Saturday, July 29, 2017

A long day with a wet end.

Saturday 29th July

Having travelled up to Huddleford on Friday evening, I was awake at 6am and it was lovely weather outside. The clear blue sky was streaked with contrails that were smudged by the wind. By the time I had got up, dressed, made tea and cast off lots of clouds had appeared all across the sky accompanied by a cold wind.

I wanted to get Jannock back to her mooring at Brinklow this weekend as life at home is getting busy with my Dad needing toFazelyBirds be found a care home and the work associated with means test form filling etc. that entails.  So, my target for this evening was on the North Oxford canal after Sutton’s Stop.

We had an un-eventful run down through Whittington, Hopwas and Fazely and round the corner into Glascote locks. I love the bird pictures on the factory wall at Fazely.

Once up through Glascote we continued past Alvecote – no time to stop for a pint at the Samuel Barlow – shame! and on through Poleworth to Brenda’s favourite sight. She loves the Alpacas at the farm with alpacasthe disused swingbridge, especially the new born. It appears that she thinks they are sweeeeeeet! Good job she doesn’t own one – she’d find out what they were really like.

Our next task was to grab our lunch on the move before we faced the climb up the Atherstone flight of eleven locks – some spaced out in pairs and some close together. We were following another two boats going up with little coming down so no records broken today. Out of the top lock and on past Hartshill where our summer holiday started almost a month ago.

Passing through Nuneaton, we spotted some lovely big ripe blackberries growing onblackberries the edge of the allotments near the pedestrian bridge. I pulled Jannock over with the rope whilst standing under the bridge, this positioned Brenda, in the foredeck, in exactly the right position to pick them. They were huge, so possibly Loganberries escaped from the adjacent allotments. Once gathered, we decided they were too good to cook so started to eat them as they were – excellent.

As we approached Hawkesbury the rain decided to start. We had to follow an Anglo Welsh boat around the turn but luckily they provided the entertainment for all the pub-goers at the Greyhound. I followed around once they had gone through the lock with a manouvre so good I even impressed myself. Once onto the North Oxford we moored up on the bend as all the other mooring spaces were occupied.

A long day – almost thirteen hours but it guaranteed we could make it back to Brinklow with a chance of me fetching the car before it rains again tomorrow.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #15

Saturday 15th July 2017

Going home day today – G was up and at-em at 7:50am. Just like doing the early airport run. I stayed in bed just like a lazy so and so. Neither of us will do sitting around for a long time in a departure lounge though.ThatTree

We headed south through the drizzle which finally stopped as we approached Fradley junction. We passed down through Wood End lock after the ascending boat left – ideal for both of us as the timing was perfect. Then down to Fradley locks past the scarred tree. We’ve seen a good selection of boats hit that over the thirteen years we’ve owned Jannock.

Only one volunteer lockie on duty at the locks here today and he was sticking to the lock just above the junction. We turned right after a pause while we sat and watched two other boats get their knickers in a twist going round each other at the junction.

Once through the swingbridge, we made our way past Streethay wharf and then moored up on the 14 day moorings (furthest from the Plough) at Huddlesford. Going to be busy next weekend so Jannock will have to stay here for a couple of weeks.

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #14

Trentham to Wolseley Bridge

It has become clear over the last few days that one way New Zealanders avoid their antipidean winters is to come here and freeze and get soaked on the UK canal system! So many NZ flags on hire boats and boats with Maori names.


We pulled out and passed the two ‘Ginger’ boats on the Trentham visitor moorings. The smaller one that we followed down Stoke locks was just starting off as well and fell in behind us. At Barlaston two boats pulled out in front of us and a further three joined in behind. Subsequently a queue built up at Meaford top lock. I could account for 10 boats and the queue was more like a parade.


Graham went down to help lockside whilst I held Jannock in the queue. There were crew mutterings all along and tea was produced. After about 20 minutes I was approached by a tea drinking boater wanting to know “how much longer are we going to be waiting here? How long does it take to turn a bloody lock?” I said “we are waiting for a boat coming up rather than turn the lock on them” He harrumphed. I added that the 2nd lock down only had one ground paddle working so was taking a long time to fill. I almost suggested that he swap his tea for a windlass and give a hand but held my tongue. He then went lockside and had a similar conversation with G and then returned to his boat.


When the ascending boat arrived in the top lock, G went down and turned the second lock after the boat in front of us had passed through, returning to the top lock in time to work Jannock down. When we got to the second lock it was ready so we passed through that rapidly. Having advised the boat behind us that a similar procedure might speed things along we were amused to see that they were still waiting to enter the second lock as we were leaving the bottom one. Oh well, you can tell some people that a lock is slow filling but whether they do anything with that info is up to them.


At the third lock, there were some Oriental visitors taking lots of photos, they even asked permission to take pitures of Jannock but refused a ride down to the bottom lock stating that they did not have sufficient time. They were still taking pitures there as we left the flight. Into stone and past the Railtrack guys working on limekiln railway bridge. They have a pontoon set up around the offside bridge structure and use a moveable section to form a bridge across the canal. We siunded the klaxon to ask whether we could start emptying the lock and so they removed the bridge so we didn’t flush it away.

EssexBridgeDown through Stone without stopping, luckily we didn’t need to as all moorings seemed to be occupied unless you stopped at the far end of the 14 moorings below Star lock. Then on under grey clouds and strong winds to Great Haywood where we stopped for a waterfill and rubbish disposal session. We moored after Haywwod lock so that we could have a wander around the area for an evening constitutional after dinner. We crossed the river, skirted Shugborough, National trust, walking through the meadows after crossing Essex bridge. Then back up into the village to checkout the Rave that was going on. It was a families picnic at the Junior school to mark the last day of the school year. A good time was beuing had by all. Then onto the Cliffs, also NT, to look across the Trent Valley.


Then back to Jannock where we untied and moved on, through Colwich lock to find a countryside mooring away from the trains just past Wolseley Bridge


2017 Summer Holiday Day #13

Bosley Locks to Trentham


The day started with questionable sunshine. The sun endured until we hit Stoke locks where we got cold and wet. The rain continued until we had cleared the bottom lock but it remained chilly. If any-one has lost a Palm Tree – we know where it is!


We made it back down the Maccy passing, but not stopping, at Congleton and through Hall Green lock to join the Trent and Mersey again. Down to the North portal of Harecastle tunnel where we occupied ourselves during the 45 minute wait by having lunch. Anthony, the tunnel keeper said that they had experienced the busiest day of the year yesterday (Wednesday) with 43 passages through. We suspect this was due to the heavy rain we had on Tuesday.


I found it easier going through Harecastle when I could set my own speed as we went through solo, much better than in convoy last week. Out of the other end and we made our way down through Stoke on trent and passed Festival park where we joined the end of a queue of 2 Stone hireboats waiting to descend Stoke locks.

Quite a good run down the flight with me using the bike to set after the 2nd hireboat had left. Out the bottom lock and on to Trentham where we moored for the night just north of the bridge expecting the visitor mooring just South to be busy. Good call! – they were full.


Plans were hatched to visit the Toby carvery for dinner. First disappointment – the discount voucher that we had from Festival Park would not be valid here. Second disappointment – as we arrived many cars were leaving the car park. A hand written note on the door appologised for them being closed due to a technical failure. As we dithered we spotted another crew leaving Martha Ginger and heading towards the carvery as well. We told them the situation and then accosted a couple of locals to find the best alternative. Either a Harvester (5 mins west) or a Hungry Horse (5 mins East) The 5mins to the Harvester turned out to be between 10 and 15 mins.

A table for 6 was obtained and we started swapping boaters tales whilst a nice meal was had, then back to Jannock for tea, coffee, beer and chocolate biscuits as they all wanted to see what a non-hire boat was like. On the way we called into Bargain Booze, as it was open, and obtained bread and milk for tomorrow. They appear to be just a boozed up cornershop now. Thankyou for a lovely evening folks and we hope your last day as hirers went OK. Safe journeys home to Leamington Spa and the USA accordingly.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #12

Strines to bottom of Bosley locks

Graham was up and at-em before 8am, setting off towards Marple in much welcomed sunshine – warmth? – not so much but it got better as the day went on.


We achieved the Bosley flight of 12 locks in 1 1/2 hours today, excellent (considering it took us 3 hours to ascend last Sunday) That said, I needed cheering up after a poo-plosion at the services by the top lock. M and A will be pleased with the knowledge that they are not the only ones to have to deal with that event. We decided to do a self pump-out at the sani-station before decending the locks. I thought the techno-gubbins at the disposal end of the pump system was leaking a bit but this was just an advanced warning before it broke completely sending it’s contents towards me instead of down the drain. It would appear that when needed, I can move quite fast.


Our subsequent passage down the locks was very good, passing a few ascending boats on the way and most locks set in our favour. What a treat! Once down we moored up on the visitor moorings for the night alongside Tunnel Tug No. 1. A lovely old Black Country tug, owned by Tony who lives alongside the Basingstoke canal at Woking. We were then joined by the crew of nb Poppy – he’s a retired Radio Engineer who has worked on a lot of things that Graham is now involved in. An evening of techno-talk was had by all with a brief intermission whilst a recipe for Staffordshire Oatcakes was passed on.


Whilst we were sat chatting, a very lovely boat came passed on which the steerers mate was looking very overdressed.Graham remarked that it was usual to see boat crew wearing collar and tie (and tan brogues) which were a little formal for boating. The steerers response was “he’s American”. Business suit or ballgown for your next trip american A?

Our hope was that we might see the moon rise like we saw here last Saturday evening, unfortunately it’s a lot colder tonight so we didn’t stay out long enough to find out.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #11

Bugsworth basin to Strine

This morning I got up early and moved Jannock from Bugsworth to Whaley Bridge via a tight turn, a loosed off Plastic cruiser and the winding point in Whaley Bridge basin.There seems to be alot more boats moored in the basin now than when we last visited and so turning was not as easy as I expected. Godd job we filled with water at Bugsworth yesterday.

TicketInspectorOff for a day’s ‘holiday from our holiday’ today – we caught the train from Whaley bridge station and spent a lot of the day exploring Buxton. It would be a shame to miss the Peak District scenery and do a bit of old school tourism. In the station there was a sculpture of a ticket collector made of old parts found in the maintenance workshop when it was closed down. Apparently the sculture was named Joe by Alexei Sayle in memory of his dad.

Buxton is a lovely town to visit, even in the rain. We wandered around the town, upper and lower, and had fish and chips for lunch in the Coach House. We even had ‘proper’ mushy peas with them, none of your Southern squashed up frozen peas here also served with chopped up onions soaked in malt vinegar and a mug of tea – excellent. The Coach House is up the hill, on the right as you face the front of the town hall.


It was carnival week in Buxton and all around the town were sculptures made from MaryQueenofPotsflower pots. We decided that although the Elephant family outside a Thai restaurant were good, we liked Mary Queen of Pots outside the Playhouse.

I also managed to obtain some ironmongery bits that I’ve been looking for in one of those old fashioned shops that you know will have everything in stock – excellent. I can now support the magnetic double glasing with some corner brackets. It was definately worth the train fare then ;^)

Back to Whaley bridge and we moved up to Tesco so that Brenda could fetch some essentials. It seems that Tesconetto’s Knickerbocker glory is our new favourite variety. Shopping completed, we set off in the rain and made our way past the four swing/lift bridges so that I can make an early start tomorrow. My target is Bosley top lock for tomorrow evening ready for a descent on Thursday morning and then through Harecastle.


I loved this extractor vent on the Matlow Swizzels factory – almost fully caked in sugar. We finally moored up just past bridge 22 – both soaking wet and cold.


Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day#10

Higher Poynton to Bugsworth Basin

We set off to skirt Greater manchester today and had Manc weather all the way. Makes going back to work/school more bearable after the lovely weekend weather I suppose.


Thought of the day – If CRT increasingly advise us to wear lifejackets on the cut and boaters tend to ignore this advice because we understand the risks and the shallowness of the water (see yesterdays pic), why do some boaters keep their first line of safety, their lifering, so far out of reach to make it a waste of time having it?

Approaching Strines, we saw a small ‘stoat’ like animal swimming in the canal. It bounced of the boat and headed back to the bank and climbed out and was away into the hedge before Brenda was able to get a photo. Shame!


On through lovely countryside, past small villages and views across the valley to peaks covered in cloud. Deep breaths were taken as we cruised by the Matlow swizzels factory – I wonder if they have a factory shop? It certainly brought memories of our youth flooding back.

Target achieved – we pulled into Bugsworth basin at 2:30pm and did a lap of the middle and upper basins before filling with water near the guaging point and then reversing into the lower basin for our overnight mooring – thankyou Brian and Diana (nb Harnser) for the advice about the A6 road noise on your blog.

We were ready to explore the area but the weather had other ideas, the rain didn’t clear until 6:30pm and we’d had dinner by then.


Off for an evening constitutional, a walk around the basin before heading off up the tramline trail. This was the route that was used to bring stone down from the quarries into the basin for processing and onward shipping to Manchester and other locations. We found the village of Whitehough and the Old Hall Inn. The eight handpumps with an excellent selection of ales plus the long list of bottled Belgian beers made the uphill ‘stroll’ worthwhile. A lovely Inn that still does rooms like an Inn should.

At one point, near a vinyl factory, the old tramway sleeper supports are still visible through the tarmac surface of the road where the delivery lorries bring supplies into the factory.


During our return walk we found the village well surrounded by wild strawberries. We seem to have now left wild raspberry counrty so we ate strawberries instead ;^)  Back to the basin and a visit to the navigation Inn, more real ale but pricier than the Old Hall Inn . The food on offer here even looked expensive by Oxfordshire standards and the interior wasn’t as nice.


Back to the boat for 9:30pm, just in time to watch a heron catch and eel in the middle basin and then have difficulty eating it.

We are planning to have a holiday from our holiday tomorrow – more info after the event.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day#9

Bosley bottom lock to Higher Poynton

Last night we watched a moon-rise over the hills from our lovely peaceful mooring at the bottom of Bosley lock flight. This morning we were breakfasted and ready to go at 9:15, into the bottom lock following two other boats up the flight. Unfortunately the first of the two was a single hander so progress up the flight was slow and labourious until we started meeting boats coming down the flight of 12 locks.


Ascending this flight is also more complex due to the top gates not having a walkway across them. I developed a process where I used Jannock’s long boat hook to pull the far side gate closed after the boat had left the lock.


Once out of the locks we made our way through the lift bridges to Macclesfield, unfortunately following a deep draughted trad style boat that had an unusual approach to passing through bridges – he would go into neutral to pass through the bridge, then into reverse once the bridge was cleared before slowly building up speed again. They pulled over to stop at bridge 38 which allowed us to continue on at a normal pace. We also spotted this guy doing some painting on his boat.



We continued on through Bollington, and over the now re-opened aquaduct, to continue on to Higher Poynton where we moored alongside the sportsfield, opposite the ‘wide’. We had been informed that the Poynton fete was on today but moored up at 5pm just as they were packing it all away. During dinner, taken on the foredeck, we watched Kingfishers and a canoeing photographer who was trying to take pictures of them.


We had a meet up with friends who live in Higher Poynton (and are soon to move into a canalside cottage – lovely) and the original plan was to visit the Boars Head for a drink but we ended up in the snug at Jannock. The view was superb as the sun went down. We watched a pair of Kingfishers flitting along looking for supper, there was a Heron fishing and Swifts catching flies. Large fish were coming to the surface.


We met Dave, every pub has a Dave but our Dave was in his inflatable canoe filming the wildlife on the canal. He came alongside for a beer and told us tales of adventure and photography. He did the drone photography for the TV series about the National Trust at Lyme House. He also has a Kingfisher  video on Youtube here ( Thankyou A & K, we had a lovely evening. We’ll have to save the Boars Head for next visit ;^)


Saturday, July 08, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #8

Harecastle South portal to Bosley locks

HarecastleAs the tunnel keepers at Harecastle start at 8am, and we did not know whether

Northbound or Southbound BeingFollowedwere going first, it was an early start for us to be ready to enter the tunnel at 8:30am. We were second in a convoy of about 7 boats but were following an old trad boat. The boat following us had two very bright headlights on, I definitely would not want to meet him coming the other way in a two way tunnel.

We were through and out the of the other end by 9:15 and then turned left onto the Macclesfield canal which Maccyjnctnruns parralel to the Trent & Mersey for a while and then crosses over to head North East. We then ate our breakfasts as we travelled to Hall Green Lock.

We then made our way passed Sherbourne Wharf marina, where we spotted Brian’s old boat Kyle moored up on the outside. Apparently this boat is for sale through Heyford wharf brokerage according to the boat yard man we spoke to. We pressed on to Congleton visitor moorings where we tied up for a shopping trip to town.

PubIntWe were also looking for a particular pub to try but found a beer festival in town instead so we didn’t go to the original pub as it was too far out of town. We did visit the Beartown Cock and the Prince of Wales, the latter had wonderful internal decoration as well as serving a very good chicken balti pie for lunch – Pie and a Pint = result!

Congleton is a god stop for shopping and pubs. All the ususal stuff to buy and a Morrisons as well. Downhill to the town from bridge 76, left past the imposing town hall and it’s all there. IMG_3318

Once back on Jannock we carried on in lovely sunshine until we found the moorings at the bottom of Bosley lock flight (12 in all). The countryside has become increasing nicer, when England’s this good it’s lovely to stay here with no airports to hassle you.

Graham & Brenda

Friday, July 07, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day #7

Park Lane to Harecastle South Portal

We made two stops today, firstly we visited the Potteries Museum and Art gallery (accessed from bridge 8) followed by calling into the Bridgewater Pottery and tearooms on our way back to the boat, then we stopped at the Toby Carvery, Festival Park for our dinner.

Last night we were able to sit out and chat with very lovely people on the towpath – it’s been a while since we last had that pleasure. It was only spoiled by an Spitireinconsiderate dog owner. The beautifuly behaved German Shepherd pup with the people we were chatting with took a fancy to graham, the owners of the boat moored in front of Jannock left their dog in their boat whilst they went up the pub. It barked loudly for all the hours whilst they were out except when someone walked past the boat – then it remained quiet. On their return, Graham asked if they knew that their dog barked all the time they were away from the boat, it was obviously distressed. Yes, they knew and seemed not to mind; poor doggie.

We said farewell to the Caldon canal today after pausing for a couple of hours attea bridge 8 visitor moorings whilst visiting the museum and pottery. The Bridgewater Pottery tearooms were excellent, the crockery was a delight and nothing matched, the mugs and teapot were a proper size and we could not drink all the tea. And there was cake; it looked home made and was far cheaper that back home! Canalside- almost, and a good lunch stop.

PlateAmongst the many interesting and lovely pieces of pottery at the museum I saw a plate that was decorated in a similar fashion to traditional narrowboat art ‘castles’ pictures. A dead ringer; thing is it was made in 1520 and was Italian, a commission for a wealthy family. There are many theories about the origins of Roses and castles canal art but I’ve never heard 16th Century Italy mentioned.

Then onto Planet lock. The Samosa’s that Graham bought from the shop near here were so good that I had to visit it myself. If you like Indian sweets and snacks, do treat yourself. On the same side as the NHS surgery, look up to the Pharmacy and see the shop on the corner of the road, to the left. That I just pointed and asked for “some of those” did not faze the lady, she told me what things were called – unpronounceable let alone remembered, but tasty.

Down to Bedford St staircase lock where we were caught up, and helped by the Norwegian hirers we’d first met at Consall Forge. It’s their seventh British canal holiday and they are out for 5 weeks. I made the turn round the lint museum all by myself, feeling proud.

Back onto the Trent and Mersey canal to Festival Park marina where we collected Jannock from almost seventeen years ago. We had our evening meal at the Toby Carvery and then moved onto the southern end of Harecastle tunnel where we filled with water and G washed both sides of the boat (with the help of a bit of tricky winding.

Retail Therapy – we met three canal traders, leaving the pub at Milton, on their way to Hanley park for the Carnival celebrations. They were selling Oatcakes – fair enough – hippie accoutrements and fairy paraphenalia and pirate equipment – really? Later we passed a boat selling toasted sandwiches moored alongside Westport lake. Chambers of Commerce, eat your hearts out.


Thursday, July 06, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day#6

Consall Forge to Froghall and back to Park Lane.

IMG_3282Not wanting to lose the Alde chimney we winded before Froghall tunnel, where we met fellow Cutweb members John and Angela on nb Time Out (possibly a micro-GiG as we chatted for a while) and walked to the basin on the other side. IMGP5032A lovely spot for a picnic, now with a tea shop. We viewed the entrance to the Uttoxeter canal, with a single lock joining it to the Caldon and a basin with six pontoons for mooring.

IMGP5034There was a group of kids learning the basics of canoeing, having a lovely time. They all passed through the tunnel. We were told by a pssing cyclist that much of the land in the valley was given to Staffs County Council in 1990 – that would account for school groups and areas given over to walkers and visitors with the Lime furnaces maintained as visitor areas.

We then set off back up the canal towards Cheddleton. On the river section above Consall Forge we met Neil and Linda on nb Earnest heading the other way to us. It turns out that they had plans to visit the Macclesfield canal and, like us, diverted up the caldon whilst the aquaduct repairs occurred.

At Woods lock we found a gent with a windlass helping boats through the lock. He IMG_3283said that he came to that lock to fish just above it, a lovely spot for that. Then a boat came along selling windlasses. He payed £5 for one and now enjoys helping boats through the lock when he’s there fishing. A fisherman at the next lock asked after him and said the the old guy was thinking about getting a bicycle as all he needs to carry is the windlass. Moto – give up fishing and get fit.

Onto Park Lane where we were both glad of the shower block, a nice long cooling shower each.

Stop Press CaRT hope to have the aquaduct open tomorrow (7/7/17) lunchtime if their leak repairs have worked.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

2017 Summer Holiday Day#5

Mill Farm Hanley – Consall Forge

After a very peaceful overnight we set off at 9:15 to move on to Milton so that Brenda could get some bread and milk from the Co-op (top of hill on the left from bridge 18 Milton Bridge), there is also a butchers and a bakers as well as other shops there so a useful stopping point. We then we moved on to Stockton Brook locks where our Nich’s guide had me fooled. Nich’s shows locks 5, 6 8 and 9 on the map but puts lock 7 in a side window. Therefore I was expecting four locks and had a surprise when we found there were actually five ;^).

Lock 8 Stockton

Once out of the un-expected lock 9 we had lunch on the move and then stopped at Park Lane service point to fill with water – not a fast tap but the showers seem good, even non boaters were using them.


At Hazelhurst junction we chose to go down the 3 locks and continue on to Cheddleton. We passed the Hollybush without stopping, we’ll call in there on the way back, and then found Cheddleton locks and all the singletons down to Consall Forge were in our favour. Result!


By chance I managed to get a photo of the last steam train of the day as it passed. None running tomorrow and then they have a Rail Ale event this weekend which we will not be here to try. After a thrash down the river Churnett section we arrived at Consall Forge to find all of the moorings taken so reversed back up the river to moor in the rough behind all the other boats.


The evening was spent at the Black Lion where a good meal, acompanied by excellent beers and a cider with Rhubard ( a grown up version of the sweets we enjoyed as children) that Brenda enjoyed were partaken. The Black Lion also gives a 20% discount on the drinks bill to CAMRA members – result! No wonder our second son enjoyed this establishment so much when the Biscuit Pirates visited a few years ago. Whilst we were eating, the chickens came out into the garden – obviously waiting to be fed and so a couple of the local ducks walked across the railway crossing to the pub to join them.