Walking the Hatton and Lapworth Flights

Page published 9 February 2015

This tale of Easter Monday, 25 April 2011, was originally posted to my blog. I've moved it here and added a few captions to the images as I have decided it's worthy of appearing on a conventional web page.

Go to TopTime off from Boat Refurbishment

I've been distracted from the refurbishment of Just 17 once again. First, Diana bought a new table and chairs on which she hopes to have breakfast al fresco, so there was a patio to re-lay and double in size. Then there is Easter, spent in Kenilworth, and Kenilworth just happens to be near some excellent areas for Canal Walking which is why I took my old canal guides with me - and no, Julia Bradbury's new TV series has nothing to do with it!

It started by way of a detour on the way from Oakham to Kenilworth on Easter Saturday. Diana and I had a brief walk round Market Harborough's Canal Basin and then moved on to Foxton Locks. Although the weather was glorious I took no pictures there.

Diana and Sylvia in the garden at The WatermanEating lunch at the Waterman. In the background is Lock 43 on the Grand Union Main Line.

Easter Monday was a sunny and warm day. I went with Diana and her sister to "The Waterman" the pub close to the top lock on the Hatton flight and bought lunch from the barbecue being cooked in the large pub garden. On high ground overlooking the flight, you can understand why it's a popular venue.

Go to TopThe Hatton Flight

Gongoozlers on the Hatton Flight

The short pound above Lock 43, with plenty of traffic on the canal people about in the glorious sunshine.

The first lock you come to at the bottom of the garden is one where Diana and other family members had had a photograph taken a year or two ago. However, great debate ensued in our little party as the photo was remembered as being taken only at the end of a long walk.

We walked up to the top lock, where the café there was packed with customers, and then returned to go down the flight. Debate still raged about whether that first lock was the one where the photograph was taken!

In the distance: St Mary's Church Warwick

St Mary's church can be seen in the distance. It can't be chance that the canal is so well aligned with it.

Walking down the flight the most prominent feature is the distant tower of St Mary's Church in the centre of Warwick. Sylvia began to suffer. Her shoes were giving her trouble, so we barely got beyond the second lock down the flight before we decided to turn back to the pub and the car.

Go to TopThe Lapworth Flight

We moved on to the Lapworth flight which is only a ten minute drive from the Waterman, and parked at the back The Boot Inn. We'd been talking about ice creams at Hatton and found them in the small shop that you find by Lock 14. I was also bought a new cap by Diana. I turned down those marked "Skipper", "First Mate" and "Bosun", in favour of "Crew".

From the shop it's only a short walk down the flight to the intriguing island at the junction of the Stratford-on-Avon and Grand Union Canals. Luckily, Sylvia's shoes seemed to give less trouble on this flight.

Locking up at Lock 16 on the Lapworth Flight

On the Lapworth Flight. For many Easter is the start of the season and it's
understandable that there was plenty of traffic on the canal.

The Stratford Canal is a "narrow" canal, meaning the locks are only seven feet wide, rather than the fourteen feet of the Grand Union at Hatton. It is famous for two particular features. The first are the split bridges. These are in effect two short piers that don't quite meet in the middle. The small small gap was designed to allow the tow rope of the original horse drawn boats to pass through without needing to untie the horse. The second feature is the unusual barrel shaped roofs of the lock keeper's cottages.

The distinctive bridges on the Stratford Canal

The island formed by the complex junction at the "Lapworth Link"
where the Stratford-On-Avon Canal meets the Grand Union Canal.

The Barrel shaped roofs of the Lock Keepers Cottages

One of the famous barrel-roofed cottages which are one of the trademark features of the Stratford-On-Avon canal.

I didn't realise what the small girl was being encouraged to do when I took the photograph of the cottage. It turned out that at various points round the flight there are a number of yellow posts. Each has a square pin protruding, designed to be turned by a standard lock windlass. When turned a recording plays which acts as a guide to some feature or character connected with the history of the canal.

We walked across to the island at the triangular junction that leads to the short cut that joins the Stratford to the Grand Union to stare up and down what was, when it was built the canal equivalent of the M1 and M6 motorways between London and Birmingham.

On the Island at the Lapworth Link

On the Lapworth Island, looking back towards the rest of the Lapworth Locks.

I acted the canal geek, explaining to Sylvia the various expensive features in a narrowboat shell that was being finished and fitted out on a mooring on the opposite bank which she had dismissed, initially, as being a bit of a wreck.

Looking up the Lapworth Flight from Bridge 33

Standing on Bridge 33, looking down on Lock 14.
The top of the flight is at Lock 2, so there's still a good climb ahead for both boaters and canal walkers.

Having walked as far as the Grand Union we returned to the car and made our way home. It had been a really pleasant day, and quite made me yearn to have a boat on the canals as well as my little yacht on the Broads!

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