It's been a long time since we took Herbie somewhere new, and now here we are at Market Bosworth about two thirds of the way up the Ashby Canal. I suppose we are doing it because it was there to do. A gap in our collection of canals visited. I wasn't sure I was going to find twenty odd miles of lock free rural canal too appealing, but having come this far I keep getting reminded that no number of guides and maps can tell you what a place is really like. In some ways the Ashby keeps reminding me of bits of the Wey navigation, although there are many differences, notably the lack of boats with punning names up here. So what have we noticed?
1. It's busier than I had imagined, especially with hire boats, but not frustratingly so, apart from the fact that a day boat forced us to run aground this afternoon. The poor guy forgot which way to turn the tiller and turned into us as we passed from opposite directions. No harm done.
2. It's not as remote as I expected. Much less so than, say, the Leicester line between Foxton and Watford, in fact we seemed to pass some form of habitation every half hour at least. I was worried that it might be boring, but I like it. The landscape is never the same for long, switching between wooded sections, grazing meadows and cornfields, and the odd wharf and it's all quite pretty. This is not wild countryside, or even a wide open agricultural landscape, it definitely smacks of Middle England.
3. Rather like the Wey it is at the same time, lush with waterside plants, but kept in trim so that the towpaths are good.
4. People warned us that because of the shallow canal, and it is in places, and because of the bankside the vegetation there are fewer places to moor. While this is true, there are enough mooring spots even at this busy period and the designated ones are very good.
5. The all important watering holes. Well on Oakie's advice we stopped last night at Stoke Golding and wandered across the field and up the village street to find the George and Dragon. Boy was that a good tip. I don't remember when I had a better pint of beer. Church End Fallen Angel in tippy top condition. Yumm. At Market Bosworth tonight we braved a longish walk up hill and found the Old Red Lion which was perfectly OK but not in the same class I'm afraid.
In summary, and so far, I like the Ashby more than I expected to. I've no idea what lies ahead in the final miles up to Snarestone, but I'm looking forward to it.