Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Well we called that about right

Today I listened to the weather forecast on Radio 4 and the weather person was making the comment it was the first time this month she had been able to say unsettled and showers ! I was of course listening in bed in our cottage rather than Percy. I had a twinge of guilt thinking of Percy waiting again clean ready to go for another adventure.... and I was lazing in bed !

The summary of our trip (thanks to the excellent CanalplanAC) was as follows....

  • Trip length 77 miles 6 and a half furlongs
  • 28 locks 
  • 36 hours and 43 minutes
  • 22 small aqueducts and two tunnel passages ( Cowley tunnel there and back) 
  • Interestingly it does not list the number of bridges .... ( that I can find) 
We should have turned right at the junction as we will be doing this same route when we bring Percy to Stone for Blacking in October. At least it gives us a reason for a cruise and I do fancy 'bagging' another canal full length by going to Stourport ..... a plan is forming.

Monday, 26 April 2021

The last day - it didn't start well

Well the boating bit  - A bit dramatic as it was a lovely morning so I walked up to the aquaduct and watched the A5 traffic going on its ever increasingly normal way. 

As an aside I was looking at maps as I'm inclined to do and plotted the walking distance between our starting point the day before at the visitor moorings above Gailey lock and our last nights mooring at Stretton aquaduct - just under three miles. So we could have walked between the two in an hour but it took us 6 hours ! 

I heard barn owls last night and Tawny owls above Gailey lock the night before. I watched a Tawny owl hopping between trees and making its call. 

So this morning  - a lovely cutting cruise to Wheaton Aston. 

There was a boat approaching the lock but the lock was full so I moored up opened the top gate and got back on Percy. The crew member from the boat below the lock walked up and closed the gate..! I sounded my air horn and she kept on closing. It was only when I got off the boat and started walking towards her she realised what she was doing  and was very apologetic. It was clear she did not have a clue what she was doing. I got Percy into the lock and she asked if I wanted her to lift the paddle but she did so without the pawl on the ratchet.... I alerted her to this and explained the risks. Then walking to check the boat and the cill I fell over a load of the 'high vis' hazard mesh CRT has layered over a damaged bollard  - felt a twit and hurt my hand as I was carrying my windlass... I was more concerned I could have fallen onto the lock! As I get older I try and be more aware of what I'm doing and how.... I don't bounce or mend as well now.

As we exited the lock the crew on the boat apologised again saying it was their crew members first ever lock - No problem every day is a learning day. 

Then it was a lovely cruise to Pat Norbury where we stopped for lunch just after high bridge.

Getting back onto our mooring was a pig as it is badly silted up so we had to saw our way back on - not helped by a new neighbour so our mooring is tight. Its a cruiser and has a sticky out outboard so I took a photo of our tight springs and tight back line in case ....

..... and the engine counter at the end 

826 when I changed the oil so a 40 hour 11 day cruise  - spot on.

Back home now .... a lovely cruise with great weather and quiet canals. We never followed a boat or were followed. We never queued for a lock and had plenty of choices for moorings. A quick boat clean inside and back in a few days to clean the outside. 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Just so few boats.....then

Today’s signature thought has been so few boats during such beautiful cruising weather. I was feeling very confident entering the narrows before Autherly junction as I’d not seen a boat moving for maybe an hour so how surprised I was to see a tunnel light pop on as I entered. Not an issue a blast of reverse and we edged back out.

Autherly junction was a lot sunnier this time 

Going back to my initial thoughts we did not see a hire boat all day until we had moored up. Lots of walkers on the towpath on a sunny Sunday. 

We left Gailey visitor moorings above the lock at the end of the row ( a lovely mooring) at 10.05 am and moored up just past Stretton Aquaduct at 3.50 pm so a cruise of just short of 6 hours. Checking  tomorrow’s last hop from CanalplanAC .....

This is a trip of 12 miles, 7¼ furlongs and 1 lock from Stretton Aqueduct to Shebdon Visitor Moorings travelling northwest on the Shropshire Union Canal (Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal - Main Line).

This will take 5 hours and 22 minutes.

Looks like another day of sunshine 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Just sublime boating

 Not much to blog about other than we set off at 8.30am from just before Tixall lock and ended the day on the visitor moorings above Gailey lock at 4.30pm . We serviced the boat at the Penkridge services that took the best part of an hour we ate lunch while we filled from nearly empty. The two tanks on Percy are linked and take a slow dribble to balance towards the end of the fill. 

Another day of few boats moving, one hire boat misjudged the speed of approach as we were readying to exit Deepmore lock resulting in them across the canal and then having to be pulled in. The lady on the back obviously thought we should have come out of the lock like a greyhound out of the traps .... Percy does not do that. She did not return our good day. 

Tomorrow back onto the Shroppie .... not sure where exactly, I think we will just play it by the day.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Look who we met again and stinky canal

Today was always a rest day and a test of  Percy’s limited battery capacity. Can we run a full 24 hours without charge.... seems so. Good to know

We needed supplies so took a walk to the farm shop at Great Haywood via Shugborough. It was a long walk as the Natural Trust had closed the Great Haywood entrance ( Pedestrian) making pedestrians walk all the way to the car park the all the way back. Suffice to say we found a gap in the fence on the way out.

Supplies sourced ( it’s an expensive shop) we met our first boat NB Comet, looking resplendent and talking to her owner sporting a new bottom ! 

 A few more random pics ....

On getting back to the boat the fuel boat came past and was hailed by the boat a little further down the canal. They took diesel then 10 minutes later a proper diesel slick came down the canal. it cost me a full bottle of washing up liquid to disperse it and the smell was horrible. Spin forward 10 minutes and a boat winds behind us and back up. Then lights a portable bbq so we have stink from the cut and stink from the air .... I’m a moaning git.

One boat that did pass earlier was NB Jubilee Halfie offered a towpath drink later which I really enjoyed. John  has been blogging a long time and we have met a few times and I recall we shared a Curry in Alrewas when I was living aboard. Hopefully we can catch up again when they do the Caldon and Leek arm and we will be back home then.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Winded on the wide

 Well target reached, what I call little Tixall - the nice remote moorings between Tixall lock and Tixall wide. The cat certainly approves of the remote and quiet mooring. 

We set off after a lazy start, I was feeling the effects of the long day before. As we slid round onto the lock landing at Teddersley their crane was fired up and ‘ Peter Pan’ was flying .....

It was the busiest we’ve experienced as on checking before I filled the lock a boat was in the distance so I opened the gates ..... meanwhile an ex ‘Challenger’ boat came up behind us. That was as busy as it got, we did not see the boat behind us again until they passed us after we have winded and moored.

The section from Acton Trussell to Great Haywood is in my opinion the best part of the northern Staffs and Worcester as it’s rural and the motorway leaves the canal.

It’s nice not to have the traffic we experienced on the Llangollen in September that and the summer like weather has been a real bonus. So a shorter day with us now pointing back the way we need to go. 

I was a tad concerned about winding at Tixal Wide especially when seeing a lot of mud being disturbed but we spun around quite tidily and have a lone mooring now and may stay a day to explore Shugburough.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A long and different day

Looking at the forecast last night I was expecting dark clouds but not the rain that was falling at 6.30 am when I rose to get us moving at 7am 

A wet approach to the M54 which we go under twice on two canals. Other than the rain it was an uneventful hour and twenty to Autherley junction. There were quite a few hire boats in base but as Rachel pointed out only one family can book them so the larger boats which normally take multiple families will be in base until at least the 17th May.

The gates at the stop lock are getting no better not fully opening so boats scrape down them in and out.

Then is is the narrows but we did not meet a boat coming until well past Coven Heath which I think was being crewed by Roger Fuller ....

 Halfie and Jan off NB Jubilee had let us know they were on route so we stopped for a mid channel catch up at Coven Heath.

Then a steady quiet and thankfully not wet anymore cruise via Gailey to Penkridge for food and a shop. 

Sadly after the Shroppie the Staffs and Worcester is a noisy canal marred by motorways specifically the M6 Rachel is racing an articulated lorry, she lost. On reflection we should have turned right at the junction but I was unsure we’d be granted passage down the Bratch locks as I realised my license disks had not been printed out and were out of date ! 

Just as we were prepping to set off from our food and shopping stop in Penkridge NB Jubilee came under the bridge hole so we held and John and Jan came thru with John then setting the Services Penkridge lock as they were mooring on the 48 hours between locks. 

Tiredness started to set in as I’d been on the go since 6.30am crusing from 7am so at 6.30 pm we called it a day just above the Teddersley boat yard. 

A long day but tomorrow should be easier with a target of a mooring just past Tixall lock ...... 

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Pit stop and beautiful cruising

Another lazy start from our beautiful isolated mooring as I took Leia for a walk as she’s not good getting on and off the boat and sadly seems to prefer being inside now as we cruise, certainly as the day goes on. It did not stop her jumping off at a bridge hole to catch Rachel up, then she tired. She’s like me thinks she is still a youngster. At least she enjoyed the day as did we.

We woke to a lovely show of sunlight on the water in our boat....

We set off to another day of sunshine and quiet canals confirmed  by the guy at Turners of Wheaton Aston who said it was normal April busy for the canal, no surge due to release of lockdown. For the record we filled up with 81 litres of red with the engine counter on 833

I checked back and last filled up on the way to the Llangollen last September with 759 hours so 74 hours for 81 litres of diesel ..... getting very close to a litre an hour and that’s running under load as I tend to charge on the genny. Not bad from a 3 litre 2 cylinder lump of an engine.

We stopped at Wheaton Aston for shopping at the extensive Spar shop and then did the diesel top up. In fact we set off to diesel up at 2.30 and we were exiting the lock at Wheaton Aston at 3.10 ..... almost grand  prix standard ! 

Then just a lovely cruise to our target mooring at just past the winding hole at Chillington bridge. Again, all to ourselves, April cruising is starting to be a real favourite.

Fishing was good with the Roach and Bream taking my bread. I oiled up the engine ready for an early start tomorrow to be on the Staffs and Worcester before those boats that are moving meet us in the Autherly narrows. 

A random selection of images taken today to complete the blog.


Monday, 19 April 2021

Stuck fast ....

We have been pending departure from Shebdon for a couple of days. Mainly to do with getting the boat sorted as well as allowing Rachel to get her second injection and make sure she does not have a reaction as we both did on our first jabs.

So today after waiting out a good 36 hours ( which saw me finally get my Shroppie wheels properly made up, pumped up and two splices put in to hang them as required from the fender holders and critically for my metal health the fore cabin sorted and debunked) we untied the ropes and went nowhere .....

I think it was Late September when Percy last moved from his/her moorings and we were properly silted in. Lots of slow Erving and pushing eventually got Percy’s stern out allowing a slow reverse before literally plowing through the silt to get into the main channel and southwards towards Grub Street. 

For the record 12pm 19th April ..... a long long time between cruises

A beautiful warm few hour’s cruising saw us empty our cassettes and dump our rubbish at Norbury then on to a favourite mooring between Crowley tunnel and High Onn wharf. I was expecting it to be occupied but we had it all to ourselves. In fact that was a noticeable aspect of today’s cruise so few boats moving or indeed out mooring. Surprising based on the weather and the other restrictions but I’ll take it.

One thing we are going differently this cruise is spending time exploring where we moor. So we set to for a walk across fields to Church Stretton. A lovely walk it was to. 

The only sadness is poor Leia, she is old now and it shows. She can’t get on and off the boat as she used to or indeed walk at the pace of the boat. So we have taken the decision to keep her on the boat as we travel and walk her at the beginning and end of the cruising day. She just likes to sniff and potter  along... not conducive to steady three mph cruising. It comes to us all. The following pictures are not in the right order  as IPad blogging is not ideal.