Thursday, 31 July 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wightwick Wednesday 30 July 2014

Set off at 9 30 am to a dull morning, much cooler than of late. A couple of boats had come by from the direction we were heading but nothing from behind. This was a lock free morning and it wasn’t long before we were passing the chemical works, just passed it look to be a refuse treatment centre with a partly turfed roof.DSCF6347

The junction at Hatherton Marina is the entrance to the abandon Hatherton Canal, but there are plans to restore this this. The first  two locks are still in place and I think are used as a dry dock.DSCF6349

Just beyond the junction what looks like a culvert has a very ornate wall.DSCF6353

About a mile before the Fox and Anchor we passed this section of hard edging that has some metal insets for some reason, I don’t know if anyone knows what they are for.DSCF6356

We stopped at the Fox and Anchor pub to crew change the younger grandson for the older one ready for the next couple of days. After the handover in the pub with there mum we were off again on the long lock free summit.

The M54 is undergoing major works and here they are widening both sides of the bridge, A few years ago they would have closed the canal to do this.DSCF6360

It was then that son No.1 took the controls and was quite a bit DSCN0047better than last time he tried, maybe it is due to standing higher using the same stool that I made for his younger brother.DSCN0048

It wasn’t long before we reached the narrows just before Autherley Junction, where he handed control back to me.DSCN0052 Luckily we didn’t meet anything in the narrows and traffic only picked up when we reached Compton Lock. Here I had to contact CaRT once more as the top paddle was part way up and couldn’t be lowered, although there was water coming it, it was still possible to operate the lock and push the bottom gates open.
Limekiln Chandlery use to be just below the lock and was a good source of cheap diesel but not only have they left but the building has been demolished as well.DSCF6372

We decided to moor for the night just above  Wightwick Lock and as the weather had improved during the afternoon we had another BBQ. It was at this point I discovered 10 gallons of water in what is commonly know as the gas locker, in our case its just a storage area. This meant that the spare sack of charcoal is soaked as well as spare ropes, so now everything is piled on the roof while it dries out.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Gailey Tuesday 29 July 2014

Last night dinner was taken on the towing path cooked by my good self but prepared by my better half. I like playing with fire.DSCN0033

This morning we were away at 9 30 Am and the day started well with a boat leaving the first lock just as we arrived and then another arriving just as we left. DSCF6324Most of the morning was like this with George doing a bit of steering standing on the step I made. This meant he could actually see where he was going this time which was an improvement. DSCN0036

Things took a turn for the worst just before Penkridge when we caught up with another boat and no matter how many boats we met or how slow we went he was waiting to go up the next lock.

We stopped above Penkridge lock for lunch and to do a bit of shopping and things got rather busy with boats queuing to go both up and down the lock, far busier than we had seen all day. We waited for a lull and then set off ourselves, again meeting boats in the right places.

There are yards and yards of 48hr visitor moorings below Gailey Lock but still a boat thought it necessary to moor to the second bollard of the lock landing for their cup of tea.DSCF6334

We stopped above the lock to fill with water, we were almost finished when the unmistakable sound of a Bolinder could be heard coming down the cut.DSCF6336

We only went another few hundred yards before mooring for the night as a member of the crew was completely washed out.DSCN0046

Monday, 28 July 2014

Stafford Monday 28 July 2014

Last night we went for a walk at about 9 pm and noticed a mooring space above the lock and before the junction so we wandered back and moved Harnser up. This meant we wouldn’t be in the queues today.

We spent the morning on the boat waiting for my youngest Grandson to arrive. we he tuned up we all went for lunch at the old Lock Cottage where we sat outside by the weir and watched the boats locked up and down. The food was very good and after eating and saying goodbye to his mum and big brother we set off north along the Trent and Mersey for a few hundred yards before turning left onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal.DSCF6288

Here at the bridge a elderly lady was standing looking back at Tixal Wide so I expected to meat a boat, but there wasn’t one. Diana spoke to her and she asked in an American accent if we would lookout for a large red boat, as she had told her husband she was walking ahead but he was a bit forgetful. Just afterDSCF6293 crossing Tixal Wide I was hailed by an American on a Viking Narrowboat and asked if I had seen an old lady as he had lost his mother. They had been walking the bank looking for her thinking she may had fallen in. They had even contacted the police who were searching for her. After we set his mind at rest he sent his son off to find her. At Tixal Lock the police had just arrived so we told them where to find the boat and that we had seen the lady.

We stopped briefly on the Sow Aqueduct so that George could take a look  before passing this sunk boat, it looks as if it may have been a Caracruiser.DSCF6298

Shortly after this there is a nice example of a turnover or roving bridge where the horses could change from one side of the canal to the other without untying the towrope, again we stopped for a closer look and explaining how it all worked.DSCF6299

We carried on to moor opposite the Stafford Boat Club as IDSCF6303 remembered the towpath was wider here and we were planning a BBQ.

George spent a bit of time writing in his Canal and River Explorers book what he had seen today, I picked this up from CaRT at the AWCC rally the other week.DSCF6306

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Great Haywood Sunday 27 July 2014

We actually arrived at the boat at about 11 pm last night but decided not to move until today.

As we were picked up by “Enterprise Car Hire” last week we left in bit of a rush so two things happened.
One
I left the electricity main switches on, which also meant the inverter was running all week. We do have two small solar panels so they saved the day but and the Stirling gauge showed a deficit of 5ah over the week.
Two
I dropped my glasses down between the pontoon and the boat, so I brought a landing net back with me and had a good trawl around without any luck.

A little after 10 we left our berth and headed through the marinaDSCF6273 towards the canal. At the service wharf (extreme left of the photo) was a boat called “third Time Lucky” on the extreme right of the photo there is another boat, also called “Third Time Lucky”.DSCF6274

It was dead on 1030 am when we pulled out of the marina and turned left along the Trent and Mersey canal meeting 10 boats in the first hour. We had just entered Armitage Tunnel when the tenth boat arrived at the end of the narrows so he had to wait. At the long term moorings by the end of the narrows this chap/lady is holding a glass to passing boaters.DSCF6275

We stopped at the Rugeley water point, needless to say there was a boat already there who had just arrived with empty water tanks so we were a little while, but we put the time to good use by both having a shower as the water was now hot and when we filled the tank we replenished it. By the time we had filled our tank another boat had arrived for water so he had to wait a few minutes, turned out he was a Norfolk boy as well. We pushed on and moored by Tesco’s in Rugeley. I had a slight problem with the local Duck population as they wanted to swim around my sternDSCF6279 while I wanted to go backwards. Luckily a boat was leaving as we arrived so we were reasonably close and regardless of what the signs say you can wheel a trolley as far as the bridge. When we were ready to leave the canal was getting busy again and several boats came towards us but few passed going the way we were.

At Taff Wharf, bridge 69 we passed this boat but we were OK forDSCF6282 diesel, but will keep them in mind for our return. I don’t think they can have an engine in it looking how high it is in the water.

Needless to say there was a boat waiting at Colwich Lock so we had to tuck in behind them and wait not only till they had gone up but also until one came down. Then things improved an a boat came into sight as we were leaving the lock so we could leave the gate open, he spent some time blowing his horn, he obviously doesn’t know me because there is no way I would waste energy closing a gate if there was a boat anywhere in the area coming towards my, its one of life’s bonuses.

We carried on after the lock, we were planning to try and moor at the junction but decided to pull in near the Hall for the night at about 4 30 pm. There are loads of vacant moorings along here but its full above the next lock by the junction.

Of all the boats we have met today they were about 50/50 hire and private, but we didn’t see that many boats with school age children on them so not sure what impact school holidays actually have on boating numbers, but for some reason it always seems a lot busier in the holidays, maybe they are all school teachers.map Gt Heywood Today’s Journey some 10 miles and one lock in nice sunshine.

Great Haywood Sunday 27 July 2014

We actually arrived at the boat at about 11 pm last night but decided not to move until today.

As we were picked up by “Enterprise Car Hire” last week we left in bit of a rush so two things happened.
One
I left the electricity main switches on, which also meant the inverter was running all week. We do have two small solar panels so they saved the day but and the Stirling gauge showed a deficit of 5ah over the week.
Two
I dropped my glasses down between the pontoon and the boat, so I brought a landing net back with me and had a good trawl around without any luck.

A little after 10 we left our berth and headed through the marinaDSCF6273 towards the canal. At the service wharf (extreme left of the photo) was a boat called “third Time Lucky” on the extreme right of the photo there is another boat, also called “Third Time Lucky”.DSCF6274

It was dead on 1030 am when we pulled out of the marina and turned left along the Trent and Mersey canal meeting 10 boats in the first hour. We had just entered Armitage Tunnel when the tenth boat arrived at the end of the narrows so he had to wait. At the long term moorings by the end of the narrows this chap/lady is holding a glass to passing boaters.DSCF6275

We stopped at the Rugeley water point, needless to say there was a boat already there who had just arrived with empty water tanks so we were a little while, but we put the time to good use by both having a shower as the water was now hot and when we filled the tank we replenished it. By the time we had filled our tank another boat had arrived for water so he had to wait a few minutes, turned out he was a Norfolk boy as well. We pushed on and moored by Tesco’s in Rugele. I had a slight problem with the local Duck population as they wanted to swim around my sternDSCF6279 while I wanted to go backwards. Luckily a boat was leaving as we arrived so we were reasonably close and regardless of what the signs say you can wheel a trolley as far as the bridge. When we were ready to leave the canal was getting busy again and several boats came towards us but few passed going the way we were.

At Taff Wharf, bridge 69 we passed this boat but we were OK forDSCF6282 diesel, but will keep them in mind for our return. I don’t think they can have an engine in it looking how high it is in the water.

Needless to say there was a boat waiting at Colwich Lock so we had to tuck in behind them and wait not only till they had gone up but also until one came down. Then things improved an a boat came into sight as we were leaving the lock so we could leave the gate open, he spent some time blowing his horn, he obviously doesn’t know me because there is no way I would waste energy closing a gate if there was a boat anywhere in the area coming towards my, its one of life’s bonuses.

We carried on after the lock, we were planning to try and moor at the junction but decided to pull in near the Hall for the night at about 4 30 pm. There are loads of vacant moorings along here but its full above the next lock by the junction.

Of all the boats we have met today they were about 50/50 hire and private, but we didn’t see that many boats with school age children on them so not sure what impact school holidays actually have on boating numbers, but for some reason it always seems a lot busier in the holidays, maybe they are all school teachers.map Gt Heywood Today’s Journey some 10 miles and one lock in nice sunshine.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

King’s Bromley Marina Thursday 17 July 2014

Last night was not a bad mooring other than a couple of small points, the boat ahead housed the local cider king, singing, playing music and watching TV all at the same time, but he went to bed when it got dark and stayed on his own boat. The other was the generator king who ran one of his selection until after midnight when we got to sleep.

We set off this morning at 9-15 AM and met several boats between our mooring and Fradley Junction. Needless to say we met one who wanted to come down the Coventry canal as we came out so we passed on the wrong side giving him an easier line for the swing bridge.
The junction was very quiet with just one boat ahead of us goingDSCF6251 into Middle Lock and one above ready to come down, nothing waiting to come down Shadehouse Lock so we turned that.

At Wood End Lock we caught up with the boat in front and by the time they had cleared it there was one waiting to come down. I had a bit of a problem below the lock, firstly I couldn’t get the bows out of the exit line of the lock even pulling on a rope from the lock moorings, pulling back I got in fine, then when it was my tern to enter the lock I couldn’t push the bows out, when I did get out I could see the end of a 6” square post just under the surface.  Once in the lock I went back with the hook and pulled out a waterlogged post about 4’ long.

Once clear of the lock the traffic was coming thick and fast, I think the tranquillity of the junction this mooring will soon be gone. We must have met at least 6 boats between Wood End and King’s Bromley Marina. Just prior to the marina entrance Ling was moored with a load of sand onboard.DSCF6254

She looked prettier as we approached her with the sun glistening on her paint work.DSCF6252  

On arrival at King’s Bromley Marina we turned in and went to the service pontoon for a pumpout and to pay our dues, this will be Harnser’s home for the next 12 months. We are moored right at the back of the marina so we have to negotiate their bridge toDSCF6255 get into the second basin. So for us today was a very short cruise of only two and a quarter hours , three and a half miles and three locks.

map King's Bromley

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fradley Wednesday 16 July 2014

Last night moorings proved to be better than expected. I was expecting an early call with the flights taking off from East Midlands going overhead, but the wind changed during the night and they came nowhere near us. Last night they had been climbing right overhead.

Two boats went passed a little after nine so we set off at our normal 10 am. Before we left I jammed the contacts of the tunnel light relay so we had a light for Curdworth tunnel, but its so short I need not have bothered.

We passed The Kingsley where we have moored in the past, thisDSCF6221 has not only been vandalised but it looks as if they are building  bedrooms along side it, so next time we are this way it may beDSCF6222 open, that would be a first for us.

We were soon into Curdworth Tunnel, all 57 yards of it, It may be short but it can catch you out with several bulges in the off side wall. The roof is one mass of cobwebs but I didn’t see any spiders drop onto the boat.DSCF6225

As we approached Curdworth top lock we could see a boat just leaving the lock so we eased down, no point in chasing them down, but they were quite slow, even though the lock wheeler was using a bike to travel between locks. Even not setting ahead we were catching them up.

Some of the offside vegetation is really intruding into the navigation channel, I could have got round this on Harnser as we are only 57 ft. but if we were a full length boat going into the lockDSCF6229 this would be the steerer’s view. My bow is just against the top gate.

At lock 4 I spotted this tree growing on the offside well back from the lock on the field boundary, I wonder if her ashes are under the roots.DSCF6233 

We carried on down to the bottom of the flight, stopping for water just below lock 9 and as the locks were now further apart we didn’t see the boat in front any more.
Last time we were this way below the lock they were building a long flood defence wall in concrete and then cladding it with brick. The work now looks to be complete, this is to protect the canal from flood waters originating in the new Kingsbury Water Park that has been created in the old gravel pits and is fed by the River Tame

DSCF6236

A bit further along this stretch of canal BW in their wisdom spent a lot of money attaching sausages made from wire netting filled with sticks, coir and other stuff to the piled edge of the canal to make it more like a river bank with plants growing out of it. It was a complete failure as can be seen these ones still in place.DSCF6238 I wonder how many are, or will be rolling round the bed of the canal waiting to entwine a propeller at some time in the future. It was here that we met our first boat of the day and we had been travelling for 4 hours. We did meet three more boats after that before the Fazeley Junction.DSCF6240

We called in at Fazeley Mill marina and filled with diesel at 79p/lt which I didn’t think was too bad.

Work is ongoing again on the buildings at Fazeley Junction, they seem to stop and start on a regular basis, may be they will get finished this time.DSCF6245 We are still on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal but in places its the Coventry canal, it was all due to a funding issue 200 years ago when they were building it, so today’s problems are nothing new.

As we made our way north we met two young ladies on horseback, I wonder if they know they are not supposed to take horses on the towing path, ironic really as that is what they were built for.DSCF6247 We wanted to get well on as we need to spend a bit of time in the marina office at King’s Bromley tomorrow so we made it bit of a late one, around 6 pm it started to rain, we had already decided not to go as far as Fradley Junction as that tends to be crowded and we probably wouldn’t be able to find a spot where we could reach the bank at this time of day, so we pulled over just before Bridge 90, about a mile from the junction at 1845hrs. After mooring the rain got a bit heavier followed by bright sun and a rainbow.DSCF6249

Today’s Journey 17 miles, 11 lock, 1 Tunnel and 1 Junction.map Fradeley