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News article created on 28 June 2016

Coventry to Hillmorton and The Braunston Festival

In his last edition for a while, Trustee John Dodwell, blogs about his journey to Hillmorton and the historic boat gathering at The Braunston Festival.


Last Friday saw me joined for the journey between Coventry and Hillmorton by Sarah Brown. She had a considerable interest in canals (living not far from Stoke Bruerne) before joining the Trust last year as Development & Engagement Manager for the South East area. This covers all the Oxford Canal and to GU from Radford Semele to south of Batchworth and over the Leicester Summit to Kilby Bridge.

Sarah's job includes talking to local authorities and other groups about how they can improve the waterways in their area and resolve problems. In some cases, this includes how the groups can join in volunteering to help their local section. Unsurprisingly,  Oxford is one area taking up her time.

Weatherwise, it was dry with some sun - until just before we got to Hillmorton,  when we got caught in one of those torrential downpours we've been having recently. I was surprised how quickly I was soaked to the skin!

Otherwise,  our journey was uneventful as we travelled along this almost lock free section through typical English countryside - apart from a problem with the bottom gate at Sutton Stop. This is going in my report. Which reminds me - are you one of those who reports problems or do you keep your grumbles to yourself? 

I tied for the night at the top of Hillmorton locks where Sarah left. My Overgrown towpath saplings by Barby mooringswife, Pamela,  joined for the weekend. 

On Saturday it took about two hours to get to Braunston where we were joining in the Historic Boats Festival. 

On the way we passed one of the worst sections I have seen for a while for overgrown towpath wall saplings. See photo above right of some opposite Barby moorings. Something else for my report. However, I was pleased to see work has started on cutting them down - see photo below. 

Signs of sapling cuttingThe Braunston Festival was its usual cheerful self over the weekend. I didn't count the number of boats but heard about 80 were expected. It's a grand chance to see a great variety of historic boats,  if you are into that sort of thing. The main photo is of a collection of tugs - and also of contrasting Fellows Morton & Clayton boats: the steamer PRESIDENT and EMU with a single cylinder Bolinder popping away.

We have now left HELEN at Braunston for a while. Leicester and Nottingham now beckon.

About this blog

John Dodwell

John Dodwell is one of our 10 volunteer trustees, who carry responsibility for the charity’s policies and strategies. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.

John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!

See more blogs from John Dodwell