I’m not saying that the English are nationalistic, but I have seen more footage of spitfires and Coventry burning in the Blitz than I have seen in rest of my life put together.
For those of you that are sadly not totally bike obsessed, you may not realise that the Tour of Britain started on Saturday (Sept.11). This is UCI 2.1 event, (or you may find it easier to visualise it as Tantalum in the Periodic Table of Professional Cycling).
Unfortunately the caravan does not pass through, or anywhere near, Kenilworth. I am forced to enact my own Tour of Britain…..
In the interests of brevity I’ll roll the past couple of weeks of exploring into a single post.
First I’ll need to fit my bike with extra coffee carrying capabilities.
Let’s head south. England turns out to be a really nice place to ride a bike, if you follow the simple rule of never getting on a road that has a number.
Then it looks like this.
instead of this:
You don’t get anywhere very fast as these roads are never straight, but meander all over.
You can’t really see the trees for the woods, but if you get an isolated oak:
it can be huge:
This is Hatton locks, a series of 21 locks, part of the Grand Union canal.
I learn from the interpretive trail that it was called the “Stairway to Heaven” when built in the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in HP sauce being brought to the outside world.
Suddenly I notice a “bustle in a hedgerow”, and I “become alarmed now”.
My spine starts tingling. Surely it couldn’t be….
I quickly check the lyrics on my imaginary iPhone and am relieved find that “its just a spring clean for the May Queen”.
But then I also read:
“…there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change
The road you’re on ..”
“…and as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know…”
Clearly I am ghosting the route of some demented bike ride Led Zeppelin made in the 70s.
Back to the locks. How do they work? At first I thought there must be a “Lockmaster” (or “LockTroll”), but its all DIY, you just need the right spanner.
I tried writing down the actual steps here…. but, lets just say its complicated and involves a lots of walking.
It great that these canals have been resurrected to provide homes for vagrants and transport from as far as Grimsby.
(HP sauce has found alternative routes to the outside world)
I can see an opportunity for the system to go green. Do away with the diesel motors and use fat-type bikes to haul the boats along the horse path along the side.
Lets see where the trail goes.
Past an unemployed horse:
The bridges over the canal are charming,..
..as are the tunnels. This one is 400m long:
How did the horses pull the barges through the tunnels? The strange thing is that I can’t find the other end. It disappears.
I find it some miles (as in some “1.6 kilometers”) later up in the air in this earth aqueduct,
I leave the canal, to check out a National Trust holding. The driveway is impressive:
But for all for this?
Swing back past Kenilworth:
And on to Rugby. The pub:
the holy turf behind closed gates:
Swing back down south past another manor:
And another, this one with cool wild pig gate:
On to Stratford. Here is the police station.
Bank holiday weekend, the place is packed;
Amateurs in the park doing a 3 minute Macbeth (I think)
Amazing new “Courtyard Theatre” looks like a giant shipping container out of Dr Who, yet totally in place.
The bards burial place:
I’m done, time to go home.