The day after we turned onto this canal the sun gave way to cold wet grey weather again. Living aboard we do have the luxury of not having to move when it is wet, unlike the poor hire-boaters who are out for half term holiday week. So far we have managed short moves between the heavy showers. As we were approaching Hinckley various pylons strode across the misty landscape carrying electricity to the landlubbers. We moored near Bridge 5 on the moorings recommended in the Nicholson’s guide and bumped on a concrete ledge every time a boat passed! We won’t be staying there again.We moved on up to stay overnight at Burton Hastings and Hinckley where we could be on Armco (metal edging). it seemed that after Hinckley the canal became more open with views across the countryside and the sun came out. Things were looking up! Most of the 61 Bridges were in good repair, some built of large blocks of Sandstone, some in Red and Blue Brick, but all had central oval disks clearly numbered.
Our next stop was on the delightful off-side moorings where we had a stroll up into Stoke Golding past Ivy House Farm who supply Tesco with their milk. S.G.Wharf is home to Ashby hire-boats. The old yard is quaint and unspoilt, we liked their modern little pump-out vehicle. The only downside to staying here was that it was alongside a road. Families arrived in cars to fling endless quantities of white sliced bread to the fat Mallard ducks!
As it was hot and sunny we set off under a deep blue sky for a long 12 ish mile run up to Snarestone. After a late lunch we walked up over the tunnel to investigate what lay beyond. We found two volunteers manning the little gift shop and cutting the grass. The whole area was beautifully kept and a short new stretch of canal with a swing bridge and slipway was open, with more to come soon they told us.
Although Snarestone Tunnel has a kink in it and is lower at the Northern end we passed through quite easily. After turning and depositing our refuse we made our way back down the canal.
Mooring at Shackerstone we found our way down to the little station there where a diesel train was carrying passengers 5 miles down the Battlefield Steam Railway line via Market Bosworth to Shenton. We sat enjoying coffee from their cafe and browsed around the shop which was in a railway carriage. Their museum is so full of interesting old railway memorabilia we couldn’t possibly take it all in, even though we lingered long enough. They have a large collection of rolling stock in the sidings alongside the car-park too.
Market Bosworth Station.
We also moored near Shenton Station and walked along to see the steam train that runs on Sundays. Unfortunately we were told that the boiler wasn’t behaving and needed some attention, shame.
In the small Station Pottery the potter was busy making his earthenware designs with slipware patterning. Part of the station is a cafe/shop and part Richard Golding’s Glassmaking Studio and shop.
He established Okra Glassware and very beautiful it is too. It was fascinating to see him at work embellishing a paperweight with small blue flowers. He heated the glass in the furnace then carefully melted the blue glass rod onto it. On the shelf was a stock of glass colours and rods of various thicknesses ready for use. Amazing! This little station was brought from Leicestershire and re-erected here at Shenton.
We found our way back along the lane and under the aqueduct where there was a warning sign for ice! Sutton Wharf Cafe was very busy providing refreshments as we cruised past. Many families were walking the route around the railway, canal, Ambion Wood and the Bosworth Battlefied site. The Ashby Canal Association have placed 37 seats for those who get a bit weary on their towpath trek. While this was a lovely mainly rural canal arm to explore, it was not quite as exciting as the Caldon or the Erewash we thought.