Thursday, December 11, 2014

Heading south for a bit…

We took a day off yesterday. It gave Mags the opportunity to stay in bed as long as she liked, to rest her sore muscles after her impromptu bath on Tuesday.

IMG_2827Her bruises are coming out beautifully, dark blue and black at the moment, but they’ll no doubt be technicolour in a few days.

That’s her left elbow. She’s slapped a D Notice on the pic of her bruised bum…
Meanwhile she’s banned from going anywhere near the tiller, for the next few days at least, and she asked me to pass on her thanks for all the comments and messages wishing her a speedy recovery.

It was nearly 11:00 by the time we got going this morning. I was just sorting out when a boat appeared behind us, so we had to wait behind them at Haywood Lock.IMG_2800
There’s a tree down part way across the canal below the lock, a casualty of the recent winds, although it wasn’t too bad as we winded (turned around) at the junction and reversed onto the services.

Great Haywood Junction.

Filled and emptied we turned right under the junction bridge onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Under Great Haywood BridgeIMG_2802

Tixall Wide was a bit choppy, exposed to the brisk westerly.IMG_2805

Tixall Gatehouse, all that remains of the 16th Century Tixall Hall.IMG_2806
Now owned by the Landmark Trust, it’s available for holiday let.

The second lock of the day was the pretty Tixall Lock. Mags kept a close eye on me through the window as I worked Seyella up and out of the chamber.

Tixall Lock and lock cottage.IMG_2808
I’ve a technique for going up locks solo, which works quite well. Meg and I hop off on the lower landing and we go up to lift the bottom gate paddles. While the lock is emptying I re-board and gently nudge the bow fender up to the gates, leaving the engine in gear, which eases the gates open when the levels are equalised. I get off below the lock, leaving the boat to enter the lock and go up to the cill on it’s own, still in gear on tickover. Lower gates shut and paddles dropped, the upper paddles are drawn, making sure that the boat isn’t pushed too far away from the top gates with the first rush of water, otherwise she’ll come back forward with a rush and hit the gate hard. When the lock is full the boat starts the gate moving, I drop the offside paddle, cross over, open the gate fully and drop the nearside one while the boat eases out of the chamber. Once completely out I jump aboard and stop her just clear of the top gate, then get off to close the gate, taking a stern rope ashore in case she drifts away a bit. Gate shut, use the rope to pull in if necessary and head off. Job done. It’s not so easy going downhill…

From Tixall there’s a long pound as the canal runs around the rising ground of Baswich and Weeping Cross, first heading slightly north of west, then turning to run south.

You can’t rush this section of the Staffs and Worcs. Often narrow, always shallow and at this time of year full of leaves in the bosky bits, there’s no point in opening the throttle much beyond tickover.


Near Bridge 101, St Thomas’ Bridge, the remains of the long abandoned Stafford Branch Canal down to the River Sow are passed. The parapets at either end of the towpath bridge over the junction are still intact.IMG_2818
The river was navigable up into Stafford at this time, providing waterborne access to the town. It might again, at some point in the future…

I’m always impressed with the Stafford Boat Club. There’s a lot of money been spent here…

Stafford Boat ClubIMG_2823

Just around the corner was our third and last lock today, Deptford.

Deptford Lock is considerably deeper than the previous two.IMG_2825

From here it was an hour’s steady cruise, through the dormitory village of Acton Trussel, to below Shutt Hill Lock, where we called it a day.
We picked up some wood here last year, leaving some larger bits behind. There’s one goodly sized log left, so the chain saw will be out in the morning. I cleared the back end of the roof yesterday, splitting the wood there and stacking it in the cratch, so there’s room. There’s always room…

Tomorrow, Penkridge.

Locks 3, miles 8½


Nb Yarwood said...

I hope you are feeling okay tonight, bruises not withstanding. I have heard on the quiet that there is a large sum of money on offer an certain photograph, I suggest that you confiscate his camera for the foreseeable future!!
XX Lesley

KevinTOO said...

Ooooh Lesley, what a 'cheeky' comment... LOL

Hope your bruises are not too painful Mags?

Kevin xx