We set off today without any clear destination in mind. The forecast had predicted thunder and showers for most of the day, so if it was a bit grim we would call it quits early. There are plenty of mooring spots along this stretch of the Trent and Mersey.
Leaving our mooring just above Stone under grey skies.
It’s just started to rain again…
Keith and Jo Lodge’s Hadar…
…and Mikron Theatre’s Tyseley
Their next performance is on the 23rd, in Huddersfield. I guess they’ll not be going by water…
We met a boat coming out of Limekiln Lock and Yard Lock, so we had a good run down the Stone Locks.
Newcastle Road Lock…
…with the towpath tunnel under the busy road
Spot-on timing at Yard Lock
A row of Canal Cruising’s hire boats, ready for the season.
There’s one or two of these out and about already.
It was a bit manic here yesterday. CRT were installing a new footboard on the top gate, which was expected to take 3 hours. As I walked past on the way to the shops there were three boats waiting at the top, and on the way back I saw another 4 or 5 on the way down. There’s not a lot of space above the lock, so it must have been interesting…
…but we got a nice new footboard!
Star Lock, the last in the town
A few years ago a male swan with an attitude had to be relocated to somewhere with less people after repeatedly attacking walkers, boaters and dogs. It’s often said that a swan’s wing could break your arm; unlikely as the wing has very light, hollow bones, no match for a human arm! But in this case one elderly gentleman fell and broke his hip while trying to escape the ASBO Swan. It’s all quiet along here now.
Aston Lock is the next one down, and marks the half-way point on the canal.
Not strictly the mid-point of the canal, though. After Shardlow there’s another one and a bit miles till the navigation joins the Trent at Derwent Mouth. But who’s counting.
I’m not fond of steel lock gates, but there’s no denying that they last longer than wooden ones…
The locks come at around an hour intervals as the canal drops down the Trent valley. It passes the Saxon settlements of Aston, Burston, Sandon and Weston, showing how important the fertile valley bottom was to the basically agricultural economy. It still is, of course.
The tight double bend under Weston Bridge was awkward a few years ago, when we met the hotel pair Snipe and Taurus coming the other way.
A bit of vigorous tiller waggling was needed by all three steerers to avoid a coming-together.
Out of the village but before the lock we came across son of ASBO Swan. He attacked the stern button with enthusiasm to chase this noisy intruder away from his territory.
I had to slow to tick-over as we approached Weston Wharf, and he took the opportunity to close right up and have a go at Meg, minding her own business on the counter. She was not impressed with being pecked on the bum, and dived in to sit under my feet!
We caught up with a boat at Weston Lock. We knew there was someone ahead of us; although we’d seen boats coming the other way Sandon Lock was set against us and the chamber walls were still wet.
The couple aboard the Nantwich hire boat are doing the Four Counties Ring, but sensibly in a fortnight rather than the rather frenetic week.
We caught up with them again at Hoo Mill Lock
Below the lock we cruised gently past the rows of moored boats on the offside to Great Haywood Junction.
We’d passed the preceding boat as they filled with water, but we would have lost them here anyway as they turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.
Just past the junction we paused to have a chat with Jacquie and Tony on NB Timewarp, we usually see them at least once a year somewhere or other. Then we dropped down our last lock of the day and moored up looking out towards Shugborough Hall.
Down Haywood Lock
Meg looks totally fed up! It has been a long day…
We actually got further than I ever expected. The gaps between the locks gave Mags a chance to put her feet up (and make me a brew…) and the weather, although often a little drippy, hasn’t been too bad. It has been cool though. A couple of days ago it was shorts and a tee shirt, today we’re back to trousers and a heavy jacket. I wish it’d make it’s mind up!
I nearly forgot, hello to the couple on Elton Moss boat Halcyon. Good to meet you, although very briefly! Have a good trip.
Hi Mike, hope the pictures are useful. Debby, hi. Thanks for the thought, it’s not 100%, but about as good as it’s going to get! I’d not heard of Parkrun until I saw it mentioned on the news the other night. I normally run alone, but if I get a chance I’ll give it a go. Unless they want to charge me…
The joys of getting old, eh. I've a tender heel, fragile ankle, sore shoulder and aching back. I'm losing my hair and my teeth. But at least I've still got my health! And my sense of humour...
Locks 9, miles 11