Vlog 75: The Grand Tour

Oh the weather outside is frightful … but hopefully it’ll be much nicer in the Spring so I’ve begun planning my adventures for this year and this video is the gist of my musings. The video features amazing high–calibre cartography much like last year!

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  1. Hi

    I suspect you’ve already chosen the ideal mooring places for your big trip – and I wonder how you’ll be approaching Leicester? – especially if you prefer a relaxed 4-5 cruising each day. I suspect you’ll be mooring at the Navigation pub moorings at Kilby Bridge (south of Leicester – in Wigston)- but after that there are no proper moorings until the centre of Leicester – and thats a full day’s “cranking it up”. I hope you get to the Friar Mill moorings in the centre of Leicester and spend the next day recovering. These are new moorings (very safe) and I hope you’ll dedicate a full 30 seconds of one of your vlogs reviewing how the electricity pods work (you’ll need a CRT pin code – these are only issued to those with CRT moorings – I think).


    • Hi. I fear you attribute me with greater planning prowess than in reality. I don’t plan my mooring much in advance. I am aware that Leciester could be tricky however, which is why I am meeting another boater for the trip from one side to another, and I will rely on their expertise! Yes, this will mean long days for that part of the journey. I’m unlikely to hook up to any CRT electricity though, once I’m moving the batteries get charged by the engine and solar. Cheers

  2. Well you are there, so why not do the Llangollen (will you have the boat in 2018) and forget the River Seven. Why worry about July. Call it reserve time July. Start two weeks early. Go on do the Llangollen, we 600 thousand want a vlog of it.

    Have you cruised at first light or just sat on a chair at dawn watching the mist drift by, of departed (died) fisherman. The best time is from 3:30am – 5:30am in June.

    Went through Harecastle Tunnel south bound in 1979 on Spredeagle 2, (was Barclays Bank owned boat) I was 14. Dad went through OK (first time in a narrow boat) if it not for the doors at the south end been left shut; bang as we went into the inverted “T” in the dark. Too late to stop. Then we turned round and went back through the same day.

  3. I wouldn’t worry about Harecastle either. But plenty of others have already said that. We did it relatively inexperienced with no problems. As well as a good hat have an umbrella for when needed.

    Last year we did the Staffs and Worcester down to Stourport but carried on down the river to the Droitwich, no problems with the river. Lovely going up the Droitwich though there is a low bridge (going under the M5 as I recall). Probably worth checking water levels when you get nearby. The Droitwich is nice and narrow and picturesque, we enjoyed it. Not a lot of traffic though there’s not as many mooring places as you’d get elsewhere.

    Then up the Worcester and Birmingham, though there is Tardebigge to consider. We did it with 2 people, not 1 so that might be a serious consideration. Better perhaps though than re-covering the same ground to get back to Birmingham.

    • I’m toying with going even further down the Severn, to Tewkesbury and coming back up the Avon but I’ll see how I feel at the time! Otherwise yes, there’ll be a plea for help going up Tardebigge.

      • I am at Tewkesbury, and last September went up the Severn to Stourport (then finally up to Stafford and back), I am a novice and was nervous about this trip but actually found the Severn the easiest part and actually quite boring, admittedly the river was calm and weather good.

  4. Hi, a great plan I think! And as others have said, there is nothing to worry about. Harecastle has a rescue boat and a tunnel keeper at each end! Just have a torch handy to shine on the low parts of the roof (they are painted white but disappear from view once the headlamp has moved past them so can catch you out).
    You are covering some beautiful canals and rivers. And if you enjoy the Soar and Trent then why not head down the Seven so you can enjoy the Avon back towards Braunston? It is probably the most beautiful River in the country!
    Regardless, I look forward to watching your travels.

    • Much to my own surprise, I have begun to consider the Severn / Avon return trip. I am still much more nervous of the Severn than the Soar though and I hear there are few mooring spots on the Avon so I have visions of blundering about in the dark with nowhere to stop!!

  5. Ralph. NB Miner Bill

    The thing that unsettles the nerves in Harecastle is the change in note of the engine, as the height and width of the tunnel varies thus affecting sounds. After a while you begin to think that there’s something wrong as the tunnel is so long, you have a LOT of time for ANY paranoid thoughts to begin to take over your mind. The challenge lies in overriding these thoughts knowing it’s the physics of sound bouncing back off the tunnel. My first time in here was truly alone, single handed and no other boats, and when the door shut behind, well, quite an ‘experience’!
    It’s quite a bit wider than the boat, 10 or 12ft maybe, and you can leave the boat at cruising speed all the way as it’s arrow straight, a superb piece of engineering, despite the lack of headroom!

    • That is a relief to know. I will be single-handing too of course but I hope there will be other boats in the procession (provided they get a move on!)

  6. Don’t worry about the Harecastle tunnel. I waited until I was a pensioner before tackling this single traffic canal feature. People pay good money for the Disney experience – you’re getting it for free. Just remember to duck , wear a big hat and be nice to the lovely men who count you in, and wait for you to emerge at the other end of the tunnel.

    • Thank you. I intend to be very nice indeed to the people managing the tunnel! And I suspect I shall do the entire length peering out from behind the hatch :-)

  7. I can only iterate Steve and Viv’s comments…’you’re worrying too much’. Rachael and I cruised the Soar only last season in our 57′ narrow boat Serafina; the current is reasonably gentle and the weirs all well marked so you can almost treat it like a canal. We moor at Stoke on Trent so the Harecastle Tunnel is just up the way, nothing too tricky there either! It’s managed by CRT staff when open, it’s one way and as you said it;s low in the middle so just a duck of the head is required. Keep up a reasonable speed and the boat will keep to the centre. You’ll have a great time!
    All the best Kelvin & Rachael.

  8. I think you’re worrying tooooo much! You won’t need an anchor (but have one ready for emergencies) and nav. lights are not required. We went up and down the Soar & Trent in 2015 – didn’t notice any flow at all ! It’s all well signposted and the canal guides are very helpful. We’re heading to the Chesterfield so may see you!

  9. Sounds great and I look forward to watching. Rivers are OK if not in flood – I’ve single-handed on the Thames many times in a cabin cruiser and hope to do the Soar one day when I get my narrowboat. I found the locks on the southern Grand Union quite hard work but there were some lovely spots as well. Have fun!

  10. Excellent map-drawing skills, as ever. It’s surprising how much your sketchy route makes sense to this landlubber, I look forward to following the journey in your future vlogs.

  11. Looks like a great trip. If you need any help getting through the locks at Fradley Junction in either direction let us know as we live nearby (Goozlegram) and we might pass you by when we’re boating on the T&M or the Coventry – we’re NB Bursley. Don’t be scared of the Soar – enjoy it, it’s lovely and it’s not very long!

  12. Bob and Jane Fulton

    We love the Staffs & Worc, and the Shroppie. take lots of time on those. Also stop in Salt below Stone on the Trent and Mersey. Great pub in Salt called the Holly Bush. Great food, especially Sunday roast. Stone is a treasure of a canal town. Great provisioning point.

  13. Bob and Jane Fulton

    Your summer plan looks very doable. The River Soar is not really a problem, although our experience was in October. Not much current. Only thing is not many places to moor. The guides will indicate where you can moor. The Harcastle is not at all scary. Traffic is controlled in each direction. Just wear rain gear and a hat. And duck your head in a few places. We have done hire boats 6 trips to the UK, 2-4 weeks at a time.

    • A consistent theme of the advice I’m getting is “wear a hat”!! Thanks for the reassurance. Cheers.

      • We bought our 36ft Springer from just below Barrow deep lock in May 2015 neither Phil(my husband) or I had ever steeered a Narrowboat before. The lockkeeper was brilliant & made us take it through the lock several times & showed me how to use locks. We went down the River Soar & crossed the Tidal Trent the same week we bought her. We followed a very helpful couple with a wide beam who had to tow us into Torksey lock when are Lister overheated. Other than that despite a rough Trent crossing it was no problem although we were shown pictures by a gentleman just before crossing of all the sunken boats. People like to scare others (I’m a mum of 2 & can attest to the scare stories on giving birth) Cruising for the 1st time was a great experience & we are now based at Sawley we crossed back last year. The river Soar is a beautiful stretch of water enjoy!

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