Thursday, May 18, 2017

A wet day down through Stoke

Yesterday I managed to get my run in first thing in the dry, but by 9 o’clock the rain had set in. We were in “do we, don’t we?“ mood, I broke the impasse by deciding that we do…

I took the rubbish to the skip, noting a boat just about to go down Etruria Lock, so we started up, untied and set off back onto the T&M, expecting to turn onto the lock landing and be next down. But just as we came to the junction a boat appeared coming down from Festival Park.

Leaving from outside the Etruria Industrial Museum, well worth a visit, especially on “steaming weekends”

Pipped at the post
He hung back to let us make the tight turn out of the junction, but there was no way we were going down first!

Dropping down the deep Etruria Lock, aka Stoke Top LockIMG_4525

I‘m afraid all yesterday’s pics will be gloomy and sometimes blurry. It rained all day, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, but continuous.

While we were waiting for our turn at the lock, I realised the boat below, that I’d seen entering the the lock earlier, was NB Trundle, with Dave and Dilys. They knew we were ahead of them and were trying to catch up, unaware that they’d passed us as we lurked at the bottom of the Caldon. I went down to say hello, and we arranged to meet later at Barlaston.

The trip down Stoke Locks was uncomfortable, one or two boats coming up, but locks they filled were used by the two boats ahead of us. 

Filling Cockshutes Lock, the railway line passes over the tail of the lock…IMG_4528

…making the exit from the lock dark and low.IMG_4529

We arrived at the bottom lock, the modern concrete one that takes ages to fill, once again queueing behind the preceding boat. When they were clear I started filling the chamber then went inside for a drink and a banana. Coming out again there was a young man at the lockside with bike and windlass, he said he’d help with the lock.
Now, we’d seen him assisting a couple going up, and those regulars on the Stoke Locks will probably have come across Rob the Lock, a chap who, for a consideration, will work boats up or down the flight. The chap here yesterday turned out to be his son Liam, who is carrying on the tradition.
I’d tried to get hold of Rob when we came up last December when Mags was poorly, but the numbers I had were out of date. I’ve new numbers for both gentlemen now. Liam was helping the crew of a hire boat that was following us down.

So, with the five locks done, Mags went inside to dry out and make a hot drink, and I plodded on, mug in hand, out of town. I always reckon that you’re out of Stoke when you pass the incinerator, and usually take a picture of the plant that appears to straddle the canal.
But this time I resisted the temptation, taking a picture of NB Whitchurch Navigator heading towards us instead…IMG_4538

Huge new warehouses are nearly finished at Sideway-

Distribution centres of some sort, I guess.

We caught up with the preceding boat just outside of Trentham, but held back so we didn’t have to wait long for Trentham Lock. Mags was all warm and dry so I didn’t have the heart to stick her back on the tiller; Meg and I did this one solo.
Then we had another 20 minutes or so, past the Wedgwood factory, and moored behind Dave and Dilys. They came round for a brew and a chat, then later we made an evening of it, having a fantastic time chatting over a few cans and a couple of bottles. Although we’ve known them a while, since they managed Raynsway (now Leicester) Marina, we’d never had the chance for a proper sit-down together before.
They’re heading down the T&M too, back to their home mooring on the Soar, but they travel an awful lot further each day than we do… We’ll be in Stone today, they’ll probably be past Great Haywood!

Locks 6, miles 6 (although it seemed further, must be getting soft!)

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