On Thursday we moved on to Fradley, stopping just short of the junction. It was a fine morning, with scattered cloud and spells of sunshine, but clouds built up later.
Passing Streethay Wharf
On the boatyard moorings lie the restored pair Starling and Ethel.
Starling has been restored to her original 70’ length after being shortened to 40’ in the 1960’s. This was fairly common with boats being made redundant as canal carrying dwindled and the fleets sold off for little money. Often a motor would be cut in half, the back end having a new bow section welded on and the fore-end a new counter and engine room. These shortened boats initially formed the basis of the holiday hire fleets that started up in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In this case the middle was cut out, the ends reunited and the middle hull section formed the basis of another craft.
The style of the bow indicates that both Starling and Ethel were built by Yarwoods in Northwich.
We pulled in on the end of the moorings at just before 1 o’clock after a late start.
Friday wasn’t as damp as predicted, in fact we didn’t see any rain till mid afternoon. We still stayed put, though. Last night made up for it. Two really heavy showers woke us up, the water running off the roof through the drainage gaps in the handrail sounding like a waterfall. It washed all the little bits of tree off, though.
Once again the forecast said rain by mid-afternoon, so we were on the move at about half-nine, topping up with water before going through the little swing bridge and out onto the junction.
Volunteers were manning the locks up from the junction, although strictly speaking Woodend Lock was “womanned” (is that even a word??), so we made good progress up to the long Rugeley pound.
Heading for Middle Lock, just being opened for us.
Mags waiting patiently as a boat comes down Woodend Lock
Clear of the locks we had a steady run to Rugeley.
Through Ravenshaw Wood.
A glimpse of Rugeley Power Station of the fields.
No smoke from the stack, nor steam from the cooling towers. The coal-fired facility was closed last year partially due to the government’s commitment to reduce the country’s energy production from fossil fuels.
One company that still seems to be doing well in Armitage…
You know – Armitage-Shanks? No drop in the demand for sanitary ware, then.
We caught up with another boat at Armitage and had to slow a little. But it wasn’t a problem; we were able to follow them through Armitage “tunnel”. The tunnel here was notoriously unstable and was finally de-roofed. Since then, though, the Rugeley Road has been significantly widened and now covers a good half of the resulting narrows.
It’s one-way through here and blind too, so it’s recommended that someone goes ahead to check for oncoming traffic. But with a boat ahead we let them do that!
Passing the long length of permanent moorings and under the main road at the Ash Tree pub the canal comes into the urban landscape of Rugeley. It seems quite a long potter past the back gardens to the moorings near Bridge 66, where we pulled in. I went up to Tesco’s for something for tea, and got back just as the rain started, on time at 3 o’clock.
We’ll probably stay here tomorrow, I’ve a long run in the morning and might not feel like doing much afterwards. We’ll see.
Locks 3, miles 11