Friday, September 30, 2016

Brewood To GoldStone Wharf

Up and away on Wednesday towards Brewood where we didn't stop to shop this time as we had plenty of supplies until we reached Gnosall (prounounced knowsall). Lovely cruising with long straights and embanments although the cuttings were muddy underfoot. Just one lock to work though at Wheaton Aston and then water tank topped up, cassettes emptied and rubbish disposed of including recycling. On our way again stopping at Gnosall Heath to moor after the water point as we didn't want overhead trees making it dark inside the boat and overhead crows making a mess on the roof.

On Thursday morning we  popped to the 'Bakery' not far down the road from 'The Boat' pub.They sell very nice Cornish style pasties as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread. Shopping done we cruised the mile and a half to Norbury Junction where we made our next stop. Eric had some maintenance to do as the sealant  underneath the rear hatch was letting in water. The hatch is very heavy so it took two of us to move it out of the way to do the job. A quiet night followed with the only noise being the freezer thermostat cutting in and out under the bed. I certainly wouldn't have it there  if I'd thought about it when the boat was fitted out.

On Friday morning we filled up with fuel  at Norbury Wharf,   before  I set off walking with Ben the dog getting back onboard before we reached the muddy section in Grub Street Cutting.  Passing through Bridge 39 with the tiny telegraph pole a survivor from a bygone age. Lots of moored boats  which made it very slow cruising  but the views across to the Wrekin were amazing. Pulling in at the empty Goldstone Wharf we moored up and then it started to rain but it didn't last long.

The much photographed bridge with the short telegraph pole.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Back On The Shroppie

Two locks up we were at  Gailey Lock next to it's much photographed round house which is a gift shop. Time to top up the water tank after doing the washing yesterday and room to do it on the water point. Then were on our way stopping at a little spot near Moat House Bridge for a very quiet night. It rained as we cruised but with our wet gear on we didn't mind. Ben had a rub down with a towel to dry him off after our walk in the rain.

Today it was a dry cruise continuing on our way through the narrow cutting leading to Autherley Junction. Today we turned right through the stop lock and  we were back on the Shroppie (SUC), one of our favourite canals.  Eric slipped in the mud at the waterpoint and  was covered in mud......he's OK.....but more washing! We moored up after Bridge 7  on the nearly empty  visitor moorings. Eric took a photograph of the amazing sky. 

The sunset near Brewood (photo by Eric Fletcher)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend Cruising From Tixall to Gailey

NB Bendigedig on Tixall Wide

After a quiet night at Tixall Wide we were up and away in the morning just as far as Radford Bank. There's an Aldi nearby and we needed some fresh stuff. We only had four slices of bread and just enough milk for a few cups of tea. Before we left some lads were fishing between the boats. Ben and walked up to the lock at Tixall, nothing's changed the bottom gates still  swing open as soon as you've shut them. Eric held them shut with the boat until I could get the top paddles raised. 

Just an hour or so to Radford Bank and room to moor too. We popped in for a carvery meal later which was nothing special but it filled an empty tum. Enjoy enjoyed his pint. We weren't long as Ben howls. Later the very heavy rain hammered on the roof for hours which didn't help me trying to get to sleep. Ear plugs again.  Ben didn't settle until the rain eased off but  Eric slept through it!

Up in the morning  and on our way again. Ben and I walked to Deptmore Lock while Eric steered the boat. A boat was coming out so we got through the deep lock quite quickly. In fact we had locks ready for us all the way to Penkridge, where we just dropped off the rubbish and emptied a cassette as we couldn't get on the waterpoint as it was already occupied. No room to moor either so we continued on our way.

Plenty of locks and a few heavy showers left us rather wet but we  moored above Bogg's Lock all on our own and finally away from the noise of the M6 which accompanies this canal for miles.  I do like peace and quiet!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Back On The Staffs And Worcester Canal

Going through Stone

We started off at Barlaston leaving later after most of the boats had already moved on. It took three and a half hours to get down the eight locks to Stone with a stop to use the elsan and waterpoints on the way.  We were hopeful of finding a mooring space but there wasn't a gap big enough for our boat so we tried further on but couldn't get into the side. So we didn't get to do a little shopping and Eric didn't get his haircut. We continued as far as the moorings above Aston Lock and pulled in a nice space for the night. 

In the morning we continued on our way down Aston Lock with Ben and I enjoying a morning walk, getting back on the boat after a couple of miles Lots of wasps about but they didn't bother with us thank goodness.  We were lucky today with approaching boats meaning we didn't have to close the gates when we continued on our way. 

At Great Haywood we pulled into the services as we needed to top up the water tank and buy a bottle of gas. I  popped to the Farm Shop for some milk and cake, while Eric was busy with the boat. It became a bit chaotic at the junction with Anglowelsh hireboats leaving the base, I popped up on the bridge to tell Eric when it was safe to turn right onto the Staffs and Worcester Canal.

We pulled in to moor up at Tixall Wide, one of our favourite places. Hello to the crew of NB Leo who passed us by, telling us they read my blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Going Down Stoke Locks To Barlaston

Leaving Westport Lake Visiting Moorings
We decided to stay put on Tuesday in the lovely moorings at Westport Lake. I had washing to do and once all the other moorers had departed I ran to engine with Travel Power to run the washing machine. The drier took an age but the batteries had a good charge too. Eric and I had a pleasant walk around the lake with Ben the dog. It's well used by the community all day long.

A bottle kiln on a derelict site
We set off this morning, one of the last to leave as usual. Ben and I walked for a while until we pulled over at Longport Wharf to get diesel. We had Stoke locks to do today taking us to Barlaston . Although the gates were heavy the paddles weren't bad and we were lucky to have a couple of boats coming up the locks as we went down.

Passing in the pound below Stoke Top Lock

Ben tied up waiting while I did the gates and paddles

New housing but a pair of bottle kilns remain- they need weeding!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Through Harecastle Tunnel To Westport Lake

We left the peace and quiet of the visitor moorings above Church Locks and  headed towards Red Bull Locks.  Eric moored up before the last lock while I did a quick shop in nearby  Tesco's in Kidsgrove.  Then we were on our way to go through Harecastle Tunnel and as we arrived we went straight through after our safety chat with the tunnel keeper. Cold and drippy in there  but we were through safely.

Currently moored at Westport Lake Moorings where Eric took this photo, of course Ben the dog wasn't looking!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

From Middlewich Onwards

Past Wheelock is Lock 66

Changing places in the pound
Yesterday we left our noisy mooring (I didn't get much sleep) at King's Lock and headed towards Sandbach where our boat was fitted out canalside January we'll have been afloat for  ten years. No sign of boat building there now it's all moved to Middlewich Canal Centre. Just four rather heavy locks to work through and a cruise  to Wheelock where we moored up.

Today we started up 'Heartbreak Hill' and it took us three and a half hours to work through twelve heavy locks. Not bad really when you think we had to turn a lock when both of the duplicate locks were full. We swapped places for the last four locks at Hassall Green, Eric did the locks while I became the steerer mainly because I was tired.  The M6 Motorway crosses the Trent and Mersey Canal at Hassall side was very slow moving......I'd rather be boating.

Finally we moored up above Pierpoint Locks alongside a nicely cut piece of towpath. We had to use the pins so the ducks came out to warn towpath users.

The ducks came out today (made by Nick & Liz)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hot Hot Hot In Middlewich

Moored at King's Lock
The day started cooler and rather misty but by one o'clock the sun was out and it was hot. We cruised towards Middlewich, worked through Stanthorne Lock, after it was our turn in the queue and stopped near where the footpath to town is. It takes just ten minutes to get to Tesco's passing schools on the way. By the time  I'd finished the shopping the sun was out as I headed back to the boat, so time for a cool drink.

We went down to Wardle  Lock and a queue again but time to help the other boats through once I'd read Maureen's Plaque.......very interesting. At the junction  we turned right and went into King's Lock once the boat in there came out. We moored up on the Visitor Moorings above the lock although it's noisy there the call of fish and chips for tea was the incentive. Definitely a night for ear  plugs!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On The Middlewich Branch

A surprise of a day after the thunderstorms yesterday, sunshine. Two locks to do but quickly done with waiting boats helping each other. We plastered ourselves with sun cream but by dinnertime we were glad to stop. It's amazing weather but we found a quiet spot and moored up and stayed out of the sun. After an hour  the washing was done and hanging on coat hangers in the cratch, this heat should dry it fairly soon.

We didn't want to get as far as Middlewich itself as I needed to get some shopping tomorrow.  Also we usually have fish and chips at King's Lock and today is salad day. Tomorrow the forecast is cooler so we'll go a little further. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

No Lock Keeper At Hurleston Locks

Looking down the Hurleston Locks
A walk this morning to Hurleston, first of all we filled the water tank and emptied the cassettes knowing there will be  nowhere until we got to Wheelock to do the cassettes. Rubbish got rid off but no recycling facilities at Hurleston. Today the boaters were left to look after themselves as there wasn't a lock keeper on duty unless he had gone to lunch at 12 o'clock.  We expected and found low pounds  with several boats waiting in pounds to come up, rather than a one up one down system which saves the water in the pounds. In one pound there was an underwater obstruction which caused the boat to lose steering and veer across the pound. Luckily no damage was done.

In the bottom pound to Lock 1
We met happy chatty boaters and a few with their noses in the air who didn't want to even answer a hello or good morning, I suppose it takes all sorts. We are happy to be out on our boat. At the bottom of the locks we turned left and headed towards Barbridge Junction, our destination above the  Cholmondeston Lock........yes I did have to look how to spell it. Moored up just before very heavy rain too........hope it doesn't thunder! If it does Ben will be hiding.

A left turn towards Barbridge

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cruising Past Wrenbury

Marbury Lock Cottage
Our day started much the same as ever when we're cruising, flick to Webasco switch to get some hot water for a shower, breakfast and then off we go. We're pleased with the new diesel heater it certainly works even when the batteries are 12.1. Ben and I walked for a while, admiring the lock cottage as we filled the lock to go down to Wrenbury.

We had three lift bridges to work through today including the electrically controlled one at Wrenbury. No queues at Baddiley or Swanley Locks going our way, but lots of traffic coming from Hurleston Locks, which meant locks ready for us with open gates. We moored up a few bridges up from Hurleston Locks, so you know what we're doing tomorrow.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Three Lift Bridges And Nine Locks Today

Going down Grindley Brook staircase

A quiet night and the temperature went down to 50 degrees F outside so we had a lot of condensation on the windows. It was soon wiped away and the sun began to shine. Soon we were on our way,  Ben and I walking with the boat to open up the first bridge, slowly it went up but no amount of turns would get it to come down. Luckily a man from the moored boats came and helped by turning is very quickly it started to come down. Thanking him we were on our way to the next lift bridge and this time I was steering and Eric had the windlass and the dog to walk. At Whitchurch we were lucky as the bridge was opened by a hireboater and he let us through after them.

In luck too at Grindley Brook as we didn't have to wait to go down the staircase and we had a helpful volunteer lock keeper. Just three more locks all set for us, it didn't take long. Lots of boats on the move, mostly hireboats heading for Llangollen but it meant willing hands at the locks.  Ben and I  walked in the sunshine while Eric was in charge of the boat. We did Povey's Lock, Willeymoor and Quoisley Lock with lots of help from hireboaters' We stopped at a Visitor Mooring before Marbury Lock. Ben's now fast asleep after his walk today. A lovely few hours cruising in sunshine, so nice to be out of the marina.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Escape From Whixall Marina

Bye Whixall Marina

Last night it was definitely a very wet and windy Whixall but by the morning all was calm again and leaving Whixall wasn't a problem. We pulled in to top up the diesel tank and then we were on our way up the Prees Branch. Just one lift bridge to work through and a right turn towards Whitchurch. Ben and I had a walk to open the next lift bridge where the scrap yard used to be.  There are still plenty of boats on the move including hire boats, but no where near as busy as our last cruise in the other direction.  One more lift bridge  and we cruised until we decided to stop opposite  the dead tree, a great place for satellite television, an internet signal and a phone signal too. Moored up and time to relax before I make a curry for tea. Ben is chilling too!

Along the Prees Branch.....on the move again

Friday, September 09, 2016

Looking After Lila

We've been in  Newport looking after daughter Lisa's mad dog Lila. She's a Sprocker which is a Cocker/ Springer cross, lovely natured dog but pulls on a lead. I think my arms have lengthened in the last ten days! Ben and her get on fine although she would love him to play with her, he's just not interested.  

Today we came back to the boat and Ben the dog is now fast asleep, he's had a busy time in Newport. We've done lots of dog walking and Lila has had plenty of swimming opportunities. At Cwmbran Boating Lake she loved the river but we played safe and let her swim on the end of Ben's long lead. Ben only got his toes wet.

Lisa and Gwen had been on holiday and returned on Wednesday nice and brown. On Thursday we left Newport to return to Whixall and arrived back with washing to do. That's done now so just a case of food shopping and we'll be on our way on Saturday. Our next cruise is the Four Counties Ring in a clockwise direction and we're in no rush as we haven't any commitments for a month or so. Fingers crossed all goes well.