We awoke this morning and changed our travel plans, electing to revert to plan A and go aimlessly south. Caxton’s engine burst into life just before eight o’clock and we made our way to the winding hole beyond Springwood Haven where we turned tail and headed back toward Nuneaton. The entire day has been a typically beautiful summer’s day with light winds, blue skies and white fluffy clouds overhead. Just under two hours later and we were passing the entrance to the Ashby canal at Marston junction. A few minutes later and we had the Charity dock in our sights. We had just cleared the corner when we spotted a Valley Cruises boat coming towards us, no problem since both boats were going straight and there was plenty of room to pass. With approximately three boat lengths between us, Sue said, “Here’s a panicker”. I thought the remark to be a bit harsh since the hire boat was behaving perfectly. Thirty seconds later and the steerer was turning towards us and the angle was getting sharper as she pushed the tiller in the wrong direction – panic really had set in. Fortunately, we were only in tickover but despite full revs in reverse and managing to get Caxton moving backwards, the oncoming boat still hit us. With the two boats moving in the same direction, the impact was minimal but still noisy and the only damage done was to the pride of the young lady steering.
After all that excitement, we carried on to Hawkesbury junction where we turned on to the North Oxford, no stop off at The Greyhound today. It’s probably a year since we last travelled this way so it was an enjoyable trip as we covered familiar waters, noting changes to the landscape as we went. There was a light but steady stream of boats coming in the opposite direction but although we knew that were boats in front and behind, they were out of sight for most of the time so didn’t trouble us. The perfect boating conditions continued through Ansty and on to Stretton stop, along the way we got a blast on the horn from a freight train and a friendly wave from the driver as he headed north on his journey. Eventually we reached Newbold tunnel, sadly it is no longer illuminated as it once was – maybe it is too costly to maintain. Once through the tunnel and under the bridge by the Barley Mow, we were pleased to discover that there was plenty of space on the Visitor moorings. We’ve tied on rings, the spacing isn’t ideal but it’s good enough. So from three o’clock we have been sitting in the shade of the front deck just watching the boats go past.