Closure seemed inevitable for the Southern section of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal throughout the 1930’s and all the way to the 60’s, with drastic weed clearing measures using horse-drawn ice breakers, jacking up of tumble-down bridges, dry pounds and worn out locks. Abandonment of the un-navigable canal was finally sought by Warwickshire County Council in 1958 until two canoeists stepped in, producing two dated recent toll tickets as proof the canal was still in use. And so it lived on..
Unlike some of the more functional looking canals, it‘s hard to imagine this pretty stretch teaming with loads of coal. Split bridges, barrel lock keeper cottages, aqueducts, wild garlic and a twisted path make it interesting all the way. We must be getting close to luvvy land, there are cars in trees (just for fun), simple houses hacked and extended until they resemble castles and plenty of private garden moorings with bottles of Bolly on display.
The locks might be single but the paddles are stiff, that’s the only explanation we can come up with for it’s so quiet down here. Passed, two, maybe three boats today.
A stop in Wootton Wawen where we walked through timber-framed buildings along to St Peter’s Church – the present structure dates from 1035, with add ons over the years it’s one big history lesson, including 14th C wallpaper. Oh, and as with most places around here Shakespeare loved it there. Hmmm.
Over the third aqueduct of the day, Edstone, the longest in England. On through Wilmcote, on past Mary Arden’s House – because it’s not, she lived 30yds away at Glebe Farm. A very enthusiastic Canal and River Trust volunteer helped us down the last of the Wilmcote Locks today.
Talking to an internetless guy yesterday, Nick promised to find out if daily transit licenses are available for The Avon, which he did and displayed in the window for when the bloke passed by as promised. Little did he know it would bring him so much joy, people will spend an age reading, re-reading, frowning at signs they can’t compute. A whole world of new boat entertainment has opened up.
Two miles, five locks to Bancroft Basin…