Walking the Lapworth Flight

Page published 2 February 2015

This page originally appeared as a blog post published 24 March 2012.

Go to TopKenilworth Castle

It had been a while since our last excursion with Elizabeth and Kevin. You'll recall that last October I posted how The plan had gone wrong. Then the planned joint canoe trip couldn't take place as all the local hire boat places had shut down for the winter. Diana and I again thought about trying to hire a canoe but, as it was still before Easter decided that it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle - and as, this time, their visit was to be to Kenilworth and we were neither sure how interesting the water would be, nor how warm the weather, we decided to abandon that idea.

Kenilworth CastleWe'd planned to take Elizabeth and Kevin to the magnificent Kenilworth Castle

Instead, we decided to take them on the short walk to the magnificent Kenilworth Castle in the morning where we could have some lunch. Then, in the afternoon, we could revisit some of the Canal towpaths we had walked in April last year with Sylvia. In fact, the weather turned out so much better than we might dared to hope for.

Lunch at Kenilworth CastleLunch at The Stables Tea Room with Elizabeth and Kevin consisted of some excellent

home made soup with granary bread. Delicious!

Go to TopLapworth Flight

With the tour of the castle and lunch completed we returned to the flat to pick up the car and set off for the Lapworth Flight. It just seemed a shame that we were not to be out on the water.

As before, we parked in the car park at the rear of the Boot Inn and proceeded to the little shop by Lock 14. The cap Diana had bought me at the shop last year had been relegated to garden use only. It was now salt stained and badly faded after a season's hard use on the boat. I was hoping to buy a replacement. However, there were none of the baseball cap I was hoping for in stock. The only alternative were those that were more fitting for a Cruise Liner captain - all white, gold braid and complete with plastic anchor. Not what I was looking for! However, there were ice creams and we each bought one as we made our way out of the shop and on to the nearby bridge.

Lock 14 - Lapworth FlightAt least on this trip I managed to take a photograph of a Stratford Canal bridge that included the famous slot in the middle designed for the tow rope to pass through.

This time I made sure to include one photograph of the famous slotted walkway that you see on Stratford Upon Avon Canal bridges. What I didn't notice until I got home and compared this year's pictures with those of last year was how much different a month makes. Last year, towards the end of April, all the trees were in full leave. This year's pictures showed them all almost completely bare.

Below Lock 14 - Lapworth flightLooking back at the pipe bridge just below Lock 14.

We walked the next half mile in the shade of the tall trees that line the towpath.

There's clearly been a lot of maintenance work done on the flight over the last few years. I felt I really should have looked up a little more about the history of the flight. I wanted to know whether the flight might have been constructed with dualling in mind. On balance, however, I felt it was more likely that the extremely short pounds between locks needed to allow for surplus water to be stored rather than shot over the by-washes and this would account for the side pounds.

Lapworth FlightOne of the side pounds a couple of locks below where our walk started. Apart from the fact that it's exceptionally

wide, it could be taken for an abandoned dualled lock.

Once the towpath turned south and into the sun I picked a slightly different angle to last year to take a view of the triangular island. I should have known better. Last year's picture worked far better. With the trees in leaf there was far less contrast and the correct exposure was much easier to achieve. Something seemed to go wrong with my focusing too!

Go to TopKingswood Junction

Kingswood JunctionKingswood Junction and not a photograph I should have let you see. It's one I should have consigned to the bin!

On the other hand, it proved the ideal venue from which to take a portrait of Elizabeth. I have it in mind to use on the web site I am supposed to be putting together for her.

Elizabeth CarterElizabeth Fitzgerald Carter [artist - west norfolk] or so the headline on the site should run

and here she is sketching the scene.

Last year, one of the things I hadn't noticed that I'd caught on camera until I got home and examined my photographs was a child using one of the recorded guides. (You use the standard windlass that all boaters will have to turn a peg which drives playback of the record.) The special yellow posts with the recordings are scattered around the site. However, one thing I did realise I'd missed as soon as we'd got back to the car was the opportunity of photographing some of the small information plaques with that perform a similar function to the audio guides. This time I did not forget.

Information Board"Who chose a rounded roof?"

Just one of the many yellow plaques that are found around the Kingswood Junction site.

Last year we crossed the canal at the lock by the British Waterways yard to reach the island at the centre of the junction. This time we walked on as I wanted a good view of the lock keepers cottage and its unusual roof. Having just taken the plaque that described it I realised that I had the opportunity to take a shot directly through the cutting and footbridge towards the Grand Union. By chance we were there just at the tight time to catch the sun illuminating the steel sides of the railway bridge and the brick arch beyond at the far end of the arm that connects to the Grand Union Canal.

Go to TopGrand Union Link

Grand Union LinkWith just enough shade on the brickwork to the right to add a pleasant contrast to the rest of the sunlit scene,

I was pleased with this image.

The foreshortening effect of the telephoto lens in the shot is dramatic. I would defy anyone to guess that the footbridge is at the far end of a fifty foot brick lined cutting and the rail bridge is another 120 yards further on with the brick arch in the distance 80 yards beyond that.

Lapworth Flight CottageThe classic Stratford Canal lock keepers cottage. I believe it is let as a holiday cottage, these days.

Once beyond the we walked on to Lock 22 and crossed the canal there, but not before I spotted a squirrel in the large tree. Once on the other side we worked our way round the back of the cottage and out onto the towpath on the south side of the arm leading to the Grand Union Canal.

SquirrelThe squirrel spotted in the large tree to the south of Lock 22, which obliging stopped to preen his face.

As we walked that stretch, we talked of the boats we were passing. There were all kinds from wrecks on the point of sinking to near-new unfinished projects. The one that really caught my eye was the last in the cut. Still in the same red oxide finish it had been in last year, I recalled how, rather than the wreck that Sylvia took it to be, it was in reality a high quality part-finished shell, that no doubt would make a superb and expensive craft when finished.

Unfinished TugThe half finished tug boat that last year looked in much the same state as it did now. However, this time, it displayed a "For Sale" sign in its back cabin porthole.

The big difference in the boat this year was the "For Sale" sign. It seemed such a shame that someone should have given up on it. The boat was not to my taste. I cannot see the point of tug boats with huge steel foredeck for modern domestic use. To me such a design just adds expense for the sake of it, producing an excess of awkward to use storage space under the deck, and while the space on top may be good for partying, that is almost all its good for. Give me additional cabin space any day!

However, I could appreciate this particular boat's features - all of which add cost and most only offering aesthetic benefits. Why finish the deck with mock planking? It can only add cost. I know welded-on buttons may make the boat look like a riveted iron vessel, but we all know it's not, and it just adds cost, as does the double curvature of the Josher bow. The indented panels to the aft of the cabin are a feature of a wooden boat. On a steel cabin they just add cost, as the additional strength it supplies is completely unnecessary. The various scroll work and cants do little but add cost too. It's such a shame that someone with such deep pockets should not be able to complete the project. It really does make you wonder if some people have more money than sense. If you can afford a shell of such quality, how come you can't afford to have it finished professionally?

With a few more steps we were through the arch of the bridge and able to see a Grand Union Canal completely devoid of traffic to north and south. With that achieved we returned to the main junction.

Lock Gates - LapworthI took one last photo on the return to Lock 14. From this angle it can be seen that the locks are not quite in as good a condition as I had thought walking down the flight.

This time we crossed to the island and made our way back to the Lapworth flight via Lock 21. The return was without incident and we were soon back at the car - my second trip to Lapworth complete. It certainly is a pleasant area to walk about in and I guess would become quite busy in the height of the season. We had met very few people today. I expect that, as last, year, it will be a lot busier in a month's time.

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