Sunday, 10 September 2017

Nearly back at our new home moorings - moored at Stone

A welcome change of weather today.  It was overcast with a chilly breeze, but what really mattered was that there was no rain! We left the Wedgwood moorings at 9:50 and made a very quick journey of 4 miles and 8 lock descents arriving in Stone at 12:30. The timing was helped considerably by us only needing to fill one lock,  the others having been filled by people travelling up.

It is raining now but our fire is keeping us dry and warm.

Tomorrow we will be travelling the 1.5 miles to Aston Marina.

This is my last Blog for this year.   See  Densie's new colours and replacement windows in next year's reports.

4.14 miles, 8 locks, 2 hours 40 mins

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A very wet cruise to the Wedgwood factory

We are now planning to arrive at our new permament moorings at Aston Marina on Monday as the continuing bad weather is making cruising more of a chore than a pleasure, especially as we have travelled the stretch of the Trent & Mersey Canal many times.

The weather forecast was dire, and unfortunately correct.  We stayed at Etruria in Stoke on Trent untill 11 am when the rain appeared to stop when we stop off.  However it started again almost immediately and so during the first 1.5 hours Denise  operated the 5 Stoke locks in a downpour.  The rain then stopped for the next hour or so we spent cruising at a good speed out of Stoke.  We had just arrived at the final lock, Trentham, when the rain started up again.  This time it was my turn.

We moored for the day a short distance further on near the Wedgwood factry at Burleston at 14:15.

5.23 miles, 6 locks in 3 hours 10 minutes.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Back in Stoke on Trent

The weather forecast was for heavy rain until lunchtime but fortunately it more or less stopped at 10:00 so we set off dressed in our wet weather gear which proved useful during the few light showers that followed. It was an uneventful journey back into Stoke on Trent to arrive in Etruria at 14:50 where we planned to spend the night.  Traffic on the canal is very light, we only met 4 other boats during the 5 hour journey.

We were short of groceries so had to walk the 3/4 mile  to Hanley Tesco to stock up for our last 3 days of this journey.

8.22 miles, 9 locks 3 lift bridges,  5 hours cruising

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Consall Forge and then back up the Caldon

Oakmeadowford Lock

The wooded Churnet Valley near Consall Forge
Steam train passes Densie's moorings at Consall Forge

Two postings today as we had no interenet connectivity yesterday..

Wednesday 6th August
We left Cheddleton in bright and sunny weather  at 10am, descended the two Cheddleton locks, Wood's Lock and Oakmeadowford Lock where the canal joins the River Churnet for a mile. Since leaving Cheddleton the scenery has been delightful as the canal makes its way along the wooded Churnet Valley beneath the Peak District hills.  Further interest was provided by the Churnet Valley Railway which follows the canal and was running a steam engine passenger service that day.

We reached Consall Forge, a small remote settlement with an excellent pub, the Black Lion, and a Churnet Valley Railway station. We intended to spend the night there but carried on for half a mile to a winding hole where we could turn the boat before returning to Consall Forge at lunch time to moor near where the river leaves the canal.

After lunch on the boat we took a short steam train journey to Froghall 3 miles further down the canal and caught the next train back 20 minutes later.  In the evening we enjoyed a meal and drink at the Black Lion.

Thursday 7th August

We are now on our way home.  The return to Cheddleton was again very pleasant and we were lucky to catch several sightings of kingfishers, or perhaps the same kingfisher being chased up the canal by the boat.  The route took us up the Hazelhurst Locks to Endon where we filled up with water and moored half a mile further on.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Short cruise to Cheddleton

Hazlehurst Top Lock

Hazlehurst Bottom Lock

Hazlehurst Aqueduct

Cheddleton Flint Mill

It was raining heavily when we got up and the weather remained wet until midday.  Then it seemed to clear so we set off.  There were a few showers en route but not bad enough to make us stop.  The first point of interest was Hazlehurst Junction where the Leek Branch of the Caldon leaves by the right and then swings around on an aqueduct over the main line which in the meantime has dropped by 3 locks.

This takes a bit of working out.  We are still definitely on the west side of the Pennines yet the river Churnet which is now alongside the canal is flowing eastward and in due course will join it.

The Hazlehurst locks are in an attractive wooded setting with a whitewashed lock cottage.  Beyond the locks the canal is narrow and progress is slow but the scenery rural and hilly.  By 2pm we have reached the village of Cheddleton where we will spend the night.  Its main claim to fame is the restored flint mill driven by a waterwheel.  Just across the main A road through the village there is also a South American restaurant which we hope to visit this evening. But we found little else to attract a visitor.  The pub next to the canal with a painted sign advertising their meals has a handwritten notice in the window saying "We do not serve food!".

Hopefuly tomorrow will bring better weather.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Uphill To Endon

Norton Green Lift Bridge

Stockton Brook Locks

Another mason's mark

yet another

A warmer and rather humid day but fortunately there was no rain.  We set off at 10:50 and ascended Engine Lock which was followed by 2 lift bridges on farmer's tracks, one electricly operated and the other operated with a lock windlass.  No cars were inconvenienced this time.

The bridges were followed soon after by the 5 Stockton Brook locks where again there was a variety of mason's marks to be seen, particularly at the top lock.  A couple of miles further on the stopped at the Endon services where we had a pump out and refilled the water tank.  As the time was now after and we are ahead of schedulen it seemed a good point to moor up for the night.

3 Miles, 6 locks, 2 lift bridges

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Up the Caldon out of Stoke

Sadly the met office forecast that the weather would remain dry until mid afternoon proved to be wrong as there was a general cold dampness with intermittent light rain on our journey from the start of the Caldon through Stoke on Trent towards the Peak District.

Entering the upper staircase lock chamber

Passing under Ivy House Lift Bridge

Caldon Canal near Milton
The Bedford Street staircase locks provided the first point of interest.  Here there are two lock chambers the top gate of the lower chamber forming the bottom gate of the upper one.  Before starting the ascent one has to ensure the upper chamber is full and the lower one empty, otherwise the results could be embarrassing.

After leaving the staircase there is a long dreary journey through built-up Hanley where the contour canal wanders from one sharp bend to the next.  On the outskirts of Hanley there is the first of the lift bridges.  This one is electrically controlled and simple to operate.  One just presses a button to turn the traffic lights from green to red and raise the bridge, wait while the boat is driven through, and then press a second button to reverse the process.  This time we only caught one car.

After Hanley the scenery improves as the canal passes through woodland making its way along the side of a valley.  We stopped soon after the village of Milton out in the  countryside at lunch time as the rain was getting worse.  The weather didnt improve durng the afternoon so we stayed where we were for the night having lit the fire to provide some homely warmth.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Moored at Etruria, Stoke on Trent

Another very pleasant day's cruise.We left our mooring at 9:35 and ascended the 4 Meaford locks without any real difficulty.  The 3rd lock about which we were warned yesterday was a bit slow due a blockage in one of the culverts used to fill the lock.  Then past the Wedgwood pottery, through Trentham Lock and into Stoke on Trent. 

Entering Stoke Top Lock

A simple Mason's mark

and something more ornate
The journey into Stoke doesnt provide the most attractive stretch of canal on the system so we didnt linger. After an hour or so we were ascending the 5 deep Stoke locks in the centre of the city which lift the canal by 50ft to its highest point of around 500ft above sea level. It is possible to see a few mason's marks carved into the stone blocks in the lock walls. Each mason used his own personal mark.  So they may just mean "I made this" or perhaps they identified the work for piecework payments.

By 14:15 we had reached the top at Etruria where the Caldon Canal joins the Trent&Mersey and moored just on the Caldon for the night.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Into Stone and out again

Long Meadow Bridge south of Stone

Moored in Stone waiting for Yard Lock

A warmer and sunnier day than yesterday.  We set off at 9:30 and after ascending Aston Lock reached the moorings below Stone bottom lock at 11:00.  We moored here for a couple of hours to shop at the local supermarket, this being our last chance for a few days.

After lunch on the boat we set off again at 13:00, going up through the 4 locks in the town to reach Meaford Locks at 14:30.  One boater had told us that these locks would be closed at some time for a week because of a leaky gate, so we wanted to check the situation before going through. It looks like the repairs are in fact scheduled for the winter maintenance season , so no worry about us getting trapped on our way home in a 10 days time.

Today's journey: 4.36M, 5 locks.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Oil change

After breakfast we moved Densie up through Great Hayward Lock to the AngloWelsh boatyard where we had booked an engine service. This takes an hour or two and consisted this time of a change of both the engine and gearbox oil.  The former is required every 250 hours running, whilst the later is once a year or so.
Denise driving Densie onto Sandon Lock

We left the boatyard at 11am and continued north on the Trent&Mersey Canal to Hoo Mill Lock where we were fourth in a queue waiting to go through.  Then onto Weston Lock , through the village of Weston where I had 5 sightings of kingfishers, and the 9ft 11in Sandon Lock.  We moored soon afterwards at 15:15 at the little village of Burston.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Out again - taking Densie to the paintshop

After a very busy Summer moving house we are out on Densie again.  We have booked her into Trent Valley Marine at Aston Marina near Stone, Staffordshire to be repainted top to bottom.  There is a fortnight free before she is due there so we we have the opportunity for a short and gentle cruise before the winter.
Waiting at Colwich Lock

Moored near Great Hayward

We left our moorings at Kings Bromley at 10am for the last time after being based there for the past 9 years.  A short spell of rain didnt delay us and travelling north west up the Trent & Mersey we reached Rugeley at lunch time.  After eating and shopping we continued on our way through Colwich Lock to the pleasant moorings in the countryside near Great Harwood  with views towards Shugborough Hall.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Didnt move today

As the weather forecast was wet for today we didnt move at all.  I even lit the fire.  As promised it rained overnight and was fairly wet in the morning.  However the heavy afternoon rain just didnt happen, so we could have got back to our marina.  It wouldnt have helped though as we will need a pump out and the marina facilities are closed on Mondays.

Back home tomorrow!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

On our way home

I wanted to put some pictures here but is broken yet again!

Tomorrow the forecast is for heavy rain all day and we dont travel in heavy rain.  So we pushed ahead today so that we can still reach home on Tuesday.  After leaving our mooring just before 9am we had a straightforward journey back south on the Trent & Mersey.  We had no major hold-ups though the canal was fairly busy.  At 5 of the 6 locks there was no need to close the lock gates on leaving as there were boats waiting to ascend.

Several of the boats we met were hirers on their first full day.  One sad group had moored their boat and were waiting for the boatyard to pick them up - they had given up because they couldn't manage to steer the boat.  The guy explaied that we had 30 years experiencing of driving a car but the boat really was something quite different!

After 5 hours 45 minutes on the move we moored out in the countryside just before Rugeley.

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Densie (at the end) moored in Stone

Our new alternator proved its worth as despite the short journey yesterday the batteries were still showing a reasonably high voltage in the morning.  After breakfast we made the 45 minute cruise into Stone where, as we had hoped, there was plenty of space in the normally busy moorings. People leaving had left and new arrivals, apart from us, hadnt yet turned up. We turned the boat around and moored up for the day.

Then a walk into town to visit the supermarket where we stocked up for the next 3 days.  After a quiet afternoon we will be going out for an Indian this evening to celebrate my birtday.

Friday, 12 May 2017

A short day - we stop by at Aston Marina

We awoke in the morning to rain so stayed in the boat not we didnt moving until the weather improved at about midday.  Then a short 1:30 min cruise to Aston Marina via Sandon Lock.  Densie is being painted in the autumn at Aston so we wanted to discuss some of the details.  Everything sorted we set off again for quarter of an hour to ascend Aston Lock and moor up for the night.

4.44 miles, 2 locks.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Weston upon Trent

Waiting at Colwich Lock

Another lovely day cruising.  After shopping we set off under a blue sky at 10:15 and cruised north on the Trent & Mersey passing through Colwich Lock and Great Haywood Lock to Great Haywood Junction where the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal turns off west and south towards the Severn.  Our journey continued north through a couple more locks and the village of Weston upon Trent mooring out in the countryside half a mile further on in the mid afternoon as the weather became cooler and cloudier.

9 miles and 4 locks cruising

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

We set off on another short cruise

The Trent & Mersey on the way to Rugeley
We are out again for 6 days.  We arrived at the boat soon after lunch and by 2:30 we were on our way.  Turning left outside the marina we headed west towards Rugeley.  The weather was glorious, warm with blue skies which gave my first opportunity this year to wear shorts.  The canal looked perfect with the fresh new leaves.We passed a few herons and a nesting swan but no kingfisher yet.

We arrived in Rugeley just before 5pm.  We will stay here tonight and shop in the morning.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Back in the marina

On the Coventry Canal near Streethay
We are now moored back in our marina after a 4hour 40min voyage from Tamhorn Park Bridge, not counting the stop for lunch at Fradley Junction.  We will stay the night here and go home in the morning.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

On our way back after a couple of walks around a nature reserve

Moored near Curdworth Bottom Lock

For the second morning the fire failed to last the night so when we awoke the boat temperature was showing 10 degrees.  Easily solved - turn on the central eating and go back to bed for a hour.

After breakfast we walked around the lake next to our moorings.  It was created from gravel workings and now forms part of a water park.  There were a large number of very noisy black headed gulls and a few teal, tufted ducks and a gadwall.

Middleton Lakes RSPB Nature Reserve
Having returned to the boat we cruised a mile back towards Tamworth and moored again next to further lakes, this time an RSPB reserve.  Another walk was rather more fruitful providing good views of tufted ducks, shovellers, teal, another gadwall, various geese, shelduck, great crested grebe, little egret and best of all, a group of 4 avocets, the delightful bird used for the logo of the RSPB.

Then back to the boat and on with the cruise.  Back to Fazeley, left towards Fradley arriving in the early afternoon where we had moored on Monday night.  The wind was getting stronger and colder so we decided to call it a day.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Out again - a short 4-5 day trip

After what seems a very long winter we are out again for a short trip.  It gives us a chance to check that the new alternator fitted a couple of weeks ago performs as well as the engineer predicted and reduces the amount of time we need to run the engine in order to recharge the batteries.

Swan nesting at Hopwas

We set off yesterday from our marina, turned right at Fradley Junction onto the Coventry Canal and moored out in the countryside at Tamhorn Farm Bridge.  This morning we cruised the couple of miles to the Ventura Park shopping complex in Tamworth to stock up with groceries.  After lunch we set off again turning right at Fazeley Junction down the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal where we turned round at the winding hole at Curdworth locks and moored up for the night.

The alternator seems to be working well.  Its charging voltage rises to the maximum within a minute from starting the engine whereas the old one took two hours or so.   However we dont have any way of checking how well the batteries are charged other than checking the voltage the following morning.