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Friday, August 22, 2008

Autherley Junction to Great Haywood.

Thursday 21st August.

Autherley Junction to Acton Trussell, 14.4 miles and 11 locks.


We had a bit of a lie in, after so many early morning starts it was wonderful. Having had another night of heavy rain, it was nice to wake up and see no rain hitting the waters surface, it was however overcast. Having walked Paddy, on the way back to the boat I spoke to N.B Hineroa’s (New Zealand for Long Maiden) owners, we first met them on the Peak Forest Canal two years ago. Having had breakfast we set off at 8.30am to leave the IWA Festival mooring; it was with a sad heart, that we left it all behind, but it was the right decision for us. We past working boat Ben with Rupert onboard and said our good mornings.
At the junction we passed through the Stop Lock and turned left onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the sun was doing its best to try and stay out, but we were always aware of dark clouds in the distance. At the junction a heron sat on the sign post watching as the boats moved by.Just after leaving the Junction the canal narrows through a cutting in the rock, there is only room for one boat at a time, others coming in the opposite direction at the same time must use the lay-bys, and as you would expect we met traffic. I got off of Hadar with my radio and walked ahead, three boats were coming down, so Keith held Hadar whilst they past and then I suggested he made a run for it, but blow me down another boat was coming, so I asked if they would use the lay-by, which they kindly did so we could pass, otherwise we would have been there all day, with the stream of boats coming for the festival. I did have to help out a hire boat that could not reverse back along the cutting to get out of the way of an on coming boat, I grabbed their centre rope and hauled them out of the way, of which they were most grateful. So we were on our way, meeting lots of boats heading for the festival. We past Hatherton marina and the Hatherton branch, which they are trying to re-open. Soon we had our first lock of the day at Gailey and as luck would have it a boat was coming out of the lock, allowing us to go in. This happened through out most of our journey, making life a lot easier. Some of the boaters on their way to the festival were contemplating going home if the weather was going to be bad, because the rain had begun to fall again. At Penridge Lock Keith emptied the loo whilst I worked the lock, and a nice gentleman on a boat coming up through the lock helped me open the lock gates. Through the journey you are constantly reminded that the motorway is never far away, in this case it is the M6. The valley is however pretty and it had been nice to see lots of open countryside, instead of the industrial areas of the past couple of weeks. Instead of what look like a war zone, with its piles of rubble, we now get to look at open fields of corn, cows and sheep grazing. Teddesley Park runs along the canal, giving lovely scenery to look at through the rain drops. It was all very pleasant until a flash of lightening and a huge clap of thunder announced the heavy rain which was to follow us for the rest of the day. By the end of our day we were soaked, despite wearing waterproofs. I was fortunate to sell some coal along the way, everyone seems to be feeling cold and damp (I cannot think why ha ha), so they want to light their fires. The last lock of the day was Shutt Hill Lock; we then found a place to moor in Acton Trussell, with the roar of the motorway not far from our gaze. It always amazes me how fast the traffic is travelling. We would be going no further today; instead we would enjoy a nice hot shower, to wash off the rain and coal dust. I painted our winter chimneys, in preparation for lighting our stoves. I cannot believe we are thinking of lighting our fires, after all it is supposed to be August. With all this rain, everything feels damp, so we may have to bit the bullet and strike a match. So another day is over and I am now settling in for the evening, so I bid you a good evening.

Friday 22nd August.

Acton Trussell to Great Haywood. 7.9 miles and 3 locks
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Having had reasonably good nights sleep, we woke up to sunshine and the hope that it would be with us for the day. Before leaving our mooring, Paddy got his morning walk. What annoyed me was a woman coming towards us as we stepped off of the boat. I put Paddy on his lead as always, and I saw this woman approaching the boat, as she did so, she let her collie of the lead. As we walked towards each other, the dogs wanted to introduce themselves and I said “Paddy is fine with other dogs”, her reply was “my dogs isn’t”. I was dumb struck for a second. I then replied “Then you should have kept your dog on the lead then”, with that she walked off. Geesh some people make me so angry. If you know your dog is not good with others, you should always keep it on the lead. Some people are totally irresponsible. With that we prepared Hadar for the off, I bit the bullet and lit the back cabin stove, because we still had damp clothing from yesterday to dry. Not only that our bedding was feeling chilled and I hate a cold bed.There are some stunning views on this canal, and with the sun shining it always makes everything look beautiful. The first lock of the day was Deptmore Lock 10’3” we met another boat already coming up in the lock, which was handy. The canal today was very busy with boats mainly coming up, many probably going to the IWA festival. We then reach Radford Bridge, which is the nearest point to Stafford, to walk there it is about 1 ½ miles to the centre of town, if you want to go there is a good bus service, so I am told. We carried on along the valley of the River Sow and at Milford we cross the River Sow on the aqueduct, which was built by James Brindley.On arriving at Tixel Lock 4’3” and the lock cottage, a boat was already coming into the lock at the bottom, so I took off the centre line and tied up on the lock bollards and went and helped get the boat through. As always I passed the time of day with the lady before they headed off on their journey. I always love chatting to other boaters. We were then out onto Tixel Wide. This is always stunning. Two years ago the Willow trees where cut down, due to disease. It was great to see that they are sprouting all over again. It has been two years since we have been on the wide and it still looks fantastic.There were a few boats moored up, including a couple we met at Brentford on N.B Sorted, so we exchanged adventures as we pasted. For us it was onward to Great Haywood Junction, where a boat was coming through the bridge hole, we were coming over the aqueduct and through the narrow, so he waited for us to clear that before we past at the Anglo Welsh yard.We turned right onto the Trent and Mersey Canal and were pleased to see N.B Narrow Shop. Lisa and her husband run a fantastic business from the boat, selling ice cream in the summer and chutney and jams in the winter.Lisa waved and we said our hello’s and let them know that we were on our way to Shackerstone. We then discovered that we were going no where fast at Haywood Lock, as there was already four boats waiting to go down. So we joined the queue and pulled up along side a moored boat and waited, and waited. Some ¾ hour later it was our turn to go down. Whilst at the lock Sylvia from N.B Tee Pee came and said hello, they have a winter mooring at the Canal Farm Shop, where you can pick your own strawberries. Our next thought was that we would be in the same queue at Colwich lock, so we decided to moor up below the lock, looking over at Shugborough Hall. It is a lovely setting here and a quiet place to moor.
Having eaten lunch we then took a stroll up to meet Lisa and buy an ice cream from her narrow shop. We got to catch up with news and chat generally about canal life. Even with the summer weather not being great Lisa and her husband have done good business, it seems people will buy an ice cream no matter the weather, she also sells fudge and other items. We then walked up to the Canal Farm Shop where you can buy provisions, we were looking for N.B Tee Pee and her owners Sylvia and Robert, where we enjoyed a coffee and a chance to catch up with all their news. On our way back we popped into Anglo Welsh and met up with Viv who owns N.B Monarch down at Fradley Junction. I first got to know Viv off of Canals and Boats forum, so it was lovely to put a face to the name. Viv is also hopefully going to Shackerstone, so we will see her there. Today has been fabulous; it has been great to catch up with so many people. This is why I love canal life so much, it brings people together. The evening has worn on and we have a very warm back cabin, the weather forecast is for a chilly night, so we maybe glad of the fire tonight.

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