NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Friday, 19 September 2014

Steam Trains and Working Boats at Shackerstone Festival

On Saturday 6 September (I know – that was ages ago - I have a lot of catching up to do!) we treated ourselves to a sausage sandwich for brunch to last us through the day, and set of on the walk to Shenton Station to catch the train.

We bought our tickets (£10 each for as many trips on the train you can fit in on a day!) and had a drink on the platform whilst waiting for the train.

Near enough on time there was a blast on the train whistle as it approached the station, and there was a flurry of train spotters (including me) with cameras ready!

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The train stopped at the station, and loads of people got off – ready to watch the engine un-couple from the front of the train and move onto the back!

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Everybody that was travelling then got on the train, and with another whistle, it pulled away.

Gary being a seasoned railwayman made straight for the First Class Lounge Bar Carriage and ordered us some liquid refreshment!

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It was difficult taking pictures out of the window – as I kept getting soot in my eyes!

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We passed several “restoration projects” and the train stopped at Market Bosworth Station to pick up more passengers and after about 25 minutes we arrived at Shackerstone Station.

Everyone got off the train, and again the engine had to be un-coupled and moved to the front.

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After topping up the firebox with coal, and a few checks on the wheels and things (the “wheel tapper” in action) the new load of passengers were on their way with another blast of the whistle and loads of smoke and steam!

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We decided to walk over to the festival site before looking around the station any more – as we had to be back for the last train at 4.15pm!

We had a slow walk past all the historic boats, had a chat to Mark on fuel boat Callisto to find out when he would be passing us on his way back, and walked past some of the other festival goers boats too!

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As you can see, there were a lot of boats squeezed into the space!

We didnt go into the festival site itself, but did look through the gate to watch some “jousting”!

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Feeling the need for some edible refreshment, we returned to the station to visit the Victorian Tea Shop!

After a pot of tea and some lovely carrot cake and lemon cake we had a further look around the station and museum.

An extra treat was the Blue Circle Steam Engine doing a special showing!

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By now it was near 4pm, so we made our way to the platform to wait for the train and just then the air display at the festival started, so we watched the breathtaking manoeuvres of the 3 planes!

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As you can see, the train pulled in as the display ended, and started its usual routine to move the engine to the front of the train.

Again more coal was added to the firebox – it must be hot up there!

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Then all too soon it was time to get on board for our trip back, with more whistle blowing we pulled out of the station, passing the engine sheds, where another engine was being restored, and the signal box.

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At Shenton Station I didnt want to leave until getting yet another shot of lots of steam from the engine!

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We walked back to the boat exhausted from such a fun packed day!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Shackerstone Festival Plan

Monday 1st September was a cool grey day. Definitely the start of Autumn! We took a walk back down the canal to Snarestone, admiring the canal views on the way.

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We soon came to the tunnel – but couldnt see through it from the towpath.

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After walking over the top, we tried again at the other end, and could hear something coming through – you can just see through the tunnel from this angle!

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We wandered around the village, and took refreshment in the Globe Inn.

On Tuesday the sun was shining again – summer had come back!

We did another self pump out – just a few tubs to keep the loo tank empty (the elsan here is not connected to mains sewers so CRT say no self pump out machines, a few tubs is no different to a few cassettes!)

Just for Tim on NB Tosca who left a comment on a previous blog, a picture of our self pump out complete with plastic tub painted red just for these occasions!

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After turning at the winding hole, we reversed on to the water point to fill our tank – our furthest point up the Ashby Canal!

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Our cunning plan for the Shackerstone Festival weekend was to return to Shenton by Friday, so that on Saturday we could take the Battlefield Line Steam Train back up to Shackerstone to see the boats at the rally.

So we headed back down, through the tunnel again.

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As we approached Shackerstone again, the moorings above were full and boats breasted up!

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And through the bridge more historic boats had arrived.

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And past the aquaduct and round the bend there were more!

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Then there were even more boats on the reserved moorings!

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We moored up at Market Bosworth again and treated ourselves to a chinese take-away.

Wednesday it was time for a hair cut for me, as this is the longest time we have stayed away from “home” and my friend who cuts my hair. The ladies in the “Hair Gallery” in the Market Place did a good job for me too!

On Wednesdays in September the Battlefield Line runs a railcar service.

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On the way back to the boat fuel boat Victoria passed, on its way to Shackerstone.

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On Thursday as we left our mooring I spied Rudolph in his new home!

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We stopped on the water point as usual, and the first of several more historic boats passed!

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Just before Shenton Aquaduct we had to hover mid channel as another laden working boat had got stuck on the bottom! Gary managed to get us close enough to the towpath for us to get off so I could hold Muleless and he could help the stricken boat! Photo taken after he was freed!

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Just a bit further on we found these cute chaps – they look like Mules to me!

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Just by the battlefield site we passed this CRT workboat fully loaded with “dredgings” and then at Sutton Cheney Wharf a dredger working!

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We moored up on the Stoke Golding moorings by the Ashby Canal Centre Marina, and then during the evening had a procession of historic boats!

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Later in the evening (about 10 pm) we heard the sound of yet another working boat and NB Ling went past – wouldnt want to meet him in the dark!

The next morning more work boats went past!

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We couldnt remember what the turning point was like by bridge 22, and since we wanted to pop into the Farm Shop again at bridge 23 we walked down to check it out – being passed by yet more working boats on the way – including another towing pair!

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The winding hole had been freshly dredged – result!

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We called into the Farm Shop and topped up with lots of goodies – the pork and caramelised onion pie had been really good, so this time we tried lots of other stuff – a chicken and ham pie, beef joint and strawberry and apple pie among them! Geoff, we didnt have room for any sausages – so we will get some next time we pass!

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Back to the boat and pull pins, heading towards the winding hole – and past yet another fully laden fuel boat!

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We turned round with no problems and headed back the way we had come. As we approached the Ashby Hire Boat base we had to wait for a private boat to untie and pull away.

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We followed him along and as we passed a few moored boats and boats coming towards us he pulled ahead a little – until as we headed down the straight (armco lined) bit just before Sutton Cheney Wharf we discovered his boat stationary in the middle of the canal with the engine running but no sign of the steerer!

A lady walking a dog on the towpath told us he had just popped in to make a cup of tea! We hooted our horn – several times – and I went to the front of the boat to be able to speak to the steerer when he appeared. We didnt believe he was making tea – but he was!

He eventually came out, mug in hand, and looked startled to see us there right behind him – and then said he thought it would be ok to make his tea as no-one was coming – even though he knew we were only just behind him – well! Why didnt he stop and tie up to the armco?

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We pulled in to the Wharf to top up with water and empty rubbish, so we didnt see him again!

When we moved on, just ahead was that loaded CRT boat – adrift at one end!

Luckily there was just room for boats to pass.

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and we took our turn too and squeezed past!

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We moored up again just past the Shenton Aquaduct, ready for our Shackerstone Festival Plan to be put into action on Saturday!