Sunday, 31 May 2009

All the Fun of the Fair.

The first day of the Etruria Canal Festival has been a great success with mother nature putting on her best weather and the crowds turning out in large numbers. There has been something for everybody and plenty to keep the kids happy with rides and face painting.

Etruria Canal Festival 2009. No spare space anywhere.

Vintage cars and trucks, caravans and motorhomes. miniature steam traction engines, radio controlled model boats and a wide variety of vintage static engines are all there to be drooled over by the enthusiast’s or just admired by the general public. Of course one of the main exhibits is the old steam powered flint mill in full working operation.

Butty Kildare and many vintage boats with IWA and BW tents and the ice cream van.

Bric-a brac stall’s, art’s and craft, and a stall selling just about anything that runs on paraffin or kerosene are all there to lighten peoples pockets of their loose change or something bigger. Just along from this stall were several private collections of paraffin and kerosene lamps in brass glass and ceramics. Everything from road side lamps, lamps from the horse drawn era and household lamps preceding the invention of electricity.

Miniature steam traction engine at the Etruria Canal Festival. He even pays road tax.

Just below the lock’s the local angling club set up a site to introduce kid’s to the art of fishing which seemed to attract a lot of interest.

This is the only electric car of its type in existence.

Our only draw back has been that the organisers have placed the 2 merry go rounds and the bouncy castle right alongside us and of course they all need electricity hence 4 mobile generators pounding away all day. It was sheer bliss when they shut down at 5pm at the end of the day.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The President has arrived!

Etruria 043

At Etruria Canal Festival this weekend

Friday, 29 May 2009

Canada Calling.

3 Locks, 5 Miles, 1 lift bridge. Now moored below Etruria staircase locks.

All the boats are starting to arrive for this weekends festival at Etruria Junction

The day started off overcast but warm as we set off. Quite a few boats heading up the Caldon and it wasn’t until we reached the staircase locks that we met up with a backlog of boats. There were two coming up the flight and we made number 3 waiting to go down.

Things are starting to get busy around Etruria basin as boats,caravans and motor homes have started to arrive for this week-ends festival.The weather forecast is promising a fine week-end so it looks like it could be real buzz around here. Having just returned from a wee stroll around the site there isn’t a spare mooring around. Boats by the museum have already been breasted up and a couple of moorings have been closed for the week-end for a fishing display and a boat display. The nearest moorings are out on the main line or back at Hanley Park.

Now we have had an interesting email from a couple in Canada who would like to do a holiday swap with their 27ft motor home based near the Rocky Mountains for a narrowboat. Unfortunately we are unable to help although we would love to. If there are any narrowboat owners out there interested send us an email and we will pass it on.

We finally had success yesterday with making a doctors appointment in Rugby so have had fun working out the cheapest train fare to get there. Surprising how well things work out when you persevere.

A big welcome to the narrowboat bloggers family to our friends Mike and Denise on Nb Densie hopefully we will catch up with them soon as we all travel northwards.

1658 locks, 3487 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 47 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Oakmeadow Ford Lock

Caldon Canal 023 Where the Caldon Canal joins the River Churnet on its way to Froghall

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Norton Green

6 Locks, 3 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored below Engine Lock.

Caldon Canal 019

After a bit of a lie in this morning we finally got away at 10.30am. The forecasted heavy rain never arrived last night with only a few light showers. The wind was cold this morning with strong gusts making cruising difficult at times. A few boats were on the move and when we reached our planned mooring for the night it started to warm up a little. A phone call to our doctor to try and make an appointment for our 6 monthly check up ended up unsuccessful. Where do we go from here? First time we have had problems with our doctor. We will try again tomorrow.

1655 locks, 3482 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 46 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Froghall Tunnel, Caldon Canal.

5 Foot air draught and we are 5 foot 6 inches, what a pity!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Oh’ What a Glorious Day.

7 Locks, 5 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored at bridge 31.

After another look around the Engine shed at the Churnet Valley railway it was time to pull the pins. Unfortunately we had worked out that it was pointless going down to the Froghall tunnel as we are about 6 inches too high so we just went as far as lock 16, winded there and head back. It wasn’t so bad because we had walked the final section down to the basin and can say “been there, done that”.

Just out of Cheddleton we almost ran into Kev and Ann on Narrowboat 4 Evermore, at a bridge hole (where else). Unfortunately it was too narrow to stop so it was just a fleeting hello and goodbye, hopefully we will meet up again for a longer chat sometime in the future.

Being a Bank holiday week-end everybody has been commenting on the weather not being the usual miserable weather associated with holiday week-ends. It has been a real scorcher and would easily be the hottest day we have had this year so far.

1649 locks, 3479 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 44 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 24 May 2009

More about the Churnet Valley Railway.

From information we have acquired over the last few days it would seem that the above railway has it sight’s set on returning to a fully scheduled railway. The present line runs past Kingsley & Froghall down to Oakamoor in one direction where they have storage sidings. Until they can carry out remedial work on this section of line they are only allowed to operate passenger services for 5 days a year using their light axle loaded DMU.

In the opposite direction where the line at present finishes at Leekbrook the track carries on through to Leek where it connects with the mothballed Network Rail line from Stoke to Caldon Quarry. This is the line we have been following alongside the Caldon Canal. The quarry owners want this line re-opened to enable them to transport more aggregate and the CVR are looking to running regular scheduled passenger services between Stoke, Leek and Oakamoor with a possibility of linking up with Alton. We wish them well in their endeavours. Perhaps this will be the re-birth of another railway era.

Leekbrook Station and Signal Box

Churnet Valley Railway 071 All that’s left of them until funds allow it to be rebuilt.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

Churnet Valley Railway 067 Tewit tewoo more like it.

Froghall Trip Boat

Churnet Valley Railway 056 Froghall basin, warehouse and trip boat. The warehouse is now a cafe.

Froghall Basin

Churnet Valley Railway 053

Looking across the basin to Lock 1. This is all there is of the Uttoxeter canal at present. The moorings on the right appear to be quite a waste if not used.

Platform 2

Churnet Valley Railway 041 Consall Forge station overhanging the Caldon Canal.

Fowler 4F

Churnet Valley Railway 010 Prepares to leave Kingsley & Froghall for Cheddleton.

Churnet Valley Railway.

2 Locks, 1 Mile. Now moored opposite the Cheddleton railway station.

On Friday afternoon after we had thoroughly explored Cheddleton village we pulled the pins and moved down to the other end of the village below bridge 44. This would have to be one of the best moorings we have had where we could sit and watch steam trains (Derek mainly) pottering about preparing for the forthcoming week-ends scheduled service.A short visit to the station on Friday afternoon just to check everything out for the following day and that was Friday done & dusted.

Saturday morning we caught the first train of the day at 10.30am thinking that not many people would be around at that time of day. How wrong we were because there were already two tour coaches in the car park having offloaded 80 odd passengers plus many private car loads. It was probably this highest amount of passengers on the train all day but with 5 carriages there were plenty of seats available.

Initially we took the train all the way to Kingsley & Froghall where the canal also terminates. Our main objective was to check out the Froghall tunnel and the basin on the Uttoxeter canal. The latter is a lovely mooring with floating pontoons below lock 1 on the Uttoxeter canal but due to lack of use is getting a lot of weed growth. It’s a real shame that only a small percentage of boats can use this basin because of the restriction on the Froghall tunnel which unfortunately will preclude us.

After checking out the canal we wandered across to the Railway Inn for lunch which was probably the best value for money we have ever had, ham steak, egg and chips (which were enormous) with 2 drinks for ten quid. While at the pub we enquired about Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre. We were told that it was half a mile up the hill so we thought “why not”. Well the half mile turned out to be just to the top of the hill, the centre was at least another half mile or so down a country lane after that. Ah well, we’ve come this far might as well carry on. Thankfully the effort was worthwhile as we had a personal guided tour of the establishment and a very informative one it was too.We even got to stroke 2 very wide eyed baby Owl’s. As it is the breeding season quite a few birds were in their nesting boxes sitting on eggs so not a lot of bird handling is taking place at present.

We left the centre just before 3pm and the next train back to Cheddleton was due at 3.25pm. As it was mostly downhill we strode it out and arrived on the station platform just as the guard was about to wave the train away.Phew, that was lucky! We only travelled as far as Consall Forge and alighted there to investigate the canal at this point. After a few more photo’s we still had 25 minutes before the next train so we wandered into the Black Lion pub for some liquid refreshment after all our rushing around earlier. This pub is quite unique in that it can only be accessed by boat or train. The lane on the other side of the railway and canal which leads to the village used to be privately owned and the owner used to charge sixpence for access. These days it brings cars down to a car park and then patrons have to cross the railway and canal to imbibe in their favourite tipple. Even so it was a busy little pub.

Suitably refreshed we decided that we would catch the train back to Kingsley & Froghall and then do the full 5 1/2 miles back to Cheddleton on the last train of the day. Here again we were in for a surprise as the train didn’t stop at Cheddleton but carried on to Leekbrook junction which at the present moment is the end of the Churnet Valley Railway. Here there is a boarded up signal box and what remains of the station platform. The engine then ran around the train and took us back to Cheddleton.

After all this sight seeing and walking all we wanted to do was get back to the boat, put our feet up and have a cup of tea or coffee. Boy, what a day.

As we had returned on the last train of the day we presumed that the ongoing shunting over at the station was just in preparation for tomorrow. While writing this mammoth blog the steam engine has now done two return trips with the Kitchen car and Dining car attached to the train, a regular or a special feature, either way they are working very hard.

1642 locks, 3474 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 42 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 22 May 2009

Cheddleton Railway Station

Cheddleton 021 Headquarters of the Churnet Valley railway.

Churnet Valley Railway.

Cheddleton 019 Getting all steamed up for the forth coming week-end.


Cheddleton 009A small railway ran from the kilns behind the round bush over the bridge into the mill on the left of the picture.

Water powered Flint Mill at Cheddleton, Caldon Canal.

Cheddleton 001

Churnet Valley

3 locks, 2 Miles. Now moored at Cheddleton Flint Mill.

With an ever so slight improvement in the weather we set off to return to the Caldon Canal. The first hurdle is a right angle turn as we came off the Hazlehurst aqueduct, luckily this is a winding hole for smaller vessels so there was plenty of room to manoeuvre and we got around in two manoeuvres.

The next hurdle was the turn from the Leek canal onto the Caldon Canal. The junction looked wide enough but the unknown factor was, was it deep enough or were there hidden mud banks? Ah well here goes, success, 3 shunts backwards and forwards and we were round. As luck would have it we met 2 hire boats travelling in the opposite direction so the locks were set in our favour.

It didn’t take long to reach the Flint Mill which is like stepping back in time. With no modern day items to give the game away you could take a photo and you would swear it was as it was back in the 1800’s. Unfortunately the horse drawn barge Vienna was missing from the wharf mooring to give it a more authentic look.

This afternoon amid brilliant sunshine and occasional showers we walked the towpath down to bridge 44 and the Cheddleton Station on the Churnet Valley preserved railway. We checked out the moorings nearby and will move down there tomorrow. Due to all the rain we have had over the last week or so the River Churnet seems to be running quite fast so we may not be able to complete this navigation and may have to terminate at lock 16 where the river and the canal converge for about a mile to Consall Forge. This being the case the last section of about 3 miles may have to be done on foot, watch this space as they say.

1640 locks, 3473 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 42 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Peace and Tranquillity.

0 Locks, 2 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Hazelhurst Aqueduct.

The weather was kind to us this morning as we set off for the Wednesday market. It took us a while to get going as we were way laid by a couple of local gentleman who upon realising that we were off “That Kiwi Boat” wanted to chat about New Zealand and their friends or relatives living there . One of them recalled the original canal basin in Leek and the large railway sidings that used to be in the same area.

We eventually got to the market which is probably one of the biggest as far as the amount of stalls were concerned that we have come across. It was certainly well supported by the amount of people in attendance. We bought a few bits and pieces and then called into Morrison’s supermarket on our way back to the boat.

Leek's Wednesday market in full swing.

As the weather was still dry we decided to head back towards Hazelhurst Junction ready to return to the Caldon Canal tomorrow. As we virtually had the canal to ourselves we only pottered along and it was lovely just listening to the birds singing. We could imagine what it must have been like with the old horse drawn barges with just the clip clop of the horses hooves instead of a noisy diesel engine. Bliss.

Thirty four years ago.

You can see the different contours of the old and new tunnel sections.

After mooring up we went for a walk along the towpath down to the junction and then back along the Caldon Canal towpath to the Holly Bush pub at Denford. We had to shelter under some of the bridges during the odd shower of rain but nothing too bad. From here we followed the road back to the Aqueduct where we are moored.

A carpet of Bluebells.

1637 locks, 3471 miles, 61 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 42 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Leek and a Scarecrow.

6 Locks, 7 Miles, 1 Tunnel. 2 lift bridges, Now moored at the head of navigation, Leek Canal.

It’s been a very interesting sort of day today. The weather hasn’t improved much but we wanted to press on to be in Leek for the Wednesday market and Cheddleton on Saturday for the Churnet Valley Railway.

The first interesting experience was the old railway swing bridge at Endon Basin. The centre swivel mounting is still sitting in the middle of the canal although the rest of the bridge has long gone. It was used to transport limestone on a narrow gauge railway to the Endon Canal Basin which is now occupied by a boat club. Passing this and then approaching a bridge hole was a bit tricky especially when you meet a boat in the opposite direction.

A bit of a tight squeeze and we met another boat in the bridge hole.

The next surprise for the day came when we stopped at the BW facilities block at bridge 31. While Dot filled the water tank I went to have a look at the old railway line that follows the canal. What I found was contractors to Network Rail underpinning the road bridge with a new re-inforced wall and the track still in place. I spoke to a workman on site and it appears that the line is to be re-opened probably just for freight but its a move in the right direction. The last freight train ran over these rails in 1969.

Network Rail have built this reinforced wall to strengthen the road bridge as this line is due to re-open possibly for Quarry traffic. Hopefully passenger traffic later.

At the Hazelhurst Junction there was a boat waiting to enter the locks just as another was exiting but it was here that we turned right onto the Leek Branch of the canal. This canal is probably the narrowest canal we have navigated but scenic wise it is splendid. At the tunnel, which is only 130 yards long, there is a huge winding hole in which to manoeuvre to line yourself up with the tunnel because initial thoughts are ”That’s not wide enough to fit through”. Once inside, the tunnel is in very good condition with one section having been completely rebuilt. Its different from most tunnels in that it’s built with blocks rather than bricks.

Getting lined up to make sure the tunnel is clear.

At the Leek head of navigation we had to wind and then reverse back about 150 yards to a mooring as the winding hole at the very end of the canal only caters for boats up to 45ft.

The end of the Leek navigation. The feeder stream is straight ahead with the canal course going off to the right over the Aqueduct, now filled in.

After mooring up the weather eased so we took a stroll into town. We worked out roughly where the last half mile of canal used to be before it was closed and filled in. As we passed across the old aqueduct over the River Churnet we naturally had a look over the parapet and shock horror, there appeared to be a body in the river. We reported the sighting to the police who investigated it and found that it was a farmers scarecrow but it looked very life like.

The walk into town started off through an industrial estate where “Kerrygold “ have a new and very large refrigerated warehouse where 8 large articulated trucks were loading. The trek into town was all uphill as the centre of town is smack bang on top of a hill. Leek looks like a town stood still in the early to mid 20th century with very few new buildings. The only real evidence of modernisation was Morrison’s supermarket on the edge of town at the bottom of the hill where the original canal basin used to be.

In the centre of town we found the market square where council workers were busy setting up the stalls for tomorrow’s market, which weather permitting, we will visit as it is supposed to be the best in the district, we shall see!

1637 locks, 3469 miles, 60 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 42 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Low Bridge’s and Bluebells.

5 Miles, 3 Locks, 1 Lift bridge. Now moored at Bridge 20 Caldon Canal.

Gypsy Rover in lock 1 of the Etruria staircase locks.

Bluebells aplenty on the Caldon Canal.

More uncertain weather but it was time to push on. Passing through Hanley we had to negotiate a couple of low bridges where we had to duck down and could barely see above the roof. We didn’t see any low bridge warning signs on these 2 bridges but we did at another bridge a couple of miles further on where we only had to bend our knee’s to clear the iron work. Somebody got it wrong!

There are still signs of the pottery industry with small manufacturers alongside the canal and preserved kilns standing alone in an area where the factory once stood but has now been demolished and the site is awaiting redevelopment. The kilns are now listed buildings and have to be preserved.

These two old kilns stand alone in an area where once a factory stood. They are classified heritage buildings and cannot be demolished.

Once clear of the city the open rolling hills were pleasing to the eye with the colours of Spring and an area absolutely smothered in Bluebell’s, probably the best display we have seen. An old railway line follows the canal very closely crossing it in several places. Apparently the track is still in place and this would make an ideal line for preservation with the splendid scenery. Looking through various books it appears that this line left the main line South of Stoke and joined up to the Churnet valley line just North of Cheddleton, the latter now being a preserved line which we will visit on Saturday. It seems to be all part of the old North Staffordshire railway prior to be swallowed up by the London Midland & Scottish railway.

Industrial warehouses like these were the life blood of the canals with door to door delivery.

1631 locks, 3462 miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 40 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 18 May 2009

Etruria Industrial Museum.

With the weather not looking promising we walked up to Festival Park which sounds more glamorous than it is because basically it is a huge retail park with all the usual chain store brands imaginable. We found what we wanted but got a bit wet in the process.

After lunch we went long the towpath to the Etruria Industrial Museum and wouldn’t you know it, because we were under cover the sun came out but it was short lived as it was pouring with rain by the time we left the museum.

Original grinding tanks which had to be re-furbished every 5 months. They are driven by shafts from the floor below.

The museum is now owned by the Stoke on Trent City Council and run by volunteers who run, restore and maintain this working heritage site. The main building guided us through “ The Potteries” with a 15 minute video of old film footage taken in the area, plus the usual names, dates, places and processes etc; but the main thrust of the museum is the Etruscan steam powered Bone and Flint Mill. This had been owned and operated by Jesse Shirley until 1972 when they sold it to the council. Jesse Shirley still operate a modern mill on the opposite side of the canal. The business has been passed down through 6 generations of Jesse Shirley’s the only difference being a different middle name.

The mill sits alongside the Trent & Mersey Canal and had its own dock which would have been capable of holding 8 – 10 boats at a time. We were told that in its hay day there were 700 boats a week passing through the gauging lock (lock 40) next to the mill. It’s hard to imaging how busy it must have been in those days.

The main floor of the crushing plant. The gears are driven from below.The tanks are slurry settling tanks where crushed material and water are separated.

One point of interest was the fact that there had been a large iron and steel industry here as well as the potteries. During WWII this became a target for the German Luftwaffe who on one bombing raid took out the bridge over the canal near the mill. I wonder if there are any unexploded bomb’s still in the canal? Perish the thought.

Two hours just disappeared as we wandered through this time in history taking in all the nostalgia of a bygone age. Another display of woodworking tools amazed us as they had all been used and passed down through the same family for 4 generations until eventually modern equipment superseded them and they were presented to the museum.

Belt driven crusher at Etruria mill.

We will return for the week-end of the 30-31 May as the museum really comes to life with a festival and the steam engine (Princess as she is lovingly known) coming to life with the monthly steam days. The steam boat “President” will be in attendance along with other boats and vintage vehicles.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Etruria, Caldon Canal

6 Locks, 5 ½ Miles. Now moored below Etruria staircase locks.

Etruria Junction where the Caldon Canal meets the Trent and Mersey Canal
with the BW yard in between.

Speaks for itself.

Yesterday afternoon we encountered heavy rain and thunder storms with more heavy overnight rain. Hopefully this will get the bad weather out of the way and things would improve. There was a brief break in the clouds this morning with lots of sunshine but by the time we were ready to set off more showers had arrived on the scene.

These old pottery kilns are listed buildings. The factories around them have gone to be replaced with apartment blocks.

Plenty of boats on the move today so it was one in, one out at most of the locks making things a bit easier. We passed Nb Debdale moored under a bridge coming through Stoke but it wasn’t Adrian and Adam aboard. At the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canal Junction we had to come out of Ridgeways lock and do a sharp right hand turn, the only trouble was that the wind wasn’t in our favour. We completed half the turn and then allowed a boat to pass across our stern to enter the lock we had just vacated. It then took another 3 goes to line ourselves up with the entrance to the Caldon Canal due to the wind catching the bow and pushing it in the wrong direction.

We pulled into the services block by the BW yard for water and then had 3 attempts to find a suitable mooring where we could get satellite reception, we don’t want to miss Simon Cowell’s “Britain’s got Talent” and "The Eurovision Song contest". After a quick look around, this looks to be an interesting sort of place so we may stay a couple of days.

First cygnets for 2009 on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria Junction.

1628 locks, 3457 miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Pushing On

7 locks 4 Miles. Now moored at Barlaston.
Railway Memorabilia in the garden of Roger Fuller (Boat Builder)
Trent & Mersey Canal May 2009. This one came from Totnes in Devon.

What with the usual traffic and pub noises associated within a town we didn’t get to sleep until late and were then disturbed by the sound of heavy rain overnight. Needless to say we are both feeling a bit jaded this morning.

The rain had eased to showers and there appeared to be a break in the clouds so we headed off about 9am. We had just got into the first lock when the guy from Canal Cruising Co came along and asked us to wait before filling the lock as they were trying to get a boat out of one of the dry docks and they needed all the water they could get. After about 10 minutes he said we could carry on and he would go and let more water down from the next lock. By the time we pulled out of the lock they had just managed to extract the boat from the dry dock. Naturally because of CCC staff draining extra water the next pound was a bit shallow but we got through.

We struck lucky at most of the locks by meeting oncoming boats enabling us to just motor on and leave the gates open. Dot was also lucky in getting a good close up photo of a Heron that wasn’t camera shy.

Finally found a photogenic Heron to pose for us.

1622 locks, 3451½ miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 15 May 2009

Stone Once More

2 Locks, 3 ½ miles. Now moored above Star Lock.

The new Aston Marina under construction near Aston lock Trent & Mersey Canal.

The threat of rain was in the air as we set off this morning with grey overcast skies but it never eventuated.There were a few other boats on the move, mostly Black Prince hire boats, which included a group of Aussie’s about our age group with whom we exchanged a few pleasantries.

The mid way point of the Trent & Mersey Canal at Aston lock.

We expected the moorings at Stone to be full but we were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of moorings so we pulled onto the non towpath side by the council car park. There is a bit of a misnomer over the duration of these moorings as the only sign states 12 hours and BW's Canal Guide says 24 hours but as we arrived at 11am I don’t think we will be expected to move at 11pm.

Once organised we headed off into town for provisions and our prescriptions which our lovely doctor had forwarded to Boots for us. After this we visited Stone Boat Builders chandlery and Canal Cruising where I got 2 new boards cut to finish off the lockers in the front cratch.

This new information board at Stone cleared up a few questions,
especially the Christina Collins murder at Rugeley.

It was while we were walking the towpath that we stopped on bridge 94 to see what was happening on the canal below. Three teenage college boys walked past us and the next thing we knew was that one of them was holding his phone close to Dot’s ear playing loud music. I turned on him but wasn’t quick enough to grab his arm. He ran off and got a surprise to find me hot on his tail. After some abuse and “If you hit me I’ll call the police”. I told him what I thought of him and walked away. He then proceeded to follow us with more taunt’s and yelling. Sheer bravado as he was showing off to his 2 mates.

1615 locks, 3447½ miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Destination Churnet Valley Railway

3 Locks, 6½ Miles. Now moored above bridge 84 Trent & Mersey Canal.

The mansion in the village of Tixall as seen from Tixall Wide.

Our little sojourn at Great Haywood was at an end as all our planned chores had now been completed and it was time to go. The weather forecast for the day wasn’t brilliant and we had a few heavy showers of rain during breakfast but we took the plunge and cast off.

First stop along the way was Anglo Welsh for diesel and a pump out. While I tended to these chores Dot visited the farm shop for fresh vegetables and another of their delicious cheese loaves (they dis-appear fast around here). When it came to extricate ourselves from Anglo Welsh’s yard that wasn’t so easy as the wind kept blowing us back. Only thing for it was for Dot to drive straight ahead so I could get off the bow onto the opposite towpath and bow haul the boat around to line it up with the bridge hole when we could get underway again.

The trip up to our present moorings was pretty uneventful with just a few boats on the move which luckily we met at the locks saving time and energy. From where we are now moored it is approx 20 miles and 20 locks to Froghall and the railway but with bad weather looming for the next few days we may miss this week-ends steam loco scheduled services so we will probably catch the following Saturdays services.

1613 locks, 3444 miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

More Modifications

Locks, 1 Mile. Now moored at Tixall Wide.

First thing this morning we moved across the junction to the back of the water point alongside Anglo Welsh’s yard where we had arranged to meet an engineer who was going to modify the lockers in the front cratch. The original lockers were oblong and stopped the front doors from opening fully, a builders faux pas.

Front locker before modification.

The plan was to cut off the corners and weld in a curved plate which was in fact a length of 6 inch pipe cut in half lengthways. The offending corners were soon made short work of and the new inserts fitted perfectly. The problem came when it was time to weld them in as the engineer was only using a small portable Arc welder and either the welder wasn’t up to the job or it was the type of steel because he had no end of trouble trying to get a good weld. After many try’s of grinding and re-welding he finally got the job finished and it makes a heck of a difference being able to fold the doors right back making the cratch more roomy.

Front locker after modification. The doors now open fully.

Once the engineer had finished we moved away from the junction but due to lack of moorings on the Trent & Mersey we came down the Staffs & Worcs to Tixall Wide or just short of it to find a mooring. As soon as I have finished painting the stern deck the next job will be to completely repaint the cratch and the lockers.

1610 locks, 3437 ½ miles, 59 Tunnels, 45 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Over the last couple of days we have made a couple of trips into Stafford, firstly on a sight seeing trip where we found the Broad Eye windmill more or less in the middle of town. This structure is basically only the building without the sails etc but it is planned to fully restore it and make it a living museum.

Broadeye Windmill in the centre of Stafford. Slowly being restored.

The oldest building in Stafford is St Chad's church dating back to the 12th century. Here the main altar dated 1910, displays panels depicting all the Mercian Saints.
This beautiful ornate wooden tower above the font (1856) is telescopic with a counter balance inside. It was designed and built in 1935.

The second trip was just for the usual mundane shopping to replenish the store cupboard before we move on again. In between times I have been busy removing the rubber matting glued to the rear deck which had started to lift and trap water underneath. There was a small amount of rusting but this has all been cleaned up and I have so far managed to apply 2 undercoats and 1 top coat. If the weather warms up a bit later this morning I will put a 2nd coat of top coat on but at the moment the strong Easterly wind is keeping the temperature down even though the sun is shining.

How quaint is this is the heart of Stafford?