This Month's Totals and Average
118.92 miles 80 locks 61.90 hrs 3.21 lmph

  July 2014

Thursday 31st July ~ Fradley to Barton-Under-Needwood (en route to London)

Prompt start on a lovely sunny morning. Dropped down the four remaining locks from Fradley to Alrewas  and moored up for a walk into the village.

On return had a spot of lunch before resuming our trip, dropping down onto the river section to the NE of Alrewas. This is a beautiful section of canalised river, with the usual distinct change in 'bank side' vegetation and clearer water. The cloud started to build around lunchtime and the air got more humid, threatening the forecast rain.

Leaving the river section behind, we joined the route of the A38 for 2.5 miles as the two pass round Barton-Under-Needwood. We found good moorings immediately NE of Barton Lock (water also available) so moored up for the night just as the rain started.

4.86 miles 7 locks 3.62 hrs 3.28 lmph

Wednesday 30th July ~ Fazeley to Fradley (en route to London)

Up early enough, but dawdled! Finally got away, out to Fazeley Junction and turned left onto the "Coventry Canal" section of the Birmingham & Fazeley, leading to the detached portion of the Coventry Canal, and Fradley Junction - a route we have done a few times already since getting "Paws". The day started with almost complete stratus cloud cover, and feeling a lot cooler than previous days as a result. During the late morning, the cloud thinned and by mid-afternoon we had quite large blue patches.

Bacon & egg butties on the move served for lunch. On reaching Fradley Junction, we had found no available mooring on the last stretch before the junction, so turned right and dropped through the first lock on the Trent & Mersey Canal. There were a couple of moorings each side at the facilities point  so we stopped there for the night.

Shame about the 3 hours of almost continuous procession of noisy bikes to and from The Swan. I'm a biker myself and have no problem with like-minded people getting together for a blether over a pint, but the noise from their exhausts made it impossible to listen to the TV or music, and disturbed concentration while attempting to read. Sorry, lads, thought it was antisocial.

11.40 miles 1 locks 4.79 hrs 2.59 lmph

Tuesday 29th July ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Bob came to do the engine service in the morning. Final preparations for departure. Ready to go tomorrow morning!

Still just as hot during the morning, but the clouds started to build late afternoon, threatening rain (which never arrived).


24th-28th July ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Fuelled up and changed gas bottle Thursday, so ready to go when we want to. Continued with wee jobs throughout the weekend. Washed the bike and got the new cover over it on Sunday.

Weather remains hot until Sunday when it became a little cooler after the rain on Saturday night.


19th-23rd July ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

After a spectacular thunderstorm overnight Friday night, there was a hint of clearing after breakfast Saturday, but it did not last, and moderate to heavy rain set back in. Sunday we were back to the heat again, which lasted through into the week.

Back in the marina over the weekend, we have to contact the builder on Monday to arrange the delivery of the replacement engine hatch cover. We also have to arrange an engine service before heading out again. Spent the weekend pottering with small jobs and doing very little. Contacted the builder who would deliver on Wednesday. Had attempted to contact Bob but there has been no response so far.

Adam delivered the replacement engine 'ole cover and had a look at the main hatch leak problem. He used sealant to try to create a barrier against the leaking water; time will tell. Adam linked us up with Bob who had not received any emails (sounds like a problem at ISP as other emails have failed to get through as well). Discussed with Bob and agreed we would wait until next week and he could do the job Tuesday. Free until then; may go for another short break or do other things - we'll sleep on it, no rush.


Friday 18th July ~ Bodymoor Heath to Fazeley (short break)

After a thunderstorm at 4am, we woke to a cloudy morning, but already getting warm. Got away after breakfast, dropped down through the remaining three locks of the Curdworth flight, and headed back to our base. On arrival, we cleared both our loo cassettes, now very full (will have to get another spare if the CRT services are to be more widely spaced). Kenney and Louise left us just before lunch to head back north (Louise has to work tomorrow morning).

We reset the beds back to our normal and got the washing machine on. Quiet afternoon pottering at tidying up.

3.51 miles 3 locks 1.79 hrs 3.64 lmph

Thursday 17th July ~ Curdworth to Bodymoor Heath via Salford Junction (short break)

Planned on having an earlyish start but didn't get going until almost normal time. Already hot, and getting hotter! Worked up the Minworth flight, with the expectation of getting the loo emptied at the top lock. Unfortunately it was out of order meaning no services on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal between our own marina just in from the junction until one gets into the centre of Birmingham. Disappointed that CRT appear to be neglecting this stretch as the pounds were all low (we bottomed several times, including while entering a lock), and the offside vegetation was very overgrown. A lot of work needed here.

Approaching the junction, we found an Anglo-Welsh hire boat who had a piece of carpet round their prop. They asked us to make a call to their base for assistance, which we did, then had a look at the problem. Managed to clear the offending item, which measured nearly 8ft by 6ft, allowing them to continue. We winded at the junction and headed back.

Still getting hotter, we returned down the Minworth flight and the first 8 of the Curdworth flight (the pound between 2 and 3 low again), mooring just before the Dog & Doublet Inn, where we were treated to dinner by Kenney and Louise. Great evening.

13.16 miles 14 locks 7.23 hrs 3.76 lmph

Wednesday 16th July ~ Fazeley to Curdworth (short break)

Spent the morning resetting beds (with the wider duvets and extra pillows for visitors). Short trip for perishable stores. Kenney and Louise arrived just before lunch. They got a tour round the boat and lunch before we headed out for our short-break trip to Salford Junction and back.

Said hello to Terry and Linda ("Telinda") from our pontoon at 'the Mill' - they were out for a day-trip. Got a good road up the Curdworth flight, although the pound between locks 2 and 3 was very low (we were scraping bottom all the way through). Moored up for the night just southwest of the Curdworth tunnel under the trees. Kenney and Louise on the cooking.

Overnight forecast for rain during evening clearing by morning to very hot day.

5.83 miles 11 locks 3.56 hrs 4.72 lmph

11th-15th July ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Baking hot all weekend. Occasional rain (mostly drizzle) overnight.

Generally spent the time catching up on "wee jobs" that had got put aside, and cleaning and touching up paintwork.

Still no news from the builder about the outstanding problems so once again we are on the phone asking for an update. Also reported that the engine hatch cover has delaminated (the plywood has gone soggy). They asked for the dimensions (I would have thought they would have known?) and they would get their supplier to replace it.

On the eve of having our first visitors, we got out the chairs to go with the dining table, only to find that they will not go two abreast thus making it impossible to dine four at the table! I wonder what they will say about that when they get the news Wednesday! Visitors report they are enjoying themselves at Alton Towers and will see us Wednesday.


Thursday 10th July ~ Fradley to Fazeley (four counties ring)

Clear blues skies this morning, the wind reduced slightly. Headed off towards Fazeley Junction. Unfortunately, it just got hotter and hotter all day!

Took a short break at Hademore Farm Bridge for lunch, then continued on back to Fazeley Junction and base. Found that our electric connection had been used by another boat, but Jackie quickly sorted it out.

11.18 miles 0 locks 4.50 hrs 2.49 lmph

Wednesday 9th July ~ Wolseley Bridge to Fradley (four counties ring)

After a few routine chores, we got away for the day, headed for Fradley Junction. Stopped at "the Pig Man" for fuel as we were unsure whether we would get back to base or not. (The Pig Man has a fuelling barge at his farm and supplies to passing boats.) It was very quick, and we were away again within 10 mins.

Our next stop was in Rugeley for stores. Rugeley has a very pleasant town centre, within 500 yds of the canal, boasting a wide variety of shops, including Tesco, Morrisons and Lidl. For historians, there is a semi-ruined 12th century chancel. We had lunch before leaving again.

An uneventful run down to Fradley Junction finished our day, although the wind increased during the afternoon making the turn at the junction a little hairy.

10.29 miles 3 locks 4.31 hrs 3.08 lmph

Tuesday 8th July ~ Wedding Anniversary ~ Tixall to Wolseley Bridge (four counties ring)

Woke at 0600 and noted the slight mist rising off the water; very picturesque. Fortunately went back to sleep for another couple of hours!

Slow start, with a few routine jobs to get through, then set off round the corner to Great Haywood Junction. Very busy at the junction with boats going in all directions. Stopped for services, but decided to forego the farm shop this time. Turned right onto the Trent & Mersey again and started the descent to Fradley. It was very slow at the two locks with queues of three to four boats all waiting to pass in both directions. Had a few light showers around lunchtime, but they never really came to anything. Stopped after Wolseley Bridge just after lunch and had a quiet afternoon alongside. Mooring was quickly full so it had been a good idea to stop early, then the rain came down - in buckets! It was touch-&-go whether we went out for dinner, but it did clear just in time to go back to The Wolseley Arms Inn  for an anniversary meal.

3.39 miles 2 locks 2.70 hrs 2.00 lmph

Monday 7th July ~ Penkridge to Tixall (four counties ring)

The rain never came to anything overnight, and we woke to another sunny morning. The locals ducks had been roosting on the roof overnight so spent time cleaning it off. Once we got away, we dropped down through the village to Teddesley where we stopped off at Midland Chandlers . Chatted with Tony from "Pagan", with whom we had been cat-&-mouse for a few days.

Had lunch before resuming, then had a very pleasant run through the agricultural landscape, headed generally northwest towards Tixall. We got a slight shower of rain as we approached the Wide, but it quickly faded to a very pleasant evening. Sat watching the great crested grebes , and chatting to the team on "Vulcan" moored astern.

9.64 miles 7 locks 4.93 hrs 3.38 lmph

Sunday 6th July ~ Slade Heath to Penkridge (four counties ring)

Lovely quiet night, and woke to another sunny day. Departing Slade Heath, the canal twists its way northwards, dropping down through the four locks at Gailey. We made use of the services at the top lock, where there is a red-brick roundhouse which used to be the toll-keepers' office, but now houses a canalware giftshop.

We stopped again two locks down for lunch, before continuing the twisting route towards Penkridge. We stopped for the day on the south side by Cross Keys Bridge (83a). Had a walk into the village for exercise. Clouds were starting to build so potential for rain later.

7.17 miles 5 locks 3.51 hrs 3.47 lmph

Saturday 5th July ~ Wheaton Aston to Slade Heath (four counties ring)

Heavy rain overnight (another disturbed night mopping up the leak from the aft hatch). Despite the forecast, however, the day started off bright, and got sunnier as it progressed. Set off after a quick trip to the post-box, headed for Autherley Junction .

Made good time on the run south, with lunch on the move. Arrived at the junction about 1300 and took water. Dropped down through the stop-lock and turned left to head northwards on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Just north of the junction, there is a cutting only narrow enough for one boat. Unfortunately, although there are passing places, another boat was headed south with two headed north. As we were nearer the southern entrance, we reversed back to let the boat through.

Found a good mooring between bridges 71 and 72, so tied up for the night.

11.02 miles 2 locks 5.35 hrs 2.43 lmph

Friday 4th July ~ Goldstone to Wheaton Aston (four counties ring)

Beautiful sunny morning (at 0600), but clouding over by breakfast. Decided to go for it and see how far we could get before getting soaked. The forecast suggested rain coming in by lunchtime. Very slow run due to long sections of on-line moorings (reduced speed required passing moored boats). Noted the wharf at Knighton  where chocolate crumb was loaded for the Cadbury's factory at Bournville. Stopped at Norbury Junction for services and lunch, then continued south as the rain had not yet materialised.

The rain eventually came at 1530, with most of it skirting us, so we got moored up at our hoped-for point at Wheaton Aston with only a slight shower. Rain got heavier by dinnertime so just got moored in time.

14.99 miles 0 locks 6.08 hrs 2.47 lmph

Thursday 3rd July ~ Ridgewardine to Goldstone (four counties ring)

Prompt start in case the weather turned (forecast for showers then heavier rain). Continued towards Market Drayton where we stopped for a walk into town. Considerable changes since we were last here; more roundabouts and new stores. Deli still there so good news.

Had lunch before departing again towards Tyrley where we got a clear road up the five locks. Stopped at Tyrley Wharf for services; clouding over with dampness in the air. Very quiet run through the Woodseaves cutting; spectacular scenery and no boats coming the other way! Bumped into "Empire" again (metaphorically) at the moorings by Goldstone Wharf (supported by the Shropshire Union Canal Society) so stopped for the night. Rain threatening and wind rising; no further movement today (we'll see what tomorrow brings).

5.69 miles 5 locks 3.04 hrs 3.51 lmph

Wednesday 2nd July ~ Audlem to Ridgewardine (four counties ring)

Another great night, and another lovely morning. Slow start today; routine duties. Noted some locking practices liable to cause injury and/or damage from a hire boat. Spent time chatting with Watford lock-keeper, John, who was moored up on holiday (nb "Empire").

Got under way after lunch and headed for the Adderley flight. Slightly busier than Audlem yesterday. Stopped at the farm shop at the top lock, then moved on as far as Betton Wood Bridge (66). Moored to permit the TV for Andy Murray's match, only to find he had gone out in straight sets! Oh well, no priority for TV from now on!

During the evening, went aft to the cabin to be greeted by a surprise visitor! 

2.52 miles 5 locks 1.79 hrs 4.20 lmph

Tuesday 1st July ~ Hack Green to Audlem (four counties ring)

Beautifully quiet night, and woke to a lovely morning. Headed to Audlem and went up first three locks, before stopping at Audlem Wharf for services, a walk into the village, a visit to the mill shop, and lunch at The Shroppie Fly .

Left, replete after lunch, to attack the remaining twelve locks (possibly not a good idea to have had lunch ashore, but it was good). Most of the locks were against us, and we only met one boat. Very quiet on the flight today. Got to the top and pulled in on clearing the locks. Nice shady mooring; home-made produce on sale at lock cottage. Excellent!

4.27 miles 15 locks 4.71 hrs 4.09 lmph

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