Sunday 14th May
Up and boating by 9:30am on a Sunday? Unheard of! We made steady progress down to Shackerstone where the sound of a whistle told us that steam trains were running this weekend. There are some attractive offside moorings here too presumably owned by the adjacent farm. and there is a mound with an old tree growing in it which turns out to be the remains of Shackerstone Castle of the motte and bailey construction.
Shackerstone is probably best known nowadays as the home of the Battlefield Line Railway, a preserved steam and diesel museum, that runs trains to Bosworth Battlefield. The railway came to Shackerstone in 1873 and continued providing passenger services until 1931 after which only freight ran on the rails of the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway. The line was finally closed by British Rail in 1970 at which point the railway society arrived and has restored the station and reopened the line to Shenton Station, the terminus for Bosworth Battlefield.
After Shackerstone the canal goes through Gospall Wood and emerges at Gospall Wharf before passing an attractive canal-side house and the remains of a railway bridge which once carried the Ashby & Nuneaton Railway over the canal.
Another few hundred yards brought us to the mouth of the 250 yard Snarestone Tunnel, which has a kink in it which means you can’t see if it’s clear until the last minute (one way traffic).
Soon we arrived at the last full length winding hole where we turned with not a little difficulty as the wind pushed us into the side and I had to pull us round with a rope. The canal past here is being restored by the Ashby Canal Association who have rebuilt the next bridge and made a 50 foot winding hole at what is now the current terminus. See here for their plans for the future.
We easily found a mooring as there was only one other boat who soon left and left us on our own, but not for long and soon the moorings were full, however it seemed that most people just used it as a lunch stop as soon we just had one other boat for company and passed a very peaceful night without a road or railway in earshot.
Monday 15th May
We had arranged to meet up with four ‘old’ friends who we have known for the best part of forty years from back in Gloucestershire although one couple now only live 12 minutes away from Snarestone. The volunteers on site were very accommodating in letting them use their private car park, as one of our friends has mobility problems, and we patronised their shop to help swell their funds a little. The gang had lunch with us on board and we spent the afternoon catching up with each-other’s news before saying our goodbyes.
Tuesday 16th May
Today we just retraced our journey back to Bosworth, and managed to film an interesting private mooring just before the tunnel.
We took an enforced lunch stop opposite Shackerstone Castle to avoid a rain shower and arrived back at Bosworth Wharf ten past three just in time to avoid another deluge.
Just to give an idea of how close we are to home, as the crow flies!