Monday 29 May 2023

Home moorings (Hotel California)

We set of to a fine, sunny morning but with a very cool breeze and we met boats regularly all day, several in bridge holes. As we got to Streethay HS2 had all their plant lined up ready for tomorrow morning.DSCF8078

They have also moved on quite a bit since we passed on our outward trip.DSCF8079

Yesterday I mentioned the boat with the extra long rope fenders who moors just below the lock, these are how they are supposed to be fitted, it would bother me they might catch something.DSCF8080

I know they say bad weather is coming if the cows are all laying down together, but I am not sure what sheep doing it signifiesDSCF8082

The housing estate just before Fazeley is really making head way, they build the wooded internal framing first, cover it with a damp proof membrane, add the roof and then brick up the outside, a system that has been used on Scotland for over 50 years.DSCF8083
It was quite slow going from here as there were three boats ahead  and we met several plus moored boats.  At Fazeley Junction the boat ahead of us joined the queue for the water point, we turned right to go to Fazeley Mill Marina for a pumpout, when we arrived they were still closed for lunch and thankfully no one was on the services so we slid in backwards to wait the arrival of the afternoon staff, once that was sorted and we bought a couple of ice creams, well it was much warmer now, we headed back the Fazeley Junction and arrived just as the boat we had followed early finally got to the water point. We turned right and headed to Glascote Locks which were both against us with a boat having just gone up the first lock and no one coming down. Rather than moor in this area for the night we carried on to spend the night in the marina, on the way we passed a tree that was part way across the canal, fallen from the offside but plenty of room to get through.DSCF8085

We also passed this boat with knitted mushroom vent covers, I guess it saves polishing them, not that I ever polish ours.

DSCF8086 DSCF8087

When we arrived at the marina the wind had freshened a bit, but was in the idle direction to just slowly swing my bow to port as I reversed down and into our slot.

Todays Journeyimage14¼ miles, 2 locks in 6½ hours.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Fradley village

Yesterday evening we took a little walk up the “Bloody Steps” CRT have just erected a new information board about it.DSCF8062

Our reason for going up the steps was to look at the Brindley Bank pumping station, this was for domestic water supply and nothing to do with the canals but its quite impressive even without its boiler house chimney.IMG_20230527_201304

We set off this morning about half nine passing Naomi’ landing with a new collection on display, IDSCF8064 thought it a tad early or late for a snowman but there were scantily dressed young ladies at the other end of the moorings to balance things up.DSCF8063

There is now a pilled edge to the towpath in Rugeley all the way from Bridge 67 to the town centre, that will a big improvement to the 7 day moorings when the ground is hard and the grass established.DSCF8065

Boat traffic started off very quietly and we only met two boats, both in awkward places, one at the narrows just before bridge 66 and the other just passed bridge 66 going passed all the moored boats, this is all we met until after Armitage tunnel, then they came thick and fast with 25 of them between the tunnel and Fradley junction. Canal and River Services are still working on the towpath between Woodend Lock and Fradley Junction, they have a large pile of surface dressings at Armitage on theDSCF8067 towpath side. Just round the bend they have quite a fleet of boats to ferry the stuff about.DSCF8068

I don’t know it the Darwin Award  is still going but this couple had the fishing shelter right next to a “No Fishing” sign and if you look closely you can just see the very high voltage cables crossing the canal directly over their heads, they may be aware of the danger and are not lifting the tackle high in the air.DSCF8071

Just past them was this adorable cruiser, I think its absolutely beautiful and its good to see it being used, I am just glad that I don’t have to maintain it.DSCF8072

HS2 have made lots of progress just below Woodend lock. Its hard to see what it is they are putting there but looks as if it could include a drainage interceptor pond, impossible to photograph without climbing on the roof and as we met 3 boats between Woodend and Shadehouse lock that wasn’t an option. Round the bend the elevated embankment is really taking shape.DSCF8074

This is as far as they have got with the towpath resurfacing, this work site is not barriered off anywhere near as securely as most of them and as you can see people are happily walking over the rollDSCF8073 of membrane. Where the edge is bad they have staked lengths of coir sausage in place, planted with reeds, the have also extended the piling at the lock moorings below Woodend lock which is a bonus, lets hope they dredge it as well.
One of the latest fashions is for Narrowboats to have long rope fenders which the attach to the bow and draw them back round to the front of the cabin, I think they think it will protect the blacking when they scuff their way into a lock. A boat on the long term moorings just below middle lock has found a much better use for them, as boats often lay against him waiting for the lock.DSCF8077

At the junction I turned right down to the Coventry canal, needless to say there was a boat coming out of the Coventry as I wanted to turn in as well as one coming out of Junction Lock, but no one died. We carried on past the waterpoints where a day boat was enjoying lunch and the visitor moorings to pull in at Fradley Village just below bridge 90.

Today’s Journeyimage
10 miles,  3 locks in 4¼ hours

Saturday 27 May 2023

Trent Aqueduct Rugeley

We had a few boats going by in each direction before we set of at 10am this morning, The last boat to pass us was Eeyore, I wonder how many people read the small print.DSCF8047He was a good ten minutes ahead, but when we reached Sandon Lock he was still waiting his turn, we have come back to busier waterways, as he was single handing we helped him on his way and also the boat coming up. There was a large raft of floating weed at the mouth of the lock which I was concerned would enter the top paddles but was to heavy for me to remove. As I entered the lock the weed went in as well and wedged us solid, Lots of welly to reverse out, with the help of the following boat we moved it to one side, I went into the lock and they pushed it in behind me. I then held it with the boat hook and towed it out of the bottom and DSCF8055set it free on its travels again, it was all I could do to hang on to it as I moved slowly forward. Its some way to the next lock so hopefully it will have broken up a bit by then. Western was bit of a pain as I met a boat at the bridge, but due to boats mooring so close to the bridge on both sides nether of us could get by the bank, its also right on a bend that doesn’t help, I tucked my nose in to the bank and waved him through, as they came by I let the bow run out so they could get past my stern.. The geese on the bank here are an interesting mixture, I wonder what the youngsters will look like.DSCF8057

As expected we were in a queue at the next lock, but only a short one an Eeyore was just entering the lock. We were able to give some of the boats traveling North the good news that the floating Market had taken all the visitor moorings below Star lock for the weekend. As we carried on we saw three horses crossing the field together and thought there must be someone with carrots or something, but they were all just coming for a drink from the cut.DSCF8058

Down towards Hoo Mill Lock there were even more geese and goslings, they have been very successful so far this season.DSCF8060

As we came into Great Haywood the services were free so we stopped to fill with water, also the boat yard sells ice creams which is a bonus on a day like today, by the time we were ready to go another boat had also been taking water and 3 more were waiting. Once that was sorted in was down to Gt Haywood lock where a boat was just coming, so we were straight down, below the lock several boats were waiting to come up including boating friends who we haven seen since before lockdown, Colwich lock was full and on one except us to use it, what’s more the track over the bridge was dry. Our plan was to stop at Wolseley Bridge, but as it was so nice we pushed on to moor by the Trent Aqueduct just outside Rugeley.

Today’s Journey image11 miles, 5 locks in 6 hours

Friday 26 May 2023


Another slight change of plan, Diana’s dentist rang and need to bring forward her appointment so although we wont need to do long days we wont be deviating from the route home.
We got hailed by a gent who reads this block who is a lock keeper, always nice to meet someone who reads all this dribble I write, even if its only at shouting distance.
There are some rather smart gardens in Barlaston that back onto the towpath.DSCF8043

A little further we passed one of the original Trent and Mersey mileposts, I don’t know when the cast iron ones were erected, note the stone and iron ones are not at the same location. I wonder which is correct?DSCF8045

We met 2 dozen youngsters in packs of 6 trudging along the towpath as part of their DoE award. Does the new Duke support it the same as Phillip did?
We had no luck at all with the locks today, all 9 against us, bit of a problem at Meaford as there is loads of floating reeds below the top lock, I was very gentle but still got a good blade full which I removed in the second from bottom lock. The floating market are in Stone below Star Lock so there are no visitor moorings available until after the weekend but we weren't planning on stopping so soon anyway with the new time schedule. so we pushed on to moor well away from the railway at Burston.

Today’s Journeyimage

6¾ miles 9 Locks in 4½ hours

Thursday 25 May 2023


An early start for us this morning as we wanted to be at the tunnel entrance by 8am. we knew there were a couple of hire boats moored ahead and if they had gone up we would need to turn the lock so 7-15am we were on our way and even passed the fuel boat Halsall who was only just crawling out of the back door. There were 2 boats on the tunnel moorings when we arrived so we had to go to the front to get in. A third boat arrived and moored along side us and eventually Halsall turned up. By now the tunnel keeper had told us that there were 4 boats coming from the other end first, so it would be about 9am when we went in. Halsall would go first as ex working boats lead in this direction due to the air flow, then the boat on the outside of me, me and then the hire boat who had been there all night. The boat at the back was booked for 2pm this afternoon. We actually entered the tunnel at 9-08am.DSCF8037

The passage took me exactly 40 minutes and the keeper closed the doors after Halsall had exited and also after I had exited due to the gap between the boats. Its quite a busy morning for the tunnel keepers, 4 in the first convoy, 4 in the second and 6 waiting for the third .
We passed Halsall at Westport Lake tied up along side Bream, so I guess they were making a delivery.DSCF8038

A little further on the towpath was thick with daisies, I have never seen them so dense.DSCF8039

The chap ahead of us was effectively single handing so he had arranged for a local chap called Rob to assist him down the Stoke locks, that was music to my ears as with Rob helping him he would fly down, we didn’t see him after the top two and he even back set a couple for us. Working down the flight we met a couple of boats coming up. One was a single hander and Diana as she was standing by the lock offered to help, the chap didn’t even get off and drop a top paddle or help her push the gate.
One for all you plant people out there, is this giant hog weed growing on the offside bank?DSCF8042

There is a major development going on by bridge 113  called The Urban Village and it looks as if they are keeping the old front of the building, there are more details hereDSCF8041

We carried on cruising under a cloudy sky but feeling reasonably warm to Trentham Lock where we had to wait for a boat to ascend before we could continue on our way, the boat we had been following earlier was moored up on the Wedgwood visitor mooring and invited us to join them, but we were continuing to Barlaston as we planed to eat in The Plume of Feathers tonight.

Today’s Journey image

12 miles, 7 locks in 6¾ hours (1 spent waiting for the tunnel)

Wednesday 24 May 2023


Woke to a lovely sunny morning and were away about 9-30 ish. Had good luck with the locks, the first was against us but a boat had just come in the top. After that all locks were with us and we even met a few boats so we could leave gates open. I think one chap lock wheeling on a bike thought we turned lock 50 against him as Diana had drawn both bottom paddles to drain the foot of water from the lock and walked back down to 51 to help me lock up.We stopped at the Red Bull Services except there isn’t much in the way off services now as theDSCF8034toilet/shower is locked and the window boarded up, but we could fill with water and dump the rubbish. The gatehouse looks as if that has also had its windows broken. Will this be another site that CRT will be putting up for sale soon?DSCF8035 

Once watered up we went up another couple of locks to moor a short distance below Plants Lock, ready for a trip to the tunnel in the morning

Today’s Journeyimage 2¾ miles, 11 locks in 3 hours.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Rode Heath

The plan (remember that word) for this morning was to drop back and fill with water, but there were two boat there already and one had a chair out to sit on while his tank filled, so we gave it a miss and will fill tomorrow.
9-30am and we set of, not as warm as yesterday and a bit cloudy, the first lock was with us, but it was the only one. We think the chap getting water had gone up, turned round and came down again. As for locks we met 9 boats this morning and only 2 locks were with us, its unbelievable how fast the water is leaking into them.
The cows, I suspect its the same herd where one was in the canal when we came down were all out in the butter cups.DSCF8031

Passing a farm a but further up the cut, I wonder what would happen if the farmer tried putting a tractor on a boat with this on the back, Its for stirring the slurry pit on a cattle farm.DSCF8032

We even had a few spots of rain at one point and I mean only a few, we all checked to see it it was what we felt, mind you the sky was very dark at that point.
At Thurlwood top lock the metal gate fender is hanging on by a wind and a prayer or maybe just the top boltDSCF8033

Round the corner to the Rode Heath visitor moorings, when we arrived there were only 4 boats here, there are a few more now and it will probably be full by tonight.

Today’s Journeyimage

4½ miles, 14 locks in 3½ hours


We set off ay 9-30am with a view to eating at the Italian Restaurant in Wheelock, when we arrived at 5-30pm we found they close Mondays.
I do rather like the decoration they have added to the pipe bridge by the Tata chemical works. DSCF8022

At bridge 185 someone has mounted a door with a mirror in it on the edge of the bridge and it really plays tricks with your mind. You can see our reflection coming the other way and the shape of the bridge really lends its self to it.DSCF8024

Although we met a few boats, Big Lock in Middlewich was against us with a boat just leaving the top, however by the time we were in the lock a boat was waiting to come down so at least we had a bit of help and could leave the gates open. We stopped by the playground for Diana to nip to the shops and top up on a few things and also have lunch. We set off again just after a boat had come by hoping Middlewich locks would be with us. When we got there we found a Volockie on each of the locks so we had a good run up meeting a boat coming down after the second lock. There was also another Volockie working between Kings Lock and Wardle Lock, as they are all in radio contact he had Kings ready for us. on up to Rumps Lock and a boat was descending as we approached, things are going well. When we got to Booth Lane the lock was almost empty, but the pond above was very low, I was in the mud most of the way up to Both Lane middle where we waited for a boat to come down which eased things a bit, by the time we were in the middle lock there was another boat waiting above to come down, so help and the lock left open again, on to the top lock where a boat had just entered the lock so we waited for them to descend and again by the time we were ready to leave another had arrived above. From here it was a steady run to Wheelock, we wondered if we would get a mooring but there was a space straight after the service mooring. As the Barchetta was closed  and we have had several Indian meals recently we ate at the Cheshire Cheese who were doing 2 meals for £10 and 3 beers on the pump.

Today’s Journeyimage

13¾ miles, 9 locks in 6¼ hours

Sunday 21 May 2023

Wincham Bend T&M

Just before 10 o’clock we spotted a boat coming upstream, Diana had just returned to the boat after dumping the recyclables so we made ready to set off, thinking we could share a lock with him, wrong, we pulled out and he pulled into our mooring space. I thought this sign was a bit rich on a flowing river about a 100 foot wide and 10 foot deep.DSCF8015The dredger and tug are now moored below Saltersford lock with the mud hopper up the arm, so it looks as if dredging will start there this week. DSCF8017We met a boat just before Saltersford lock, I have seen some dogs in strange places but on top of the canopy was a new one on me, when we arrived atDSCF8016the lock it was empty but the gates closed. There were 3 lock keepers on duty, so I guess there was a bit of training going on. Saltersford lock takes the same time to fill as it does to empty. A short way above the lock CRT have developed another mud settling pond. DSCF8011Shortly after this we met another boat coming down, if he had been at the lock before us we would have had an hours wait. We carried on to Anderton Lift and moored on the pontoons just upstream of the lift. This leg of the journey had taken just under 1½ hours.
Once tied up we wandered up to the Visitor Centre and had a light lunch. The centre has changed a lot since our last visit over a year ago. The fancy good counters have gone and the restaurant tables spread out to where they use to be. The desk now faces you as you walk in the main doors and not backing on to the stairs and as I said last week when we just walked through there are now penny slot machines down stairs.
We wandered back to the boat and a CRT man came down to see us and asked if we would like to go up earlier on the 3pm  lift as they had a space, this suited us as we were only kicking our heals and I started writing this blog. While we were waiting to enter the lift, Duke, the restaurant from Davenports tea rooms  on the Trent and Mersey canal.DSCF8018
3pm. and 2 cruisers came down the lift, us and another boat entered, gates closed and waiting for the off. The lift attendant (can I call him that) said there would be a slight delay as they had to load the passengers for the trip boat coming down and there were 26 of them but a lot slower than expected. The next information was the trip boat is on the aqueduct, followed by “the trip boat has broken down and they are pulling it into the cession and they are going to have to pull it out at the bottom.So I am glad we started early. Once back on the Trent and Mersey canal we chugged towards Middlewich, I fancied mooring at Wincham Bend as there are some rings there but its normally full, as we approached as expected it was full, but then I realised the first boat wasn’t tied up and was waiting for me to pass so that he could pull away, result, as soon as he was gone we were in.

Today’s Journeyimage

7½ miles, 1 lock, 1 lift in 3¼ hours