Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Atherstone, a Charming Georgian Town.

Wednesday 25th September, 2013 in Atherstone.
A cloudy morning gave way to a warm, rather humid afternoon. As we set off towards Atherstone, we caught a glimpse of the gold monolith on top of its green "pyramid". It certainly looks incongruous in the Warwickshire countyside. Its shape is supposed to be beech leaves stacked one on top of the other, but you could only see that if you were standing above it. Perhaps its Warwickshire's answer to the Nazca Lines - it can only be appreciated by the gods above?
Eleven locks took us up into the centre of Atherstone. It is an attractive flight of locks with interesting side ponds, which are no longer used and there are no plans to bring them back into use. Their sides are quite high, so in one of them, someone had provided a ramp for ducklings and baby moorhens to be able to get out.
Despite the fact that they will never be used again, the Canal and River Trust is spending money to clear them - obviously this is more important than spending money to fix leaking lock gates! They were all full of weeds:
But now they are being cleared. Not sure that they didn't look nicer full of weeds!
On the way, we passed two more Kingsground boats. Nb "Ataraxia" was KG's fifth ever build, so certainly the oldest one that we have seen thus far. Still looking good, though!
Shortly after, as M was helping a couple going the other way through the lock, she saw that theirs too was a KG boat, none other than "Reflections", which we had seen for sale in Braunston Marina in June. They had bought her a week previously and were taking her home. They said they were thrilled with her and were even more so when M described KG's proud history of boatbuilding and how highly KG boats are valued. They went off beaming! How nice!
Our late afternoon walk was a stroll around Atherstone. Again, how glad we were that we'd made the effort. What a gem of a small Georgian town with its wealth of charming old buildings and a delightful cobbled market square by the church with its unusual octagonal tower.
The town used to be a centre of felt hat making, although now there are no hatters left except in the names of streets and pubs.  Curiously, the abolition of slavery in the sugar plantations caused a massive decline in the industry; previously supplying felt hats to the workers in the plantations had been a major source of business.  However, the industry managed to carry on until only recently.
One lesson that we have learnt along our travels is that there is not only a wealth of discoveries to be made along the waterways, there is also so much of interest just a short walk away.
Today: 6 miles, 11 locks and 4.8 hours.
Trip: 427 miles, 327 locks and 363.1 hours.

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