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.

Waking Up In A White World

After rolling up the galley blinds, the outside world looked lovely this morning. A heavy frost lay over the ground, over trees and hedgerows. It was ‘picture beautiful’. By the time I’d got myself decent to take a picture, the sun had appeared, and the frost all but disappeared.

It was a perfect day for cruising, It was cold, but being dressed to keep the cold out made travelling a pleasure.

We passed Shugborough Hall. The Shugborough estate was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1540.

The Hall was until recently ‘a council house’, housing Staffordshire County Council.

Following the death of the 4th Earl of Lichfield in 1960, the estate was allocated to the National Trust in lieu of death duties, and then immediately leased to Staffordshire County Council. Management of the estate was returned to the National Trust in 2016. More information….

The Hall is open to the public and comprises the hall, museum, kitchen garden and a model farm.

We had one lock to pass through today, Haywood Lock (#22) and we were pleased to see the lock has had new runners replaced along the top gates, with the wooden runners being longer, allowing someone with shorter legs like me, the ability to get to the other side of the lock. There’s no bridge to access the other side. We used to call this lock ‘devil lock’ when I did the locks because I hadn’t learnt to steer Cyan.

Today we travelled around 2 miles, and through one lock.

I Know It’s January, But It Feels Like Spring!

We were woken early this morning, about 6am, by the Carbon Monoxide Alarm sounding off by our bed at the stern of the boat.

John rushed to the back of the boat to open the stern doors, while I raced to the front, opening windows as I went down the boat before opening the bow doors, and unzipping the cratch covers to get more air into the boat.

The stove was riddled, ash was emptied, and the stove was turned up to burn the smouldering cinders. We couldn’t see any reason why any CO had escaped. The alarm at the front near the stove registered 45ppm (this one didn’t sound the alarm), and the stern alarm which had woken us up, registered 55ppm.

Thank goodness it wasn’t such a cold night seeing that Cyan was now open to the elements, though the wind was rather high which could have been the culprit; blowing down the chimney.

We’ve promised to give the flue a good brushing at the first opportunity we get when the towpath is on the chimney side.

We had stayed at our spot by the aqueduct over the weekend, though it was rather quiet. With the weather being in the doldrums, we stayed indoors keeping cosy.

This morning, after breakfast, the sun came out, just at the time we were leaving. It was such a pleasure to cruise in the sunshine after the bleak weather we had over the weekend.

Colwich Lock

After going through Colwich Lock, we found a good spot to moor for the night.

Today we’ve travelled just under 3 miles.

Where Is The Promised Sun?

We set off a little late this morning, we weren’t in any rush and it was rather a cold morning. The weather forecast had promised Rugeley to be in full sunshine for several hours from 9 this morning. Somehow that never materialised. It was about 11 when we eventually pulled Cyan away from the towpath, wearing several layers to keep ourselves cosy against the cold and damp

We had no plans where we were going to moor, except Shugborough Hall was going to be as far as we intended to travel.

Christmas Decorations being carefully dismantled (someone likes Christmas)
We don’t often see ‘speed cameras’ on the canals 🙂

Poor Christina Collins! Apparently, she was murdered by 3 bargemen. Christina, aged 37 was a paid passenger on the barge, she was going to London to be with her husband. Perhaps her story has been embellished over the years, though apparently she was raped and murdered by the 3 bargemen, a 4th man was aquitted of the crime.

Two of them were hung, Capt. Owen and George Thomas, the third, William Ellis was transported. The fourth member of the crew, a young teenage boy named Musson, was cleared and released.More information

Christina Collins’ Grave in the local churchyard

Rumour has it: “The aqueduct that’s next to the steps where her body was carried, is supposedly haunted by a woman in a pale dress, her face frightened but defiant… “

Brindley Bank Aqueduct over the River Trent
Here’s where we moored, right next to the Aqueduct…. “Should we be worried about the lady in the pale dress?

Today we’ve travelled just under 2 miles.

Depending on how we feel, we might be staying here for the weekend, the internet is brilliant, which is always a good excuse.

Chilly Damp Day

It was a chilly and damp when we set off this morning. Before we left, the stove was glowing red keeping the boat nice and warm.

‘Wee Willie Winky’ used to stand at one end of the Armitage ‘Tunnel’, he looks now to have been spruced up and has moved. He now stands in front of Spode house.

We stopped near Bridge 66, a well know spot to moor for the shops. We’re in need of a new frying pan, so I thought a quick trip Tesco would solve my problem. Unfortunately, it was the ‘wrong sort’ of Tesco, they sold everything else except a household section.

No big deal about having a new frying pan, as in a couple of weeks we’re planning to hire a car for a few days, a good shopping trip is such an overdue treat.

Another reason for mooring near to Tesco is the quality of the WiFi signal. Essential for accessing Sky Sports’ coverage of a rather important premier League match taking place in Manchester tonight! Retail therapy is important, but……….:) (John)

Today we’ve travelled 3.5 miles.

With Each New Year Comes A New Crop of Resolutions

Firstly, ‘Happy New Year!’ one and all!

In case you’ve not guessed, one of my new resolutions is to keep up our diary/blog. As I’ve not maintained the site for a while, I’ve had to delete over 1500 spam comments, and learn the new upgraded version of WordPress. All maintence completed, I’m vowing to keep on blogging.

We’ve let our on-line diary run away from us over the last few months. Since then we’ve wasted far too much time backtracking, trying to remember where we were and what we were doing on a specific date, during the ‘non-diary’ months.

Since our last post,

  • We headed up from the Grand Union until we reached Braunston,
  • At Braunston we headed towards Wigrams Marina.
  • Turning around again to go back to Braunston
  • We turned left onto the Oxford Canal
  • Stopped at Rugby while we re-vamped the bathroom (see pic below)
  • Onwards we cruised towards Sutton Stop
  • Turned right onto the Coventry Canal,
  • We then turned onto the Ashby, going as far as Snarestone tunnel
  • At the tunnel, we winded Cyan and continued back towards Hinckley
  • At Hinckley, we hired a car to attend a family funeral
  • Back onto the Coventry, and down the Atherstone Flight
  • We turned right at Fazeley
  • Then at the end of the Coventry, we turned right at Fradley onto the Trent and Mersey Canal
  • We spent a few days at Barton Turn Marina and thought it would be a great place to spend Dec/Jan/Feb. So while we were there we booked the mooring.
  • We popped out of the Marina for a few weeks, cruising as far as Swarkstone Lock where we turned Cyan around.
  • We returned to Barton Turn Marina on a very rainy 1st December.
  • Just before Christmas, we realised we’d made a big mistake. We were feeling ‘cooped in, suffering cabin fever’ despite our lovely neighbours. So we decided to move on 1st January 2019.
Before and after pic of the Bathroom revamp

Yesterday, 1st January, we left the marina after a Tesco delivery, filling up with water, and dismantling the Christmas tree. We had a bit of a shock when we studied the ‘Winter Maintenance Schedule’ and found we shouldn’t dawdle as Keeper’s Lock near Fradley Junction was scheduled to be closed for 6 weeks on 3rd January.

Trent and Mersey Canal

One of the first ‘things’ we noticed as we left the marina, back onto the canal system, was the lovely bird songs. Two blackbirds were singing on top form, as was a Thrush, and quite a few robins. Heaven! We didn’t realise what we were missing while in the marina.

At the top of Keeper’s lock we moored for the rest of the day, and of course the night (well there were three football games on….)

This morning before we left our mooring, we watched C&RT Contactors gathering materials and barricades ready for tomorrow’s start on the lock. We were a bit concerned though, of the 4 boats we met at the locks yesterday, two of them didn’t realise the lock was going to be closed, and both needed to return within the week. Unless they do a quick turnaround, they are going to be stuck on the ‘wrong’ side of the lock for 6 or so weeks :(.

After climbing up three locks, we’ve moored at Handsacre Visitor Moorings.

We’ve cruised through these parts several times, but not for over a year, and we’re a bit uncertain as to whether Rusty remembers he’s been here before.

Today we’ve travelled 4 miles and through 4 locks.

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.

Back On Familiar Territory

We thought it strange when 3 boats passed us about 7:00 a.m. this morning. It became obvious why during today’s journey.

After John had dropped off the spent oil at the Middlewich Household Waste Centre, and had been down the weed hatch to remove a plastic bag that had wound itself around the prop., we left our mooring about 10:00 a.m., which was the other side of the Croxton Aqueduct see pic below.

We climbed 4 locks on the T&M, two of which had a lockie helping, before our turning right onto the Middlewich Canal, where we climbed 2 more locks. Due to the congestion at the locks, we realised the ‘early bird’ boaters had been very clever.

We’d barely manoeuvred out of Middlewich Big Lock #75, when we were asked for a tow by the crew of a boat, the boat’s gearbox had failed and they were stranded. They wanted a tow up to Middlewich Bottom Lock #74, and from there they’d be able to pull their stricken boat to the boat yard at Kings Lock. We’d never towed a boat before, but we must have done OK, as we arrived all in once piece.

Coming down the locks was a ‘single handed’ hire boat, one of his party had become ill, and had been taken to hospital by ambulance, his other party member had gone with them. He was in a bit of a state, no doubt he couldn’t concentrate very well.

Sailing out of Middlewich Top Lock #74, the queue of boats to go down the flight was ridiculous.

At Middlewich Junction it was our turn to wait in a ‘bottle neck’! There were four boats ahead of us to climb the first 2 locks on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie.

While waiting what can you do except have a nosy around, taking pictures of rusty and stone trains, and wooden owl carvings.

It looks like there’s a market for wood carvers to make sculptures out of tree trunks.

We’re now moored for the day at a lovely spot, high above a gorgeous valley with total peace!

The spot is just after Lea Hall Bridge #22, on the Clive Green Visitor Moorings.

We’re now just over 4 miles away from our destination, at Aqueduct Marina. We need to speak to the management there as Cyan needs some attention.

Today we’ve cruised 4 miles, and worked through 6 locks. WiFi is around 30 Mg, Digital TV is not good.

Our start postcode: CW10 9JH

Our moored postcode: CW10 0LL

Moored Up When It’s Sunny! Are We Mad!

We were going to stay another day at the moorings by the Anderton Boat Lift, it’s a lovely place with a great nature park. It turned out a lovely day weather-wise, and we thought “Why aren’t we cruising?” We should be staying moored when it’s raining, not when the sun’s out.

Due to the amount of walkers enjoying the canal; ambling past Cyan, we had kept the curtains drawn for privacy, and despite the warm sunshine we couldn’t open the hatch for the same privacy reasons. Cyan was also wobbling about due to the water tank being low on water. To top it all we were getting grizzly due to the hire boats ‘roaring’ past. Decision was soon made, and within 5 minutes we were ready to go, despite it being 2:00 p.m. (we like to cruise in the mornings).

Our first port of call was to top Cyan’s tank with water, use the Elsan facilities, and to rid us of our rubbish at the Anderton Services.

We had a pleasant journey, but just to stop us getting complacent we found ourselves cruising through the depressing Northwich Chemical works. We couldn’t help but wonder what they are ‘cooking’ in there. It was a strange coincidence (or was it?) that a black cloud appeared to hang over the place.

Goodness knows what’s coming out of the steam vents. We could feel a faint mist of moisture on our faces as we passed by.

Just after passing this chemical plant, there were C&RT notices informing that HS2 was planned to cross the area, hope it’s planned to go straight through this plant, as it looks like it needs renewing.

We disturbed a crane fishing for it’s dinner, he flew up on a pipe bridge and played the game of ‘when I’m still you can’t see me’!

Passing through Croxton Flash, we envied the mooring this boat had taken. It would have been great to have moored up here, but it seemed a shame to disturb ‘the perfect spot’ for those boaters. It wasn’t until we passed the boat that we saw it was NB Together Forever. The occupants were out enjoying the sun, I shouted “Hinckley Marina”. At that point they recognised us, we’d moored almost next to them last winter in Hinckley Marina. It’s a small world on the cut as we’re finding out! They’re aiming for Middlewich Canal too, so we might see them again.

In the pic below, we’re just about to go under Murder Bridge #177! Can’t find any information about a ‘murder’ on the internet, I’m wondering if it’s about ‘crows’ – like a murder of crows?

We’re now tucked in for the night, just before the narrow aqueduct over the River Dane.

Tomorrow John’s planning to call into the Middlewich Household Waste, which is just a short distance from where we’re moored, in the hope they’ll relieve us of spent oil from an oil change.

Today we’ve cruised over 8 miles, WiFi is 25Mg, Digital TV is very good. (John’s also watched Liverpool qualifying for the Champions League proper, IN STYLE!)

Our start postcode: CW9 6AQ

Our moored postcode: CW10 9JH