Thursday, 23 June 2011

Worcester to Braunston

Nick's Canal Planner suggests that from the River Severn at Worcester to the Grand Union at Braunston - via Banbury - should take about 75 hours. With a day to spare and a free pass, I thought I'd see if I could get back to Starcross any quicker by bus!
Via Banbury isn't the most direct or the quickest way even by bus (that would be via Leamington Spa and Rugby) but it was a super ride. Out of the Severn valley at Worcester and then following the Avon through Pershore and Evesham as far as Stratford-upon-Avon, where there was time for lunch on a bench overlooking Bancroft basin.
Bancroft Basin, Stratford Canal
I'd forgotten how pleasant and interesting these towns could be and was sorry that the timetables only allowed a stop of 30 minutes or so at each, although if I'd been driving all I would have seen of them would have been their bypasses.
From Stratford we left the waterways and climbed up to the edge of the Cotswolds at, naturally, "Edge Hill" before dropping down through a series of implausibly pretty villages - each far too affluent to provide many bus passengers - and arriving in Banbury, where the bus drops you right beside the famous cross.
Banbury Cross with its cock horses. No sign of the fair lady!
At Banbury I joined the lengthy route to Rugby via Daventry, which as I hadn't read the timetable fully (not that there was one on display at the terminus) surprised me by taking me over the Oxford Canal at Cropredy, before eventully depositing me at Braunston church from where I could walk along the field path to the canal.

All the buses were modern, clean, comfortable, well-driven and on time! I was also glad to see that at least one of the bus industry's traditional jokes is still alive and kicking: The Evesham to Stratford bus has a tight timetable that requires some spirited driving with a double-decker along hilly and winding roads. At Stratford a female passenger approached the driver as she got off and said "That was a scary run!". "Scary", said the driver, who was obviously waiting for the opportunity, "Scary, You should have been sat where I was missus!"

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