Thursday, September 15, 2022

Back to Brinklow

Graham was up and at-em at 8am to try and make back some time lost yesterday afternoon. Brenda stayed in bed and enjoyed the cup of he tea he’d delivered before starting.

What followed was a pleasant days cruising along familiar waters. Graham liked the flower bed made from an old narrowboat that stands at the entrance to Mancetter marina.


Wildlife of the day was hearing what we believed to be three Jays having a contretemps in woodland adjacent to the canal. Our ornithological skills were confirmed when one took off and flew over us.

Between Nuneaton and Bedworth an enormous new warehouse is being constructed. I have never seen one this big before.



Near Marston Junction we met an Ashby hireboat in the bridge hole. Luckily we did not hit and managed to pass with no-one being hurt in the incident.


As we approached Bedworth we notice that Grace, the boat of our friends Christine and Terry was moored on their garden mooring so we pulled over for a chat, cuppa and cake on Jannock. They had only been home for 20 minutes after being out on their own cruise up the Ashby canal.

Meeting over, we continued down to Hawksbury junction where we turned onto the North Oxford canal and passed through the shallow stop lock. The rural smell of farmland being enriched (muck spreading) dominated once we were through Ansty but for 1 mile between bridges 19 and 24 the smell changed and so did the colour of the canal water – it smelt and looked as if the canal had been polluted with processed sewage (no floating bits). Graham decided to ring CaRT and report it, he was not the first and they are investigating.


Back into Brinklow marina and refill the diesel tank with 145 litres before battling the cross wind to get to our pontoon mooring. Back home tomorrow once Graham has fetched the car from Atherstone.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A problematic day

After a nice quiet night not far from a railway, we set off towards Atherstone at 9am in nice ‘cor what a scorcher’ sunshine – however it soon turned to ‘hints of autumn’. During this lock free part of the cruise, Graham repaired the toilet that he managed to break last evening.


We started up Atherstone flight of 11 locks following another boat with yet another following us. There were plenty of boats coming down so it worked out quite well. There were two volunteer lockies looking after the top two locks and we were soon out and then moored up on the straight above the top lock.


Once lunch was finished, Graham set off to fetch the car from Rugeley whilst Brenda planned to visit the shops of Atherstone, The DiBlasi got a rear wheel puncture on the A5 road near Tamworth so Graham pushed the bike down the slip road and chained it to a fence outside Starbucks. He then consulted Google maps and managed to get to Rugeley using his bus pass on three buses. He then brought the car back to Tamworth to collect the DiBlasi and return it to Atherstone.

Meanwhile Brenda had raided the charity shops for two tops and a book with change from £6 before food shopping in Alde and returning to the boat fully laden.

Back on Jannock and G removed the bike’s back wheel and patched two separate punctures made by a metal spike in the inner tube. Re-assembled and ready to go again all before bedtime. Luckily the boat we are moored in front of had a PIR floodlight mounted alongside the tunnel light which helped him see what he was doing as it got dark.

Easy day tomorrow with only 1 lock to worry about.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Onto the Coventry canal

As Graham started to un-tie us this morning another boat came past immediately followed by the boat moored behind us getting away before we did and so we knew there would be at least two other boats in front of us when we got to Wood End lock at Fradley.


As It turned out, we were fifth in the queue when we got there. The queue remained at five all the time we were there. Once through, we had to wait for Shadehouse lock and then went straight through Middle lock.

Turning left onto the Coventry canal and through the swingbridge we found the second waterpoint was free so we stopped and filled the water tank, once Graham had forced open the waterpoint with a screwdriver. The lock was very loose and the cover would not open.


Then, on down under the A38 and past Streethay wharf, Huddlesford and onto Whittington where Brenda had another boat clout Jannock hard and then it’s steerer blame her for going so fast he didn’t see her. She was actually in reverse when he struck and our timelapse dash-cam footage shows that he was veering across the canal in front of Jannock immediately before impact.


Then on through Hopwas where we followed a Kingfisher down the canal. Onto Fazely to Glascote locks where we ascended both following, and being followed by, single handed boaters. We continued on to Alvecote where Graham spotted a small hill separating the canal from the railway just before the marina. Hopefully it will reduce the noise from the mainline railway that runs parallel to the cut. 


We moored up and then whilst having dinner, spotted a Fox working it’s way through the woods on the opposite bank. Graham got the camera ready but couldn’t get a photo of it, however he did get a good picture of a squirrel, harvesting acorns in an oak tree above where the Fox was last seen. There was a brief but nice sunset out the back doors of Jannock tonight.


Monday, September 12, 2022

Using the bus to fetch the car.

After a lovely quiet night in the picturesque surroundings of Tixall wide, we set off this morning in improving weather after last night’s rain and had a bitty sort of day.


Up to Gt Haywood junction and hard right towards Rugeley. At Haywood lock we went straight in after an ascending boat had left. Then onto Colwich lock where we arrived to be third in the queue – one ascending boater told us of queues of ten boats yesterday late afternoon so they had moored up and spent the night below the lock. I wonder if that queue was caused by the towing pair we met at Tixall lock yesterday. They had already slowly completed two locks when I spoke to them there.

We continued on to Rugeley where we moored up near bridge 66 just before 1pm. A quick lunch and we walked up to Wharf road to catch the 828 bus to Stafford. The 828 didn’t arrive but we caught the 826 fifteen minutes later. This took us to Gaol square bus station where we alighted and walked down to Sainburys where we caught the 5A to Gnosall Heath to fetch the car. We love our free bus travel passes.


Back at Rugeley just after 4pm so Brenda went to Tescos for provisions while Graham parked the car and opened up the boat.


We then set off and passed through Armitage tunnel to moor for night at bridge 58 Handsacre. This is the location of Michael’s fish and chip shop where we fetched our supper from. The residence opposite where we are moored is a duck feeding house and chaos broke out when the food appeared just after Graham had tied us up.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Mooring space at Tixall Wide

We set off at 9:45 this morning and immediately had to pass through Filance lock where we encountered a large collection of mountain bikers out for a ride.


At Longford lock it was easy to see that the whole lock has been rebuilt including new bottom gates. It is a shame that the steps across the top of the gates are not chamfered enough and so are prevent the gates from closing properly. This will mean the gates distort every time the lock is filled which is likely to promote rapid wear.


The south bound traffic on the M6 was stationary with Police and Ambulance blues running down the left hand lane that would have been the hard shoulder. I wonder if they get hampered by legitimate lane users.


We continued on past Acton Trussell and Stafford boat club (SBC) to moor at Radford Bridge where Graham had reserved a table for 1pm at the Radford Bridge Inn ( a Pizza and carvery establishment)  – got to have a roast on a Sunday!  The meal was excellent with a good selection of well cooked vegetables and you can have all four roast meats if you wanted to.


Once we were fed and watered, we carried on Northwards, past this excellent children’s garden to Tixall lock where we had to wait for two ascending boats that we being rope hauled through. It would appear that one boat was towing the other to SBC for work next week as it’s engine was broken. However, the owner of the towboat didn’t want to use his Lister engine to pass through the lock as he didn’t want to break it. It would appear that they had been annoying boaters at two other locks before Tixall.


A strange day but our reward was finding somewhere to moor at Tixall wide and so we achieved one of Graham’s long held ambitions.


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Goodbye Shroppie

Wildlife of the day – FOUR Kingfishers.

After an exceedingly peaceful night in a dark cutting we had a late start this morning, fuelled by chocolatines – hot from the oven. It is Saturday after all.


A nice run down from Brewood spotting this Kingfisher sat posing for us between bridges 7 and 6. Then under the busy M54 and on past Wolverhampton boat club who had a weekend rally on celebrating their 60th anniversary.


Finally down to Autherley stop lock where we were assisted through the lock by the couple who live on the first moored boat opposite the hire base. They told us of a family that returned their hire boat after just four days because the Wifi stopped working. Apparently their two teenagers couldn’t exist without it and the data allowance had been all used up in the first three days.

Left onto the Staffs and Worcester canal, meeting two other boats in the narrow cutting just north of the junction. Luckily both were met at points where Jannock could move across into the layby there while the southbound boats passed.


At Coven Graham spotted his all time favourite boat name written on the bows of a white fibreglass cruiser – “Wibbly Wobbly Floaty Thing”. CaRT had only managed to fit Wibbly Wobbly on the licence paperwork.

We continued on through Calf Heath and started meeting the five locks we planned to do today at Gailey. As we ran alongside the M6 motorway above Rodbaston lock we had not one but two Kingfishers flying along together in front of us.Although I had the camera ready they dived into a large tree not to be seen again.


We moored for the night by the Cross Keys pub. Brenda went for a walk to get some bread and found a nearby convenience store about 5 mins from the canal. It was staffed by an Asian lady and the Samosas she bought there were excellent. The church bells at Penkridge were ringing - not sure if that was for the coronation of practicing for a special church service tomorrow to mark the passing of QE II.


Friday, September 09, 2022

Car moving day

After last night’s recce, we started today by moving Jannock half a mile to be near bridge 34 – this made it easier to get the DiBlasi onto the road as it had a ramp for access and not steps.

Graham then set off on the 33 mile car recovery trip back to Barbridge. Car fetched and suitably parked in Gnosall Heath ready for the next leg, he arrived back at Jannock just after 12 and so we were off.


Once through the tunnel, all 84 meters of it, we continued down the Shroppie through alternating cuttings and embankments, showing how this canal was engineered for speed, to Wheaton Aston where Graham planned to top up the diesel tank. However, with one boat being served and another waiting, he decided to continue back to the marina and fill there. So we continued on to, and up, Wheaton Aston lock instead.


Then through more wooded cuttings and across Telford’s A5 aqueduct where it started to rain just as we were entering Brewood. We moored for the night on the visitor moorings in the cutting just after Brewood bridge – at least the tree cover here meant that Graham could moor up without getting soaked.


Thursday, September 08, 2022

Up Tyreley locks and onto Gnosall

Last evening we wandered into Market Drayton to visit the Red Lion, Joules Brewery tap house. A lovely pub, good food as well it seemed although we didn’t eat there. The Mouse Room was wonderful with carved panels by – the Mouse man.


As we left Market Drayton this morning, our planned water-fill at the service station was thwarted by two boats already there and one tap apparently out of use. Never mind we’ll fill at the top of Tyreley flight.

We passed one of the more filthy, unkempt, run down boats that are all too common. Curtains and contents the colour of coffee, white and bright no longer a concept. It makes you wonder if some of the worst slum accommodation in our country is now on the canals where there are no agencies readily available to help those who want, need or deserve it.

We approached Tyreley locks with trepidation after our 2019 experience of fast flowing by-washes. The bottom lock outlet has been fitted with a corrugated baffle and it proved no problem. The stonework opposite shows that someone has had a worse experience than ours was. Is this what it takes before remedial action is taken.


At the second lock two blokes with bicycles were helping a boat down. The ‘official’ CaRT vo-lockie said that they were not part of CaRTs organisation but just liked helping. As Jannock left the bottom lock heading for the second, they opened all the top paddles in the 2nd lock

– to reduce the by-wash effect they claimed. Graham shouted at them to drop the paddles. Doing that is very dangerous because if one of the bottom gates had started to close then there is a possibility that the lock could have been taken out of action with a knackered bottom gate with the water from 3 fully open paddles against it when it hit the cill.


Out the top lock and onto the waterpoint to fill the tank. The cottages here are always a pretty sight as they, and their flowers, are very well maintained. Onward to Shebdon where we pulled in alongside nb Wandering Snail for a catch up with Anne and Olly. While here we noticed that our old Brinklow neighbours, Graham and Frankie, were moored just two boats away so had a chat with them as well.

The promised rain arrived as we were approaching Norbury Junction. A moored boat had two little girls fishing with their nets off of the back deck.We asked if they had caught anything – not even a mermaid apparently. Then the next northbound boat we passed had a lady aboard sporting long locks of many bright colours so we asked her to tell the two girls that she was a mermaid. She smiled and agreed to.

We continued on to Gnosall Heath and moored before the bridge (35). In the evening we did a quick recce for likely parking spaces and a suitable place to get the Di Blasi off of the towpath – that would be a bridge 34 then.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Today HRH Queen Elizabeth II died. Yesterday she was working, making sure Boris finally left and welcoming Liz Truss as PM. She had sat alone at her husband Philip’s funeral because of Covid restrictions brought into law by Johnson, who himself then flagrantly ignored them and continued partying at the same time. Rest in peace with your beloved Prince Ma’am!


Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Audlem and Adderley

Graham was up at 8am and we were off at 09:15 having had a very peaceful night alongside the ‘secret nuclear bunker’ (Sssssshh!) The offside fields were full of Canada Geese along this section. 


We arrived at Audlem bottom lock just after 10am and made steady progress up the flight of 15 locks meeting boats coming down at most of them.


Some of the top lock gates in these locks are leaking very badly as shown in the photos below but I suspect they are very low priority in CaRTs maintenance budget as they are within a flight. The gates on both the top and bottom locks were noted to be in good order.


Out of the top lock just after 12 and so we pulled over just after Kemps bridge for lunch before tackling Adderley flight of 5 locks. Lunch taken during a heavy rain storm we then continued on once it had stopped.

A boat was just leaving as we arrived so the first 3 locks were in our favour with just the last two needing turning. Out of the top lock and the rain returned so Graham donned a coat and steered through the rain for about 15 minutes.

We moored up on the visitor moorings between bridge 64 and 63 in Market Drayton (MD) just before a thunderstorm arrived.


After dinner, with the weather dry again, we walked up into MD and visited the Joules Brewery tap at the Red lion Inn. Then called into Asda for milk and provisions on our walk back to Jannock.


Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Down through Nantwich

The school holidays are over. The heatwave seems to have finished as well, although the canal system is still woefully short of water and much of the green and pleasant land is still yellow and brittle.

After a two week break (which included a three day trip to Cornwall and North Devon, visiting our old haunts in the days of small children and meeting up with members of both of our families) we have returned to Jannock.


The shorter journey to Barbridge was much better than taking most of the day on the motorways to get further North. There was no need for Aircon and so we arrived and moved back aboard in comfort – just before the rain started.

After all was stowed, beds made and lunch eaten, we set off towards Nantwich at 2:30pm. How civilised, and no risk of heat stroke (or frost-bite;-)


As we passed the junction we spotted all the pumps that CaRT have been using to refill the long pound above the locks. We stopped at Nantwich basin wharf, just past the services, to get a valet pump-out – grade 1. Never had such a thorough treatment at a commercial wharf before.


Then on across the embankment and on to Hack Green locks where we ascended following a hire boat and then moored for the night on the visitor moorings just past bridge 85. The bottom gates of lock 2 are leaking water badly - this sort of 'lack of maintenance' issue is the reason for so many canals have lock flights closed at present.


Sunday, August 21, 2022

And onto the Shroppie

Plane of the day – a Hawker Hurricane

It rained hard during the night, and there was a shower first thing as well. It was very unusual to see early morning boaters wearing waterproofs, not something we’ve been familiar with this summer. Some hirers had faith in continuing good weather of course, a hardy breed in their shorts and tee shirts with utter determination that the day will be sunny.

The locks in Middlewich were very busy, so it was sad to see many (most?) of the Anderson hire fleet moored up with no sign of being “turned-around” for holiday makers. Boats in both directions through the locks usually mean life is easier but some people have their own way of doing things which had folk scratching their heads wondering what was going on.

Out of the top lock and hard right into the Middlewich arm where we waited for the boat in front of us to ascend Wardle lock. Once through that we had the canal almost to ourselves again although it became busier the nearer we got to Barbridge.

Left onto the Shroppie mainline and the area around the Barbridge Inn was like Piccadilly circus. Where Graham wanted to leave Jannock is now a 48hr mooring so we continued on through bridge 100 and moored just after on a 14 day mooring. Should be secure as bows were moored to piling even though the stern was on two pins.

A hirer who was moored behind us returned from the pub and asked us where they could wind to return to the junction. We advised using Hurlestone junction but he said that someone in the pub had told him to turn where the willow tree is. He then cast off and tried to turn where we were moored, until the far side land owner advised him that his tree was a not a willow tree and that was why he was unable to turn. The hirer then moved further down the cut and successfully winded after the willow tree.


Saturday, August 20, 2022

Two tunnels, two brief stops

Graham was up and out at 7:30 this morning and returned at 8 with a container of blackberries as we didn’t have anything to carry them in last night. Two hire boats passed us before 9am. After the dearth of boats ooop North, any boats are a novelty – even hire boats.


We travelled past the Black Prince Acton base where they have a couple of the new liveried dark blue boats as well as lots of red and blues. Then on through Saltisford and Barnton tunnels where we didn’t have to wait at all. As we approached the entrance to the latter a boat was emerging so we went across (whilst signalling) to pass on the other side so that they could exit the tunnel easier. The steerer rewarded us by telling us that we “ were on the wrong side of the canal”. Cheek, The ‘right side’ would have upset him more. Wish we hadn’t bothered.


Round the corner to Barnton wharf where we stopped to off-load some of our surplus into our car placed here yesterday. Then on past the ‘closed’ Anderton lift desperately trying to avoid hitting numerous Day boats that managed to get them selves on the wrong side, and in one case right across, the cut as we approached. New steerers always make the same mistake, rather than slowing right down and steering around a problem they always hit reverse hard and swing themselves out of control.


We stopped at Anderton services for a water fill. Having no CaRT pump-out card available (the last one didn’t work 18 months after we had purchased it as an emergency precaution) and not being able to find a suitable mains drainage manhole cover, Graham didn’t do a self pump-out.


Then on through Marston, Wincham and Rudheath towards Middlewich. Graham has always fancied mooring at Bramble Cuttings but it was occupied and way too early when we got there, so we carried on and moored for the night at Croxton Flash. The orange markers on the concrete bank here indicate that CaRT may be installing mooring bollards or rings here soon.


Friday, August 19, 2022

Car shuffle day.

Graham started the day with a 32 mile run on the DiBlasi back to Burscough via Warrington, St Helens and Rainford. He was amused to pass through a village named Clock Face on-route. He then drove our car down to Barnton, near Northwich, returning to Lymm on the Di Blasi again.

Brenda decided that whilst moored in Lymm for the morning she’s seen more boats moving than at any time whilst the other side of the Poolstock/Wigan restriction.

We set off with the intention of stopping at bridge 15 to dispose of a weeks worth of rubbish at the canal side waste recycling unit immediately before the bridge. Luckily there was a gap in the line of moored boats that we could briefly stop in.

We then planned visiting the Heritage Centre, shown in Nichs’ map the other side of the canal to Walton Hall. We moored up at bridge 13 and then walked down the road past all the lovely 1880s estate cottages. We passed the crematorium and went all the way down to the pub and village hall on the main road – no sign of a Heritage centre anywhere. Graham then googled ‘Walton Hall Heritage centre’ to find that it is actually the Walton Hall estate on the other side of the canal, where we stopped and visited on the way up to Liverpool on 13th June.

Brenda’s penance for getting it wrong was to buy the ice-creams during the walk back to the boat. Plain vanilla for Graham but smothered in sherbet and sauce for her. Excellent ice-creams – very creamy and filled right to the tip of the very crisp cornet.


We then continued on towards Preston Brook and had to wait 15 minutes to enter the tunnel as this one is time controlled. We had a good rummage at the ‘book and sick’ library that one of the tunnel end canal side cottages has set up. We managed to leave more than we took as we’ve got through a lot of books this summer.


Through Dutton stop lock we then moored for the night alongside Longacre wood. In the evening we went for a walk through the woods and back along the towpath, spotting some lovely blackberries on our way. We also spotted a local cat that had caught a mouse and was playing with it on the lawn.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Evening visitors in Lymm

After s nice peaceful night we set off at 9am – destination Dunham Massey – how ever, by the time we had crossed the Barton Swing Aqueduct, past Waters meet and down through Stretford and Sale, it was way too early to stop so we continued on to Lymm.


The water levels in the Manchester ship canal pound that passes below the aqueduct leave a little to be desired – not going to get many ships up there in a hurry.


We got a cheery wave from the operators of the Sale canoe hire base as we passed under the bridge where their base is. Unfortunately one of their canoes, crewed by two middle aged men, was tacking down the Sale straight from side to side with little clue on what other boats were about. Another narrowboat heading towards them (& Manchester) got their attention so they pulled across to the offside and hovered near the boat club moorings. Once he had passed they pulled out right into Jannock’s path again so a blast on the horn got their attention and sent them into the side again.


About 10 minutes later, just after we had passed under the next bridge, Brenda looked back and watched them capsize the canoe. They immediately ignored all the concerned towpath walkers who stopped and swam to the offside boat club moorings instead. If they managed to get out of the canal onto the bank I wonder how they were going to get out of the locked compound.

The promised rain held off and we had made good time so we went to Lymm and arrived to find a prime off side mooring spot free – excellent! We then went shopping ready to receive Trevor (one of Graham’s ex workmates) and Ann for an evening visit.


It was a good evening, plenty of chat of friends, families and shared memories of work and boats. Trevor was brought up in a house backing onto the canal at Worsley, so we fed the Worsleyberries, that we picked not 50m from his old house, for desert. After a good evening thy returned to Wigan just after 10pm and we cleared up and retired to bed exhausted.