|This Month's Totals and Average|
|178.75 miles||131 locks||94.90 hrs||3.26 lmph|
Overnight rain continued as heavy drizzle into the morning, with the wind rising. Although the sun did come out mid-afternoon, the wind continued. The Admiral/Cook/Housekeeper decided she was baking and ironing so no movement in the offing. Got a bit of computer-work done.
As boaters, we are encouraged to be considerate and turn engines and generators off by 20:00 so as not to inconvenience locals. It is a shame the locals do not reciprocate. Last night, live music started in the pub opposite at 22:30 and went on until the early hours of the morning. Disappointing! I'll make sure that when we return to Chester, it will be mid-week.
Heavy rain showers before breakfast did not bode well, but they cleared quickly and we walked into town to visit the Dewa Roman Experience , a look into the archaeology of Chester.
Returned to "Paws" for lunch, but when we attempted to take water before departure, we found that another boat had moored on the water-point and the crew left it. More inconsiderate behaviour. Left without the water and ascended the Northgate Staircase and headed southwards again. Ascended Hoole Lane Lock and pulled over at the water-point. Met up with another boat headed up, and continued in their company through the remaining four of the flight.
Realised we were way behind our tentative plan for the day so started looking for a mooring shortly after Waverton, but got caught in the long slog past Golden Nook (long line of private moorings). Poor mooring alongside the bank, and poor dredging, after that meant we finished later than expected, just past Tattenhall Marina, at Bridge 112. Rain set in as we went to bed.
|8.37 miles||8 locks||4.99 hrs||3.28 lmph|
Early call of nature brought us heavy rain over breakfast, although the wind had died overnight. Cleared to slight drizzle by the time we were ready, so elected to risk getting soaked and move off. Cleared the basin and ascended the two locks inside the museum grounds, then headed back towards Chester. Not a single other craft encountered on the move. Fortunately, the precipitation came to nothing more than occasional moderate drizzle so not too wet on arrival in Chester basin. The wind had, however, been increasing again all morning. Stopped at the services berth on the way past, before mooring up alongside the bank above the River Dee again.
Had lunch before walking to the nearest supermarket for stores, then pottering for the remainder of the afternoon.
|8.48 miles||2 locks||3.40 hrs||3.08 lmph|
Very windy overnight, with a very heavy shower at about 05:30 - good to be tucked up in the basin. Day started sunny, however, with occasional showers in the morning. Spent the morning in the museum again. Don't think there were many new exhibits on show since we were last here. After lunch went for a walk into Ellesmere Port town. Indoor market hall, and good ASDA, but a 20 min walk from the museum.
Appears that trip boat is usually on that berth, and it is left in the neck of the lock overnight - be aware if anyone wants an early start! The water point can currently only be used from the trip-boat mooring due to broken fencing overhanging the normal water-berth. Currently the berth for the elsan point is being used by a boat under restoration, and the only access to empty is by carrying cassettes through the museum and boatyard.
Another quiet night, this time without a police helicopter! Day dawned sunny but slowly clouded over with high cloud. Let go after a leisurely breakfast and continued towards Ellesmere Port. The scenery quickly returned to pastoral as we left Chester, and only started to show industrial again when we met the M53/M56 at the outskirts of Ellesmere Port. The water quickly started to contain more rubbish. This was contrasted by having seen a kingfisher and our first damselfly of the season on the way along. Arrived at the entrance to the National Waterways Museum and moored on the visitor mooring to find out where to moor for the night. We were told that, as "Friends of CRT", entry to museum and our first night was free, subsequent nights would be £4, and we could moor in the lower basin.
The trip-boat was blocking the lock so had lunch while waiting entry. Once finished and the trip-boat clear, we dropped down through the two locks to the lower basin and moored on one of the islands. Went for a walk around part of the museum, then went back to "Paws" for shower before dinner out at "Jabula" South African restaurant. By this time, the rain had started. Cleared by the time we came out, so got back dry. Excellent meal with some fantastic new flavours.
|8.53 miles||2 locks||3.22 hrs||3.27 lmph|
Apart from the police presence late evening yesterday, a quiet night. Wind picked up a little by morning, and the cloud still with us. Noted "Fjord Empress" leaving - all the best to you, thanks again. Took our time getting moving, then went for services and returned "Paws" to her berth. Went up into town for a walk and lunch. Bumped into the team from "Fjord Empress" again while shopping. Back earlier than expected so did some planning of how we could meet up with son and girlfriend later in the trip. Sun eventually got through late afternoon, but cloud still threatening.
Very quiet night. Day dawned dull, cool and quite windy. Left our mooring promptly as we had said we would lock down to Chester with the team on "Fjord Empress". We met up with Hugh, Hayley, Tom and Ben just above Wharton Lock and invited them for a look round "Paws" before continuing together. Descended Wharton Lock and headed along the long section towards Christleton. It was very slow going along the nearly two miles of private moorings at Golden Nook - well over an hour at tickover is not my definition of "canal cruising".
Had lunch on the move before arriving at Christleton Lock. We descended this, and Greenfield, Tarvin and Chemistry Locks with "Fjord Empress". From the cold of lunchtime, the sun had finally come through. They stopped for water above Hoole Lane Lock, but found the tap inoperative, so again descended the Lock with us. We continued down the Northgate Staircase together into Chester basin. Thanks to the team from "Fjord Empress" - you've been great company. Hope to meet up again some time in the future. Moored up for night on the bank above the River Dee, with the cloud building again.
Late evening update - Just before 22:00, there were a number of two-tone sirens in the area, followed by the Police helicopter circling overhead. Obviously searching for someone. Lasted about half and hour.
|11.14 miles||8 locks||6.40 hrs||2.99 lmph|
After a beautiful quiet night, we woke to heavy rain. This slowly cleared through mist/drizzle by lunchtime, but it was still very cool for May. Had lunch then decided that, as it was supposed to clear, we would get on the move. Headed west to Barbridge Junction and turned right onto the main line of the Shroppie and headed towards Chester. Extra layers put on against the temperature.
On the approach to the Bunbury staircase, there was little space to moor to await the lock. We got the front spot and the second boat waited in a space further back. Two other boats were all for overtaking and getting down first! "Paws" and the second boat, "Loch 2 Lock", chummed each other down, and we were being rushed by the boats behind. We continued, but never saw the other boats again (not sure what their rush was!). Eventually, the sun came out and we had a lovely late afternoon and evening. We chummed each other down Tilstone and Beeston Stone Locks but said goodbye as we got to Beeston Iron Lock as it is recommended to only work with a single boat here due to distortion of the iron through subsidence. They continued, and we moored up for the night just below the lock. Chatted with the family aboard hireboat "Fjord Empress" who moored astern.
|5.60 miles||5 locks||3.75 hrs||2.82 lmph|
Bright start to the day, high cloud, with the prospect of sunshine. Took a walk back into town for Tesco.
On return, let go and headed SW towards Barbridge Junction and the Shropshire Union main line. Ascended Stanthorne Lock and continued through the countryside for a lockfree 2.5 hrs before ascending Church Minshull Lock. A further hour brought us to Venetian Marina where we stopped for loo and water. It was very busy there as they have a hire-boat turn-round on Saturdays. Once finished, we ascended Cholmondeston Lock with the aid of Shropshire Union Canal Society members who were having a fund-raising day to further the excellent work they do. Moored up for night a few hundred yards further on.
|8.18 miles||3 locks||3.46 hrs||3.23 lmph|
Cloudy start to day, and remained that way, with occasional light drizzle. Took a walk to the Pet Food Superstore for supplies for Smokie. On return, stood chatting to Tony off "Th'Ilson Giant" about the old ways. Finally got under way just before lunch and continued down the hill for Middlewich. Lunch on the move, then worked down through Crow's Nest and the two Booth Lane Locks (67-69) then Rump's and King's Locks (70-71).
The basin at Middlewich Junction was busy as usual. Stopped for water, but ended up helping clean and bandage the paw of a collie, Tess, from a hire-boat. She had cut it on the towpath edge. What a super dog; so trusting, and no complaints about getting the paw treated. Hope the cut recovers quickly.
Turned left onto the Wardle Branch, ascended Wardle Lock, and moored just by Bridge 29 on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal (Shroppie). A walk to Lidl for stores for us (we'll have to go back for a supermarket tomorrow), before settling in for the night.
|5.90 miles||6 locks||3.07 hrs||3.87 lmph|
Sunny start to day. Planned early start didn't materialise, but got away 'promptly'.Continued the descent down Heartbreak Hill - first completing the Red Bull Flight (44 to 46) then to Church Locks (47-48), Hall's Lock (49) and the Lawton Treble (50-52) at Alsager. Most of the locks retain their "double" status - they were built as two separate locks parallel to each other to ease congestion of traffic. Some have since been culverted, left derelict, or removed altogether. Stopped in Rode Heath just before the winding hole and walked into the village which can be accessed from Bridge 140 at the Broughton Arms or the lane at Thurlwood Lock. It boats a convenience store with Post Office facilities, an off-licence, a hairdresser and the pub.
After a bite of lunch, we continued downhill again, through the spaced-out single locks (53 and 54), Pierpoint Locks (55-56), Hassall Green Locks, (57-58) and the Wheelock Flight (61-66). The 48hr visitors moorings below the flight were packed as usual, including one boat moored for overnight on the water point, so found a spot west of Bridge 154 for our stop for the night.
|6.17 miles||23 locks||5.91 hrs||4.94 lmph|
More heavy rain overnight and into the morning - none had been forecast! Pottered around in the hopes it would clear, but it hadn't by lunchtime. Eventually called it a day and decided not to move. (Rain then cleared mid-afternoon, and we had a beautiful evening!)
Rain overnight again, with the forecast of more to come. Had originally decided to stay put for day, but The Admiral decided that it looked hopeful so moved up to the services berth mid-morning - and got drowned! Services complete, it was fair again so moved back onto the main line and along to Festival Marina to take fuel - and got drowned! Fuel finished late morning, fair again, we set off towards Harecastle tunnel . Got drowned on the way! Moored at the southern portal awaiting passage north - we were told about 20 mins - and had a very quick bite of lunch.
Headed into the tunnel when the southbound convoy was complete and had a very easy run through compared to last year . It took us exactly 36 mins for the passage.
On exit, dropped down through Harding's Wood Junction Lock (43) - and got drowned again! Dropped through Locks 42 and 43 and moored for night after the services berth - very soggy indeed! (not impressed with The Admiral, particularly as the berth has no TV)
|6.49 miles||3 locks||3.02 hrs||3.14 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight (as per forecast), and continued during morning. Stayed put!
Lunch aboard (but found the milk had gone off, so slight change of menu). Rain cleared (as per forecast) just after lunch so decided to move back to Etruria. Let go and started the decent through the Stockton Brook Flight (9-5)..... and the heavens opened again. Too late to change our minds, so carried on. Rain was heavy but didn't last too long, and the sun came out in patches. Dropped through Engine Lock (4) and on to Planet Lock (3) (single-handed this one while The Cook tried to find a small shop, to no avail). Finally dropped through the Etruria Staircase (2-1) and moored just by the winding hole. Rain threatening again, so tucked up for night.
|8.86 miles||8 locks||5.27 hrs||3.20 lmph|
Prompt start heading back towards Etruria. Returned through the twisted section to Flint Mill Lock (17), ascended and headed along the river section through Consall, ascending back onto canal at Oak Meadow Ford Lock (16). Didn't see a single boat moving until after Wood's Lock (15). They told us that they had just left Cheddleton and we should get their mooring right at the station. Nothing had taken the space when we arrived, but it was slightly small and we had to hang over the end of good piling and put a stake into the eroded bank. Fortunately, the remaining bank was solid. Went for a round-trip on the Churnet Valley Railway , also visiting the model rail and classic car special displays at Cheddleton and Froghall stations, and had lunch at the station tearoom at Froghall.
On return to "Paws", we continued up the Cheddleton Locks (14-13) and on towards Hazlehurst Junction , noting the Cheddleton Flint Mill Museum for a visit next time. Clearing the top of the Hazlehurst Flight (12-10) we continued towards Etruria. Stopped at the services berth again before mooring for night at the same place as 13th, just before Endon Basin.
|8.86 miles||8 locks||5.27 hrs||3.20 lmph|
Scattered cloud and a moderate breeze greeted us this morning. Fairly chilly (for May). Cleared a few loose ends from yesterday, then set off on our return journey to Hazlehurst Junction . At the junction, turned right and descended the three Hazlehurst Locks (10-12) which drop the canal under the other branch. Very pretty wandering through the avenue of trees at the foot of the valley, heading towards Froghall. Lunch on the move. Descended the two locks at Cheddleton (13-14), and noted the Churnet Valley Railway station.
Continued down Wood's Lock (15), and Oak Meadow Ford Lock (16) onto the River Churnet. Passed through Consall (again noting the station, whose platform actually overhangs the canal). Descended Flint Mill Lock (17) leaving the river. Boats of over 65ft that cannot pass through Froghall Tunnel should wind above this lock. Froghall Tunnel is very narrow and very low; few boats can pass through, and the winding hole before it will only accommodate 65ft. We continued on (only 60ft) but noting that we failed the profile test at the foot of the lock. The final stretch is very twisted, narrow and shallow. We had to proceed slowly, but reached the winding hole before the tunnel, turned, and reversed onto the visitor moorings. Had a walk over the tunnel to the basin to see the old wharf, with many of its buildings still in place. Also found the third station on the preserved railway. Decided to remain at Froghall overnight.
|9.87 miles||8 locks||5.57 hrs||3.21 lmph|
Wind dropped overnight, and morning dawned bright and sunny. Departed and moved to the services berth about half a mile further along. Very clean and tidy in comparison to some, with good pressure on the water tap! Quick turn-round, and continued to Hazlehurst Junction . Turned right, which takes the canal in a curve left over the other line (which drops through three locks), and on towards Leek. Beautiful trip winding perched on the side of the hill (typical Brindley construction). Dredging and towpath works slowed us down a little, but a pleasant trip. Passed under West Bridge 9 at Leek and winded. This is a far as boats over 45ft can go - the 'basin' is about 400yds from here and one can then reverse up for mooring. The 'basin' is actually just a termination of the water, fed by a stream, and surrounded by trees and low vegetation. A path leads through these trees to the back of an industrial estate. Had lunch, then went for a walk to the supermarket.
On return, we ended up chatting to fellow moorers and eventually decided not to move. A sunny day throughout, although the wind was showing signs of rising by bedtime.
|4.43 miles||0 locks||2.21 hrs||2.01 lmph|
Previous forecasts for today had been for heavy rain so had planned not to move. Long lie and lazy breakfast. Updated forecast this morning suggested weather-front not coming as far north. Still windy and a little chilly so agreed to just stay put! Heavy clouds all round, but no rain actually fell on us. Wind dropped slowly during the day. Caught up with chores. Went for walk mid-afternoon, purely for the exercise. Noted "March Mole" moored, but no sign of Peter & Pam. Dropped into mini-market along Post Lane to top up minor stores.
Nice bright start to the day. Moved back onto the services berth for usual items, then let go mid-morning headed up the Caldon Canal. The first locks are a staircase pair, followed by a single. These take one out through the commercial part of Hanley. There is still evidence of the old canalside factories and buildings. The bridges in this area are very low indeed. Passing under Bridge 6, one gets a taster of the countryside to come, seeing the other side of the valley through the buildings. Lunch on the move. Cloud coming and going - warm in the sun, but cool otherwise.
Continued up Engine Lock 4 and the Stockton Brook Flight (5-9). The pounds in this flight were low today. Stopped at Lock 8 to chat with children from a local primary school who were doing a project on canals. Continued up the flight, and it is really only once one gets clear of the top of the flight that one gets completely into the country. Moored up for night just after Endon Basin.
|7.35 miles||9 locks||5.13 hrs||3.19 lmph|
Cloudy start to day, with forecast of short heavy showers during morning. Leisurely breakfast and departure. Started up Stone Flight (27-30). Noted memorial garden to Christina Collins (no relation that I'm aware of) at the side of Yard Lock 28. Continued up the Meaford Flight (31-34) noting another family of swans with their young. Sympathised with a group of first-time boaters coming down the flight who were being rushed by a single-hander. We let him through (to get out of the way) but noted that the bottom gates of the next two locks had been left open as he left them. Such is the variety on the Cut!
The forecast rain only gave a few spits and we had lunch on the move in glorious sunshine, although the wind was steadily rising. Continued north through Barlaston, noting the Wedgwood factory , and into the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent. Continued up Trentham Lock (36) and the Stoke Flight (37-40), arriving at Etruria Junction. Had decided to add a visit up the Caldon Canal to our itinerary, so turned right and moored for night outside the Industrial Museum , and opposite the statue of James Brindley .
|9.49 miles||14 locks||6.08 hrs||3.87 lmph|
Up bright and breezy after a very quiet night. Sun threatening to break through but a slight dampness in the air. Quick breakfast and got on the move - I was expecting a business telephone call and we had no signal. Ascended Colwych Lock 21 and stopped at the services berth (now have signal). Took water and did loo, then moved back to a mooring and visited the Canalside Farm Shop . On return, cleared the log from yesterday and cleaned out the piggy-cage before moving on.
Away again late morning; had lunch on the move between locks. Clouds and drizzle cleared rapidly to a hot afternoon. Ascended Hoo Mill, Weston, Sandon and Aston Locks (22-25). Noted large-scale dredging operations by "Land & Water" on behalf of CRT just outside Aston Marina. There was also a pair of swans proudly showing off their brood of 9 cygnets. Stopped just short of the winding hole at Stone. Dinner ashore at "The Star"
|10.08 miles||5 locks||4.98 hrs||3.03 lmph|
Long lie this morning after staying up to watch the concert last night. Got away mid-morning and headed through Armitage (with its tunnel - overhead of tunnel was removed years ago as unsafe, now is just a narrow cutting) towards Rugeley. Moored on the East side of town (Bridge 66) and went to Morrisons. Had lunch on return.
After lunch, continued for Great Haywood, ascending Colwych Lock 21, and moored on the south side of Great Haywood on the straight beside Shugborough Hall . Very quiet night; no tele and no phone (this upload delayed to following day as a result).
|8.13 miles||1 locks||3.43 hrs||2.66 lmph|
A more relaxed departure today, after a lazy start. Rain all cleared, but stronger wind made for a more difficult departure. Headed round to Fradley Junction where we moored up early. Took water and did the loo, and had lunch before departure again.
Let go after lunch and turned left at the junction onto the Trent & Mersey, headed NW towards Great Haywood. Ascended Middle (18), Shadehouse (19)and Wood End (20) Locks. More traffic noticed today from last weekend, despite last weekend being the holiday. Forecast 'wall-to-wall' sunshine failed to materialise, only short sunny intervals. Rain still threatening but never came to anything. Moored on the outskirts of Handsacre just after the winding hole. Got a SatTV signal to watch the VE Day concert this evening.
|7.29 miles||3 locks||3.35 hrs||3.08 lmph|
Lovely sunny morning to start this summer's cruise. Quick bit of last minute shopping, collected a new bottle of gas, then away by mid-morning. Short break in mid-stream for a chat with John & Jan on "Jubilee" and Mary on "Kew" as we passed, then turned left at the Junction and headed towards Fradley once more. The trees appear greener than even last weekend. Lunch on the move, but with cloud increasing and temperature cooling. Moored up at a favourite spot just before Streethay just as the rain came on. Noted our first cygnets for this year - at Huddlesford Junction, Dad was proudly showing off the first of the brood, while Mum was still protecting the others and/or more eggs. Forecast for the coming week is good. Not gone far, but at least we're on the move again.
|7.91 miles||0 locks||3.14 hrs||2.52 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight cleared to showers by Tuesday morning. Haircuts for both of us, then started the change-round from visitors and prep for summer cruise. Tamworth market in morning, followed by supermarkets in afternoon. Rain clearing but wind increasing quickly.
More rain overnight into Wednesday. Long periods of rain with occasional short sunny spells. Wind continues. Washing, ironing, routine chores.
Yet more rain overnight, but forecast suggests heavy showers for later. Cleared the cratch of 'rubbish' (spare coal and kindling to car, small quantity coal/kindling and fuzzy cleaning gear to forward hatch), bike tucked up for the summer. Had fight with pensions people over late payment, and another with bike insurers for incorrect paperwork - got positive results on both. All ready to get away tomorrow (finally!)
Slightly slower rise this morning. Had been some rain overnight, but clear and sunny by breakfast. Guests packed as we departed for base. Returned via Fazeley Junction to our Marina, Pat and Betty dropping off for papers at the junction and walking back.
Finished the packing, and guests loaded their car. Drove to the National Memorial Arboretum for lunch and a walk around the memorial - guests impressed. Teddy family increased by one! Made our farewells, and they headed off home to London, us returning to "Paws". Hope to see them again for another trip at some point.
|3.30 miles||0 locks||1.47 hrs||2.24 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight, but died to misty drizzle by breakfast. On the move as soon as ready, and descended Alrewas Lock 12 and traversed the river section, noting the change in bank and vegetation. Descended Wychnor Lock 11 and winded at the winding hole shortly after. Returned up through the two locks and continued up through the four towards Fradley. Noted a boat involved in a charity 'do' on the services berth, so continued up the last lock before the junction and turned left onto the Coventry Canal, stopping immediately at the water point.
Topped up water, walked back with the loo, and prepared a quick lunch for eating on the move. Left Fradley and headed back towards base. Returned past Huddlesford Junction and through Whittington, and moored for night at the Hopwas School moorings. Dinner out at The Tame Otter . Very busy indeed - 25 mins late in getting our reserved table, further 20 mins until starter actually served, and had finished starter before wine arrived after a prompt. Despite these problems, excellently cooked meal. Bed shortly after getting back to the boat as guests succumbing to the outdoor life!
|12.47 miles||9 locks||6.60 hrs||3.26 lmph|
Up quite early after great night's sleep (particularly David). Cloudy start and cool. Moved out of marina after quick breakfast (on strength of 'butties' later (yummie)). Pat and Betty walked to Junction to get extra spinach for 'her Ladyship', "Paws" picked them up at the Junction before turning left towards Fradley. David & Betty astounded by the birdlife they could see and hear. Continued through Hopwas and Whittington (got our bacon/egg/sausage butties; great!), past Huddlesford Junction, and on to Fradley. Turned right at the Junction, descended Junction Lock 17 and pulled in at the services berth for loo and water. Rain starting to fall.
Once finished, continued down the 4 remaining locks (16 to 13) to Alrewas and moored at the east end just above Alrewas Lock. Dinner aboard.
|13.38 miles||5 locks||6.25 hrs||2.94 lmph|
Guests expected tonight. David & Betty travelling up from London, anticipated arrival just before dinner. Good day weatherwise so they should have a good run north.
Guests got lost so slightly late in arriving, but got there in the end. Dinner aboard. David had been unwell overnight, so a quiet and early night.