Saturday, July 29, 2017

Back To Whixall Marina

We set off  from the  Whitchurch Arm after Eric had run a line of sealant along the  top edge of one of the front windows. Rain found it's way  in the torrential  rain.

Six lift bridges of todays plan but I only had to open  and close two. The second  bridge on the Prees Branch hasn't  been put back yet and the rest were opened and closed by an oncoming boat. My lucky day!

The lack of wind made getting onto our berth easy too.  So we're  back on shoreline  with a home phone and broadband from BT at a fairly slow speed but it works. It's  nice to be home.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Walk In The Rain To Whitchurch

Going up Grindley Brook

Eric in the staircase locks

Today we had an early start with breakfast at the top of the locks from the Café as they do takeout as well. bacon and sausage baguettes went down a treat. We cruised as far as the Whitchurch Arm as we fancied a walk along the footpath into town. It  stopped raining but started again so Ben the dog got pretty wet but he didn't seem to mind enjoying a rub down with a towel when we got back. He's having an afternoon nap now!                           

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cruising To Grindley Brook

We started off in the rain but it soon stopped. We started off with the two locks at Swanley the first one we came to (Lock 2) had a stream coming out of the  tow path side lock wall which didn't stop so the canal water has found it's  way probably making a void behind the lock wall so a problem in the making.

Ben and I walked between the  locks and hopped back on board for a ride to the bottom of Baddiley Locks. Three locks this time going up with lots of boats on the move it was nice not having to shut the gates behind us.

Just two lift bridges at Wrenbury and on the first we were waved through. But  of course I held up the traffic on the electric one by the time the two boats had gone through. I showed a holidaymaker how to use the panel as she hadn't used it before.

We decided not to moor up at Wrenbury but carry on in the sunshine to the bottom of Grindley Brook  locks. The wind picked up as we did the four locks making pulling  in for the locks hard work as the wind was taking the boats away from the towpath side of the canal. It was causing problems for some inexperienced crew who found themselves stuck on the wrong side of the canal.  Lots of help on hand though to get them free.

So we're  moored now with Grindley Brook Locks ahead of us tomorrow.  Let's  hope it stays dry.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Back On Home Waters

At the bottom of Hurleston Locks

Coming up in Lock 1

We decided to get as far as we could today just because  we wanted to get back on the Llangollen Canal and the weather forecast isn't good for tomorrow.  A lovely day for cruising on a boat with just three locks on the Middlewich branch  taking up to Barbridge Junction, then a left turn taking us to Hurleston Junction. Climbing Hurleston Locks we felt like we were back on home waters.

Tomorrow  is going to be a lazy day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cruising To Middlewich

The last of the duplicate locks before Wheelock

Back to single locks at Booth Lane Locks

Leaving our mooring after a quiet night above Wheelock (the water in the pound went up  not down so the boat stayed level), then down the last two pairs of  duplicated locks to get some water and  do the other things at the services. 

Then we were on our way towards Middlewich. The site of Northwich Boats/ Carefree Cruising had a big sold sign on it as they are now trading from King's Lock. Lots of new housing along this stretch of the canal too often sandwiched between the railway and the canal.

Four locks to work through  on the Trent and Mersey Canal and then Wardle Lock taking us onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We found a space and moored up as Eric wanted new weed hatch sealing tape to replace the damaged one. I popped to Tesco's for some fresh stuff to keep us going until we get back to Whixall Marina. 

Lots of people walking their dogs along the canal earlier but it's quieter now.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nearly Done 'Heartbreak Hill'

A quiet night at Rode Heath and up and away with twelve locks planned for today as we wanted to get them done. Duplicate narrow locks  have an advantage in that one lock of the pair is usually ready for an oncoming boat. I think we seemed to work quicker in going down locks.

It  was just as well  I was walking with Ben the dog  because some of the pounds between the Wheelock Locks were low and  Eric had to stay in the middle until I opened the lock gates.

Tired after heavy gates and paddle gear I did steer the boat and let Eric do some of the locks. The gunnel's will need some touch up paint once we've  gone up Grindley Brook on the Llangollen Canal as the side weirs get us every time.

We're  moored on pins in the long pound two locks up from Wheelock. Here you can't  hear the noisy A road as much  as you can on the Wheelock  Visitor Moorings. As you can see on the pictures  we're  low down as this pound is down too, let's hope  we don't  fall out of bed in the night if the water level goes down any more and tilts the boat.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Can't Get In The Weed Hatch!

The Broughton  Arms at Rode Heath
We  started off going well down the locks from Red Bull to Church Locks, then something got around the prop. No problem  you would think but the weed hatch cover had been painted by Aqueduct Marina and was sealed solid. It took 20 minute to break the seal.

But more surprises when we opened it, we paid for the whole boat to be shot blasted and painted or blacked  including the bottom and have just found  out that the weed hatch itself hadn't been touched  while it was out of the water, so something  else they missed which we assumed would be done.

They  also forgot to  shot blast and paint the gas locker too but we noticed that and it was then treated  with Comastic while  we stayed  a few extra days in the marina.  We also found the water filler cap painted shut and the air vent hole blocked for the water tank which was sorted before we left.

I must say we love our paint job but it's the little things missed  that we find particularly annoying!

Our day did get better as we climbed down the duplicated locks to Rode Heath and found a space to  stop and go and have a late lunch in The  Broughton  Arms. I had steak and chips  and my friend  Ben the dog enjoyed it too!  He wasn't  interested in Eric's  fish and chips.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Through Harecastle Tunnel To Kidsgrove

Harecastle Tunnel southern portal

Harecastle Tunnel northern portal

Approaching a duplicate lock
This morning we left Westport lake behind and headed for Harecastle Tunnel. A much cooler day to start and decidedly cold in underground delights of the tunnel. We were lucky as we arrived to no queue and went straight in the tunnel after the safety briefing, When the doors closed and the fan came on drawing out the fumes  it was like being in a fog and incredibly noisy. Soon we were going through at a good speed and looking out for the lower roof sections where Eric needed to duck.

Ben the dog wasn't bothered about tunnels he just settled down to sleep at the bottom of the steps. Forty minutes later we emerged into the light. the difference in the colour of the water never ceases to amaze me with the orange colour due to minute particles of ironstone rock according to Pearson's Canal Companion.

Duplicate narrow locks  with the occasional single narrow locks are the feature of the Cheshire locks  known as Heartbreak Hill  probably because they come thick and fast. Usually one chamber is ready for you but you don't know until you get there which one. Just after the junction with the Macclesfield Canal  we met the start of the locks taking us down to Wheelock. 

We pulled in at the Red Bull Visitor Moorings in the last available space ready for our appointment with Chris Jones a Beta engineer as it's service time again. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Up The Locks To Westport Lake

At the top of Stoke Locks 
Today we climbed the locks up to Stoke on Trent  and it was unbelievable hot. The gates were heavy as they are deep locks and the paddle gear was stiff so I'm melting!

Heading for West port Lake to moor up.....hope there's room to moor  up. Yes there was and another boat moved up a bit so the solar panels  were in the sun

Monday, July 17, 2017

Up The Locks To Barlaston

The Star Inn alongside Lock 27 (Stone Locks)

First  job of the day was topping up the  water tank  then it was up the first of eight locks planned for today.  The Star Inn was shut so we didn't have an audience as we did the lock. Ben  waited patiently for his walk tied to a bench as there were lots of cyclists on the towpath today.

We stopped for diesel at Stone Boat Building Chandlery. Leaving with an A4 piece of paper confirming the split I chose  as well as a receipt. I noticed  the boat's name was spelt   incorrectly  despite repeatedly spelling it letter by letter, but it didn't matter the number was correct. Next job the cassettes needed emptying so we were  soon moored up below the next lock  to  use the Elsan.

Ben and I walked up to the Meaford Locks and worked  through those. Lock 33 was unbelievable slow to fill but had a notice that C&RT were aware. Boats coming down the locks as we came up them so time to have a chat to the crew.

We moored up on the outskirts of Barlaston, you can't really get away  from the noise of the trains with the Stafford to Stoke line running  alongside the canal. Never mind the sun is shining , the sky is blue and all is well onboard NB Bendigedig

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Weekend In Stone

Welcome to Stone
On a mission this morning to moor at Stone so we left a little bit  earlier  than usual at 9.30 am. By eleven we were moored up at the end of the visitor moorings.  The first place we came too.

Just Aston Lock to work through so a leisurely morning. Ben  had his walk when we walked into town to have a look at the shops in the town and do a food  shop in Morrisons.  I should have said look at the charity shops as there were more charity  shops than anything else.

Food shopping done while Eric had a coffee and a sausage roll in the cafe with Ben the dog. They have seats and tables outside which was good. Ben enjoyed  a bit of Eric's sausage roll. He's  now fast asleep on his furry mat.

We're  staying put tomorrow  as we don't  need to be the other side of Harecastle  Tunnel until Friday when the engine is being serviced by Chris  our friendly Beta  engineer  hopefully  at Red Bull.

Friday, July 14, 2017

On The Trent And Mersey Canal.....Towards Stone

A nice quiet spot near Burston

We decided not to stay another night at Tixall Wide because Ben was finding it difficult to get on and off the boat as the towpath is low. A good place to touch up the battered rubbing strips on one side at least because we won't have a towpath on this side for a while.

Getting to the services at Great Haywood at the junction was the usual chaos so we had to queue. We really needed to get rid of the rubbish and recycling. I don't know why I bother to separate recycling as there was nowhere for it to go. Some places you can recycle but it's not easy to find room to keep it on a boat.

A right turn at the junction and we're heading towards Stone with a few stops on the way. By the number of boats that have passed up today we'll be lucky to find a space tomorrow.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Just Two Hours To Tixall Wide

Tixall Lock Cottage

Approaching Tixall Lock

Moored at Tixall Wide
Up bright and early ......well 9 o'clock! We  took Ben for a walk as far as B & Q and on the way back I did the shopping at Aldi  as it's close to the canal.  I had a lot of shopping for my money so you can see why it's a busy store. Eric and Ben the dog walked back to the boat while I did the shopping rather than stand and wait an age for me.

Back onboard I filled the fridge and put some ice-cream in the freezer compartment for those hot times when an ice-cream cornet would go down a treat. We do have a freezer under our bed but I haven't used it for a while as the noise drives me nuts. I  like peace and quiet not a constant hum and the thermostat clicking on and off.

Just one lock today and we were soon moored at Tixall Wide. Ben the dog wasn't too keen on jumping off as it's quite a jump to the ground, I got growled at but that's nothing new. He's a grump at times! He's currently stretched out fast asleep as it was quite a long walk for him this morning.

I took my boots off as my feet were hot and a cheeky horsefly bit my little toe as I stood on the back of the boat. Antihistamine cream to the rescue as I bought a new tube in Stafford.

I must make a mention to the boaters' who passed  us as we travel telling us they read my blog......Thank you for reading it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Little Retail Therapy In Stafford

This morning we thought we'do try our luck and see if we could moor up at Radford Bank as I wanted  to go shopping . For the last three weeks I've missed having a look around the shops. Today I discovered a new M&S in Stafford so I bought a couple  of T shirts and a new pair of long shorts to replace my tatty ones.

Of course it was raining as Ben and I walked down to Deptmore  Lock. Just one lock to work through  today . We ended up mooring on pins  before the Visitor Moorings as they were full. OK  as long as the boats went past fairly slowly. Eric did  have to knock them back in a few times as the ground was fairly  soft.

Tomorrow  we're  going to take Ben for a walk on a footpath which comes out opposite B&Q as we need a few bits and pieces. We've  got a leak around a window frame where the screw needs replacing  as it couldn't  be tightened up. It's  actually snapped in the hole and was kept in by a blob of silicon  so needs drilling out to be replaced.

After that I need some food shopping  and Aldi is very close to the canal so that's  where I'll be shopping.  Then we're  off   cruising as far as Tixall Wide to enjoy peace and quiet.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gailey To Acton Trussell ....Seven Locks!

Leaving our mooring in the rain but it soon stopped. Lots of locks today but with boats coming in both directions no real holdups. Most people  were chatty and helped each other,  but some of the paddles were rather stiff. By the time we get back to Whixall my arms will be used to all this exercise. It's a very noisy section of the canal as the M6 runs closeby.

We passed through Penkridge today with just a quick shop for milk and lemonade at the shop near the lock. Eric topped up the water tank while I got the shopping,

We  decided to have a look in Midland Chandlers for a new fridge as things are going off in our old fridge even though its running continuously. I  planned to buy a Shoreline Fridge  but  decided on a Lec Inlander fridge with a three star icebox at £495 it was much cheaper than the Shoreline similar sized model at £575.  We could only buy it if they would take the old one away and they do! They delivered it onto the boat for us at Park Gate Lock and took away the old one so I was very pleased with the service. Good news we only took a few minutes so didn't  upset the boaters waiting to come up the lock.

We're currently moored at Acton Trussell as far away as we can get from the M6. Inside the boat you can't hear it. We may be here tomorrow too if the weather forecast is to be believed.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Stopover At Below Gailey Lock

A familiar picture of Gailey Round House
Waiting above Gailey Lock
The Staffs & Worcs canal follows the contours of the land so there are lots of bends and if you meet a boat  you usually meet it at a bridge hole. Very hot boating today good job there was only two locks to work through taking us to a good spot below Brick Kiln Lock further away from the A5.

Of course I  just had to take a picture of the Round house alongside Gailey Lock. originally  a toll  clerk's office now a canal gift shop. I was pleased to see it as I wanted some ice-cream. A quick stop at the services since there was room to pull.

After a salad for lunch as I was too hot to cook anything we are finally cooling down a bit. The fridge is really struggling this maybe on it's last legs,

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Towards Great Haywood On The Staffs & Worcs Canal

NB Bendigedig at Autherley Lock

Turn left for Great Haywood!

Bye Bye Shroppie

Leaving our mooring near Bridge 8 we made our way towards Autherley Junction in the sunshine, Ben and I had a walk too. At the lock Eric pulled in before all the moored hire boats while I got the lock ready. Just an few inches difference in levels between the Shroppie and the Staffs and Worcs Canal so a quick one to get through although you're sometimes unsure which paddles to open to level the water. Turn left for Great Haywood today under the bridge and an awkward turn for a long boat but room today as nothing was coming.

The narrows to get through at 'Pendeford Rockin' the old boatman's name for the shallow narrow cutting hewn through a solid band of sandstone. Lucky  today we didn't have to pull in to a passing places as we didn't meet a boat, under the M54  and onto Coven. We moored passed 'The Fox and Anchor' in the sunshine to give the solar panels some sun.  Lovely and quiet except for the occasional train passing by on a nearby line.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Wheaton Aston To Brewood

We were glad of the little bit of shade on Wheaton Aston moorings  keeping the boat a little bit cooler yesterday  but it was still 80 degrees F. Just three boats moored before the bridge so quiet too.

We popped down to the Hartley Arms to sit in the pub garden with a pint of bitter and a packet of crisps for Eric anyway.....I was quite happy with coke as I don't need a headache from alcohol. Ben the dog just watched everyone....he was on house water!

This morning we went under the bridge to the services, tanks filled or emptied and rubbish disposed of. There was room in the recycling skip too so that was good as I couldn't  get rid off recycling at Norbury Junction all the skips were  full and  overflowing.

Next stop Brewood  for shopping before we moored up further on. The butcher's  sells lovely pies so we have a steak and kidney  one for tea. Much cooler today with a breeze too,  so the crew of Bendigedig are feeling much more comfortable.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

As Far As Little Onn

We left Norbury Wharf after a nice  catch up chat with Maggie and Bernice (NB Blue Diamond ). Yes we did have cake.....two slices of Victoria sponge to take away.

Ben and I had a walk as far as the stop lock which is there to isolate the section of canal if necessary.  It was hot and he'd had enough as he was just slowly following me.

Back on board time for coffees before we reached Gnosall where we stopped to visit the bakery. It's  a convenience store selling  all sorts of things including strawberries and cream. We had a pasties for lunch and an hour later we moved on.

We stopped at  Little  Onn before Wheaton Aston because it's  quiet and we didn't  want to moor under trees on the visitor moorings at Wheaton Aston. The heron was fishing in front of the boat not at all bothered by us mooring up.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Goldstone To Norbury Wharf

Bridge 39 with its mini telegraph pole
Today we left Goldstone Wharf after topping up the water tank. A lovely slow sunny cruise past lines of moored boats but I enjoy looking at all the names. Ben and I had a walk along the grassy towpath until we hopped back onboard at a bridge hole, Ben won't attempt to get on a moving boat now and makes no attempt to get off unless he has his lead on.

Arriving at Norbury Wharf we pulled in for diesel and spied a new chimney in the chandlery, much cheaper than anywhere else at £23.99 for a 6x12 double-skin with one brass band. We had to wait ten minutes while a new pipe was put on the fuel pump too. The cakes in the café looked delicious I've resisted temptation so far.

A place to moor too, so we pulled in for an overnight stop. The fat rope fenders we recently bought have been great against the concrete sides of the mooring. I'm still thinking about those cakes!

Monday, July 03, 2017

White Water At Tyrley Locks

White water below Tyrley Bottom Lock

Trying to get in the lock!

Oops! minor collision with red sandstone cliff

We made it using a bow rope

No mooring in the pound
We left Market Drayton after lunch and arrived at the bottom lock (5) to white water, we've never seen it so fierce. When we got further up we found out why. Apparently something was stuck in the lock and CaRT  employees let a great deal of water down to clear it. It came down so fast it flooded the towpath in the pound below the top lock much to the surprise of the boat waiting to go up the flight. Maybe someone should have walked down the flight to tell us.

Going through Woodseaves Cutting
It was lovely and peaceful  going through the cutting just the sound of the birds and the hum of the engine. We moored up at Goldstone Wharf  just in time for tea.......homemade chicken curry.

Tea was with a bump at a training boat 'Shropshire Lass' decided to reverse past us and bumping us with its bow.When we complained the trainer who was  reversing said it was only the rubbing strip so he's training new boaters it's OK to make contact with another boat. Has he been watching too much TV.

Adderley Locks And Pie For Lunch

Moored in Market Drayton

Well we've left Coxbank and worked through the top two locks of the Audlem Flight. Ben and I had a lovely walk to the Adderley Locks. Just five locks closely spaced and everyone set for us with boats coming down the flight, it was our lucky day. At the top lock is Adderley Farm Shop with meat available at the farm and a canalside stall with pork pies amongst other things in the fridge. Ice creams too in the freezer just right on a hot day. We chatted with the farmer and his wife, she said they couldn't make enough pork pies. Lunch on the go was sorted then with some pickle of course.

A few hours later we were moored up at Market Drayton just before the bridge before water point. Houses on both sides of the canal and a favourite dog walking route but still very quiet overnight. This morning I walked as far as Asda to get Ben some Wag complete dog food as they only had Bakers in Audlem. A few pork chops and some vegetables for tea and we were sorted.

We waited for a space at the water point  and I put a  quick wash load on to wash while we waited. It had finished before we got to fill up. So we're off to  Tyrley Locks now. I really must take some photos.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Stop In Audlem Before The Locks

After our overnight stop just before Overwater Marina it was only a short trip to the start of the Audlem  flight of locks. We were in luck as a space was available  above the first two locks.

Time to take the shopping  trolley and visit the Coop near the canal. In the recreation  ground behind The Shroppie Fly they were getting ready for a party in the park event on Saturday.  We would probably have heard  the music from the canal side moorings but the 10.30 pm Fireworks Display meant a freaked out dog if we stayed put.

Saturday morning and  sunshine was good with the locks to taking us to moor at Coxbank if there was room. Progress was very slow with boats going up but nothing coming down until a few locks from Coxbank. It got even slower when a single handed bloke who'd stopped for a tea break joined the ascent of the flight. Other boaters helped him but it was still slow as he was new to boating. In all it took three and a half hours  to do eleven locks.

We're currently moored at Coxbank as there was a space......relaxing!  It's nice and breezy too so the boat is keeping nice and cool.