Monday 24 September 2018

22-30 September: Rugeley to Fradley Junction and along the Coventry Canal to Coventry

Saturday 22 September: Rugeley to Fradley Junction and on to Hopwas (16 miles, 5 locks)
The weather forecast predicted rain later, two boats woke us up after 7AM, so John set off not too late and had breakfast en route. This familiar route is, nevertheless, always enjoyable. The winding hole is no longer weedy and neglected. Rugeley soon gave way to tree-lined canal to the interesting stretch through Brereton and Armitage: First, the Ash Tree Boat Club; sharp bend; moorings where we saw our friends' old boat Lady Patricia; the narrows through which Liana walked ahead and stopped an oncoming boat; the embankment by the Plum Pudding pub; winding overgrown bends to Armitage where the still-thriving toilet manufacturers loom over the canal; more narrows before the pretty gardens of Handsacre. The next three miles take you through shady, damp, wooded countryside, quietly past Kings Bromley Marina, the untidy old dairy and new little basin, then on to Woodend Lock, now looking good and basking in sun. We soon reached Shade House Lock, where a couple of boats set off down as we approached. Thus we realised there is only about 100 feet of lock mooring here, not enough for a busy lock with long term moorings close by. John hovered until our turn came, and kind volunteers chatted happily as we descended to the junction.
We needed the services below Junction Lock, so John turned right and reversed into this lock, to the interest of the volunteers. Once through, we reversed to moor outside the services and tearoom, emptying loo holding tanks and clearing the rubbish. The Fender Boat we had passed earlier did the same, so John took the chance to buy a pair of those 4 feet long fenders you hang horizontally, to use around the stern, plus replacement fenders.
Our volunteer saw us up Junction Lock again, saying he was glad John had found forward gear! Through the swing bridge, onto the Coventry Canal, we passed moored boats around the aerodrome, reaching yet more new housing spreading from Fradley. Streethay Wharf looked very busy, while the newish Orchard Marina is large and full of boats. Our boat club is earning good money from our unused mooring, so messaged us for a date of return! Huddlesford now has two massive railway bridges overhead as you approach, plus a number of boats moored along the canal now. Once through Whittington, we soon arrived at Hopwas and moored outside the Tame Otter. John listened to wifi radio commentary of the Liverpool match at the Red Lion, before making Spag Bog for tea. He had to wait for Match of The Day at 10.30 to see the goals!

Sunday 23 September: Hopwas to Fazeley Junction to Coventry Canal bridge 50 (8 miles, 2 locks)
Light rain gave us excuse for a slow start for the day. We chilled until the rain stopped, watching hardier souls pass by, setting off at 10AM with the sun fighting to get through the overcast sky. The quiet, wet, green and tree-lined canal was lovely to pass slowly through, with only the occasional oncoming boat. In the distance, tower blocks betray Tamworth's presence. Ubiquitous new housing development creeps along the canalside here, too, as you approach Bonehill, Peel's Wharf and Fazeley Junction. John bumped Annie as she passed through the narrow bridge hole leading East towards Glascote Locks, making Liana squeak! Watch the offside ledge!
The two Glascote Locks have side ponds which look serviceable, if paddles and gear are refurbished. Steve Hudson's base at Glascote is now run by Norton canes Boat Services and Heart of England Hireboats, after his untimely death. His legacy is floating around the system, namely, his very individually designed narrowboats, which often had distinctive double curved bows, heritage engines and boatman's cabins. We nearly bought one, but the engine noise gave Liana a headache!
Past numerous back gardens in warm sunshine but cool air, we soon passed Alvecote Marina, which contained loads of colourful wooden working boats, including Australia, as it is home to the Narrowboat Heritage Foundation.
Both Alvecote Priory and Pooley Hall are largely hidden by trees, but you can moor to investigate Pooley Park. The once overgrown and mysterious Pooley Colliery loading basin is now full of modern narrowboats in the shadow of the M42.
Once again we passed by Polesworth and St Helena: We really should have a look at these one day, but today we were enjoying the sun. John chose our mooring close by bridge 50, as it faced the western afternoon sun. We stopped early to enjoy the sun and chill. John did some window sanding, ready for a coat of classic Danish wood oil, as an experiment.
Monday 24 September: through Atherstone Locks to bridge 34 near Hartshill (5 miles, 11 locks)
What a gorgeous, cold but sunny morning, just as the weather forecasters promised! After crumpets and toast, we set off through the lovely countryside of the Coventry Canal, until we reached the first of the eleven Atherstone Locks. These come as three pairs at half mile intervals, followed by a thick of five locks up to the old Victorian coal yard, now filled with cars, not coal, sadly. At least there were flowers in the old office. Several volunteers were enjoying the sun, and helped us, plus the pleasant couple following us on NB Sonflower. Once up, we moored and walked along the town's Long Street, where there were plenty of decent local shops, not just charity shops. We lunched at The Wheatsheaf. The food was good. Atherstone has plenty of decent, local shops, and is worth a walk around. We decided to moor in the countryside, so moved Annie 1 ½ miles south to a pleasant country mooring by bridge 34, far enough from the railway for us to have an undisturbed night, apart from the interested bullocks who came over to see us in the evening sunshine.

Tuesday 25 September: on to the Ashby Canal (13 miles, 0 locks)
A cold night – John had to put on a jumper, but the beautiful, blue sky morning rewarded us. The sun warmed John, but the air was cold. Up late, we passed by the picturesque CRT yard at Hartshill, with its arched dock and clock tower. The moorings by the Anchor Inn looked worth trying on a future occasion. It's surprisingly pretty between Atherstone and Nuneaton, passing by old wharves, quarries and spoil heaps, all hidden by the burgeoning greenery. Nuneaton seemed pleasant in the sunshine, but we wanted to reach the Ashby Canal. The Griff Arm was still invisible behind the vegetation on a corner, as we left the town behind. The junction bridge and disused stop lock make the turn on to the Ashby Canal tight. The bridges here are lovely honey-coloured stone. The land is fairly level, with harvested fields empty but for stubble. The towpath has been quite well tended, with many hedges trimmed recently and grass short. While not exciting, John finds the scenery quietly pretty and relaxing, but Liana finds the samey view and lack of locks boring. There were a surprising number of boats coming towards us, not just Ashby Boats hire boats. The weather was so lovely that we kept going, through Hinckley, to a quiet country mooring near bridge 21. John sanded the boat pole ready for a coat of wood oil.

Wednesday 26 September: Bosworth Battlefield Centre and the Battlefield Line (8 miles, 0 locks)
We didn't wake up until after 9AM! This is allowed when you're retired. The sun was blazing in a blue sky, so after porridge and toast we navigated the gentle bends to Stoke Golding, passing Ashby Boats hire base and boatyard, then the larger Ashby Canal Centre Marina, both useful places for fuel, gas and repairs. The canal twists and turns to Sutton Cheney Wharf, which has a popular cafe with moorings, water point and rubbish bins.
We heard great news that our daughter Joanna's medical book has received excellent reviews from someone teaching at Harvard Medical School! Three clever, talented and characterful girls, lucky us! Also, my god daughter, Claire, has become engaged to her beau, Dave ….. sweet.
We moored just past this, on the recycled, rather warped plastic visitor mooring pontoon, then walked the ¾ mile through the woods to the Bosworth Battlefield Centre, well-equipped for the ninety schoolkids and teachers we found there, plus other folk. Cafe, shop, walks with information boards, museum (£8) plus re-enactments of mediaeval soldiery (not today, sadly) make this a decent place to visit: All praise to Leicestershire County Council. We asked for info about the Battlefield Railway and received it at the Tourist Information Centre there: We had time to walk back to Annie and cruise up to bridge 35, moor and make the short walk to Shenton Staion to catch the 1435 train. This we did, Liana insisting I walk more briskly, as this is better for me – cardiovascular exercise, I guess ….. Diesel trains run on Wednesdays, steam at weekends, but I think the twenty minute, five mile journey each way (£9 return pp) and half hour stop at Shackerstone added interest to our day. I enjoyed looking at the rolling stock, mostly needing renovation, and talking to the volunteers chipping rust off coaches and manning the train and station. We had cake and coffee, plus a visit to the bric-a-brac coach shop there, too, before returning to Shenton.
The bridge 35 mooring had been silted up, rather, but we could get within 40cm of the good steel piling. More use will help. The countryside was lovely in the warm afternoon sun, so we cruised towards and past Bosworth Wharf, which was full of boats, to a quieter country mooring with steel piling, the first we could find, a mile beyond, near bridge 44. John gave the wooden boat pole another coat of Danish wood oil. Liana cooked a tasty smoked haddock fishcake with sweetcorn and beans.
John listened on Radio 5 Live to Liverpool FC v Chelsea. Sadly, we lost :(

Thursday 27 September: on to Snarestone, the end of navigation and back (12 miles, 0 locks)
Cool,cloudy, with the sun peeping through, first thing. After scrambled eggs on toast, John set off. With the sun behind us as we headed North or North West, mainly, Liana shivered in the shade of the cratch, and kept popping to the back to soak up some sun. There were few boats moving, but plenty moored, as we passed through Shackerstone, The railway station was hidden by trees. Shackerstone Tunnel (250m) was brick faced and slightly wobbly, but nice for a change. Two boats met us at bridge holes (of course), which seemed to be on sharp bends. Through shaded cuttings, we saw plenty of herons watching for fish. Reaching bridge 61, we passed a workboat fixing the rubber/round post piling in position – and a boat arrived too! Continuing, we met an informative gentleman from the Ashby Canal Society , who operated the swing bridge by their tent and shop, at the position of the old terminus. Now we could continue several hundred yards to the new terminus beyond bridge 62, with its 52' winding hole. Backing back, we moored for tea and a walk to the nearby site of the viaduct we had just been told would be built soon, as ownership and funds were available , being transferred to the society from Leicestershire County Council. We walked up the canal, filled with pit spoil, but partly dug out, to the viaduct site, and could just see stone footings and a few feet of stonework down by the River Sence, from the adjacent road bridge. John spotted a pile of “Wilkes Gobs”, double sized bricks made by this canal promoter in the 1700s, when bricks were taxed, to speed up building and reduce tax. The filled in canal continues the short distance to Illot Wharf, which once supplied coal from the Minorca opencast mine and other mines around Measham. From here, we were told, they intend to take the canal through Measham along the route of the old railway line, which the Ashby Cannal Association now own.

After lunch, John reversed Annie back to the swing bridge, passed through, winded Annie, used the services and visited the Ashby Canal Association tent and shop. He bought an Ashby Canal plaque and mug, plus a book. After our chat with the ACA members, we decided to head back in the sunshine six miles to the same country mooring before Bosworth, passing a few oncoming boats and plenty of moored boats. John sanded a side hatch wood panel outside,and brushed on Danish Oil to seal it, before tea and tv.

Friday 28 September: back along the Ashby Canal to Burton Hastings (13 miles, 0 locks)
Oops! Unwanted World Record for us – we didn't wake up until after 10AM!!! Missed a call from Jo in Australia. Looks like a sunny, blue sky day, too...... so, through bridge 44, past Bosworth Marina, Liana decided to shop in Hinckley, so we continued through the countryside, meeting oncoming boats and touching the bottom, and passing lots of moored boats. Under the railway bridge they told us is too weak for steam trains, we reached Sutton Cheney wharf and moored close to the bridge, to allow the duck feeders at the cafe to carry on. Coffee, fish & chips for Liana, IPA and bacon and sausage butties for John went down well as we watched the boats passing and winding. The food and drink were good, well worth a visit!
There are plenty of boats moored around Stoke Golding, plus a marina and a hire base, so we passed several hire boats, with cheery crews, just setting out.
The sun shone, occasionally obscured by clouds, and we enjoyed the lovely weather (shorts but jumper needed, though). Liana decided we could continue past bridge 16 visitor moorings at Hinckley, as we ate out, and could leave the shops for now. The farms have more pasture for horses and cattle, and less arable land around here: Must be the soil. We keep seeing the same boats, passing and repassing them,such as NB Rainbows End, NB Enchantress, NB Saiorse, etc …. we aren't the only folk on longish peregrinations!
From Hinckley, the pleasant scene has few places with good steel piling, apart from bends, so we kept moving until we found a spot between other boats near bridge 8 at Burton Hastings. Rust removal from the bow resulted in a good chat with our neighbour about boating on tidal Trent and Severn.
For planning trips on the River Trent, incidentally, our fellow Retford & Worksop Boat Club member John Lower's book “Narrowboat on The Trent” is very useful , available from the Chesterfield Canal Trust. Two other A4 chart books on Tidal Trent and Non-Tidal Trent are must haves, available from The Boating Association.
John also tried ketchup as a brass cleaner on the headlamp and stand, which really need it.
After a small tea, tv saw us watching Question of Sport (always fun), Gardeners World and amazing shots in Ryder Cup Golf. Sutton Stop and Coventry tomorrow – Liana is setting the alarm!!

Saturday 29 September: Hawkesbury Junction and Coventry

the ketchup seems to have worked, in a patchy way! Another coat needed.

country mooring as the mist clears near bridge 8, Ashby Canal
We had another lovely, sunny morning cruising to Sutton Stop/Hawkesbury Junction. Once through the narrow stop lock, we passed the characterful Charity Dock on our to lunch at the Greyhound.
defunct stop lock at Marston Junction as we leave the Ashby Canal

approaching Charity Dock, Bedworth

full of …… character
we ate at the Greyhound, Hawkesbury Junction, before setting off towards Coventry. We could hear the crowd roaring at the Ricoh Stadium, so it must have been an early kickoff. While Liana shopped in Tescos, John cleared rust and finished coating the bow with iron oxide primer paint, never an easy job.
The canal was much tidier, although bridgehole 4 had stuff clattering against the hull. Reaching Coventry Basin, much of the mooring space is now occupied by Valley Cruises hire boats, and you can't moor by the warehouse, so we moored and then noticed that that spot said No Mooring. As there was nowhere else, it was late in the day, and we felt we weren't in anybody's way, we decided to stay near James Brindley's statue until someone left and we could move.
It is a short walk into town over the high ring road bridge, and we watched the Liverpool-Chelsea Carabou Cup match at the Coventry Cross pub, which had three big bouncers on the door. We heard many NE voices, and found that Coventry City had drawn 1-1 with Sunderland. Happily, after falling behind, Liverpool scored in the 88th minute to draw, after having the best in a match where both sides played well. The evening passed pleasantly, reading and watching tv, ending with an excellent Match of the Day.

Sunday 30 September: at Coventry, visiting the Transport Museum (0 miles, 0 locks)
The temperature sensor read 2 degrees C outside, so we had jumpers, coats …. and John shorts (mistake!). Two boats left early, so we moved Annie to a bona fide mooring, before visiting the town again. Coventry has a pedestrianised city centre with plenty of shopping centres, having been rebuilt after the Blitz of November 1940. We made our pilgrimage to the Cathedral(s), and visited the Guild Hall, which was worth a look. The Transport Museum has been redeveloped to be more child- and adult-friendly, and both of us enjoyed the look around, which is extensive. After a walk around the city centre, we had lunch, finally, in a Wetherspoons, as Liana could not find anywhere she preferred. John's Sunday Brunch 14oz steak went down well! Later, Liana continued shopping, while John returned to the Coventry Cross pub to watch Cardiff play Burnley FC. The quality of football was very poor, compared to the Liverpool v Chelsea match yesterday, so he left at half time …..
John washed the back of the boat down while Liana cleaned off the old and then applied more ketchup to the headlamp. It does work, although patchily, depending on the thickness of the ketchup!

17-21 Sept 2018: Staffs & Worcester plus Trent & Mersey canals with Min and Angela Palmer no pics

Monday 17 September: Kinver to Swindon (5.5 miles, 7 locks)
We arrived at Kinver at lunchtime, in bright sunshine, so soon set off through Kinver, Hyde and Stewponey Locks to Stourton Junction, past overhanging trees and red sandstone cliffs, through the tiny Dunsley Tunnel, little more than a bridge. It's a pretty stretch of canal. We worked through locks as a team, meeting lots of boats and chatting with the boaters in the sun, until we moored at Swindon. Angela's baked potatoes and chilli went down well before we played Settlers of Catan (of course!)

Tuesday 18 September: Swindon to the (Fox and) Anchor Inn near Coven (13 miles, 14 locks)
This sunny morning we set off through a couple of locks to Bottesham Staircase Locks, nice for a change. Past the family pub fayre Waggon & Horses near our nieces houses, we soon reached Wombourne Bumblehole Lock and the unique Bratch Locks. These were originally a triple staircase, but were converted into three very close (12 feet apart) single locks with side ponds in between. Naturally, top gates and the following bottom gates need to be open for the boat to pass from bottom lock to middle lock, etc, so the effect is still similar to a triple staircase, but saves water. It's a pretty stretch of canal around here. We stopped at Wightwick after three more locks, for lunch. The weather being very windy but quite warm, we decided to continue past Stourton Junction and stopped at Oxley's boatyard for diesel (75p @ 0%, about £1.10 @ 100%).

Wednesday 19 September: Anchor Inn moorings to Penkridge and on to Acton Trussell (8.5 miles, 10 locks)
MIn (Norman) drove the five miles through pleasant countryside to Gailey, past the Calf Heath and hatherton Marinas, the western end of the old Hatherton canal, which carried coal from the Cannock coalfield. Calf Heath Marina uses the bottom two locks, the second having a large side shelf where boats can be left high and dry for blacking, etc: Very handy!
We watered up and emptied loo holding tanks and rubbish at Gailey. The ladies still run the Roundhouse shop, which has a good selection of waterways books and souvenirs.
John and Norman shared the six locks down to Penkridge, where we moored at the winding hole by mistake, only noticing as we looked up from eating our lunch! Like good boaters, we departed asap and passed down another four locks, the sun peeping through occasionaly, to moor before the Moat House by Acton Trussell as the rain worsened.

Thursday 20 September: “Wet, Wet, Wet!” Acton Trussell to Great Haywood (7.5 miles, 2 locks)
We slept so-so after the brass Kingfisher incident. It rained overnight, but saw damp but dry enough to set off. Norman volunteered to drive down the gentle Penk and Sow valleys, as he had spotted rain after 11AM! John enjoyed the cool, damp weather from the front of the boat, for a change. We passed the breakfasters at the Moat House, then enjoyed the lovely gardens of well-breeched Acton Trussell before reaching the isolated but lovely Deptmore Lock, below which we have moored peacefully several times.
Stafford Boat Club always looks splendid to passing boaters. Through Baswich, John donned his yellow all-weather gear and took over from Norman. Down the sedge-bordered canal along the Sow valley and across the narrow, stone Sow Aqueduct, the rain fell increasingly until, by Tixall Wide, it was clear that we needed to moor. As liana needed a shop, we continued to Great Haywood, through that picturesque junction bridge, to moor in heavy rain above the lock. Once the shower had passed, Norman and Angela walked to see the Shugborough Hall after twenty years. We found that the village shop by the pharmacy had closed a year ago, but got supplies from the Haywoods Spar Shop/Post Office 200 yards up the road from the pub. We all got back just as heavy rain started again, so settled for an evening meal on board, reading, blogging and games.

Friday 21 September: Great Haywood to Rugeley, celebrating twenty years of canal boating (5 miles, 2 locks)
The covers were sodden after a stormy, windy night, but the sky was largely blue and the sun was shining. Twenty years ago, we had our first experience of canal boating around here, and Great Haywood was John's first solo lock as steerer, witnessed by a bank holiday crowd of about 200 people! We took a selfie and a wee schoolgirl kindly took a photo of us all with Annie in the lock.
The sun shone on as we were blown towards Colwich and on to Rugeley. Norman worked on tap plumbing, then steered, while John donned his yellow wet weather gear again for the last wet bit. After a sandwich lunch, we all set off for the station, for Norman and Angela to take the train to our car in Kinver and return to our home town. We toured the town centre, which is largely pedestrianised, and visited charity shops for books and a cd, plus Morrisons and Wilko's, both close to the mooring by bridge 66. Feeling tired, we decided to stay, rest, watch tv and read.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

31 August - 9 September: River Severn and the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal (not all pictures yet)

Friday August 31: River Severn passage from Tewkesbury to Gloucester (13 miles, 3 locks)
John spotted the rubbish skip as we were preparing to leave, but there is no |Elsan point at Tewkesbury Lock, oddly. Alison saw a Kingfisher as we went on the river.
Annie about to enter Tewkesbury Lock

Tewkesbury Lock, fore and aft ropes needed

the mills, Tewkesbury

entering the main River Severn, avoiding the tongue of sand on the right

approaching Upper Lode Lock

we waited for boats to leave the lock

Upper Lode Lock dwarfs Annie
The cheerful lock keeper said he would sometimes let Upper Lode Lock know boats were coming, but John called them up on VHF channel 74. He was told to take his time over the ¾ mile, as a boat was locking up. The friendly lady lock keeper advised John about both large trees floating about today and spring tides causing tidal surges above Gloucester weir next week, due to spring tides.
We had a beautiful, idyllic and sunny morning to ourselves, apart from several boats coming upriver and one cruiser overtaking us.
Approaching Gloucester Lock, John heard on VHF that the cruiser was waiting “on the chains” (moored to wall chains 100 yards above the lock) while waiting for boats to lock down onto the river. John slowed right down and arrived just as they came out. There is normally a nasty cross current from left to right just as you enter the lock, so he came in the last part quite fast, aiming left of centre, slowing down once out of the current in the lock. It went fine, the easiest ever, probably because, with little rain, the cross current wasn't too bad. Once in the lock, we secured ropes fore and aft to the vertical cables on the lock wall, although Liana got her's twisted, so had to hoik it up as the water rose. We managed, and moored on the pontoons round the corner in the basin, by the pub and Greek restaurant, stern to.
In Gloucester Quays, we found So Pie, and we had their tasty pie (plus lemon meringue dessert) for lunch at only £9.95, while Ali had Bruschetta and salmon.
We stayed here the night – maybe a mistake, as the loud “music” finished at midnight. John fell asleep (naval training?) while Liana did puzzles!

Saturday September 1: Gloucester Docks to Saul Junction along the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal (8 miles, 0 locks)
John called up Llanthony Bridge and they opened up for us to leave Gloucester Dock basin. Once through, we moored on the right to use the services: 5 ½ loo holding tanks to empty, water to fill up with, rubbish to remove. We had a lovely gentle trip to Saul, through a variety of bridges, some swung, some being raised for us, others high enough to motor underneath.
We met our nephew Scott at Saul, and he took us all the short distance to The Three Horseshoes at Frampton-on-Severn, where three of us samples their trademark three-in-one pies (filling, mash potato and broccoli/cauli/peas/sweetcorn, all under one puff pastry crust). Yum! Alison had a huge thick slab of ham, plus eggs and chips. She needed a doggy bag for the ham. Ali drove them both home, while we had a walk around the area, followed by coffee in the cafe. We spotted a large rat, not surprising when waterside.
We watched Formula 1 qualifying ( Ferraris front row, Lewis Hamilton 3rd), then Guy Martin and Jensen Button in a F1 challenge race. John enjoyed Match of the Day (Liverpool won).

Sunday September 2: Saul Junction to Sharpness (8 miles, 0 locks)

The scene at Saul is interesting: Opposite our mooring, just after the Junction Swing Bridge, is R.L.Davis's boatyard, with its huge crane overlooking narrowboats and small ships under construction. The marina lies just behind, with its entry off the stub of the Stroudwater Canal, by the swing bridge. The junction is so sharp that boats entering from Gloucester have to wind opposite Davis's yard first and turn right into the Stroudwater Canal, while boats leaving the marina have to turn left and wind in the same place before passing through the swing bridge narrows. All while narrowboats and cruisers pass to and fro, trip boats scurry about, the bridge beeping, opening and closing continually. With decent cafe, car park and local walks, plus boaters' water point and Cotswold Canal Trust shop, loos, laundry and Elsan points available, too, it is a busy place. We walked down the rather overgrown derelict section of the Stroudwater Canal, beside the River Frome, past the Ship Inn at Framilode and on to views of the Severn Estuary. We returned along the byroad to Sandfield Bridge and had a cappucino in the cafe, before setting off for the eight miles to Sharpness. There were lots of boats around, enjoying the sunny weekend.
Sandfield Swing Bridge opens automatically on detecting boats, as an experiment. The next, Fretherne, has an operator. The huge A38 swing bridge and bridges 19-17 are all high enough for narrowboats to pass under. Half way, through Splatt, Cambridge Arms and Patch Bridges, we passed Slimbridge nature reserve, founded by Peter Scott. We saw plenty of canoes around Purton, where the two nearby bridges seem to be worked as one, using cameras. The circular stone plinth, which used to support the steel railway swing bridge over the canal, at the start of the long gone Severn Railway Bridge. As it was low tide, we could see the remains of the buttresses at regular intervals across the river, and the remains of the two barges that collided with it, sinking and demolishing part of it, never to be repaired.
After winding and mooring, we chilled and chatted to passers by. After chicken and red wine, John soon nodded off!

Monday September 3: Sharpness and back to Saul (8 miles, 0 locks)

After breakfast, we had a long walk past the marina, with its new small chandlery, around to the Lifeboat Station, then past the Dockers Club to the docks and coastguard station close by the dock tidal lock gates. You get a fine view down the Severn estuary, with the road bridges in the distance towards the West. After lunch, we set off under overcast skies, high humidity and very fine drizzle. Liana steered for a while as the sun decided to shine. John had to put on his wet weather gear when we had one or two torrential rain showers. Few boats were moving. At Saul, we moored near Cotswold Canal Trust shop and water point and watched the boats and folk passing.
While Liana chilled, watching tv and doing quizzes, John walked a mile or so up the Stroudwater Canal, past the large marina and the lowered Walk Bridge, across a field and through a wood, where the canal had been infilled up to the A38.

Tuesday September 4: Saul to Gloucester (8 miles, 0 locks)

John's sister Dianne's and friend Andrew's Birthdays :) We had planned to travel by bus at 0945 from the bus stop round the corner from the marina, only to find it only came on a Friday! Plan B was to travel to Gloucester and take the bus from there to Stroud tomorrow. We had a quiet journey back, moored outside Sainsbury's, had lunch and then shopped. Passing under High Orchard Bridge, we found a mooring on the 48 hours visitors pontoon outside the Brewhouse & Kitchen at Gloucester Quays, just before Llanthony Bridge. This was much quieter than the noisy pontoons in corner of the dock basin, which had “music” blaring away until midnight.

Wednesday September 5: Stroud and the Stroudwater Canal visit

We walked half a mile to the bus station and caught the hourly 66 bus to Stroud, through Ebley. On the top deck, the bumps as the bus passed over road humps were bad.
Stroud is hilly. We had coffee at the Cotswold Canal Trust (CCT) Cafe. We are members of CCT, and get their interesting magazine through the post. John was looking forward to seeing all the progress for himself. We walked up the canal past Bowbridge, Griffins Mill and Ham Mill Locks, all now fully restored, and marvelled at the canal now wide and in water. Well done, the CCT!!! We returned to the CCT cafe for a light lunch. Don't miss the CCT shop next to the cafe, like we did! It is open from 10am-1pm.
Liana at Wallbridge Upper Lock, Stroud, with CCT café and shop behind

Liana at Capel Mill Viaduct

folk on the water at Capel Mill

Bowbridge Lock

looking for fish

Griffin's Mill Lock

Liana approaching Ham Mill Lock by canal still to be dredged

Andean wildlife

impressive bywash grill at Bowbridge Lock

Liana looking down at Capel Mill
After lunch, we walked a mile or so past the wonderfully restored Wallbridge Lower Lock, plus the two restored Dudbridge Locks to Ebley Mill. Here, we missed the bus by a minute, so had an hour at the nearby Kitsch coffee shop (John had lager).
this was once muddy rough path beside weeded up canal!

amazing job digging out the cliff beside Wallbridge Lower Lock!

novel single cantilever bridge at Ebley
John saw a tug coming through the flood gate, so dashed out to get a photo and chat to the volunteers.
On the way back from Ebley, we sat on seats in the middle of the bottom deck, which was much less bumpy. Getting off at Gloucester Quays, we were soon home and eating chicken kiev on Annie.

Thursday 6 September: A short trip and pies with Bryn and Julie Shackleton

Before we leave Gloucester, we took our chance to see daughter Joanna's beau Mark's parents, Julie and Bryn Shackleton, who live not too far away, near Yate. We had a pleasant trip four miles up to Quedgeley and back. It was good to share a bit of time with them, and we popped into "So Pie" at Gloucester Quays for another of their excellent pies. This time we had a "two for £20" meal deal, trying game, curry, pork & apple plus chicken & asparagus pies, respectively, with choices of potatoes, vegetables. The cheesy potato mash and mixed veg were very tasty, with a jug of gravy, too. As the weather worsened, we decided to wait until tomorrow to travel.
John & Liana, with Bryn and Julie Shackleton at So Pie, Gloucester