Saturday, 31 October 2009

The strength of Magnets!

Interesting reading on Morts blog Bones regarding magnets, brings to mind our use of the sea searcher magnet on the Rochdale Canal recently. 

We had moored for the night at Irk Aqueduct as suggested by BW ready for our shadowed passage down the Rochdale 19 locks the following morning.  There were three boats moored including ourselves with Nb Epiphany and a Sowerby Cruisers hire boat.  Hearing a noise at around 8pm and a slight movement of the boat, Derek and I were out in time to disturb some youths letting off two of our three ropes.  The hire boat (which was empty at the time) was adrift on the other side of the canal. 

How to retrieve it and secure it again?  Derek threw our sea searcher magnet attached to a long rope onto the cruiser deck of the other boat. It made contact and slowly we managed to pull it back to the towpath and resecure the ropes.  How about that?  What weight is a narrowboat and the magnet held tight.

Rugeley in view.

2 Locks, 3.01 Miles. Now moored near bridge 69 Trent & Mersey Canal.

Great Haywood 018 Beautiful garden around this canal side property.

We had to move today to get water, diesel and a pump out so once completed we just headed off towards Rugeley. With Anglo Welsh expecting most of their hire boats back tomorrow after the school mid term break, a local boat club holding a rally at Tixall Wide at the weekend and a Halloween Party at Shugborough Hall, Great Haywood Junction could be a busy place so we would be better off well away.

Great Haywood 020 Stonemason's cottage dated 1710 near Great Haywood. A vast array of old tools and equipment adorn the garden.

Now clear of the impending stoppages we can take things a bit easier and if the weather is not favourable for cruising we can just sit it out. We are within sight of the Rugeley power station and only a day’s cruise away from Fradley Junction and the Coventry Canal.

Great Haywood 023 Colwich Lock due to close for emergency repairs.Great Haywood 027Get off my patch.

2020 locks, 3897.47 miles, 76 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 30 October 2009

Great Haywood Sunset

Great Haywood 009 Great Haywood 014







Last nights beautiful sunset over Great Haywood

Great Haywood 008

After several visit's to Great Haywood we had never seen this weir before due to high water levels. Photo taken from Essex Bridge

Boat Yard gates in lovely setting

Salt 001

Boat Yard backwards.

Salt 003

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Balmy Weather.

2 Locks, 4.46 Miles. Now moored at Great Haywood.

Last night John and Fiona took us to the Holly Bush Inn for a thank you drink and a very pleasant evening it was. When we walked into the pub we got a real shock because here’s this little village pub and it was bursting at the seams mainly with diners. There was only a handful of people including ourselves that were just there for drinks. A popular little pub indeed.

Great Haywood 002 Well I got in here but how do I get out?

It was a really Indian Summers day as we set off this morning for Great Haywood. The weather has certainly gone crazy, it was only 2 weeks ago that we changed the duvet to the winter weight and swapped all our clothes over from summer to winter variety. Now it’s too hot in bed and we are wearing only the lightest of clothing but you can guarantee it won’t last.

Great Haywood 004 Trimming the edging. Working for BW?

Plenty of boats on the move again today and as we arrived at Great Haywood junction there were boats in all directions trying to negotiate through the junction. Just to add to the chaos a BW tug and work boat came off the Staffs & Worcs Canal to head north up the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Great Haywood 006 An old Romany caravan. This one is actually on a car trailer to be taken to venue's.

The winter maintenance stoppages start in earnest on Monday but we are now ahead of schedule south to the midlands for Christmas so we can take it easy for a while, only 1 stoppage left at Colwich lock on 9th November so we will be well past that.

Great Haywood 007 Showman's caravan still in use.

We struck lucky with a mooring just past the junction exactly where we had hoped to moor. We will now be chilling out for a couple of days before resuming our travel south probably on Saturday. We have had quite a hectic schedule since leaving Leeds so it’s time to ease up for a while. John and Fiona on Epiphany are now safely tucked away in the Great Haywood Marina. It has been a pleasure to cruise with them and we wish them well for the future and hope to catch up with them again some time.

2018 locks, 3894.46 miles, 76 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Ain’t seen it so busy for so long.

10 Locks, 9 Miles. Now moored at Salt.

Today was going to be the final long day to ensure Epiphany reached Great Haywood Marina by tomorrow morning. Considering this is Autumn we have never seen so many boats on the move in one day since we ventured North many month’s ago. Admittedly it is school’s mid term break and the weather being mild has probably got a fair bit to do with it. Compared with the Southern waterways the Northern canals are greatly under utilised and very quiet.

Salt 017 Lock 29 and bridge 95 at Stone, Trent & Mersey Canal. The little tunnel was for the horses.

At Stone we stopped for lunch and had a quick trip into town for a few bits and bobs. As there was only 1 mooring available we had to breast up but the canal is amply wide enough to handle it. Just as we were setting off after lunch Nb Aotearoa came up through Star lock with Colin and Ann aboard heading for a new mooring on the Llangollen canal which is closer to home for them. They had been following our progress but thought that they would miss us so were quite chuffed when they found us.

Salt 019 Market day in Stone.

Below Aston lock we were surprised at the size of the new Aston Marina. The first stage is now in use with some boats already in situ. The second part of the marina is due to be filled with water next month and eventually the stop planks between the 2 halves will be removed and it will become one huge marina.

Salt 022 Part of the new Aston Marina now open but work goes on.Salt 027Looking across the Aston marina from the southern entrance across the causeway between the 2 halves.

At Aston lock we lost contact with Epiphany due to so many boats passing through. We were beginning to think we were not going to catch up with them as the light was fading due to the late hour. After what seemed an age of cruising we finally found them moored up just before bridge 82. Within an hour of us mooring up it was dark.

Salt 032 Unusual for us to be still cruising at this time.  Sunset on the Trent & Mersey about 4pm 27 October 2009.

2016 locks, 3890 miles, 76 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


6 locks, 8 Miles. Now moored at BarlastonPotteries 002 Gypsy Rover and Epiphany at Westport Lake.Potteries 003Westport Lake, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent.

While preparing for today’s journey we were passed by quite a few boats who had either come through the Harecastle tunnel early this morning or moored south of the tunnel after a late tunnel transit last night. Two of these boats moored up behind us and it transpired that John and Fiona knew the sole lady boater, so that delayed our departure with the obligatory greeting of  a long lost friend and a quick catch up on comings and goings.

Potteries 005 The newly completed visitor centre at Westport Lake

Despite the sky being heavily overcast it has been very mild for this time of year. With so many boats on the move we knew that we were going to be delayed at Etruria junction and we were proven right being third in the queue for lock 40. With boats waiting on both sides it was a case of 1 up, 1 down until our turn came when there were no more North bound boats.

Potteries 014 The site of Newport Potteries now apartment blocks.  Stoke on Trent.

At lock 36 I had set the lock and had the top gate open for Dot to drive the boat in when a lady appeared from below the lock and proceeded to raise the paddles at the other end of the lock to empty it. I couldn’t believe it, this was the second time that this has happened to us. With a quick, loud “Excuse me” the woman finally realised what was happening and stopped. Rather flabbergasted, she dis-appeared and I realised her partner or what ever had driven their boat right up to the lock gates so they were franticly reversing back out of the long throat of the lock onto the bollards to await their turn. And no, they were not a hire boat but private owners who should have known better.

Potteries 015 Still a few hints of the old potteries around in Stoke on Trent.Potteries 021These pottery kilns are probably listed buildings and have been retained. Potteries 028Have loo will travel. Potteries 029Blue Boar contractors. The unit in front of the tug is a split pontoon to carry cranes etc but is too big for the locks so it gets unbolted and moved end to end.

At Trentham lock we suspected that some youths had been skylarking around the lock but as soon as they saw 2 boats approaching they dis-appeared into the woodland behind the lock. The other boat was the Mikron Canal Theatre boat heading North. We could hear the youths in the woods but they didn’t re-appear or cause any hassles.

Potteries 034 This was an old station masters house but the trains don't stop there any more.Potteries 035 Autumn on the cut.

2006 locks, 3881 miles, 76 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 26 October 2009

Impeccable Timing!

6 Locks, 5 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Westport Lake.

Westport 001Duplicated locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Kidsgrove.

After being awoken twice during the night (Midnight & 6am) by text messages from a friend in NZ who had absentmindedly forgotten about the time difference, we were all set for a 9.30am start. With only 6 locks on our planned itinerary it wasn’t going to be too hard a day. The only hold up was at lock 43 where a queue had already started long before we arrived.

Westport 003 Epiphany and Gypsy Rover awaiting their turn at lock 43 Trent & Mersey.

Just before lock 41 we moored for an hour or so to visit Tesco’s and stock up the pantry as handy supermarkets are few and far between for a while. Just before we were ready to head off to the Harecastle Tunnel there was a heavy shower of rain which delayed us for a few minutes. Luckily we didn’t hang around too long because we had been told there were 3 boats already awaiting entry to the tunnel from the Northern end which, by the time we reached the tunnel they had already gained entry. Thinking that we would have to wait the BW tunnel keeper arrived and ushered us straight into the the tunnel. Bless his cotton socks.

Westport 005 Some of the colourful fungal growth on the roof of the Harecastle Tunnel.

After an uneventful passage through the tunnel, which incidentally will be our third and final visit to Thomas Telford’s 19th century masterpiece, we moored up by Westport Lake. Fiona then invited us over for afternoon tea and cakes which was greatly appreciated.

Westport 012 After 1¾ miles of darkness daylight beckons.

Westport 013I would hate to see one of these guys suffer brake failure whilst parking.

2000 locks, 3873 miles, 76 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Happy Birthday Son!


Heart Break Hill -Well almost.

18 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at Church Lawton.

It wasn’t the best of days to travel but we need to get some mileage under our belts. John on Epiphany had decided on an early start which was a bit of a surprise to us, however we did get a couple of locks done before the rain set in. Along the way we crossed paths with 3 other boats which was a plus with help on the locks.

Church Lawton 002 Only one chamber here, the other has been turned into a waterfall sluice.

These locks were known to the old boatmen as the Cheshire locks and were originally all paired single locks but some of them have suffered structural damage. Two have been shored up hopefully with a view to restore them when finance is available but two others have been infilled never to be used again.

Church Lawton 015

Another lock that could be restored but it has suffered structural failure.

Church Lawton 005 Derek and John on lock duty. Look at those rain clouds heading our way.

Church Lawton 016 Church Lock Lock 47 looking back down on lock 48, Trent and Mersey Canal.

Tonight is the end of British Summer Time or Daylight Saving as it’s called in NZ, so the clocks go back one hour giving us an hours sleep in tomorrow morning. DON’T FORGET TO PUT YOU CLOCKS BACK!

1994 locks, 3868 miles, 75 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Hop, Skip and a Jump.

2 Locks, 3 miles. Now moored below lock 64.

With the crew of Epiphany now back on board it was decided that even though it was early afternoon we would make a move albeit a short one. When the decision was originally made the weather was overcast but dry. The minute we cast off it started to rain. There were a couple of heavy showers during the cruise, wouldn’t you just know it! But when you’ve gotta go you gotta go.  

Wheelock 001-1 Decisions ,decisions, left or right. Lock 66 Trent & Mersey Canal which has 2 single locks.

We called into the facilities block at Wheelock to replenish both water tanks before negotiating locks 66 which had both locks in operation & 65 which only had one lock in use, the other was leaking like a sieve. We had seen the present moorings on an early visit to the area and we were hoping that there would be room for us. As it transpired we had the whole area to ourselves but that didn’t last long with more boats having now joined us.

1976 locks, 3863 miles, 75 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Autumn Splendour

Trent & Mersey 005 I just love these colours

Odd Jobs and Boat Sitting.

While the crew of Epiphany head down south by train we are chilling out for a couple of days. Boat watching (Epiphany) and tackling all those odd jobs that get put on the back burner for a rainy day. Well the rain actually passed through overnight leaving us with quite a mild autumn day, hooray.

Situated alongside Big lock in Middlewich this place has had a bit of a face lift since we were last here.

Dot set to with the new Digi box for the TV (the old one died on change over day). It transpired that a shop bought coax cable hadn’t been made very well and the 2 cables had come in contact with each other which didn’t help the situation when trying to tune the channels in. We are now able to switch from satellite to Digi box quite easily. We originally thought it was the coax cable through the bulkhead but by process of elimination this was not the case. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Ain’t they Sweet?

These little fella's were at Kings Lock Middlewich.

It started to rain so Mum called the brood home.

Brrrr It was Cold.

9 Locks, 12 Miles. Now moored near Bridge 160 Sandbach.

Early morning on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

When we set off at 8am the weather wasn’t too bad. The sun was making an effort to appear but as the day wore on the storm bearing down from the North caught up with us. The cold wind was the worst of it because we only had 1 rain shower at Kings lock. At least we were not the only silly beggars on the move as we passed quite a few others doing the same.

Very tidy canal side garden on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

As we have travelled this route before there was nothing new or spectacular except to say that some redevelopment at the site of the Lion Salt works is taking place although we are unsure if it has anything to do with the museum.

Lock 72 Middlewich and there is a cold wind blowing.

By 2pm we were all moored up and in by the heater with a hot cup of soup and toast to try and thaw out our chilled bodies.

1974 locks, 3860 miles, 75 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Looooong Cruise.

1 Lock, 22.5 Miles, 3 Tunnels now moored at Marston.

With a long lock free stretch ahead of us it was decided to put in a long days cruising to make the most of the conditions and the weather. First port of call was Thorn Marine at Stockton Heath for diesel and any bits that they had that we might require. It turned out that they did have a replacement valve for the toilet (ours has been playing up lately) and some stretchy’s for the cratch and stern covers, always pays to keep some on hand for breakages. Between ourselves and Epiphany we spent a small fortune but the great service we received, it was well deserved.

Anderton 018 Runcorn Power Station.Anderton 031 Runcorn Arm of the Bridgewater Canal.

After this little interlude it was all go with the 3 mile stretch above Runcorn providing the best scenic views. When we reached Preston Brook tunnel our timing was out and we had to wait half an hour to enter the tunnel. South bound boats are only allowed to enter the tunnel between half past the hour until 20 minutes to the hour.

Anderton 027 Runcorn Water Tower.

Reaching Saltersford tunnel we were more fortunate and only had to wait 10 minutes to proceed which allowed us through this tunnel and the Barnton tunnel with the short pound in between all in one go. We were very fortunate in that from the time we exited Preston Brook Tunnel the weather improved quite markedly with a clear blue sky and some winter sunshine. We made the most of this by continuing further than we anticipated.

Anderton 048 Nb Epiphany exiting the Southern end of the Preston Brook Tunnel.Anderton 068 Autumn splendour.

1965 locks, 3848 miles, 75 tunnels, 129 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006