Blimey, what a difference a day makes. 30 degrees C yesterday and 15 degrees today! Rainy too, but not as much as the met men prophesied. Now the Ashby is a distant memory and we sit here at a damp and dismal Hawkesbury (pump engine side). Never mind, the weather is due to improve again from tomorrow.
Now, one or two more thoughts on the Ashby canal. What a strange little beast it is, sometimes narrow and shallow, sometimes deeper and pretty wide. You get the impression that they started out at the top end with good intentions making a wide, straight and deep enough canal for the coal boats and then ran out of either money, time or energy as they got further south. I wouldn't want to navigate the lower sections with a fully laden coal boat these days. You'd never get through.
Having said all that, the good bits are extremely charming and scenic and apart from the short stint through Hinckley, it all runs through bucolic countryside. One thing they seem to grow a lot of up there is wheat, huge swaithes of it. Somebody will make a good killing this year as I hear grain prices are high. When Kath used to make corn dollies, she had to seek out farmers who grew old strains of wheat in order to get straw long enough. Today the wheat stalks seem incredibly short. Barely a foot high from what we saw.
Occasionally we spotted old mileposts up the canal and at first we were a bit puzzled. Here's one.
As the guide books and canalplan tell us, the Ashby is currently 22 miles long so the numbers don't add up, I thought. Then I realised that the original canal was 30 miles long, the remaining 8 miles being closed off until the happy day someone reinstates it.
There is wildlife aplenty of course and youngster rearing is going full swing with loads of ducklings, goslings, moorhen chicks etc. Even the electricity pylons seem to have babies.
Slow on the uptake again, it took me a while to work out the purpose of the mini pylons. Down at the south end of the canal there are pylon lines going in all directions, presumably spreading out from the big switching station near Hawkesbury. Inevitably I suppose, one line has to cross another, and that's where the mini pylons come in. They allow one set of cables to pass beneath the other. Simples.
I did say I'd try to photograph one of the garden terrace steps then plunge precipitately towards the canal at the mobile home site near the southern end of the Ashby. I commissioned Herbie's official mobile photographer (Kath) to snap one as we pass. Here's what she got.