Wednesday 30 September 2020

Rode Heath


First to reply to a couple of points raised on yesterdays blog. There were a few mooring spots left on the rings at Westport when we passed, we were the first to arrive at the tunnel for today's transit but by 5 pm there were 4 boats waiting and this morning a 5th had turned up.
As correctly pointed out the mile post in the photo was not the one at the tunnel but one I had taken earlier with the writing in better condition.

This morning we woke to rain, the first this trip, how much different to yesterday when the sun was shining and temperatures actually peaked at 20° C.  About twenty past eight there was a knock on the boat, it was the tunnel keeper who wanted to know if we were ready, we could get an early start and by eight thirty we were on our way. We were first in and I pulled well away from the following boat, in fact we had passed the 1100 Mtr. mark before the fans came on. I must say they were most welcome as the tunnel was getting quite warm, the mist cloud it produced hit me like a wall, it must be a bit disconcerting for people who are not aware that will be happening. By 9AM we were back out in the rain in the rich brown water of the northern summit. As we approached Hardings Wood Junction I could see a boat emerging from the off side chamber of Plants Lock, so a quick pip on the horn and a wave had the top gate left open ready for us. Once through the lock we pulled over and moored up so that we could visit Tesco for a few odds and ends, like food. Back onboard the rain had eased while we were shopping, In the next few months there should be a brand new Lidl just behind the Canal Tavern, a bit closer to the canal than Tesco. We set off down the locks and met a Volockie at Red Bull where we waited for a boat coming up, the Volockie accompanied them as they were short of time for an 1130 tunnel booking. Its good to see that C&RT are at last repairing one of the paired locks up here, I think it was Yew Tree Lock N0.44

We were now following two other boats but the one directly in front was catching up to the one ahead. So when we came up behind three boats at Church Top Lock in the rain we decided it was time to pull over for lunch. May as well be stopped in the dry as standing holding a boat. Lunch wasn’t quite what was expected, the bread maker went wrong and the kneading paddle continued kneading all the way through the program so the bottom half of the loaf was a hollow blob, the loaf was round as it was rotating in the tin as it cooked. We still ate it with the homemade soup.

After a bit of a lull in the passing traffic a boat came up the flight and the rain eased so we set off,  only to find the first lock against us and a hire boat sitting on the off side between the two disused locks below so the afternoon was spent following them. Our planned stop for the night was Rode Heath, but all the moorings were taken so we reversed back from the winding hole through the bridge to moor on a nice straight, deep section about 150 yard south of bridge 140.

Today has been a day for thing not going quite right, it rained most of the day, the bread maker went wrong, the shove wouldn’t light, Memory Maps only recorded details of a third of our travels, the moorings were all taken in Rode Heath and the Mifi battery went flat, even though its on charge.



Today's Journey 

5.25 miles, 12 locks 4.75 in hours.

Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/


All of the above is my personal opinion and does not represent
 those of any official body or notices.
All comments made to this blog are checked for spam before
being accepted any made anonymously are accepted but if you
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Tuesday 29 September 2020

Harecastle Tunnel

Well we had a little bit of excitement today, as we approached bridge 108 a boat was coming the other way, it was debatable whose bridge it was  but then he pulled over to moor, there are a couple of mooring rings there because that is where the Oat Cake boat moors for the football fans. By the time we were sliding past they had crew ashore bow and stern and we heard a splash at the stern, as I fared the chap had fallen in, how I don’t know as he had the rope through the ring, we stopped to offer assistance but by then he was on the towpath spluttering and shivering. he had dropped his phone so he was going back in to get it. His wife said he is wet so he may as well. The water came up too his chest and he was shivering and hyperventilating, the wife explained it was an expensive phone, I asked if it was worth more than her husband and just claim on the insurance but he dived under and came up spluttering and coughing even more, we dragged him out but he insisted in going in again, same result, under for 5 to 10 seconds out spluttering, coughing and hyperventilating and we dragged him out again, we dragged him out 3 times and each time I urged him not to go back in. I thought he was going into the boat for a shower and left them, but when I looked back he was in again.

There is a rather interesting section in Stoke on Trent where they not only have moorings with loads of cruisers but they also have a shooting range and do line dancing.

One of the few Narrow boats moored there is now supporting quite a healthy growth of plants.

We arrived at Stoke bottom lock to find it half full so Diana turned it, minutes later a boater turned up to come down. Several of the Stoke Locks have quite a good leak rate.

Above one of the locks there was some unusual graffiti on the brick wall, a flock of Swallows.

Once we cleared the top lock I reversed down the Caldon to see Mr. Brindley, well actually I went for water but there is a statue of him almost opposite the services, not the slowest tap on the system but we did have time for bacon butties while the tank filled.

With that taken care of it was off to Harecastle tunnel for the night, as we left Etruria Junction this blond was sat by her shed supping her wine while her son was fishing, I didn’t dally because I could see her boy friend coming round the shed.

Opposite the old Burslem port junction some chaps were cutting down saplings and feeding them through a shredder, the shredder was firing it straight over the boundary fence.

Arriving at the tunnel we were greeted by these signs, I am not sure if boats can catch or pass on Corona Virus so not sure why its felt necessary to keep them apart, there is no other requirement for this at any other C&RT mooring I have visited.

All the way along the Trent and Mersey canal there is a milepost every mile indicating the distance to Shardlow and Preston Brook 

  At one time there was a path across the top of the tunnel and there was a milepost on this path, as the path is long gone a replica milepost is located at the tunnel mouth.


Today's Journey 

8.5 miles, 5 locks 4.25 in hours.

  Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Monday 28 September 2020


Well autumn is certainly on its way, just under 1°C last night and the soup on the stove this morning ready for lunch, I am glad we didn’t turn the stove off last night. This morning although it was actually colder than the last two days felt much more pleasant as the wind died away to nothing overnight as can be seen from the smoke rising from this chimney.

Last year when we came through there were some nice raised bed gardens by Meaford Lock, it doesn’t look as if they have been touched since then which is a shame as someone put a lot of effort into it early on in its life.

The canal looked very tranquil with no wind and sharp reflections and it was nice I didn’t even have a coat on.
I am glad this chap is keeping abreast of things and wearing his face covering, although I don't think it is really necessary on a canal bank out in the open with just your dog for company.

It was quite a short day for us as we have to time it to make our booked passage through Harecastle tunnel, Tuesday morning would have been a bight tight so we plan to moor at the tunnel tomorrow night.



Today's Journey

5.5 miles, 5 locks 3 in hours.

  Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/


All of the above is my personal opinion and does not represent
 those of any official body or notices.
All comments made to this blog are checked for spam before
being accepted any made anonymously are accepted but if you
leave a name I could say thanks.



Sunday 27 September 2020


We waited for a lull in the traffic before setting of at 10 this morning, again it was sunny but the breeze quite cool.
As we approached the visitor moorings at Western it was obvious that we had made the right decision stopping opposite the Wharf last night, as all the available moorings were taken, the number of moorings is limited at the moment by bank repair work being carried out by Rother.

Just through the bridge there were a load of Canada geese in the canal, as we approached they took of and flew about 150 yard down the canal before landing. The photographer (he had a proper camera, not like mine) standing on the towpath was dead lucky as he got a photo of them flying straight towards him before they landed on an off side field due to the slight bend.

I think this is one of the prettiest bridges on the system and thankfully doesn’t look to have been damaged since C&RT installed the off side fendering, the other side isn’t quite so smart. 

 I couldn’t resist photographing these Belted Galloways some with calves, we saw several others as we made or way north along the canal.

Sometimes you see something so beautiful on the canal you just have to photograph it, if I thought for one minute I would look after it properly I would buy something like it.We continued into Stone, hoping to moor in town, but I guess people were out and staying the weekend.
Joules Brewery have bought the land between the old Joules brewery building and Canal Cruising the oldest canal boat hire company still in the same family and have built among other things a new Tap House, I cant say I am over keen on the rustysteel but I think the rest is rather grand. It was only a steel frame last time we passed.(see this blog last year)
We pushed on past the site of Stone Chandlery who closed down last year but they still run the moorings and make Calorifiers. The pound above the next lock was quite low so we kept well to the middle, not somewhere to moor overnight, but the level above Lime Kiln lock was fine and we dropped onto the 48 hour moorings opposite Roger Fullers yard.

Todays Journey 8 miles, 6 locks in 4 hours.

  Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Saturday 26 September 2020

Weston Wharf

We woke to a bright sunny morning, even if it was only 13°C inside the boat and outside it had dropped to 4.7° sometime during the night. There were several boats passing in each direction before we set off at about 10 AM. Its some time since we have been this way and what was just a muddy field with holes is now landscaped with houses.

 After this we were straight into a fishing match, must say I have never met such a cheerful bunch of anglers, no black looks but friendly hello’s. We struck lucky with Armitage tunnel, we had just cleared the bridge as a boat arrived at the far end, a couple of minutes later he would have been in the narrows and I would have been backing out. Coming into Rugeley there are a couple of houses on the offside that keep birds of prey, today one was out on the lawn sunning its self. 

Not a very good snap but the sun was bright.

Every time I have been this way in the past I have photographed a leaning shed, getting worse each time, well now its gone. 

We stopped in Rugeley to get some batteries for the clock and torch in Morisons. With the one way checkout queue down one isle I decided to use the self checkout as we only had 2 items, I only had to call the assistant twice to help me.
 I then tried to find the very good hardware shop but was unlucky, maybe I have forgotten where it was or maybe its closed down. 
Back to the boat and we were on our way. One thing I didn’t expect was all the moored boats north of bridge 67, never seen it like that before. The boat ahead of us stopped to let a day boat come through from the other direction so I had to stop just clear of the bridge and collected the remains of a rope fender round the prop that I had to stop and remove. This house in Rugeley is really going to town with its manikins,
I thing they are in competition with Charity Dock, they even have one on top of their boat. At one time just north of Rugeley at  Taft Bridge there use to be a working boat called Dexta that sold diesel, she is now out of the water and had a full length steel cabin fitted.
At Colwich one of the houses has had a tree stump carved to represent a woodpecker, they have even cut a hole through the top of the stump where its pecking.

There was one boat going up and one waiting when we arrived at Colwich Lock, The lock is now easier to operate than I ever remember and not that slow. There were plenty of moorings below Gt Hayward lock, even a fender maker working away and selling his wares, but above the lock it was full all the way past the garden centre/farm shop/cafĂ©. We carried on to Hoo Mill lock where we had to wait for a boat coming down. Above the lock there is a long row of long term moorings and at the very far end of the moorings I spotted these Alpacas or are the Lama? I don’t know.By now it was turning cool and the breeze picking up, not like yesterday where I recorded a gust of 49 Km/h so we started to look for somewhere to moor, both the spots we had in mind were occupied so we carried on up Western Lock and moored opposite Weston Wharf for the night the home of Canal and River Services.

Todays Journey 14.5 miles, 4 locks in  6 hours.

Map courtesy of Waterway Routes  https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Friday 25 September 2020


We last nights dinner was a Chinese Takeaway from “The Peninsular” A set meal for 3 will feed us both 3 times and it even tasted good.

This morning we were away about half ten planning to stop at Fradley Junction but you know what happens to our plans. Just as we came through the bridge by the school at Hopwas a boat pulled out in front of us from the moorings, you could see he thought twice about it, but he was to far gone when we came through the bridge. It wouldn’t been so bad if his top speed had been over 2.5 MPH, we followed him over a couple of miles until he pulled in and let us pass at Tamhorn Farm winding hole.

There was rather an interesting smell as we made our way along the canal, it turned out to be whatever has been stored in this long polly roll for the past year or so, it wasn’t an unpleasant smell.

Passing through Wittington we passed this brightly painted boat, quite a work of art.

The weather by now was windy which took the warmth off the bright sun and blue sky, but it wasn’t raining,  there were several boats on the move without too much problem. Orchard Marina have some nice new signs by their marina entrance, its a pity they don’t advertise their diesel prices out side.

We did stop at Fradley junction, but only to fill with water. As it was such a nice day we decided to do the two locks, at  Shade House lock we met the ex working boat Shad who is on  her way to have some maintenance work done on her, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her at Alvecote when we get back. It was now a case of finding a nice mooring for the night, I hoped to get in above Woodend Lock but there was a boat there already so we carried on the the piling at Tuppenhurst bend. Just above Woodend Lock on the offside is a compound for HS2 with all its fencing

Todays Journey 16.4 miles, 3 locks in 6 hours

  Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/ 

Thursday 24 September 2020

Fazeley Junction

Well we finally got away but not everything went smoothly and it still isn’t. To start with my phone wouldn’t talk to Tom Tom, I played for ages before using Diana’s phone which chatted straight away, the problem with this is she is on PATG and I have a data plan. I was about to reverse off the drive when she said “Have you got your computer and the Ipad?” No. So unlock the house and go and fetch it. Right we are off. Once on the A14 we were away, this must be one of the all time best traffic improvement systems. Things went well until the M6 when we hit torrential rain, everything down to about 30MPH. When we arrived at the boat it was bright sunshine, we even managed to park the car by the boat, a first. Everything unloaded and we had lunch, so it decided it would rain again. Once it stopped we dropped the ropes, but we didn’t get far, less than 10 feet and we came to a standstill, down the weed hatch and removed a small blanket from the prop, try again and we get about half a boats length, this time it stopped the propeller turning. I just managed to hook the end of the pontoon with my boat hook. This time it was a large lump of rubber sheeting, about 2.5 mm thick. With the aid of a Stanley knife it was removed in three bits, thankfully the water is still nice and warm.

So 25 minutes latter and we are off, turning left out of the marina and heading towards Glascote Locks. As we arrive a boat was about to come out of the top lock towards us, even better there was one below waiting to come in. By the time we reached the bottom lock there was a third boat coming up so when he left we were straight into that one as well. We pulled in at Fazeley to take on water but found that even after running it for several minutes it was still quite warm, so we gave that one a miss, moving forwards a few meters onto the visitor moorings. 
To cap it all this is the second time I have written all this as Google wont let me sign on to Open Live Writer and I lost it all

Todays Journey  4.4 miles, 2 locks in 2.25  Hours

  Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Monday 7 September 2020


Last nights diner came from Peninsular Cantonese Restaurant in Fazeley and I think we both agreed its the best oriental takeaway we have ever had. This morning we pushed off a little before 10 am just as it started to rain. This carried on until we reached Glascote locks where there was but of a queue. one waiting to go up and two in the pound above  which was a bit down. The boat ahead had the sense to wait until there was only one in the pound above and the top lock was drawn, this was more important for the boat following us as he was quite deep, so he locked up slowly while we cleared the top lock and turned it to give him a full pound. Once clear of the locks we met a steady stream coming towards up, while 5 boats locked up, nothing turned up to go down. We had a steady run to our marina where we found we have two new neighbours, Matt from the other side of the pontoon has gone and their is a boat in the same slot as us. With the reduced space I had bout 3” to spare reversing in. Next time I will turn and reverse down and into the slot. A quick bite of lunch and packed up we were away bat 1-30 pm and home by 5pm.

Todays Journey 4.5 miles, 2 locks in 2.25 Hrs.map 36

Here is a list of the canals we have cruised on this trip doing some  334 locks, travelling for 165 hours and covering almost 320 miles, we were away for 36 days. We spent quite a bit of time on the BCN as can be seen by this map.full journey
Coventry Canal
Birmingham and Fazeley canal
Birmingham and Fazeley Digbeth Branch
Tame Valley Canal
Rushall Canal
BCN Daw End Branch
Wyrley and Essington Canal
BCN Main Line Wolverhampton Level
BCN Bradley Arm or Wednesbury Oak Loop
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal
Stourbridge Canal
Stourbridge Town Arm
Stourbridge Extension Canal
Fens Branch
Dudley No.2 Canal
BCN Netherton Tunnel Branch
BCN New main Line
BCN Old Main Line
BCN Gower Branch
BCN Spon Lane Branch
BCN Titford Canal
River Severn
Droitwich Barge Canal
Droitwich Junction Canal
Worcester and Birmingham Canal
BCN Icknield Port Look
BCN Soho Loop
BCN Soho Branch
BCN Oozells Street Loop
BCN Old Wednesbury Canal
BCN Walsall Canal
BCN Walsall Town Arm
Grand Union
Grand Union Digbeth Branch

Sunday 6 September 2020


A good choice of mooring last night, the land rises between where we moored and the motorway so is much quieter than down by The Dog and Doublet where you can see the cars going along the M6. The first boat went past at 8 30am so don’t know what time they left the top of Curdworth locks. A second boat came by shortly before we were ready to leave, well their lock wheeler did, setting well ahead, as a boat coming up arrived at the lock before the one locking down was through and had to wait. We left it for a bit before setting off, but didn’t meet any boats so the locks were against us again. It looked like a car boot sale was taking place a few fields away.DSCF4222
We plodded on passing a couple of boats still moored up that we had seen earlier in the week. We passed another brick hut beside lock 5, this one hasDSCF4223 both roof and chimney abut is free standing. until a few years ago there was one by lock 4 but it has slowly disappeared. There is a water point a little further down on the offside just above the long term moorings, but for some reason passing boaters are not allowed to dispose for their rubbish there andDSCF4224 the bins are only for the long term moorers which seems strange, as there is a nice compound and loads of access room for skip lorries.
At lock 10 we were watched by 2 gents and their children, one of them had an interesting mode of DSCF4227transport for himself and the kids. A three wheel trike with a box on the front.  At the bottom lock Diana had problems opening the gate, she had the same problem when we came up and the same householder helped her with it. even better he closed up for us and dropped the offside paddle, well there is only one working still. We carried on down to Fazeley Mill Marina were we topped up with diesel before heading to the junction to moor for the night.

Todays Journey 5 miles, 4 locks in 3 hours.map 35Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/