After A Blustery Weekend

We didn’t move over the weekend, preferring to stay in one place while Saturday’s grey and dull doldrums were blown clear away by Sunday’s high winds. Just wished the towpath was a lot drying and even. Slipping and sliding down an uneven path is a bit harsh on arthritic knees. Though Rusty didn’t appear to mind, still it must be easier when you’ve got 4 legs.

This morning we left our mooring on Tixall Wide. Looking at the sky we didn’t really know how the weather was going to turn out.

All three of us are hoping to get a good sleep tonight, for the past couple of nights geese have disturbed Rusty, and he kicked off. Obviously, geese don’t sleep in the night, but you’d think they could keep the noise down.

We went through one lock today and cruised 3 miles, in parts we cruised in the rain.

Rudely Woken By A Choked Chimney.

Yesterday we left our mooring outside of Great Haywood Marina. We only travelled the minuscule trip into the Marina for Sani duties, and a diesel top up.

The diesel tank was brimmed with just 50 litres of diesel. While we were there we made a reservation to stay in the marina for a week at the end of January. John also had a chat in the boatyard regarding having Cyan’s bottom blacked. Blacking was only done around September 2017, but it looks like it needs doing again urgently. Ideally the end of March would be a good time when danger of ice should have passed.

We returned to where we were moored, only this time Cyan facing the ‘other way’ round, with easy access to the chimney. We’d planned to give our chimney an urgent brushing as we had an issue a couple of nights ago where we were woken by the CO alarm, it was showing we had Carbon Monoxide in the boat. A pretty dangerous situation!

It was rather shocking to see how much the chimney had been blocked.

John gave the chimney a good brush with the huge bottle brush, he rattled a chain down the chimney, and he clawed at the clinker with a metal hook.

It was a good job well done! We made a promise to give the chimney another sweep in a couple of weeks, and not to leave it too long next time.

This morning we left our mooring, stopping a short time at the Junction where the Staffordshire and Worcester canal branches off. After filling the water tank, and disposing of rubbish, we set off, turning right onto the Staffordshire and Worcester canal.

Anglo Welsh hire boats look to be waiting for their first crews of the year.

We stopped just after the widest part of ‘Tixall Wide‘, and facing a splendid building. It does look rather spooky though. The building is ‘Tixall Gatehouse’ a Grade One listed building. For two weeks in 1586, it was used as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots while her previous residence was searched for incriminating evidence. Originally it was thought Tixall was going to be Mary’s permanent jail, but Elizabeth I had planned for Mary to stay in Fotheringay Castle instead.

The Gatehouse was also a place where the assasination of Charles II was plotted.

Built in 1555 by Sir Edward Aston, this gatehouse was once the grand entrance to an even grander house.

The main house was rebuilt, demolished and rebuilt again over the next 3 centuries, until in 1928 when the house was demolished, with the material re-used to build the Saint John’s Church Chancel at Littleworth.

Near to where we are moored, there’s a memorial patch in memory of Beau the Bassett Boater, a much loved boater’s companion. It’s lovely to see the primroses.

Dodging Storms, And Cruising On

We were lucky to miss the storm that was promised, though sadly we hear towns further North didn’t fair so well. ‘Sod’s Law’ would dictate that if we hadn’t prepared for a storm, we’d have taken a hit.

Our first lock of the day, was Deptmore Lock (#42). Picture below shows us cruising towards the lock…

… and this pic below shows us sailing away from the lock.

The weather threatened us most of the day, though we were lucky to only have got ‘dampened’ twice.

Fabulous bridges, such as ‘Milford Bridge’ (#105) which is a turnover bridge (swapping towpaths).

Eight beautiful cygnets, well done Mr & Mrs Swan!

River Sow Aqueduct below. We approached the Aqueduct on a blind and very windy bend, making it difficult to line Cyan up for the narrow channel.

Just after the Aqueduct, is Tixall Lock, leading us to Tixall Wide.

We were soon back on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood Junction, turning right towards Haywood Lock (#22).

I have nightmares about this lock resulting from a bad experience when we were no more then novices. The lock doesn’t have a bridge to get to the other side, and being height challenged (little legs), stepping onto the ‘runner’ on the top gate is impossible because of the large gap, the gap is far to ‘big’ for little legs to jump/step over confidently. As for the double gates, they are far too wobbly to walk over when there’s no water in the lock.

The problem we had with this lock no longer exist because I can now take the helm, leaving John to work the lock. ‘Devil’s Lock’ is our name for this lock. The picture below was taken as we sailed away from Devil’s Lock.

The Trent & Mersey Canal is now side-by-side, for part of the way, with the River Trent…

… as does the Trent Valley Line, part of the West Coast Main Line System.

Another sign of Autumn, ‘Virginia Creepers’ are turning into beautiful shades of russet red.

‘Wee Willie Winkie’ is what we call this chappie, we pass him just as we venture into the ‘open topped’ Armitage Tunnel, travelling towards ‘The Plum Pudding’ public house. He looks to have been spruced up since we last saw him.

The magnificent bridge near Armitage Shanks Factory, and other pictures taken today.



Cruising along we were fascinated by the antics of this bird of prey, think we’ve identified it as a buzzard. Just wish, for the umpteenth time, we had a better camera.

We are now moored outside ‘The Crown Inn’, just after ‘Handsacre Crown Bridge’ (#58). Next door to the pub is a fabulous Cypriot ‘Fish ‘n’ Chip’ shop (which provided our supper). In the picture below of the pub, the white dog in the window is real! I’ve seen cats sitting on window cills, but never a dog. I think the dog is a boxer dog, with a ‘black patch’ over half of it’s face.

Today we’ve cruised 14 miles, and 4 locks. WiFi is 40 Mg, and digital TV is good.

Huddled Up And Storm Ready!

We’ve got an amber weather alert for the area we’re cruising day. So rather than cruising on to Tixall Wide as planned, we thought we’d best choose a place to moor where we can snuggle by a tall hedge to buffer us from predicted 65+ mph west winds due to hit us around midnight tonight. We’ll also need to moor where there are no trees near in case they cause damage. We think we’ve found the perfect spot!

We were up early this morning to a glorious sunny day! Cruising past the chemical works above Gailey. The two ‘chimneys’ were lit up last night, probably to alert aircraft? Wonder what the grass on the roof is about? If it’s camouflage, then it doesn’t appear to be working.

We’ve manoeuvred through 10 locks today, starting at Gailey Lock where we filled with water, dumped our rubbish, and used the Elsan Services before descending the lock. The lock in the picture below is ‘Brick Kiln Lock’ (#33).

The locks today were brilliant, they weren’t that deep, and they emptied and filled quite quickly.

Some of the bridge architecture was interesting. At one of the bridges, the ‘helmsman’, who was in the bridge hole before us took their boat wide, pushing us into silt, and causing us a 10 minute problem (grrrr).

Though it’s not obvious, this old bridge isn’t supporting heavy traffic. Beyond is a new bridge that’s more than able to take heavy lorries.

While the sun was shining, the scenery was glorious. The scene takes on a different ‘mood’ when the sun retreats.

These are our neighbours for the night! We are moored just before Roseford Bridge (#94), 2 locks and less than 5 miles from today’s target (at Tixall Wide). We’re not worried, our mooring is perfectly safe from any torment that Storm Aileen can throw at us.

Today we’ve travelled 8 miles, and 10 locks. WiFi is 10 Mg, and digital TV is not much good.


Bright, Breezy, And Wet!

We were in two minds whether to sit the day out on our mooring, or brave the windy/wet/bright day! Eventually we decided to aim for ‘Long Molls Bridge’ (#76), just over 4 miles away.  We were encouraged by other ‘brave’ boaters passing us by.

We’ve had bright sunshine, heavy squally showers, and gusts of wind. The wind made cruising this winding stretch interesting to say the least. We also couldn’t fathom what weather was in front of us, a blue sky, or a threatening cloud due to us continually changing directions.

Cruising along we could see there were lots of signs that Autumn was now upon us.


The locals appear to be a ‘friendly’ lot. “PLEASE PASS AT TICK OVER OR MY WIFE WILL TURN YOU INTO A FROG”!

Tomorrow, as far as the forecasters can tell, looks to be a good day. We’ve a plan to start our day early, going through 12 locks, starting with Gailey Top Lock, and ending with Tixell Lock, mooring at Tixell Wide, some 13.5 miles! If we don’t make our target, no problem, but it might be fun trying!

Today we’ve travelled 4 miles, no locks, WiFi is over 30 Mg, digital TV is good. Our postcode is WV10 7DU.

Leaving The Shroppie, Joining The Staffs & Worcs Canal

It took us a while to get going this morning as we used the services at the bottom of Wheaton Aston Lock, and by the time we’d finished we were third in the queue to ascend. While John ‘walked’ Cyan to her place in the queue, I ambled up to the lock with a windlass, hoping to help quicken the ‘process’. There were just as many queuing to come down as to go up, including hire boats who’ve just started their holidays. Still, despite the cold gloomy weather, most boaters were jolly.

Cruising the Stretton Aqueduct; over the A5 ‘Watling Street’, we waved. A lorry replied by flashing his lights, and we just happened to catch it on camera

Onwards we cruised, through ‘Skew Bridge (#15)

Doesn’t take much imagination to wonder why it’s called ‘Skew Bridge’!

Passing through the beautiful ‘Avenue Bridge’ (#10), built C1830 by Thomas Telford. “Rough faced ashlar; single stilted round arch flanked by pilasters; sweeping balustraded parapet on rounded corbels. Ashlar is finely dressed (cut, worked) masonry.” It’s an amazing bridge, no doubt a vanity project to please the Giffard Family see more. A case of ‘sublime to the ridiculous’ taking ‘Skew Bridge’ into account.

Here’s an interesting fun boat! I imagine the person who built it had some fun too.

Eventually we popped out of Autherley Junction.

Leaving the Shroppie

And straight onto the narrows…  but not before a boat had just left the narrows. A few anxious minutes passed where we’d hope we wouldn’t meet another boat. Luckily we didn’t, but we did meet one as we exited the narrows. It must be our lucky day!

The weather has been threatening to drown us during the morning, though we moored up in lovely sunshine. The wind was biting, it’s the first real taste of Autumn. While cruising we had the central heating going, with promises of hot buttered crumpets when we stopped.

We’re moored just past Coven Heath Bridge (#69), and pretty tightly too due to the wind. While I battened down the hatches, John took Rusty for a run, coming back with a big bag of damsons; soon to be ‘recycled’ into wild damson jam. To top off the ‘Autumnal Theme’, we’ve lit the wood burner!

Today we’ve cruised 10.5 miles, through 1.5 locks (you couldn’t really say the Autherley stop lock a ‘real’ lock), we’ve 15 Mg of WiFi, and digital TV is good.