Monday, 24 September 2018

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.

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