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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yelvertoft to Sparford Bridge No.41


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Welford Junction


A very quiet, cool but pleasant run this morning. We have moored near Sparford Bridge No.41 as there was no one there, so we should have a nice quiet mooring here just for a change, rather than at Welford Junction, which is just round the corner. The towpath here is wider than at the junction, so Marmite can have a nice run around outside this afternoon.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crick to Yelvertoft


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After a relatively quiet Bank Holiday weekend at Crick, we moved to Yelvertoft. We first pulled into the water point to top up the water tank, and then as we approached the visitor moorings we noticed 2 things, 1) Brian & Shirley on nb “Golden Valley were moored here, and 2) there was room for us to moor too, so we pulled in again and moored up, and had a quick chat with them to catch up on their news.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Braunston Top Lock to Crick


A later start this morning as we knew that Watford locks do not open until 9:30am, so we set off at 7:20am to arrive at the bottom of Watford locks just after 9:00am. We joined the back of the queue and Terry the lock keeper said that we could come up through the bottom lock and moor in the 1st pound and moor up to await the 2 boats to come down. We joined nb Waffle in the pound, which was about 2ft down on water, so I had to keep the stern in the lock entrance so we could get on and off the boat. Once the 1st boat came down through the lock the pound came up enough for us to get in against the wall, as we awaited, the 2nd and final boat down, then Waffle set off up the locks and we followed close behind. Hadar’s bow got a free wash from the leaking lock gates, all we needed was the shampoo and the whirly brushes and it would have been like a car wash! Once through the locks we pressed on, and surprisingly found a mooring at Crick, one boat up from the bridge ‘ole. Just as we were pulling in the heavens opened, and Jo didn’t have her jacket on, but as soon as we we in against the bank the sun came out. We will spend the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend here.

The good news is that despite the problems with the Leicester locks and Foxton locks, Watford locks will remain open without restrictions because they are back pumped. This means that now we are on the summit for the Foxton Festival, we should still be able to get to Stoke Bruerne for the “Village at War Weekend” whatever else happens stoppage wise.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Hawkesbury to Braunston Top Lock


What an epic day. Lots of lovely rain, but despite it all, it was hard a spit in the ocean compared to what we need. It has taken us 10½ hours to get to Braunston top lock. We had originally intended to at least get through Hillmorton locks, but there was no mooring space there, so we carried  on to Braunston, where again there were no moorings, so we carried on to the locks. There were 2 boats in front of us, so no one to share the locks with there. Of course we waited in the lock for someone to share, but a boat came down so we carried on up on our own. Halfway up the flight I noticed a boat behind us, they must have pulled out from the moorings below The Admiral Nelson. I called back that we would wait for them at the next lock. I now wish I hadn’t.  I should have realised when one of the crew started to open the bottom paddles with one top gate still open and a boat coming down towards the lock. So we waited in the next lock, and waited, and waited. To make matters worse the 2 boats in front decided to whip a bottom paddle up for us at the next lock. Unfortunately they had also left a top paddle up as well! Whilst this was all going on the boats waiting to come were queuing up, and we still waited and we still waited!!!

Eventually they arrived, and by now it was quite obvious they didn’t have a clue what they were doing. All of this and we hadn’t even had lunch yet, which we have now had, having moored up above Braunston top lock, which we did at 4:25pm.

We are both hungry, and Jo has just made some bacon butties, which have gone down rather nicely.

It makes me wonder if some people are worth waiting for, I will in future seriously consider not bothering.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Polesworth to Hawkesbury Junction


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Despite the restrictions at Atherstone we still set off from Polesworth at 6:00am this morning, and arrived at the bottom of the flight at 7:00am. Although the notice said the locks would be opened at 8:30am the BW man arrived and unlocked the gates at 8:00am, which was rather nice of him. However soon after setting off a hire boat pulled out in front of us and was so slow I thought we were going backwards! 3 hours to do the flight says it all really.

Once clear of the locks we ended up with  a convoy of 4 boats in front of us, with the hire boat in front and slowing everyone up. Eventually they moored up, as did one of the others, then the other 2 turned onto the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction, for ages I thought we would all be heading for Sutton’s and would be queuing for ages. For once there was plenty of room to moor before the junction, but we thought we ought to get through the turn and lock today rather than at 6:00am in the morning, I don’t think the householders would be too pleased with Hadar’s engine working hard to make the turn that early in the morning, you see we do care.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Huddlesford to Polesworth


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Bridge 54 at Polesworth, “Bulls Head” pub beyond the bridge.



What a cracking morning, despite being blinded by the rising sun until it was high enough for my cap to shade it, such hardship. A late start this morning, 6:00am. At Glascote locks there was a queue of boats forming, fortunately for us they were all behind us! When we come this way next Spring we really must stop and explore Tamworth.

We have just about got a mooring at Polesworth which will do nicely for the night. Lunch done, we will be setting off to explore Polesworth.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Haywood, to Huddlesford


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We managed get through Colwich lock this morning before the very light drizzle started, but it didn’t last long, and by the time we arrived at Huddlesford the sun was shining, so where is this torrential rain we were supposed to be having today? Someone must be getting it, but not us.

4 locks, 16.3 miles in 6½ hours, all done and dusted by 12:20pm.

We may have to explore what will eventually be the Lichfield Canal after lunch, which starts from here at Huddlesford junction, or does it finish here? I am not sure if we can walk to where the restoration is in progress but we will give it a try whilst we are here.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Stone to Great Haywood.


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According to the weather forecast yesterday evening, today could be the last dry day for a few days. At least we have cracked the major set of locks from Stone to Great Haywood, so even if it does rain, at least Jo won’t get too wet working lots of locks, you see I do care!

Plenty of mooring space both above and below Great Haywood lock, so we have moored up below the lock. I feel a visit to Shugborough Hall after lunch to see how the walled garden is progressing.


We enjoyed our walk through the grounds of Shugborough Hall to the walled garden. No start on replacing the glass houses yet, still on-going. We bought some red potatoes and French beans which had been grown there. Life can’t get much better than this.

Shugborough Walled Garden


This is an old photo of the walled garden showing the original glass houses which have been pulled down, awaiting restoration.

Shugborough Walled Garden Old 1


This is another old photo after the glass houses were removed and before the garden was restored.

Shugborough Walled Garden Old 2


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Celebration Day, Put Out the Flags.


I sold my first Rag Rug today, this one in the photo, let’s hope it is the first of many to come. Others are available and can be viewed at Keith’s Rag Rugs. It was the friends, Teresa Walters and Andy Scanlon, from facebook who we passed yesterday at Trentham. Teresa had said she was interested in a Rag Rug, and this one caught her eye. She is so pleased with it she has already put photos of it, in it’s place of honour, on facebook.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Harecastle Tunnel to Stone


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A cool dry start this morning saw us safely through Stoke-on-Trent before most folks were up and about, but even still it is surprising how many people are up and about early in the morning. As we approached Trentham some facebook friends, the Walters, who live next to the canal took this photo of us as came through.



If we stop in Trentham some time we must get to meet up with them.

Just after leaving the bottom Meaford lock we passed Kismet, and said a quick hello to Collin & Jenny Askin, no doubt we will get to chat to them later. We then arrived at Stone and moored just after bridge 96 as we have a Tesco deliver booked for Saturday to arrive at the bridge.



Just after we had tied up Rob and Tina Paramour passed us on Burma as they headed off to the winding ‘ole and then returned pass us as they head off for the weekend. As they passed we arranged to meet up tonight for a meal in town.

Although it is only 6 weeks since we were last here, it is always nice to be back in Stone again, as it was our adopted home for 3 years.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Church Lawton to Harecastle Tunnel Southern Portal.


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Harecastle Tunnel South

A pleasant run up through the Red Bull flight this morning, despite only one lock being in our favour, we arrived at the northern portal of Harecastle Tunnel at 7:30am, so plenty of time for a coffee and round of toast and marmalade. We waited for the 8 boats to come through from the other end, with the first boat coming out at 8:40am and the last boat appearing at 9:00am. It took us 45 minutes to get through, despite the fog in the tunnel, I couldn’t see no more than about 10ft in front, someone behind was making a lot of smoke. We have moored up at the southern portal, which so far has always been a nice deep water quiet mooring, saving the run through Stoke for our final early morning start this week for tomorrow morning.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wheelock to Church Lawton

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This was sun rise this morning as we set off.



Well what ever had been stuck to the bottom of my boots has worn off as nearly every lock this morning was against us, and there were 20 of them. At one point a dark cloud loomed in behind us and I thought we were going to get dumped on, but it passed over us, but someone somewhere was going to cop it, especially as it passed over Mow Cop. We have moored above the top Church lock, at Church Lawton, in the picture below, a place we have stopped at a few times before.

Church Lawton

After coffee we will be exploring the churchyard here, as this was probably the first churchyard we explored when we first started out. We may well discover new things since we have been into exploring churchyards since our last visit. You can learn a lot about local villages, people, etc. from their churchyards, and especially the people who used to live there in times past.

We have had a great walk after lunch. This is St. Mary’s church at Church Lawton.



We found this interesting gravestone in the churchyard.


It has the following inscription:-

15TH OF JUNE A.D.1846;

He was an Assistant Surveyor to the
Trent and Mersey Company.
As a record of his Zeal in the
discharge of his duties, the
Company have raised this Stone.


Some further investigation I think is necessary. Then we followed a foot path behind the church and came across Lawton Hall, ancestral home of the Lawton Family, some of whom are buried in the churchyard.



And further along the path we came across Lawton Pool, a manmade lake created by a dam across the valley, the foot path becomes a track across the dam.



On the other side of the pool we noticed these remains tucked away in the trees, anyone know what it might have been? It is the only part of the building still standing, the rest is the piles of bricks strewn in front of it.


On the other side of this wall was this cross built in to it.


It is surprising what little gems can be found so close to the canals.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winsford Top Flash to Wheelock

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Definitely autumn is here already. However we did see a rainbow this morning once we had turned onto the Trent and Mersey canal. As we came to Booth Lane locks we started to meet a lot of boats coming the other way, well at least 5, which I thought would mean there would be lots of room at Wheelock, wrong!

We did however manage to get in next to Oakfield, and had a brief chat with them. As we were chatting Hadar started to list dramatically, and a quick probe with the short mop and she was sitting on something solid, so I checked  further in front and there was good deep water so when the lock emptied and the pound rose in level we moved forward to the next ring and equilibrium was restored.

After lunch we walked to Sandbach, and on the way we passed Sandbach School, which the original buildings date from 1849, and look very impressive. They even have a proper cricket pavilion for the cricket ground.

sandbach school

Once in the town centre we were pleasantly surprised at the town, and it’s many fascinating buildings. In the old market square are the crosses and the memorial, surrounded by some beautiful buildings.

Sandbach Crosses

Buildings & memorial

This is the Market Hall.

Market Hall

It was well worth the walk from the canal.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Coole Pilate to Winsford Top Flash.

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So much for our 6:00am starts, it was 5:55am this morning! That is a couple of times we have set off before 6:00am. A coldish start, more akin to an autumnal morning, with a heavy mist laying over the canal as we set off.


The mist disappeared once the sun rose above the horizon.


Once again all the locks, the 2 at Hack Green, and the first 2 on the Middlewich branch, were in our favour again. By the time we arrived at Barbridge junction, the sun had started to warm things up, and my donkey jacket came off. At least the only boats queuing at locks were going the opposite direction. With only one boat moored at the moorings above Winsford Top Flash, which moved off after we tied up, we had the choice of moorings, with an excellent view across the Weaver valley from here.

Winsford Top Flash


Friday, August 12, 2011

Market Drayton to Coole Pilate Leisure Area

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A drizzly start this morning, but very quiet. Unfortunately someone beat us to the top lock at Adderley and we had them all against us. Fortunately by the time we arrived at top lock Audlem there were boats coming up so this helped. At the bottom lock we met George  who has a veg patch beside the lock, and uses the old lock hut as a shop. He retails as George’s Pork and Poultry.


Jo bought some onions and lemons from him, so could be lemon drizzle cake for the weekend, along with apple pie with the apples we bought at lock 8 of the Audlem flight. We do like to support people like this, who after all are trying to provide a service for boaters, good on them. But I do wonder if everyone does put the money in the honesty box at lock 8? We did, but I know there are less than honest people around, especially these days. I know if it was me I wouldn’t trust anyone.

We have moored up at Coole Pilate Leisure Area between bridge 83 & 84, a 48 hour mooring with a wider towpath area, with benches and stands for BBQ’s all provided for boaters by the Shropshire Union Canal Society. All this and a great view of the countryside across the canal, who could want more?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goldstone to Market Drayton

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A cool and windless start this morning, and despite all 5 Tyrley locks being against us, we were through the bottom lock by 7:30am, a bit too early to expect boats to be moving out of Market Drayton and vacating the moorings, so we moored up below the bottom lock and had a coffee. As we waited a boat came towards us from Market Drayton so we enquired about moorings at Drayton, and they assured us that there was plenty of room before Bridge 62, so we set off, and low and behold there was plenty of room on the ringed moorings, which was ideal. Moored up we set off with our rucksacks for the town, and discovered a new small Asda, so in we popped and did our shopping. Upon returning to Hadar I got chatting to Colin & Carole on “The Wool Boat”. They are based at Burscough on the Leeds & Liverpool, and this is the first time we have met them.

Market Drayton

The wind has returned, but plenty of time this afternoon to explore Market Drayton.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wheaton Aston to “The Wharf Inn” at Goldstone


It was so cold this morning I had to put a 2nd pair of socks on! My feet were freezing. My calculations for journey times are all over the place. I reckoned we would make Norbury junction by 10:00am and stop there. We passed through there about 8:40am, way too early to stop so we carried on. However we did have a quick chat with Roy on “Gerald No.13” whilst he was taking on water there, and then we saw Peter Underwood on “Blackberry Way” and Colin Hobbs on “Go For It”, both moored up opposite the junction. Further on we passed Gill and Don on “Iduno” who were underway heading south.

We have made it to Goldstone and are moored opposite the “Wharf Tavern” ready to pass through Woodseaves Cutting and Tyrley locks early tomorrow morning.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Wheaton Aston

Wheaton Aston

Autumn has arrived early, well by the weather this morning you would think so. A later start this morning, 7:00am, with a short run to Wheaton Aston, where we topped up with water, emptied toilet cassette and dumped rubbish. Then onto Turner’s to top up with diesel, then reversed back through the bridge ‘ole to moor up and await some visitors this afternoon.

Our visitors Greg and Marika arrived safely. I first met them when I taught them how to rock climb. They live in Australia, but the spent some years living in the UK, and Greg worked at the same place as me, which is how we met. We did see them before during another visit whilst Hadar was being built. They are over at the moment on an extended tour of Europe, and are finishing off by visiting the UK and all their friends they made whilst living here. Before lunch we showed them around Hadar, which they found fascinating. We had lunch together at the Hartley Arms, which was excellent value for money, along with a nice pint of Banks’s. After lunch we walked to Wheaton Aston lock and we explained how it worked as boats passed through. We hope they have a great time meeting up with our friends from the Ipswich Mountaineering Club where they are now heading for.


It was a great to see them again.  We hope they enjoy the remainder of their trip and have a safe journey home.


Friday, August 05, 2011

The Bratch to Park Bridge Moorings.

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Park Bridge Moorings

The last early start this week, and no drizzle. Either I or Jo has stood in something, as yet again all the locks were in our favour, apart from one which had about a foot of water in it, overnight leakage. It has made an amazing difference to our journey times, we have achieved 3.96 lockmiles/hour (10.2 miles 7 locks in 4hrs 20mins), and we have moved further than anticipated. We had thought of stopping at Compton, but having arrived there by 8:30am we decided to carry on. We have also decided to head north up the Shroppie, and return by the Middlewich branch and T&M. At Autherley junction the Anglo Welsh boats were on there turn  around day, with old crews departing and new crews arriving. We carried on to the 48hr moorings between Hunting Bridge No.7 and Park Bridge No.8, a very popular mooring spot, so we are lucky to have got a mooring here, but we timed it right, just as we were approaching 2 boats set off, leaving us a space to slide into.

The sun is shining, we have a good mooring for the weekend, beer is in the fridge, what could be better?