|This Month's Totals and Average
Clear blue sky, sun beaming down, already warm by breakfast! Did a bit of planning for the next few days. Arranged engine service for Saturday at Stourbridge. Moved off mid-morning, continuing towards Gailey. Glad of the tree cover as very hot. Stopped at the services berth above Gailey Lock. Did water, loo, and had a quick look round the shop (got canal calendars for 2016). Winded and returned to the visitor mooring for lunch.
After lunch, set off again southwest to return to Slade Heath. Found a slightly better mooring (with TV this time) just round the corner from where we were last night. Still very hot, but now in the shade of the trees.
Sunny with high cloud - a lovely morning. Up quite early (for us), and walked into Brewood village. Beautiful village with a few shops around the Village Square (including a private grocer, a Co-op and a hardware store (Chris and Karen were very friendy and helpful)). Let go late morning, continuing to Autherley Junction. More of the leafy cuttings, but mostly not quite so narrow or unstable. Turned left at the Junction headed north on the Staffs & Worcs Canal for a couple of days. Lunch on the move through the very narrow cutting at Pendeford. Moored up between Bridges 71 & 72 at Slade Heath mid-afternoon.
The forecast heavy rain arrived in the early hours of the morning, and continued until breakfast. Decided to wait until lunchtime to move. Rain cleared and sky slowly brightened during morning so set off after lunch.
Continued our passage southeast, again passing through leafy narrow cuttings. As we cleared the last, a cabin-cruiser appeared from nowhere behind and only slowed down about 20 feet behind, obviously in a hurry and uncaring for speed limits or etiquette. We eventually pulled to the side as he forced his way past, not waiting for us to complete getting out of his way. Shame the niceties are not upheld by everyone using the cut. Continued through Wheaton Aston, topped up the water to allow our 'boy-racer' to clear the lock, then ascended ourselves. Moored up on the northwest outskirts of Brewood with the intention of a walk into town tomorrow.
Finally got caught up with the diary!
Beautiful sunny morning. Took our time, but away fairly promptly. Continued southeast towards Norbury and Autherley Junctions. Eventually managed to get Thursday's data to the server, and the tracker started today. Lovely run through the cuttings, in the dappled shade of the trees. Two fishing competitions under way on our route - just crawled past at tickover so as to disturb the water as little as possible. Stopped just short of Norbury Junction for lunch. Found we had lost phone signal again!
Took a walk to the chandlery, then moved "Paws" to the services berth, where a working boat was overstaying its welcome waiting for passengers who were at the pub. Chores complete, we continued on as far as Gnosall Heath where we moored on the northwest side of Bridge 35. Went for a walk round the town, mostly for the exercise, but obtained a few provisions as well. No phone signal yet again, so further delay in updating this site (sorry).
Rain overnight, turning to occasional showers by breakfast. Very lazy start. A lot of discussion about plan options for coming week, but nothing really decided. Had hoped to get some jobs done while stopped for rain, but didn't have all the parts for one, no phone signal for another two (and the rain didn't really come to much after all).
Sun kept on threatening to break through, but intermittent drizzle continued throughout the afternoon. Generally not a lot achieved!
Decided a shower was needed as a tonic for the gloomy day. Turned on the water .. .. .. .. and the heavens opened - must have a look at the plumbing!!
Eventually turned into a very pleasant evening, with high cloud, and a lot cooler.
Cloudy start to day, and a bit muggy. Cook back up to supermarket for the few items not purchased yesterday, while I did a couple of repair jobs, then headed off mid-morning towards the Tyrley Flight. We got a good road through the first three of the five, with a boat leaving the gates open as we approached each. The remaining two had to be dropped before we could get in. Still made excellent time. Pulled over at the services berth above the top lock. Cloud had been slowly clearing to give a hot sunny afternoon.
Once clear, we continued through Woodseaves Cutting. The sides are subject to landslide and a speed restriction of 2mph is in place, but the sail through the narrow cutting in the shade of the trees is fantastic. Lunch on the move. Barely finished lunch and clear of the cutting, when the Admiral decides we should moor up for the night (Goldstone Wharf). We get alongside to find an underwater shelf at the side (so we will bump against it all night) and no telephone signal (so late with uploading the diary and problems to look forward to with the logger tomorrow). Cloud increased during evening.
Lovely fresh start to the day. Moved off fairly promptly, headed for Market Drayton. Ascended the Adderley Flight (5 locks) fairly quickly, with a boat just leaving the one above on three occasions - nice to get a good road for a change - then continued along the long straight section, in and out of the shade of the trees. Arrived in Market Drayton with trepidation as we had heard rumours of it being very busy with the Floating Market this coming weekend and few moorings to be had. All rumours unfounded - only the main section nearest the town was reserved (only 5 trading boats currently moored) - the 5-day and 14-day sections to the east had about the usual number of boats; plenty space. We picked a spot just at Victoria Bridge 65.
Had lunch aboard then walked into town. Very good outdoor market (Wednesday each week). Procured such provisions as we could carry back. Decided to stay put overnight. A bit more cloud during the afternoon.
Partly cloudy this morning, but the cloud cleared during the day to give a scorching hot afternoon. Got on the go quickly and headed towards Audlem. Stopped briefly at Overwater Marina for some chandlery items then started the Audlem Flight. Ascended the first two and pulled over for the services berth. Moved clear and walked into town for a few provisions. Dropped in at Audlem Mill Canal Shop on the way back, then had lunch at The Shroppie Fly (great chips - crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside!).
Rather stuffed after lunch, we attacked the remainder of the flight (a further 13). Only one boat came down, and the locks were against us for most of the flight - a "bad road" if there ever was one! Glad to pull in for the day after the top lock (near the hamlet of Coxbank) in the shade of the trees.
Heavy rain showers overnight continued past breakfast time. Very lazy start (Admiral didn't manage to get out of dressing gown until nearly lunchtime!).
By mid-afternoon Admiral had decided the weather wasn't going to be conducive to moving (could have decided that several hours ago!), and was going to do some baking. Cloud promptly cleared, although wind was still quite strong. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
A small amount of rain overnight mostly cleared by breakfast, although it was still cloudy. Leisurely start, but went for a walk late morning for the exercise. Back by lunchtime.
By mid-afternoon, the showers had ceased enough, so set off for a short trip. Cleared Nantwich, back into the farmland of the Cheshire plain, and ascended the two locks at Hack Green. Decided that would do so moored up again just before Bridge 85. This the best mooring for those wishing to visit the Secret Bunker .
Today started damp and humid, with almost complete cloud cover and no wind. Moved off fairly promptly headed the last leg to Hurleston Junction. Stopped above the locks for services, then joined the queue of four to descend. Pounds again low. Lost about half an hour in the queue. Once down the flight, turned right, southwards, on the Shropshire Union Canal. Visitor moorings at Nantwich very busy again - noted at least two boats we had seen when we were here last time (although it is possible that they may have moved and returned, I'm the eternal sceptic!). Finally found a space at the south end of town and moored for a very late lunch.
Walked back to get lunch at the "Waterside Café" in Nantwich Basin, then walked into town for supermarket stores. After several bouts of heavy drizzle around lunchtime, the sun came out mid-afternoon.
Another cloudy morning, and cool for June. Took fuel and gas from "Mountbatten" and "Jellicoe" as they were at the same moorings again, then descended Marbury Lock. Continued northeast through Wrenbury with its two lift-bridges, then down through the three Baddiley Locks. Moored for lunch between Bridges 13 and 12.
Decided we couldn't be bothered moving again after lunch, so moved "Paws" up a few yards to clear the SatTV dish then shut down for the day. Sun started to break through just as we finished, although wind still quite strong and cool. Routine chores and cleaning.
Cloudy start with more wind, but warm. Made a fairly prompt start, reversing out from the arm, and headed round to Grindley Brook. Stopped at the services berth, then made ready for the descent of the staircase. Had just missed a slot so had to wait for the downward 'convoy' to finish, and the three coming up to clear. After about half an hour wait, descended the staircase three, followed by the other three singles in the flight, and continued eastwards. Lunch on the move, interspersed with locking through Povey's, Willeymoor and Quoisley Locks. Stopped just above Marbury Lock for the day.
Bright and sunny around 06:00, but clouded over by breakfast, with a strengthening wind. Took a walk into town for stores.
Wind eased by lunchtime, but drizzle set in early afternoon. Elected to stay put. Generally pottered for the rest of the afternoon.
More cloud this morning, but it cleared fairly quickly. Another hot day.
Got under way fairly promptly and continued to the head of navigation at Whixall Marina, where we winded. A lot narrower, and I suspect it may be difficult for boats to pass. That said, it was worth the run. Returned to the main line and headed back eastwards. Nothing eventful during a quiet dawdle to Whitchurch, although we found the branch very busy with boats. Got the last mooring and moored for the day. Generally pottered about for the afternoon.
No more rain overnight, and day dawned bright and sunny. The Cook decided to do some baking, so we elected to stay put for the morning. I tried to get some internet banking done, but the signal was lousy, and I finally gave up. Lunch before moving.
Once cleared away, moved across to the services berth for a quick top-up and loo, before setting off eastwards again. A couple of instances where boats tried to force a way past when it was really too narrow (resulting in "Paws" reversing up) broke the otherwise uneventful trip past the meres to Whixall Moss. Turned onto the Prees Branch and moored for night between the two lift-bridges. A very hot afternoon, but cooling by evening with increased cloud cover.
The storms forecast for the past two days never materialised. Today is supposed to have only a possibility of showers.
Had a leisurely start and moved up to New Marton Top Lock to find four boats already waiting. Got a little messy with boats waiting by the water point and others not realising there was a queue moving into the small space by the lock, but we all got there in the end (the queue produced a delay of about 1 hour). Descended the New Marton two locks and headed for Frankton Junction. Moored up at Bridge 66 for late lunch.
Moved on after lunch. Stopped at the services berth at Ellesmere Yard for water and loo, then moved across to the towpath side and went to Tesco for stores. Decided that we may as well stay put for night. Mixture of thin cloud with sun peeping through to heavier cloud and cool. Rain came on just before dinner, but cleared by mid-evening.
Still no rain by breakfast time so got ready to move quickly before it did start. Just ready to let go, and the drizzle started! Didn't last long, and wasn't heavy so still got away. Did a quick pit-stop at the loo point on the way out of town. The trip outward from Llangollen was much easier than the trip inward. We were travelling with the flow rather than battling against it. No real delays at the narrows or the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct , slight delay at the liftbridge at Fron (courtesy to let 3 other boats through rather than force them to wait for us to lower it, then have them put a team-member ashore to lift it again). Easy run through the two tunnels and over the Chirk Aqueduct. Lunch on the move. Moored mid-afternoon just east of St Martin's. Rain arrived very shortly afterwards so perfect timing. Rain died out again late evening giving a dry night.
Leisurely rise and breakfast. Headed down to the railway station for a trip on the Llangollen Railway . Delightful day out, including the emergency stop due to sheep on the line.
Had an excellent lunch at the station café before returning to "Paws" mid-afternoon. Forecast rain never materialised.
Apart from the occasional train, another quiet night. Up earlier than usual to attempt to get through the narrows before the outgoing boats arrived - didn't work! Again, the water flow slowed us down, to almost stopped at times. There was also a queue to get across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct , and again at the two sets of narrows on the run into Llangollen. Beautiful scenery as we wound our way along the side of the valley. Moored up in the basin at the head of navigation. There are charges for both the on-line moorings and for the basin, with a limit of 48 hrs on any mooring - up to 4 hrs free if you leave the mooring before 17:00, £6 per night for up to two nights, inclusive of (free) electricity and water.
Had lunch, then took a walk into town. Nothing really changed since we were last here. Collected mail, topped up on fresh provisions, checked train times for tomorrow, and did the 'tourist' shops. Stopped off at the kiosk in the Horse Drawn Boat Trip
Another beautiful sunny day greeted us for breakfast. Leisurely start, continuing towards Llangollen (although forecast for end of week not great). Arrived at New Marton Locks to find a queue of 6 boats waiting. Chatted to team off hire boat behind during the wait; they were considering buying a boat of their own. About 5 boats coming down, so busy in both directions. Cleared the top lock and moored up for lunch.
Tree cover increased again as we headed for Chirk. Crossed the aqueduct and went through the tunnel, then looked for a mooring. The flow of water was causing problems at any narrow bits, with boat speed being reduced dramatically in the tunnel and over the aqueduct. Finally stopped just at the entrance to Chirk Marina (although hadn't realised railway was quite so near!).
Very quiet night, with only the sounds of the countryside. Heard the jackdaw chicks calling at about 04:00 (nesting in the roofspace of the sanitary-station). Mist over the fields and water at this point, but cleared to sunshine again by breakfast. Noted a hot-air balloon over the fields in the distance as we got up.
Leisurely breakfast, then finished the cleaning and moved over to the services to top up the water again. Left mid-morning to get in the queue for the locks.
Lock-keeper already there so were invited straight through. Once clear, had lunch on the move while heading round to Ellesmere. Branch and basin very busy - no spaces on our way in, but one on the way back out. Mooring rings on all faces of the basin make for a tight turning circle! Stored up at Tesco and headed back out. Found a mooring west of Bridge 66, in the middle of nowhere facing out over the farms in the valley. Clouded over by mid-afternoon.
Not so quiet a night due to proximity of A5, and lorries and tractors on the road alongside. Woke to another sunny morning, although still cool with a slightly increased breeze. Took our time over breakfast, then walked along the towpath in direction of Aston Locks. Had our first confirmed sighting of a reed warbler in the reeds next to Aston Lock 2. Spoke with CRT staff investigating leak. A reed bed has sunk and water is slowly flowing over the canalbank. They have been working with reduced depth for a few days, but yesterday it got worse and they put the stoppage in place. A consulting engineer was in attendance today to report on how best to prevent a full-blown breach.
Had a leisurely coffee, then decided to return to Frankton and moor on the Weston Branch (at least we will have phone signal there for information on the stoppage. Set off late morning to get through the narrowest parts before any new traffic arrived from Frankton.
Arrived at the Branch just before lunch and moored on the 48 hr section. Only one boat came down the flight - took water, then moored up for lunch before heading towards Queen's Head. Cruiser which had been moored behind us at Queen's Head arrived mid-afternoon for services, then headed off again. Narrowboat which had been moored the other side of the bridge at Queen's Head arrived late afternoon. Quiet afternoon, routine chores including a full washdown of the outside (since we had access to plenty water). Booked a passage for tomorrow back up the Franckton Flight.
Farmer collecting in cut grass only just got finished before rain set in. Cleared again quickly, but freshened the air for a quiet night.
Wind dropped again by breakfast - lovely sunny morning although a slight coolness to the air. Moved off and headed towards Frankton Junction. Passed Ellesmere Junction - we'll take a look up there later. Stuck behind a boat "taking in the scenery" (moving barely at tickover even when clear ahead). Arrived at Frankton Junction at 11:30, to be told there was an emergency stoppage in force (from this morning). A leak had been discovered in the vicinity of Aston Locks and the current 'head of navigation' was Queen's Head. Decided we'd still take a trip along, so joined the queue (of two) waiting to descend the staircase. A third boat joined us before the convoy started down.
Dropped through the staircase (assisted by the lock-keeper) and the other two Frankton Locks. The canal is much narrower here, but gives a beautiful view out over the rolling countryside of the valley. Stopped for services in the short section of the Weston Branch, which also has a 48 hr mooring so had lunch as well.
Finally moved off again mid-afternoon for the run out to Queen's Head. The canal got still narrower, and shallower, as the trip progressed. Moored just past the winding hole at Queen's Head. Invited a couple thinking about buying a boat for a tour of "Paws". (Again no phone so update delayed till tomorrow.)
Wind had risen by morning, although still bright and sunny. Moved ahead to the winding hole, winded, then headed out from the branch and continued southwest. Although we have had a couple of lift-bridges each day since starting on the Llangollen Canal, today has seen more and some are heavy work. They are all hydraulic, requiring a windlass to operate. Dive-bombed by swallows most of the morning, and saw two kingfishers on the section to the north of Bridge 42. Stopped for lunch after liftbridge 45, if only to get a break from the wind.
Continued after lunch. With the wind strength and direction, decided it may be more difficult up the Prees Branch so put that off until on our way back. more open countryside follwed, then into the leafy corridor again (more shelter from the wind). Got our first confirmed sighting of a reed bunting. Moored at Blake Mere just east of Ellesmere. Rang CRT and booked a place for Frankton Locks for tomorrow, must arrive before 12:00.
Difficulties with phone signal, so unable to collect GPS data from server, or post this log - will be updated when possible tomorrow.
Another lovely sunny morning. Noted the road tanker bringing the delivery to the fuel boats. Nice to see "Mountbatten" and "Jellicoe" trading again after Ivor & Mel Batchelor retired. Jon & Hannah have now been running them for four months, with a trading circuit around the Llangollen Canal. Slightly early breakfast and moved back to top up. Continued conversation from yesterday about painted-ware, and commissioned Hannah to decorate a pail for us.
On the move, and continuing into Wales. Ascended Quoisley, Willeymoor and Povey Locks, and the Grindley Brook flight without incident. Stopped at the top for water, loo and lunch, before continuing. Decided to have a look up the Whitchurch Branch, and thought we would just stop for the day. Took a walk into the town. Cloud starting to build late afternoon, and wind rising.
Beautiful quiet night. Bright and sunny morning, full of birdsong (and the sound of cattle!). On the move promptly, headed southwest again. Noted an invitation board for St Michael's Church (which has provided public worship since 1308). Continued up the three Baddiley Locks and through Wrenbury. Running between an avenue of trees and hedgerows bordering the rolling farmland. Ascended Marbury Lock and noted "Mountbatten" and "Jellicoe" moored above the lock so stopped for fuel (slight delay advised as they were awaiting a delivery). Had lunch while waiting.
Advised that they had been let down by their supplier and that delivery would now be tomorrow morning. No rush, so decided to stay put.
More rain overnight, but a very quiet mooring. Showers over breakfast but quickly cleared. Off the mooring promptly and winded at the winding hole on the south side of Nantwich, returning to Nantwich Marina for the engine service. Also obtained Craftmaster paint, and gas. Cook walked into town for stores, and got a taxi back.
Service finished as the Cook returned so we decided to have lunch at the "Waterside Café" (in the marina) - excellent Staffordshire oatcakes with bacon & cheese. Had a chat with Bryan & Cecelia from "Life after work" (whom we had seen two weeks before on the Middlewich Branch). Left the marina after lunch and returned north to Hurleston Junction and turned left onto the Llangollen Canal. The four junction locks were very busy and this had created a water shortage in a couple of the pounds, although there was plenty of water in the canal as shown by the amount running into the reservoir which serves Nantwich. Continued southwest and south through the farmland and the two locks at Swanley. Eventually moored up between Bridges 12 and 13 at one of the many moorings sponsored by the Shropshire Union Canal Society . Beautiful sunny day, and extremely pleasant evening. Is this summer really arrived?
Heavy rain and wind continued through most of the night, but by breakfast, the rain had cleared, the wind had dropped, and the sun was threatening to come through. The Cook realised she would not have enough stores to reach Llangollen, so we elected to head for Nantwich first. Short showers of drizzley-stuff interspersed with periods of sun during the morning, with the wind rising a bit again. The Admiral dithered as to whether we would get wet or not, so we ended up not moving (or getting wet!).
Finally moved off after lunch, stopped at the services round the corner at Calveley, then continued past Barbridge and Hurleston Junctions towards Nantwich. Noted "Just Siviting" just south of Hurleston. Wind very strong all afternoon, making steering difficult. The visitor mooring north of the aqueduct at Nantwich had no spaces, but managed to get in on the south side. Walked back to Nantwich Marina and they kindly booked "Paws" in for a service tomorrow morning.
Woke just after 05:00 with the sun streaming in - thought, "should be a lovely day's cruising". Admiral up for call of nature at 06:20, sun still streaming in - thought, "get up soon and make the best of it". Admiral slept in till 08:00, cloud starting to gather. Let go after breakfast, with the cloud still building. Chummed up with "Laurimar" to ascend Wharton's Lock, then they stopped to take fuel. Having ascended Beeston Iron Lock, they caught us up again at Beeston Stone Lock, so again chummed them up both it and Tilstone Locks. We had intended stopping at Anglo-Welsh for services but there was nowhere to moor with their hire-fleet on turn-round, so chummed "Laurimar" up the Bunbury Staircase as well. By this time, the rain had started so we elected to stop. By the time we got alongside, we were soaked. Had lunch and tucked up for the day. Got SatTV, but no phone signal. So much for the nice day's cruising! Better luck tomorrow.