Wednesday 24 April 2024

Fradley Junction

I said when we moored yesterday there were only two of us there, when we left this morning it was full all the way to the railway bridge with boats that arrived later. It was 10-40 before we were away following a beer box restocking. The traffic today has been quite strange, we didn’t meet a boat until south of Handsacre, then from Kings Bromley they just kept coming. Probably 5 between there and Woodend Lock and another 4 on the way to Shadehouse.
We did have a boat overtake us as we passed all the long term moorings at Spode, said his boat wouldn’t go any slower.
As you leave Rugeley there is a large winding hole and the land beside it has a for sale notice on it, but I can’t find it listed online at all.DSCF9328

Getting towards Ash Tree obviously one of the property owners is a keen home brewer with a row of hops growing at the bottom of the garden.DSCF9329

The open fields after this are a mass of yellow, as my nose doesn’t work too well I couldn’t tell you if it smells or not, but there is lots of it.DSCF9331

There is lots of work taking place at Bromley wharf, I understand that it for JF boat building to expand.DSCF9333

I don’t know who owns the property between here and JF’s present operation but they have a wonderful colourful garden.DSCF9334From here things slowed down as I caught up with a boat from somewhere, not sure where he came from, maybe the boatyard, so I dropped to tick over and we had lunch, we still arrived at Woodend lock in time to lock him down. The next two lock had Volockies which helped a bit because some of the boaters didn’t seem that well versed on what to do. We turned right opposite The Swan onto the Coventry Canal and have moored for the night on the visitor moorings, again we are Billy No Mates and the only one here, there are some boats on the unrestricted bit round the corner.

Today’s Journey image

7¾ Miles, 3 locks in 3½ hours

Tuesday 23 April 2024


A couple of boats went by earlier so we decided to set off just before 10 before any more came along. The Weston ASBO Swan was waiting for me on the offside bank, he ran along beside us before taking toDSCF9316the water to follow. The camera battery went flat at that point, but he chased us down the canal until we met a boat coming the other way, that confused him as he turned to chase the other, then turned back and ended up staying where he was.
Our leaving time worked well, no one ahead and a boat just entered Weston lock to come up. It was a very similar story at Hoo Mill lock with a boat waiting to come in as we left. It looks as if they are installing a major sewage system on the land to the west of the canal.DSCF9318

We stopped in Gt Haywood to fill with water, luckily no one at the services when we arrived but the junction was quite busy so at Gt Haywood lock we were in a queue, a shared ownership boat with very elderly crew, and a single hander on a brand new boat ahead, also a steady stream coming up, but people mucked in and things moved well. One of the boats moored just above the lock was this lovelyDSCF9321inspection launch, not sure how practical it is but just look at her lines, especially the stern.DSCF9320

When we came up, about three weeks ago there was a large lake in front of Shugborough  Hall, today that had all gone and the river, although running fast looked about normal height.DSCF9322

On down to Colwich Lock. the track over the bridge looked a bit dryer where the cows cross. Here we were third in the queue and by the time we entered the lock there were another three behind us.
Down at Wolseley Bridge there was a large group of school children standing by the river, probably aDSCF9323 field study outing, it was a good job it was today and not yesterdays weather. Talking of weather we haven’t had any rain today and the weather App says no rain until Saturday, do I believe it?
As we came into the outskirts of Rugeley we passed this boat with a fine collection of cats and dogs, I am not sure how many as the owner was catching them up and putting them back onboard.DSCF9324

I can’t come through Rugeley without a photograph of Naomi's Landing, how they keep coming up with ideas I don’t know.DSCF9326

We have moored for the night outside Tesco’s , at the moment there are only 2 other boats moored to the south and about 3 to the north. It may pick up later as people stop for the night.

Today’s Journeyimage

9 miles, 4 locks in 4¾ hours

Monday 22 April 2024


Last time we were in Stone we walked passed Piccolo’s Pizza and the aroma coming out made I decide on the spot, that next time in Stone we would try one. So last nights dinner was a 12 inch Fire Ball Pizza and it certainly lived up to its name and description. A real tingly lip job, not sure what the Italians would think of it.
During the night it started to rain and was still at it when we got up. We were in no hurry so sat around until lunch time.
While we were hanging around a team came buy electric fishing, I didn’t see them actually get DSCF9311anything, the chap following in what looked like a waste skip with an outboard had a net to lift stunned fish with, if they stunned any.DSCF9312

the weather app said it would stop in 40 minutes and again it was spot on, so we made ready to set off. I just started the engine, we untied and Diana walked to set Star Lock when she indicated there was a boat coming up. Now what the weather app didn’t say was the rain would only stop for 10 minutes and its rained ever since. So by the time the share boat was clear of the locks it was chucking it down.
Below the locks at the far end of the moorings CRT or their contractors are doing a short length of piling. It should provide another couple of moorings.DSCF9314

We stopped at Aston Marina to top up with diesel still at £1-05 lt. before carrying on south. We didn’t meet another boat until we reached Sandon Lock, here just as the lock was full a boater appeared from below. We hadn’t turned the lock on him, it was ¾ full when we arrived. Once below the lock we soon met another three boats heading north in the rain. We decided to call it a day  short way before Weston.

Today’s Journey image

6 miles, 3 locks in 3 hours

Sunday 21 April 2024


Well I must mark up the calendar, 24 hours with no rain. today we were away again just after ten in nice sunshine with lots of dog walkers and children around, we had a very clear run and didn’t come up behind anyone all the way to Stone. We passed this pair of Mandarin ducks, the poor old female looks really drab compared to him.DSCF9304

We met a hire boat just before Trentham Lock but another had come in from below before we arrived at the lock. The little girl having great fun trying to wind up the top paddles so it was a slow passage, but the sun was shining and they were having a good holiday.
On Friday evening we went to the T&M meeting where the mile post project was discussed, they didn’t mention this variation.DSCF9305

The Meaford locks were mixed with us turning the second, waiting for a boat to come up at the third and swapping for the final on. I fund the viewDSCF9307looking into the top lock fascinating, through the bridge, mind you, its not the only one like it on this canal. Also some of the tail bridges with the iron hooped supports to give a cantilevered, split bridge.DSCF9308

There was a group of Volockies at Yard Lock so that had the top gate open when we arrived, there was also what looked like a chugger. I hope she was doing a bit of business with all the people standing on the bridge watching the boats come through. We managed to slot in just before Star Lock on the off side using one ring and the fence post.

Today’s Journeyimage

5½ miles, 9 locks in 3 hours

Saturday 20 April 2024


Today was an alarm clock day as we needed to pass through Harecastle Tunnel today. We were away just after ten past eight. The first transit is 8 o’clock and I new boats were waiting at the south end, so maybe they would come first and we would be in at about 9 o’clock. On thing I didn’t realise was that we had a good frost overnight and as we turned the bend after the aqueduct things were still quite white.DSCF9291

For any boater who is having problems bending to put in Nappy Pin mooring hooks, this could be the answer. (maybe they couldn’t reach the ring)DSCF9293

When we arrived at the tunnel there was no one waiting, they had gone north to south first with three boats and we would have to wait just over an hour for two to come the other way, the second was the best part of quarter of an hour behind the first. By the time we entered there were four more behind us. To say the tunnel was damp would be an understatement, fog until the last 300 meters and several water spouts coming through the roof, I was within 50 meters of the end when the first door opened. They must be having a busy day because there were four more waiting to go north.
Back in the sun and we were soon going past Middle Port Pottery, the painting on the concrete wall behind the towpath is fading away.DSCF9294

Beyond the Pottery CRT were running a junior fishing instruction day again, they we just setting up last time we passed, at least today its not raining.DSCF9295

A short stop at Etruria to use the services passing the legs at the bottom of the garden and then back DSCF9296

out and down the locks, following the boat that just left the services who hat the whole flight with them.The railway crosses the canal at Cockshutes Lock and there looks to be some interesting rolling stock left in the sidings, a poor shot over the fence from a moving boat. DSCF9300

We also had a goose keeping an eye on us to make sure we wound the paddles down properly DSCF9297

Once all the locks were out of the way it was full steam ahead, well slowing down for the permanent moorers at the rifle range, there is major redevelopment going on just before here and itsDSCF9302really starting to take shape. Then it was on passed the entrance to the stadium where the Oat Cake boat and the beer boat were doing a good trade,DSCF9303 I entertained the crowd by badly disfiguring my very expensive double skinned stove chimney on the bridge, I am sure it just cleared on our way up. We met lots of walkers making their way to the match and as I type this we can hear the chants and cheers going up. We are moored in the same spot as coming up, a few yards ether way and we can’t get close to the edge.

Today’s Journeyimage10 miles, 5 locks in 5¾ hours

Friday 19 April 2024


Well its was another rough night with the wind and rain but it had cleared up when we got up this morning, so we set off at 10 in the sunshine for an uneventful trip to Kidsgrove to moor on the aqueduct for the night.
On the way we passed what must be the lightest swing bridge on the system, it pivots on 4 castors.DSCF9285

Passing under one of the bridges the mason marks stand out for all to see. Some of the bridges the stones are laid diagonally so the stone masons have to cut the curve in two planes. These ones are just straight.DSCF9286

Someone has been nailing little things on the posts along here, they are only tiny so I wonder where they come from. I think it may be an upside down manDSCF9288

Down at Hall Green Lock where the Macclesfield becomes the Trent and Mersey canal its interesting to note the differences between T&M buildings in brick and Macclesfield buildings in stone with the two lock cottages, its the same for the bridges.DSCF9287

Back on the T&M we passed this old hire boat, I wonder how long ago it last carried holiday makers DSCF9289



It wasn’t long after this that we reached the Aqueduct and we are moored on the embankment between the A50 and the T&M main line aqueducts.

Today’s Journeyimage

5 miles, 1 lock in 2½ hours

Thursday 18 April 2024


Yesterday evening we watched as the sun dropped below the railway viaduct hoping for a good coloured sunset, but it didn’t happen, the sun just went toDSCF9277bed. Later the sky was crystal clear with several planes in the sky, as expected it turned cold and at 6am this morning everywhere was white with frost.
We were away at half ten and didn’t meet any boat at all.
You would be hard pushed to miss the mile posts along this canal. They stand about a meter tall. DSCF9281

there are also half mile markers which are half the height and the quarter mile markers which are half the size of the half mile marker .DSCF9282

The sheep must lamp a lot later here than some places as we saw hardly any lambs on our way out, but now the fields are full of the tiny little things. Another good sign is the bluebells are really starting to show now along with the wild garlic.
I photographed this boat because its a boat on a boat on a boat, in addition to that it has some lovely stained glass windows.DSCF9283

We pulled into Congleton and moored in the wide section opposite the converted warehousing,, this looks much better than 20 years ago.

Today’s Journeyimage

5½ miles with no locks in 1¾ hours

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Bosley bottom lock

Last night was the coldest this trip with it dropping to 1.2°C on the boat roof, so possibly a bit of ground frost, this was after it had stopped raining. This morning it was bright sunshine so we were away just before ten and off to the top lock, no one had been past so hopefully we would not be following anyone.
When we arrived at the top lock there was a minibus unloading a group of young people with learning difficulties, but more importantly the top gates were ajar. As I pulled into the mouth the Volockie appeared, opened the offside gate and informed me he had just walked the flight and no one was waiting to come up, also a couple of ponds near the bottom were well down, so we set off on our way with every lock full ahead of us, About half way down the Volockie caught us up, he was heading down to 9/10 to add a bit more water, With all the locks full we pushed an extra lock full down each time we worked a lock,  he also opened the top gates as he went which was really useful. All the offside landing stages below the locks are unusable, so I was unable to stop in the lock mouth and close up behind me which is our normal mode of locking down, with Diana walking ahead to open the next lock.DSCF9270

When we got to lock 9 the next pound was very low and emptying the lock I was lightly grounded, I was going to close up the lock and let a bit more water down, but the Volockie suggested flushing me out and see if I could cross the low pound which worked. It was here that we met up again with the group of young people oiling the paddle gear with biodegradable oil in case a drop went in the canal.DSCF9272 That’s OK but with the first good rain it biodegrades away. They were accompanied by a CRT employee who I thing was the volunteer supervisor/coordinator.
Our plan was to moor at the bottom of the locks, but we didn’t expect to do them in under 2 hours, so we moored at the south end of the visitor moorings overlooking the railway viaduct with the sun still shining.DSCF9274

Today’s Journey image

1½ miles, 12 locks in 1¾ hours