop gate was almost complete.

Another boat arrived just as we had let go of the ropes. It winded, we waited but then a hand signal waving us past. Assuming he wanted the facilities, I was wrong when he said he had forgotten to put the headlight on and wanted us to go first. Baffled, all was made clear when his wife emerged, still in PJ's, with a portable magnetic headlight that she placed firmly at the front!

The view as we neared the Northern portal of the tunnel was equally bad from this direction. No straight passage through, it has a kink that obscures the exit.

It is only as you enter that the South portal can be seen which does show that kink.

Nearly at the Southern portal a bow of a boat appeared. I'm pretty sure if we had been further back it may have entered, I don't believe this is a two way tunnel any more in fact I looked up why and this was what I found on the Geograph

This is the southern portal of the 250 yard or 229 metre long Snarestone Tunnel, completed by 1804 when the canal opened. The other end is just visible as a light spot, but the tunnel is crooked and the roof clearance decreases towards the northern end, such that only one way working is now permitted. The deformation of the tunnel can mainly be attributed to mining subsidence. Both tunnel portals are Grade II Listed Structures. Both portals have blank niches above the arch

 Anyway the skipper of that boat did see us and made evasive manoeuvres.

That following boat, you can just see his headlight on the starboard side.

We stopped at the same mooring spot, and still only one boat here. So from Thursday we will be looking after the grandchildren for two days and this was the nearest place for our daughter to come too. All we have to do is try and keep them occupied....thank goodness for internet!

Sunday 27 August 2023

A very slow journey

 Aug 26th

Yesterday the morning was clear and fine. Some cloud cover which was very welcome because when the sun did peek from behind the clouds, it was very hot. In the main, the conditions were perfect for sprucing up FS's starboard side so out came the colour restorer and we spent a good 3 hours of hard work on the paintwork. We could have finished sooner but a regular flow of folk kept stopping to say hello. One lady with her two small children asked if she could be very cheeky and let the children see the inside FS.  I was a bit reluctant but then a moment of inspiration, open the side hatch and let them poke their heads in. There was enough to see to please them. Both children asked questions. Considering the youngest looked about 4 and the elder 6, I was very impressed with how polite they were. A credit to their mother.

Aug 27th  

This mooring was only a 2 day so of course we headed off. Paul's canal planer (Waterway Routes) mentioned it would take 1 hour 40 minutes to arrive at Market Bosworth. He was spot on, which in itself was a surprise because if we made 2.5 mph we were lucky. Such a slow journey and nothing to do with following slow boats. In fact, we would have been the ones being cussed for going so slow! In our books a very big 'no no' is if we create a wash and this is exactly what happened when we tried to increase our speed. As mentioned in a previous post, this canal needs dredging! Just look at this photo.

The cladding and that bush used to be part of the bank! Our wave at 2.5 mph. We slowed right down to tickover from this point on.

You can see just how much erosion of the bank has occurred. Those poles sticking were the fence line at the edge of the bank. Unfortunately too many people ignore the signs of seeing a wave breaking along the bank as they speed along, it is this that causes the damage. 


And another thing, with the banks washing away where do you think the mud ends up? In the canal, accumulating on the sides which in turn makes two boats trying to pass very difficult. Anyway if we all did our bit, slowed right down when cruising shallow canals with low water, never create a wash on any canal, than maybe this problem won't get any worse!

We saw Ken and Sue again. Claddau was moored just before railway bridge 34A. They were off to the Battlefield centre, and we came past just as they set off. With FS in tickover we could chat to each other as they walked toward the bridge. Lovely to have seen them again and hope for a longer chat later.

At Shenton there used to be Bosworth battlefield moorings on the offside, but no longer as the undergrowth has taken over the mooring. On the towpath side boats struggled to moor. Planks were needed, or a leap of faith but not one managed to get anywhere near to the bank.

Finally made it to Market Bosworth. The visitor mooring before bridge 42 were full so with fingers crossed we hoped to find one after the marina. And would you believe we again had to put on the anchors because of a boat coming out of the marina entrance at full pelt! Even the lady on the front failed to relay to the captain that we were heading toward them. Last minute we were seen and into reverse went that boat but by now it was too far into the main channel to stop so Ian waved it on.

 We did find a space behind a hire boat, pins had to be hammered in and Ian was all for putting a spring on. But the first boat that came past pushed FS up onto the silt, we never moved again after that! Could be a pole job to get us off tomorrow!

 Shops are not very frequent on the Ashby Canal but we knew of a Co op in the village centre. It did mean a mile walk uphill to get to it, that's okay, downhill with heavy shopping was a blessing! The Bosworth battlefield line was on our route to the village. I took this excerpt from the Heritage Steam Railway website.

The Battlefield Line is the last remaining part of the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway which was opened in 1873. It runs from Shackerstone via Market Bosworth to Shenton in Leicestershire and is operated by the Shackerstone Railway Society.

Unfortunately no steam trains were seen. In fact looking at the timetable, only diesel trains are now running along this line. What a shame, many a journey was taken by steam with the children when we lived nearby. Is it a sign of the times perhaps?

The village hasn't changed one bit, maybe a few different names above some shops and I think we missed the market today, mores the pity.

Market Place

Bank Holiday Monday may not be a good day to move especially as we really do need a mooring at Snarestone. So Tuesday will be our day of travel and both will be keeping everything crossed we can get in!

And seen on route,

Outside the fire station in Bosworth

Half way mile marker

Friday 25 August 2023

One minute on the boat, and next she was in!

Aug 24th

 A very relaxing day yesterday, we didn't do much, even Ian chilled out only doing a bit of tidying at the back. Oh, he did wash one side of the cabin top. An ideal mooring when we arrived on Wednesday, or so we thought, but neither of us had noticed the one long high branch overhanging the boat. Appears this was a particular favourite for the roosting pigeons. A lot of pigeon poop splattering had to be washed off quickly Thursday morning, before it got baked on! 

Chris and Sue arrived late afternoon. With them was Tia, a really wonderful cockapoo full of fun and pleased to see everyone. A far cry from Toffee's timid nature. It was a shame Toffee wasn't with us though, as on their first meeting a year ago, Tia and her got on famously.

 After a great catchup, Chris drove us all to The Dog and Hedgehog. Wow, it's gone up market. It used to be more of a steak pub, T Bone steaks were a speciality and if I recall correctly the portions were enormous! Mind you I am going back a long time, back to1975 as a matter of fact, when we first moved to a place called Barlestone near Market Bosworth and that pub became one of our haunts for playing darts...gosh that was nearly 50 years ago! Anyway the meal was delicious, service brilliant, staff very welcoming and I would recommend but make sure your wallet is well stocked with cash. It was not cheap! 

The Dog and Hedgehog seen from the canal. From Dadlington, it's a good walk along the road.

Aug 25th

So this morning we departed fairly early. The Ashby hire boats were returning to base and with us moored opposite, did make the channel width a bit narrow. First the sponge and bucket came out again to wash even more pigeon poop from the cabin top!  

Sutton Cheney was where we hoped to stop, only about 2.5 miles further along the canal. Low water and the bottom being far too near to the top was a big problem along that section. Our pace slowed even more, in fact I reckon an athletic snail could have easily overtaken FS so slow were we going. Even so a wash was created, this canal is badly in need of dredging!


Now what did I say about meeting boats by bridges? This time we had only just come through when Ian suddenly slammed on the anchors. Coming toward us a bow of a boat was seen. A slight panic moment and why he went into reverse will all be explained,  but first I need to set the scene....

 A moored boat on the offside literally feet from the bridge and we were travelling slowly past. In front, on our side, was a crack willow with its branches full of leaves almost touching the water, and then there was that oncoming boat! So FS was not seen by the skipper because of those foliage curtains, consequently he stuck to the centre of the channel. Contact was not made, but more by luck than judgement as Ian had to put FS's bow into those willow branches to avoid a collision, whilst that other boat's bow was rapidly pointed toward the bank. Ian stopped FS but not before a horrible scrunching and scratching sound was heard. What had those branches done to our cratch cover? That other boat scrapped past but so slowly because his prop was stirring up silt instead of being free spinning in water and with the skipper putting on the revs to get it to go forward, just dug the stern deeper into the silt. What seemed like forever that boat finally got past. His words to us was he didn't see us at all and as a deep drafted boat, struggled in the low water conditions. We could understand that with FS being nearly 5 inches deeper than most narrow boats. Normal draft is around 2 foot. FS is 2ft 5.

You can see that moored boat and the willow overhanging the canal

There is a bend which would have shown why he didn't see us but this gives a rough idea of his obscured vision due to that willow.

Making Sutton Cheney our first thought as we went through the bridge was if the water point was free. One boat already there but we got in behind. Loo emptying and rubbish taken but then...where was the rubbish skip? No longer does Sutton Cheney services have a rubbish point and its all to do with rats! Too many had used the skip as a feeding station and complaints were made because of it. It was removed never to be replaced in the future so now we will have to carry the black rubbish bag with us until the terminus at Snarestone. Filling the water tank, quite a few boats came past and one which wanted to use the facilities.  Ready to breast up with that boat behind us. a lady was standing at the bow holding the rope. But the unthinkable happened, she overreached trying to hand the rope to one of the moored boat crew members, her foot slipped and into the canal she went! Her husband slammed the boat into reverse, last thing he wanted was a crushed wife! I shouted for Ian, raced toward where she had fallen in and got there just as another lady arrived at the same time. Between us, we grabbed hold of an arm each and hauled her half out. By now her husband had managed to attach the bow rope to that moored boat, got off his boat and he manhandled her the rest of the way onto the bank.  I was shaken but not so she. Very cheerful about the whole incident although I rather think she felt a right idiot and in front of a load of gongoozlers too! 

The lady is the one with dark hair

Very wet.

Just past the service mooring was the 48-hour pontoon. We decided to sit out the bank holiday weekend here as already the canal was busy with boats. It was also a good place to polish the starboard side of FS. That will be tomorrow's job. Oh, and whilst sitting inside a loud hail was heard. None other than Ken and Sue on nb Cleddau came past. They were not able to stop as another boat was right behind Cleddau, all I could do was shout hello. I had to look up the last time we saw them, crikey it was way back in June 2016, surely not...it can't have been 7 years ago. I must have another posting somewhere, it really can not have been that long ago! Anyway as we are both heading the same way, our paths will cross again at some point.


Wednesday 23 August 2023

Had to resort to plan C

Such a quiet mooring here and even the train sounds in the distance were hardly heard, although I did here the rumble of one on the tracks about 4 am. This was not what woke me, nor was it Ian snoring or even me having to use the bathroom, no it was a very faint intermittent drumming sound which I first thought to be coming from the inverter. It was annoying in its irregularity, one of those noises that you think has suddenly disappeared but then off it goes again. I lay for what seemed like hours, in fact it was only about 15 minutes and somewhere in Ian's subconsciousness he must have heard it too. He got up to investigate. Turned out not to be the inverter but our satellite receiver pulsating. Who forgot to turn it off last night? Blaming each other didn't help one bit! Anyway once the power went off it stopped, but unfortunately, now already awake, our brains did not. Kettle went on at 5.15 am, I started Wordle but the brain wouldn't function so played my fishing game instead!

There was no point in leaving early, the hope was to get to Hinckley and find a mooring near to Trinity Marina and we wanted the overnighters to have set off leaving mooring spots free. Our friends Chris and Sue were due to travel down from Carlisle in their motorhome, stop at Manchester tonight and see us tomorrow. The plan then was to go for a meal at the Trinity Brewers Fayre Pub. It was well past 9 am when we untied, but just before we left, Ian had a rummage down the weed hatch. Yesterday something was picked up around the prop after my sudden reverse. There had been a loud 'chink chink' sound since which stayed with us all the way until we moored.

  I was at the helm again because Ian was down below making a loaf. At breakfast, it was discovered, much to his horror (and mine) the bread of only a few days had the beginnings of a fur coat. Must be the humidity in the boat and the fact it was wrapped in a plastic bag. Egg and bacon were on the menu which wouldn't have been the same without a nice bit of toast. I had to defrost my white loaf saved purely for fish bait! Anyway once underway the going was slow. Water levels down by only a couple of inches but enough for us to pull a wash if we attempted to go above 1000mph. I rather liked the slowness of our speed, the Ashby is a pretty canal, very rural with plenty of variety. 

By 11.30 the A5 bridge came into view. In the past, stopping just before had never been a problem. No cladding or rings to tie too so it would be pins only. But try as we might, the nearest we got to the bank was about 3 ft. Blast..now what. So through the bridge we went in the hopes of finding a free spot. Not a cats in hells chance although I did spy what looked to be a good gap further up. Turns out there were 'no mooring' signs because it was opposite the marina entrance! Right, find plan B.

First we called in for diesel at Trinity Marina. At 99p litre this was the cheapest around these parts. Loo emptied and rubbish got rid of at the same time and plan B came into force.

All the moorings by the pub are now private. The chances of them getting passing trade is now very slim!

Stoke Golding had three pubs. They were all about 5 minute walk from the canal, so that would do, we thought. Another hours cruise saw us moored opposite Ashby Boat Company. 


First job, find the pubs. Up the hill toward the centre, gosh it had me puffing a bit! We found the George and Dragon, car park looked large enough for the motorhome so that would do nicely. But...and there is always a but...food was served between midday and 2,30pm only, no evening service at all!. Okay try the Three Horseshoes. That was closed! Only one more pub to try, the White Swan, oh no that too was shut and had been since Covid. Resignation set in....what to do? Chris was most understanding when we phoned and another plan unfolded. Still come to us, spend the afternoon and then he would drive us all to The Dog and Hedgehog in Dadlington for the meal. Finally a result!

Ian had a play with the Snipe satellite. Took the thing off the roof, removed all the screws he could see but the thing refused to come apart! Not wanting to force it, all screws put back and replaced back on the roof. For once my 'man that can', couldn't although saying that, he powered it up, pressed the right buttons and it worked perfectly!

And wildlife

It's just a pigeon but what made me smile was the single stick it was perched on.

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