Friday, 30 September 2011

Onto The River Soar

We have come to the end of the Trent and Mersey Canal and continued onto the River Soar over the last few days – heading back to the boat builders at Thurmaston, Leicester for a few jobs to be done after 4 months of continuous cruising.

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A misty morning just before we left our mooring on the Trent and Mersey Canal at Branston on Wednesday.  It didn’t last long as it has been so hot up here over the last few days the mist soon gets burnt off!

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We passed another well known blogger at Horninglow Basin, Burton on Trent.   Andrew on Granny Buttons wasn’t at home.

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Leaving the Trent and Mersey canal we enter the River Trent.  The expanse of the river is a little different to the canal.  The depth of water also makes the boat go easier (and faster if you want! - a good opportunity to give the engine a bit more stride)

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Here we are filling up with diesel, 95p a litre at Sawley Marina. We also topped up the water tank.  We then went through Sawley Lock (this is an automated lock so there are push buttons instead of having to heave on lock gate beams to open them – a nice change for Doug!).  A quick 1/2 mile further down the River Trent we made a left turn onto the Erewash Canal.  This canal is virgin territory for us and we wanted see what it was like.

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As you can see it was full of duckweed and so thick, as you passed through, it filled in the gap behind us!  It is a very urban canal for the first part and because of the duckweed and so much rubbish floating in it we decided to turn back at Sandiacre Lock and head off the canal and back onto the pristine River Trent.

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Some of the floating homes as we left the canal were amazing – this one reminiscent of a Mississippi steamer. Still on the canal, and just before we left through Trent Lock,  we met Ian and Karen on nb Serenity, (another fellow blogger!)  We had a quick chat with them (as they were blacking their boat in dry dock) before leaving the Erewash Canal.  We may return one day when we have more time and we can be assured of a cleaner canal.

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The last lock  (Trent Lock) on the Erewash Canal next to the Steamboat Inn. The Radcliffe-on-Soar power station in the distance dominates the surroundings for many miles around. We moored just off the canal on the River Trent for the evening.

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Sunset on the River Trent.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Continuing along the Trent and Mersey


Monday 26th September

Today we completed the very short journey (3 miles 7 locks) from Fradley to Alrewas.  We wanted to stop overnight at Alrewas as it’s a nice quiet mooring and we also wanted to revisit to National Memorial Arboretum.  As it happened the weather was fantastic and we had plenty of time – both of which we didn’t have for our previous two visits.  We walked miles around the 150 acre site planted with hundreds of thousands of different trees all maturing nicely.  The atmosphere was very special as we visited many different specific memorials and finally arriving at the central Armed Forces Memorial which honours the 16,ooo who have died in the service of their country since World War Two.  It’s only 20 mins brisk walk from the canal and well worth the visit.


The central Armed Forces Memorial at the arboretum.


Our mooring at Alrewas – very pleasant.

Tuesday 27th September

We left Alrewas to head towards Branston (of pickle fame) – another short trip of 6 miles 4 locks. 013

The Trent river section just outside Alrewas.

We popped in to Barton Marina further on and walked the short distance into Barton-under-Needwood.  A very nice village with a staggering number of pubs!


‘Chance’ at the visitor moorings at Barton Marina.


Back on the ‘road’ again and through one of the narrowest bridges possible – just another couple of inches would have been nice!  By 1pm we had moored at Branston just down from the Bridge Inn.


Doug doing a bit of outside housework at the Branston mooring.

The weather today has been extremely hot and sunny, which we have enjoyed but Oscar has found it a little too warm!  So we spent most of the afternoon on the back deck enjoying the sun.


Red sky at night……..

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Onward to Fradley Junction

Saturday 24th September

We left our lovely quiet moorings and the neighbours were out to see us off:


We’ve ‘herd’ of a foot bridge but this must be a hoof bridge.

We got to Sandon Lock and a very nice chap approached us.  We didn’t know it but he happened to be quite an important person for us – he helped to build ‘Chance’s’ hull with Ken Martin.  He recognised us through the magazine coverage otherwise he wouldn’t have had any idea what the boat eventually would have looked like.


This is Lee – the assistant hull builder.


A very handsome bridge along our journey.


Further along – ‘Chance’ at Hoo Mill Lock – this is a very pretty stretch of the Trent and Mersey canal.

We got to our intended destination of Tixall Wide –which is another of our favourite mooring spots.  We had to turn off the Trent and Mersey and go up the Staffs and Worcs canal a mile to get to it.  We moored here three months ago on our way ‘out’.  It’s just a short walk into Great Haywood and the River Trent where Oscar could have a safe (and clean) paddle.


Oscar in the Trent

Sunday 25th September

Today we left a bit earlier as we wanted to get to Fradley Junction for our next mooring and a late arrival can spell disappointment at the moment: the system is fairly busy with the ‘older’ section of society taking advantage of the good weather, reduced hire boat fees and lack of children and mooring spaces can fill quite fast especially at popular places like Fradley.  We stopped briefly at Rugeley for supplies.


‘Chance’ at Colwich Lock – another pretty lock on the way to Fradley Junction.


This is Spode House – the home of Josiah Spode just outside Armitage.  They certainly liked to show of their wealth in days past!


Just a short distance further on are some ‘narrows’ as the map describes it.  It’s the remains of the collapsed Armitage Tunnel. The modern road bridge now acts as the roof.


Inside the collapsed tunnel – you can see the tops of the original rock faces – and it is very narrow!


We arrived at Fradley Junction at 2pm, just as a boat pulled out just in front of us, which was extremely lucky as it was the only spot left to moor. Tonight we are going to The Swan (mucky duck) for a meal.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Continuing on through Stone

We left our overnight mooring at Barlaston at 10am as we weren’t in any hurry.  The canal is very pleasant and rural with the occasional well kept house and lovely gardens down to the canal edge.  We soon came to the four Meaford Locks dropping us down a total of 35 feet.  The little bridges at the exit to the locks, where the lock setter needs to cross from one side to the other, are in two pieces with a slot between.  This was to allow the rope, of the horse drawn boats, to pass through without having to detach the rope from the boat. Clever!Stone 001

After the four locks we were very soon in Stone.

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‘Chance’ at Lock 29 in Stone (4 in total) – very nice architecture and a quirky little personnel tunnel to go under the road bridge.

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The old ale stores at Joules Wharf.  Everything is built of brick in Stone!!

The last of the four locks is adjacent to the Dolce Vita Restaurant which we used last time we were here on ‘Spirit’ and we couldn’t  resist it this time.   We moored up just down from the lock  and went for lunch - 2 courses for £7.95 or 3 courses for £8.95,  and it was excellent last time and still is!

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The Dolce Vita Restaurant by the lock at Stone. (we briefly thought about leaving ‘Chance’ in the lock while we ate!)

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Unusual Lock Arm at the lock  designed like this as the road bridge runs so close to it. Clever again.

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Tonight we are moored on our own in the middle of nowhere a few bridges past the new Aston Marina.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Separate Ways

After watering up at the last tap on the Macclesfield Canal ‘Toulouse’ and ‘Chance’  set forth on their final trip together (this year anyway).002

‘Chance’ and ‘Toulouse’ leaving this morning.


Soon we arrived at the Harecastle tunnel.  At 2926 yards long it’s pretty impressive.  It takes about 45 minutes to get through – there are officials at either ‘portal’ and you get booked in and told when you can enter.  The other impressive thing, at the North portal, is the colour of the water – a very bright orange!  Which clashed terribly with ‘Chance’s’ colour!


The North portal of the tunnel.  To the right of the picture is Brindley’s original tunnel which required the boats to be ‘legged’ through – men on the backs with their legs against the tunnel wall and they walk the boat through.  The new tunnel, originally with a towpath, was opened in 1827 as the old one caused too many hold ups.


Towards the middle the tunnel ceiling gets quite low!

After the tunnel we sped onwards towards the pottery towns of Middleport and Stoke.  A pitiful sight these days with lots of the surviving buildings urgently needing restoration.


Longport Potbank – a beautiful bottle kiln looming large over the canal.


We journey on until it’s time for the two boats to go their separate ways.  We’ve had a fantastic 10 days travelling with Janet and Gerald on ‘Toulouse’ – thank you for some great times!


We now travel alone down through the locks at Etruria – past this wonderfully refurbished Bone Mill.


Not all the sights are wonderful but there you are!

We took very little time to pass through the attractive village of Hem Heath and, just beyond bridge 104, close to the Wedgwood Pottery museum we arrived at one of our favourite mooring sites. Lovely open countryside views and it was sunny (and windy) – just right to dry the washing!



Our new neighbours came round for a drink!!


What could be better at the end of the day? – after cleaning down the boat that is!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Another normal day?!

Today was our last on the Macclesfield Canal.  We’ve enjoyed our trip very much – the canal seems shorter than the last time we came 3 years ago!  We woke this morning to a fantastic sunrise from our elevated position above the River Dane.

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Sunrise from ‘Chance’ this morning

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As always, we took Oscar for his morning walk to keep his old bones moving!  Here he is at lock 11 of the flight we came down yesterday.

We left the mooring at 9:30 this morning thinking that the sooner we start the sooner we can get to the end of the canal and moor up at Scholar Green where we planned to have our farewell dinner with Janet and Gerald this evening.

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‘Toulouse’ leaving the mooring and crossing the aqueduct.

However, our journey was to be interrupted!  The odd shopping trolley yes but lorries we don’t see very often.  We were asked to moor up and wait for the recovery to take place.  The lorry plunged in, together with the car it was carrying,  at 5 o’clock this morning – they had already recovered the car!

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Wonder how the driver explained this one!

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Only a few scratches!

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The lift was quite tricky as there were power cables above the crane.  They eased the lorry over the hedge (without further damage to the hedge) and dumped it on its roof in the road.  The show over, we were able to continue our journey.

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Another famous site from the canal – the beautiful Ramsdell Hall

We are now moored at Scholar Green at the end of the Macclesfield Canal ready for our farewell dinner – Gerald and Janet are planning a different route from this point and we are making our way back to MGM (our boat builders) for a few jobs to be done before winter sets in.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Continuing on the Macclesfield Canal

Monday 19th September

Delightful gentle run down from Higher Poynton.  The bridges are very nice – they curve back in at their lower edges and, together with the tree lined banks, made an interesting journey. 006

Going through Bollington takes you back to the days of the industrial revolution with its fantastic mills which look more like castles than places of work:


Clarence Mill, Bollington.


Adelphi Mill, Bollington.


Another delightful scene on the way towards Macclesfield.


A turnover bridge – where the towpath had to cross to the other side of the canal it allowed the horse, pulling the boat, to cross over without detaching the tow rope.

We decided not to tackle the Bosley Locks until tomorrow so, after a 4 hour cruise, we moored up at a tiny hamlet called Oak Grove where the ‘Fools Nook’ pub was only a few yards away where we had a good meal with Janet and Gerald. 

Tuesday 20th September

This morning we left at 10.30 after the rain had eased – still quite a wet journey for the next hour.  From Oak Grove it wasn’t long before we arrived at Bosley locks (12 locks in1 mile).


The 2nd Bosley lock – waiting for a boat to leave before going in.  A very dank atmosphere this morning after the rain had eased.


‘Chance’ with mist shrouded hills in the background – to the right of the picture, but unable to see it because of the mist, is Jodrell Bank.


Doug multi tasking – riding a bike and drinking a cup of coffee!  - speeding between locks helping both ‘Chance’ and ‘Toulouse’ down the flight of locks.

We completed the locks by 1.30pm and moored up for lunch - then we all decided to stay put as the weather had improved and the mooring below Bosley locks was very nice.


‘Chance’ on the moorings next to the aqueduct 80 feet above the RiverDane.  In the background is “The Cloud” – a hill 700 feet higher than the canal and 1120 feet above sea level.  Blissfully peaceful and remote moorings.

12 Locks and 3 miles in 2.3 hours