Saturday, 19 June 2021

Around Wolverhampton

 Saturday June 19 a short cruise with Rachel

Hoorah! Daughter Rachel and lovely Golden Doodle Honeypie are popping over for a visit! From our mooring here by bridge 4, we will go to Autherley Junction and turn round, then up through the stop lock eight miles through Brewood to Wheaton Aston - at least, that’s the plan!

Early this morning, the cattle opposite loomed through the mist. John had to open the hatch and window to enjoy the view.



Once Rachel arrived, we set off for Autherley Junction, where Rachel and Liana helped the boats in front of Annie in the queue go through. John breasted up with the Napton hire boats  by the stop lock, as they don’t leave room for a lock mooring (CRT, is this right?).

John winded Annie at the junction, avoiding a flotilla of canoes from the outdoor activity centre, and returned through the lock. 

We found ourselves behind a hire boat rented by beginners, who entertained us for the rest of the morning! We helped them with advice about steering, getting off shoals and, eventually, going through Wheaton Aston Lock. In between, we enjoyed the countryside through Brewood and beyond.

John winded Annie and moored by  the winding hole, while Liana and Rachel helped the beginners through the lock.

After a good meal from the interesting menu at the  Hartley Arms pub at Wheaton Aston, we returned to Annie, chatted and played cards. John lost, while Poland held Spain to a draw at soccer.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Brooding around Brewood

 Friday June 18 Brewood visit (8 miles, 0 locks, lotsa narrows)

John sanded and painted the cratch gunwhales this morning, so they look much better. Our current mooring is handy for our daughter Rachel to join us tonight, so we cruised the few miles to Brewood (pronounced ‘Brood’ by locals) and back.



There are narrows and wide pools either side of the M54 motorway bridge. On the way back, both we and the boat in front grounded while waiting for an oncoming boat to come through the tightest narrows. Some of these narrows have large rock ledges at the side, just below the surface, so keep in the middle!

Chillington  Wharf feels isolated in a woody setting at the start of a long deep Telford cutting, or rockin‘, which has a narrow section due to subsidence. The wide Bridge 10 is expensively balustraded in stone, as it carries the drive to Chillington Hall, obviously the seat of a family with clout! 

We moored at the visitor moorings in the cutting by the Bridge Inn, where we both had good value well cooked fish & chips plus tasty apple pies. The staff were friendly and helpful. Thank you!

Brewood is a pretty village to walk round, with a wide variety of impressive houses of all ages. The shopping area is around the Swan Hotel, which dominates the market place. There is a Coop  and Spar shop, as well as salons for fashion and the body beautiful!!




Thankfully, we have only had a few spots of rain, and the paint dried quickly.


Thursday, 17 June 2021

On the level, apart from a foot!!

 Thursday June 17 (10 miles, 1 stop lock)

It rained last night, but is sunny now. John reversed Annie to the services by the lock, and emptied loo cassettes, while Liana filled Annie’s water tank.


The new wharf on the offside is for boater training, John was told. 

Past the large chemical works at Calf Heath, we enjoyed the flat, wooded countryside on the way to Hatherton Marina and the adjacent Calf Heath Marina, which uses the first two locks of the old Hatherton Branch. We turned right at the canal crossroads, towards Autherley Junction.



 We passed at least 22 oncoming boats today, so John was careful at bridge holes and blind corners! We were warned about loads of canoes at the outdoor education centre by bridge 73, but we just missed them - the kids were on the wood bike track as we passed.



We have moored and eaten at the Fox & Anchor at Cross Green several times, but it looked closed today. 

Once under the A449 and M54 bridges, we passed through the narrows including “Pendeford Rockin’l without incident.



At Autherley Junction, boats were moored where John usually drops off Liana, so of course a boat appeared in the junction bridge hole as we turned! John reversed hurriedly and let them past, and they kindly left the lock gate open for us.




We rose the magnificent distance of a foot up this stop lock, by the Napton Narrowboats boat hire base. 

After three failed attempts to moor due to shallows, we stopped to eat lunch on the off side before Wolverhampton Boat Club, where we have arranged to leave Annie for a while from Sunday.

Moving on past bridge 4, we moored opposite fields, close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, as clouds and wind arrived. Tv football and Queens Club tennis kept us interested.

Interesting sky tonight!






Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Penkridge to Gailey Round House and the summit level



 Wednesday June 16 Penkridge market and on to Gailey (3 mile, 6 locks)

Another bright sunny day saw us have a cup of tea before walking to the large market here, which is on every Wednesday and Saturday. We found the new one way system worked well. We bought a few bits including a bright shirt for John. 


The old White Hart pub is a lovely building, opposite the farmers shop and market.

We can recommend the Cappuccino coffee and full English breakfast at Kaffeine, near the Star Inn, just off the old market square. Good quality fair.

 

We set off up the six locks, past Otherton Boat Haven 

to the top lock, Gailey Lock. 

Below is a different view of it!




 a favourite shop and stopover at Gailey Roundhouse, only to find it closed! Is it really closed? It looked to be 😭 😭

We found a shady mooring to rest up for the day.



Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Penkridge

 Tuesday June 15 at Penkridge ( 0 miles)

We have decided to wait for the large Wednesday market here (also every Saturday). We had a walk into town for a coffee and browse around charity shops, where we bought books and shorts. Walking a bit further, past the Bridge Inn, we looked down on the River Penk from the bridge.



John bought iron oxide paint, impact glue, firelighters and black fire cement from the farm shop, for use when he fits the new cast iron chimney collar.

Later, we got out the sandpaper and wood oil to improve the look of the cratch doors and galley hatch, plus give our new stool a second coat.

We enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine here, too. It’s lovely to be able to have all the hatches and doors open!

Tennis from the Queens Club, football and reading concluded our day.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

 Monday June 14 Tixall to Penkridge (9.5 miles, 6 locks)

Last night was just after the new moon, which appeared as a very thin crescent. Tixall Wide was so beautiful that the tv was switched off and we sat drinking in the view, clouds and reflections in the water, plus the peace here, before and after sunset.

This morning we had boats passing from 0630, which did wake us up, although we nodded off again. It’s always busy in the Great Haywood area, and today was no exception. At Great Haywood the River Sow joins the River Trent. We are heading south up the Sow valley, so we are going up the locks again towards the summit level at Gailey. We passed twenty oncoming boats , most in the first hour. Goods and passenger trains passed close by between Milford and Badwich,  one honking their horn when John waved! We were told there were plenty going our way too, but we only noticed the couple in front and two behind, as you might expect! Everyone was enjoying the lovely day and helped each other.




After Tixall lock and crossing the River Sow aqueduct, we soon reached Baswich and the junction with the Stafford arm being worked on. We could see building work going on, by the site of the original lock and lock keepers house. Good luck!


We motored past the pleasant gardens of Baswich and the well-appointed Stafford boat Club, slowing for quite a few moored boats here and there. 

The deepish Deptmore lock still feels isolated among cattle pastures, before we entered the manicured back gardens of Acton Trussell. The distant roar of the M6 wasn’t too intrusive as we waited our turn at Shutt Hill, Park Gate by Teddesley boatyard, and Longford locks. 

Nicely kept chalet bungalows heralded the start of Penkridge. The Boat Inn beside Penkridge lock is about to open again, including food, we were told by the staff preparing for this.



We moored above this lock, walked around the town and had drinks plus a shared plate of chips at The Star in the old market place. We believe the Cross Keys up the canals few hundred metres has a full menu, and the large market is still on Wednesday and Saturday, we were told.

John helped some boaters to moor, after which we had a peaceful evening. Scotland lost at football, sadly!



Sunday, 13 June 2021

Stone to Tixall Wide

 Sunday June 13 Stone to Great Haywood and Tixall Wide (10 miles, 4 locks)

Annie moored at Tixall Wide

Stone now has new canalside housing which extends southwards through Aston to the scenic and well designed Aston Marina, which looks a great place to moor.  

The country between Aston and Samson locks offers some lovely mooring spots with steel piling. Kayakers zoomed past Annie.

We found two boats in front of us at Sandon lock, so had to queue for the first time this year, for this and both Weston and Hoo Mill locks. No surprise with all the owned, hired and boat share Narrowboats and cruisers out this weekend. We were both happy to help and chat with all the boaters and walkers about this Sunday, enjoying the sunshine.   This gentle Trent valley is very pretty, with buttercups, elder flowers and cow parsley, plus lots of Canada Geese families. We spotted three ex-Ownerships shared boats, Rodbaston, Rowington and Cheddington (we had two shares in their NB Osprey before buying Annie). 







We saw a very unusual bird eating from a garden bird feeder!!
There were both permanent moored and plenty of moored touring boats to pass, so it was after lunch before we reached Great Haywood. Here, we filled up with water and 110 litres of diesel, and emptied loo holding tanks in the Elsan. 
John bought a new Nicholson’s Guide book 4 for the Four Counties Ring (£16.99!). John had to pass through the famous junction bridge and back into the fairly emptybasin for the diesel.

We were lucky to find an empty prime mooring at Tixall Wide, a favourite lake-like beauty spot and mooring for many of us boaters, a mile away from the junction and Shugborough Hall, once the home of photographer Lord Lichfield.