Sunday, May 21, 2017

A long day and a brief encounter

With a fine day in the offing we decided to make up a bit of the time lost yesterday, getting off at around a quarter to ten.

Clearing skies last evening

A good start to the day

Our first lock was a half-mile away, at Sandon.IMG_4607

Old lock paddle in the garden of the keeper’s cottageIMG_4608

Ornate brickwork on Salt Bridge

Not far from Salt Bridge, just after passing a length of permanent moorings on the offside, a familiar boat came into sight around the corner.
It was NB Pilgrim with Malcolm and Barbara. We’d not seen them for a year or two, and I think then it was ships boats passing in the night day.

We first met up on the Wirral Line of the Ellesmere Canal, now the stretch of the Shropshire Union north of Chester. We’d moored up against a stretch of piling, struggling to find a deep enough spot. Pilgrim came along hoping that the one spot deep enough for their 30” draught was free, which of course it wasn’t. We were on it!
I did feel a little guilty as they had to tie up with the stern stuck out in the channel, but not guilty enough to move!
We spent 15 minutes floating stern to stern in the middle of the cut chatting, before an oncoming boat made us go our opposite ways. We may see them later in the year though.

Goose creche near Weston.
I think there were three families here. One pair of adults were on guard duty, another was grazing and the third couple were splashing about in the canal. They can be a right nuisance, but you can’t fault their parenting skills.

The development to the south of Weston has now completely surrounded the old wharf.IMG_4616

I wonder how long it’ll be before the new residents start to complain about the old boats at the end of the garden…

Waiting for a boat coming up Weston LockIMG_4618
Lovely spot, this. Quiet moorings above and below the lock.

Three-quarters of an hour later we were waiting for another upcoming boat, this time at Hoo Mill.

Mother swan keeps her youngsters close while Dad makes threatening gestures at the large noisy thing invading their space.IMG_4620

Hoo Mill Lock
It took a while, this one. The couple had only just bought the boat, setting off from Great Haywood Marina just a quarter-hour before. The lady doing the paddles was taking it very, very slowly. No rush though. Better to be slow and safe than over-confident and careless.

Great Haywood Junction, busy as usual

I had help with the gates at Haywood Lock, a couple of small boys were keen to add their weight to the balance beam. 

Not just boats and would-be lock-keepers either, plenty of walkers about enjoying the day.IMG_4624

IMG_4626Colwich Lock was next, after cruising past Little Haywood. There’s often morning queues here, it being the first lock south of the popular Great Haywood moorings. But it must be even worse at the moment, with only one top paddle operational it takes ages to fill the chamber.

There was one boat ahead of us when we arrived, and another behind by the time we’d refilled the lock.

We pulled in just before Wolseley Bridge, with the Trent running a couple of hundred yards to the right and the ancient hunting grounds of Cannock Chase rising beyond.

It’s been a good day, a bit breezy, but warm when the sun appeared from behind the clouds.

Tomorrow we’ll fill with diesel at Taft Wharf then toddle into Rugeley for a bit of shopping. We’ll not stay in the town though, we’ll carry on towards Fradley.

Locks 5, miles 8½

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