This Month's Totals and Average
132.19 miles 131 locks 81.33 hrs 3.24 lmph

  August 2020

Monday 31st August ~ Birmingham (Symphony Court) to Selly Oak, and return to Birmingham (Brindley Place)

Another lovely morning. Up and on the move promptly. Left the berth and headed round via Old Turn towards Gas Street (the section from the 'roundabout' to Gas Street Basin was originally the Paradise Wharf Branch). At Gas Street, there used to be a transhipment wharf as the Birmingham Canal and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal were not joined (the original solid Worcester Bar eventually became a stop lock, then eventually removed). Continuing out through Edgbaston, the canal passes the University campus in a leafy avenue of trees. At Selly Oak, there used to be a junction with the Dudley No.2 Canal, but this is now derelict after the Lapal Tunnel collapsed in 1917. Just round the corner, we moored and walked back to the new Sainsbury store for own-brand items (they had them this time!).

Heading off again, we winded 100 yds further on and returned to the centre of Birmingham, having lunch on the move. Just as we were turning into Oozells Street Loop at Old Turn, we were hailed from the towpath by Roy & Joan (ex-"Slowgoing" from Fazeley Marina). They quickly walked round and we had a catch-up with them at the Brindley Place mooring.

Took a walk up to the Lego shop, then I walked to the Mailbox to collect a parcel. Once back, we had a prolonged Skype call with Fhi & Nick, who announced they are intending to emigrate to Italy as soon as it is possible. We look forward to more information as it becomes available, and wish them luck with the project.

6.85 miles 0 locks 2.90 hrs 2.36 lmph

Sunday 30th August ~ Dudley to Birmingham (Symphony Court)

Lovely sunny morning. As soon as we were ready, moved across to the services berth for water, loo and rubbish. Had a chat with Chris & Sally. Once finished, moved back across to our mooring for the remainder of the morning. "Kairos" moved to the services berth after us, then headed off mid-morning. We stayed until after the e-service from Doncaster and an early lunch.

Left the museum and returned out to Tipton Junction, turning left again on the Old Main Line to Factory Junction. Turned right again, dropping back down the three Factory Locks - good road as there was a boat just leaving the top lock - then continued back along Telford's "Island Line". Continued onwards at Dudley Port Junction, along the long straight towards Birmingham. At Pudding Green Junction, we joined what was originally the Wednesbury Old Canal (running from Spon Lane to Ryder's Green). At Bromford Junction, the Wednesbury Old Canal passed up the Spon Lane Locks to join the original Birmingham Canal (now considered the Old Main Line) - we continued ahead on the Smethwick Bypass constructed under Telford's guidance as part of his improvements. At Smethwick Junction, Telford returned to the original line at the foot of Smethwick Locks. Continuing towards the centre of Birmingham, the next section again shows Telford's work as he cut out a lot of twists and turns, now some still navigable as loops, others derelict. Just before Old Turn, the end of the original Birmingham Canal, we pulled in and moored opposite the Lego giraffe, at Symphony Court. We had seen only three boats moving during the whole day, and there were plenty of moorings available in the central area.

The sun remained out during the whole of the morning, the afternoon had dull patches with occasional sunny spells.

8.74 miles 3 locks 3.78 hrs 3.11 lmph

Saturday 29th August ~ Bumble Hole to Dudley (en route to Birmingham)

A windy night, but the rain had cleared by morning. A relaxed start to the day, then on the move, through the Netherton Tunnel. Emerging 35 minutes later, we continued to Dudley Port Junction and turned left towards Tipton. One notices the increase in rubbish as one clears the tunnel in comparison to the south side. The water itself, however, is crystal-clear, unfortunately showing the rubbish on the bottom. Continued, and ascended the three Factory Locks at Tipton, then turned left on the Old Main Line. Headed through Tipton town - unusually, no boats moored at all. Turned right onto the north end of the Dudley No.1 Canal as far as the Museum - only one boat moored here - we noted it was "Kairos", although no sign of Chris & Sally. Quiet afternoon doing very little.

4.79 miles 3 locks 2.45 hrs 3.18 lmph

Friday 28th August ~ Bumble Hole (en route to Birmingham)

Long lie, knowing we weren't going anywhere. Bright morning, but it deteriorated to heavy rain showers by lunchtime. Spent the morning baking to top up the 'goodies' boxes. Logged in online for the funeral of a family friend - excellent service under the current circumstances. General routine chores during the afternoon. Planning meeting for the next two weeks.

Thursday 27th August ~ Brierley Hill to Bumble Hole (en route to Birmingham)

Took our time getting moving today as we planned only a short distance to travel. Chatted with some of the roving traders getting ready for the weekend's Floating Market. The sky was dulling over as we left the embankment, waving to Tim & Tracey as we passed. Continued towards Parkhead Junction.

Ascended Blowers' Green Lock to the Junction, turning right onto the Dudley No.2 Canal, and immediately mooring for services. Whilst watering, we invited the two lady members of the crew of the hireboat "Dragonfly" for a look round. Continued on, weaving round the contour of Dudley Hill, towards Netherton. Rain came on shortly thereafter and stayed on for the remainder of the day. With the steerer suitably drowned again, we moored at Bumble Hole for a late lunch.

3.92 miles 1 locks 1.89 hrs 2.60 lmph

Wednesday 26th August ~ Stourbridge to Brierley Hill (en route to Birmingham)

Up early to a lovely sunny morning. The wind had dropped and the rain was gone. On the move by 08:00, heading back out of the Town Arm to Wordsley Junction. We knew of 2 boats that had already left (although we didn't know which way they were going at the junction), and of 1 that would be following us.

Very busy at the junction, 1 boat in the lock going up, 1 waiting, us at No.3, a 4th just arriving from the Stourton flight and 1 behind us - going to be a long day.......

Turned right onto the Stourbridge Canal again and tackled the 16 locks of the Stourbridge Flight. 'Fell in' with Mary, David & family on the hireboat following, and ended up working together for the remainder of the day. Another boat joined in ahead of us between Locks 15 and 14 (they'd overnighted part way up). Everything was going well and we moved steadily up until we reached Dadford's Yard (between locks 12 and 11). A boat was reversing down from Lock 8 to the Yard so all boats ended up being stopped until he got clear. A good road thereafter up to Leys Junction at the top of "The 16". On advice from the CRT 'lockie' at Lock 1, we did not go along the Fens Branch although it remains on the list of 'Bits Still To Do'. Turned right, continuing to wind along the Stourbridge Canal, again weed slowing us down a little. Lunch on the move in the short period of respite from locking.

Arrived at Black Delph, the junction between the Stourbridge Canal and the Dudley No.1 Canal. Another flight (of 8) locks greeted us, but we climbed easily despite having to reset every lock. Clearing the Delph Flight, we continued the ¼-mile to the embankment above Merryhill shopping centre, where we moored for the night. Waved goodbye to Mary, David & family who were continuing to Netherton.

After a "cuppie", Pat walked up to Aldi for stores. Had a chat with Tim ("Sola Gratia") who was waiting for stock to be delivered.

4.79 miles 24 locks 7.31 hrs 3.94 lmph

Tuesday 25th August ~ Stourbridge

The forecast rain arrived just after midnight, along with a strong wind. Woke with the alarm-clock for our planned early start, but it was still tipping down. Cancelled the alarm and went back to bed!

Having 'cancelled' the day, we took our time getting up and had a quiet day, tucked in against the increasing wind.

Monday 24th August ~ Greensforge to Stourbridge

Lovely sunny morning, and it remained that way all day. No great rush this morning - on the go for 09:30, continuing south down Rocky and Gothersley Locks, the route taking us through very pleasant woodland. Noted a mink on the offside bank but didn't get a chance to take a photo. After a quiet morning, we arrived at Stourton Junction and turned left onto the Stourbridge Canal. One boat was already ascending the 1st lock, we would be 2nd. A further 2 were waiting by the time we got through. Ascended the four Stourton Locks (the start of the climb into Birmingham), and headed northwards. This section, although very clean, either has a lot of weed or is poorly dredged - our speed was considerably less than we would normally expect. At Wordsley Junction, we turned right onto the Town Arm and headed into Stourbridge. We continued to the end of the arm where there is a winding hole, turned and moored just outside the basin, by Joyner's Wharf. Moorings very busy.

Went out for a walk round town. Popped into Tesco, then the Admiral decided against the remainder of the walk and we headed back.

Ellie & Allen joined us during the evening - we had intended to go to a nearby pub, but found it was closed. We sat at our stern chatting and catching up over coffee. They took their leave around 21:30.

6.31 miles 6 locks 3.66 hrs 3.37 lmph

Sunday 23rd August ~ Wombourne to Greensforge (en route to Stourbridge)

Up and on the move early to book our place in the queue at the lock. Arrived at 08:20 to find we were 3rd (as expected), and that CRT and RCR were both on site. Work went smoothly and quickly  as they pumped the water out and filled the lower lock chamber. Having stabilised the boat and floated it out, the lock was clear by 10:30 and passage resumed.

The queue (to us) took an hour to clear, then we descended the staircase and continued our journey, intending to go as far as possible before stopping. Marsh, Swindon and Hinksford Locks come at about 20 minute intervals, by which time the rain had set in and we got soaked. Moored above Greensforge Lock for services then descended. The Admiral then suddenly decided we were to stop at the moorings below the lock at 14:30.

The rain died out mid-afternoon and the sun was back. Heard barn owls calling several times during late evening and overnight.

2.60 miles 6 locks 2.32 hrs 3.70 lmph

Saturday 22nd August ~ Dimmingsdale to Wombourne (en route to Stourbridge)

More rain overnight. Wind had decreased slightly by breakfast. Up and on the go as normal, saying goodbye to Dan and family who were also just leaving (going the other way). Moved round to the first locks of the day Dimmingsdale and Ebstree. The locks here are all fairly deep, and we had a 'bad road'. Continuing on, we descended Awbridge Lock, then on to the top of "The Bratch". These three locks, although they first appear to be a staircase, actually have 'pounds' between them. The pounds are set to the side like side-ponds and empty/fill between the bottom gates of one lock and the top gate of the next (only about 8ft). There is a lock-keeper there to help. There can sometimes be a queue since boats cannot pass, but once started are very quickly worked (filling the next as the first is emptied). Continued down through Bumblehole Lock and on as far as Wombourne where we stopped for own-brand stores at Sainsbury's at Bridge 43. Disappointed to find that, despite the size of the store, they didn't stock some of our needs. Lunch before moving on.

Whilst preparing lunch, a passer-by told us that a boat had sunk  in the locks 10 minutes further on. After lunch, took a walk forward to find an ABC Hireboat nosedown in the bottom of the bottom chamber of the staircase and stern hung on the cill above. Nobody hurt, but were rescued by local Fire Service. CRT in attendance awaiting a contractor to get the boat out. Around 14:00, a CRT representative advised all the waiting boaters that no contractor could be found to attend today, but should attend first thing tomorrow. CRT then left the scene. Walked back to "Paws" and settled in for the night . Visit with friends planned for tomorrow, rescheduled for Monday evening.

Rain showers throughout the afternoon, although the wind had moderated further.

2.90 miles 7 locks 2.22 hrs 4.46 lmph

Friday 21st August ~ Brewood Park to Dimmingsdale (en route to Stourbridge)

Very windy night! Sunny start to the day. On the move by 09:00, continuing towards "Cut End" (Autherley Junction). Steering a little difficult this morning with the strong wind. Arrived at Bridge 2, and moored up to go to Morrison's for major stores.

Whilst shopping, we noticed a high number of shoppers either without a facemask, or wearing it incorrectly. When challenged, the manager said they had no power to ask shoppers to comply, nor to refuse them entry. Apparently, even their "Duty of Care" to other shoppers on their premises doesn't cover this. It seems to me that a law which cannot be enforced isn't worth having, and a proportion of the public do not think it necessary to comply.

After lunch, let go again and completed the ½-hr run to "Cut End", descending the stop-lock. At Autherley Junction, turned right onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal, heading south. A short stretch to Aldersley Junction where the "Wolverhampton 21" climbs up into Birmingham, then onwards, out past Tettenhall, Compton and Wightwick, descending 3 locks. We had a slight delay at Wightwick to let "Mountbatten & Jellicoe" through together. From there, the canal gets a little more rural again, meandering along the course of the (canalised) River Stour. Arriving at Dimmingsdale, we moored at Bridge 53 for the night.

There had been 2 or 3 short showers of drizzle/rain during the afternoon, but nothing heavy. The wind was strong throughout, but it was quite pleasant when in shelter.

Just before dinner, noticed that "Ferrous" had moored ahead. Met Edwin's nephew, Dan, and his family, who have been "allowed out to play" with the boat for a trip without Edwin.

8.05 miles 4 locks 4.29 hrs 2.81 lmph

Thursday 20th August ~ Wheaton Aston to Brewood Park (en route to Stourbridge)

After a very wet and windy night, rose to find the rain gone, but the wind still blowing. Ready just after 09:00 to get on the way, moving up the 300yds to Bridge 19 where Turner's Garage has a pontoon to supply fuel to passing boats - cheapest we have found. From there, moved forward to the services point for loo, rubbish and water.

At 10:20, on the go proper, ascending Wheaton Aston Lock onto what is effectively the summit pound (if you exclude the stop-lock at Autherley). Continued on southeast, the cutting looking much prettier in the dappled sunlight rather than the pouring rain . Arriving in Brewood, we moored in the centre section between Bridges 14 and 13. Took a walk into the village (butcher and giftshop were required). Lunch on board.

After lunch, moved off again and headed out of town as far as Brewood Park SUCS mooring (south of Bridge 8), and moored up for the night. Wind still blowing quite strongly, but sunny for the rest of the day.

4.95 miles 1 locks 2.93 hrs 2.03 lmph

Wednesday 19th August ~ Knighton to Wheaton Aston (en route to Stourbridge)

Woke at 06:30, lovely sunny morning. Thought about getting up but didn't quite make it.

Up as usual about 08:00 to find it clouding over (as forecast). On the move quickly, but the rain started shortly afterwards (should have got up earlier ).

Continued eastsoutheast towards Shebdon, then along the embankment, looking out over the rolling farmland. Noted that the barley crops were very stunted from the drought conditions and battered by the more recent heavy rains. Onwards through Woodseaves cutting, again showing signs of recent landslip. Towpaths were waterlogged and all but impassable. Two slow sections (one either side of Shebdon, the other either side of Norbury Junction) due to online moorings. On again in the rain to Gnosall where we moored just after Bridge 35 for stores and lunch. Moorings very busy.

Continuing after lunch in the incessant rain, through more cuttings and along more embankments, brought us to Wheaton Aston. Moored just southeast of Bridge 20 as the rain finally decided to stop. Moorings again very busy.

12.08 miles 0 locks 5.15 hrs 2.35 lmph

Tuesday 18th August ~ Market Drayton to Knighton (en route to Stourbridge)

After a night of heavy showers, morning started out fair although cloudy. Took our time getting going. Walked round to John & Jan's new house for coffee - had a great morning chatting and catching up. Returned to "Paws" for lunch.

Moved off after lunch, round to the services berth. Rain started as we were watering. Continued on southeastwards towards the Tyrley Flight and ascended the five locks. All were in our favour so got a good run up. Showers, some heavy, continued through the afternoon as we continued through the cutting to Goldstone. There were several places with evidence of recent landslips. Coming back out of the cutting, the rain started to ease, and we moored just west of Bridge 47.

Turned into a lovely sunny evening.

6.75 miles 5 locks 3.74 hrs 3.14 lmph

Monday 17th August ~ Market Drayton (en route to Stourbridge)

Showers continued overnight, although easing by breakfast to a misty/drizzle. A couple of moderate showers during the morning.

Made arrangements for mail etc to be sent to Pendeford for Friday, but problems again getting prescriptions sorted. Our practice in Kirkcaldy cannot access the English NHS service; the chosen pharmacy cannot accept fax and will not accept email! Eventually arranged to get a neighbour to take an pre-stamped envelope to our practice; they will post the script to a friend in Stourbridge; we will collect from them as we pass next Sunday, and take it to the next pharmacy we can get to - 9 days to get meds, in these modern times? Ridiculous!

Did some baking as a therapy . Confirmed with drydock that they can still take us at the end of September. Caught up with the ironing. Quiet afternoon as the weather couldn't make up its mind .

Showers, drizzle and occasional sunshine during the afternoon.

Sunday 16th August ~ Market Drayton (en route to Stourton)

Some rain overnight, but no thunderstorms. Long lie this morning, then dropped in again to All Saints "Life Stream Faith". They had their online coffee morning again and we stayed for that, chatting with the congregation members and Jan & John - they are moving house to Market Drayton tomorrow but we thought we would not be seeing them. Lunch then planned to move on.

Over lunch, had a discussion about times and decided that the options of Worcester and Droitwich would have to be dropped as we didn't have sufficient leeway for returning to base - our route would be via Stourbridge and up the Delph. We also checked up on the Merchant Navy event in Birmingham on 3rd Sep, and found it was cancelled due to the Covid situation. Those decisions having been taken, we decided that we could actually afford to stay over till Tuesday lunchtime and see Jan & John after all. Shortly afterwards, our daughter rang to discuss her holiday with us in September, and she said she would like to adjust it to be 13-18 Sep instead. Agreed the car-shuffles for her one-way trip.

Despite the forecast for rain/drizzle throughout, we only had a couple of very light showers until evening. Slightly heavier showers by bedtime.

Saturday 15th August ~ Coxbank to Market Drayton (en route to Stourton)

Lovely quiet, and cool, night. On the move promptly. Continued southwards to the Adderley Flight (5 locks). We ended up behind another boat as we started but, from the middle, there were others coming down in between so we got an easy run to the top. Continued again along the embankment, looking out over the fields. Moored up in Market Drayton between Victoria and Lord's Bridges (65/64) just before lunch.

Routine chores in the afternoon, but decided against a walk into town (we had enough stores say "Catering"). Cloudy but warm throughout, with no rain until late evening.

4.35 miles 5 locks 2.50 hrs 3.74 lmph

Friday 14th August ~ Audlem to Coxbank (en route to Stourton)

A much cooler night (dropping to 16°C outside); slept much better. Woke with the first boat going past (07:30), feeling refreshed. On the move promptly to climb the remaining 12 locks of the Audlem Flight. Had a good run up, with most of the locks being either empty or with a boat just coming down. Didn't get as hot during the morning, but did the climb in record time of 2 hours. Clearing the top lock, we decided to call it a day. Assisted the young lady single-handing "Saul" behind us up the top two locks before pulling in and mooring. Purchased packaged cream teas and shortbread from the locker outside the house at the lock.

Lunch aboard, then a quiet afternoon in the shade. Watched squirrels playing in the trees, and a kingfisher  fishing from a branch opposite.

Beautiful evening, leading to a lovely cool night.

1.32 miles 12 locks 2.07 hrs 6.64 lmph

Thursday 13th August ~ Nantwich to Audlem (en route to Stourton)

Once the thunderstorms passed, we had a quiet night, leading to another bright sunny morning that heated up fast. In an attempt to get the best of the cool, we were up earlier than usual, and off the boat straight after breakfast to get the remainder of the shopping (it's a long haul up the hill from the centre of town to the embankment).

On return, we got on the move, hoping for better shade in Audlem. Ascended the two locks at Hack Green. We got an easy run through but there were 5 boats waiting as we left the top lock. Continued towards Audlem through the open countryside. A little cooler than yesterday, but still not pleasant without shade. Lunch on the move.

Ascended the bottom three locks of the Audlem flight, and pulled in for services. Pat nipped into the Mill shop  and obtained a copy of Dr Della Sadler-Moore's book "Care on the Cut" (we know Della, and that she had published her book). Moved across to the offside mooring, into the space left by a departing boat - good timing. Had a quick chat with John on "Phantom" (BCF member) as we moored up.

A few showers of light rain during the evening had cleared by bedtime.

5.68 miles 5 locks 3.46 hrs 3.08 lmph

Wednesday 12th August ~ Acton to Nantwich (local movements)

The forecast thunderstorms arrived with a "bang" around midnight - rumbled on for over an hour. On the move promptly again after breakfast, continuing north to the 1st winding hole, then returning south, past the basin, and mooring along the embankment on the south side of town. We were advised by one of the other boats moored that Hack Green Bottom Lock was closed this morning for remedial work (update to come later). Dropped in to the online coffee morning from All Saints at Doncaster, giving them a virtual tour of "Paws" (which seemed to go down well). Lunch aboard in the increasing heat.

Checked the CRT website and found that the repair to Hack Green Lock was complete, and open again. Pat decided that, with the heat, the shopping was posponed until tomorrow morning first thing. Had a quiet afternoon relaxing.

Thunderstorms back again this evening, starting just before bedtime and continuing till after midnight.

2.62 miles 0 locks 1.25 hrs 2.10 lmph

Tuesday 11th August ~ Nantwich to Acton (local movements)

Very heavy rain overnight, which had cleared by morning. Each time we were awake, we heard tawny owls calling. After a prompt breakfast, headed for the bus out to Sainsbury's for own-brand stores. Getting very hot again, with no breeze. Lunch aboard.

Sat in the baking heat awaiting the part's arrival. Finally arrived at 14:30 and the gas-man did the fitting, not without a few problems on the way (because it was a newer version of the same valve!). He finished just after 16:30, and we decided to head out to find a bit of shade for the evening. Let go just on 17:00, headed out of the basin, then north. Moored up at 17:30 just north of Bridge 93 - baked!

0.57 miles 0 locks 0.41 hrs 1.38 lmph

Monday 10th August ~ Calverley to Nantwich

Up early and on the move (to get to Nantwich early). Continued the 20 mins to the next winding hole (above Bunbury Staircase) then returned to the services quay. Once done, we returned past Barbridge Junction and continued south for Nantwich. Phoned ahead to Nantwich Canal Centre concerning the gas problem, and they said to come straight into the basin. Noted two kingfishers on the way down. The early cloud had again cleared and the cool started to disappear. Moored up in the basin as instructed and checked - someone would come and look after lunch.

We had lunch at the Waterside Café then waited for the gas engineer. Isolated heavy downpour over lunch.

Gas engineer came and confirmed my thoughts - failure of the regulator. They didn't have one (no surprise)! Ordered for "next-day" delivery. Pronounced that it was unsafe for use, so sandwiches or a delivered take-away for dinner (good job we went out for lunch!).

Remained hot for remainder of afternoon. Rain forecast for most of tomorrow.

5.76 miles 0 locks 2.37 hrs 2.43 lmph

Sunday 9th August ~ Barbridge to Calverley (en route to Nantwich)

Took our time getting up today. It had been a much cooler night and we felt better refreshed. Pottered around for the morning then dropped in on the service from Doncaster. They followed this with virtual coffee after the service on Zoom. John & Jan were also online so we got to catch up with them. Once finished, lunch before we moved off.

Continued west the ½-hour to Barbridge Junction, then turned right in the direction of Chester. This part of the (then) Chester Canal was built to a wider dimension than the "narrow" 7ft. Continued another hour to Calverley, mooring on the stretch after the services. The cooler start to the day turned hot again.

3.03 miles 0 locks 1.28 hrs 2.36 lmph

Saturday 8th August ~ Middlewich to Barbridge (en route to Nantwich)

A very hot, sticky and noisy night! Morning brought a hazy sun, but slightly cooler than yesterday. Let go early and dropped down King's Lock to Middlewich Junction, turning left onto the shortest canal of the system (the Wardle Canal is only 154ft (47m) long and was built by the Trent & Mersey company to join its canal to the (then) Chester Canal; it has one lock). Ascended Wardle Lock and continued onto the Chester Canal (now the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union). Continued generally southwest through farmland, and ascending Stanthorne Lock. Just past Bridge 14, we had a "fast" boat coming up astern and a "slow" boat ahead so we opted out for a lunch break. By this time, the cloud had cleared considerably and it was getting hot again.

After lunch, we decided to continue for a while, catching a glimpse of our first kingfisher of the year. We ascending Minshull Lock without problem, but found a queue at Cholmondston Lock (we were 5th). An hour later, we finally ascended, then pulled in for the night before Bridge 4. A hot afternoon, but with a slight breeze.

8.81 miles 5 locks 4.60 hrs 3.00 lmph

Friday 7th August ~ Wheelock to Middlewich

Cloudless blue sky this morning, and already getting hot. Moved round to the services berth for the usual items, then set off for the last section of the descent into Middlewich. Three spaced out locks in the Booth Lane Flight, then Boggs Lock at the south end of the town. Everything against us again today. The trip winds along the contour of the hillside, passing through farmland (including fields of corn (cobs)) and the ever-sprawling new housing of Wheelock and Sandbach. Moored on the stretch before King's Lock, and had lunch.

Took a walk into town for stores. Didn't do much else due to the heat.

5.74 miles 4 locks 3.13 hrs 3.11 lmph

Thursday 6th August ~ Hassall Green to Wheelock (en route to Middlewich)

Another damp morning to start, but today it cleared quickly to a hot sunny day. Let go promptly, headed down the hill to Wheelock. An early boat had gone down so we ended up with a very bad road. Descended the two locks at Hassall Green, followed by the six in the vicinity of Malkin's Bank, and the two at Wheelock. We were followed by "Tempranillo", assisting each other where possible. Moored on the rings to the east of Wheelock just before lunch. Routine chores. A bit of cloud built giving a small amount of shade.

1.79 miles 10 locks 2.36 hrs 4.99 lmph

Wednesday 5th August ~ Kidsgrove to Hassall Green (en route to Middlewich)

After a wet and windy night, we rose to a damp and windy morning. After breakfast, we walked up into Butt Lane to the convenience store for the parcel and necessary stores, then let go for the descent down "Heartbreak Hill". Down through the last 3 of the Red Bull flight, we realised there was a convoy headed down. A queue of 4 greeted us at the top of the Church Locks (2 locks) and we worked down assisting the boat in front, and being assisted by the boat behind. This continued for the rest of the day - down through Halls Lock, the Lawton Treble, Lock 54, Thurlwood, and the Pierpoint 2. The scenery is much changed from the south side of Harecastle, now with rolling farmland.

Arriving at the top of the Hassall Green Flight, we moored for the day and said goodbye to the hire boat team behind us. Lunch, then a quiet afternoon. The dampness threatened with a few spots of rain, but it rapidly cleared after lunch to a warm sunny afternoon.

4.03 miles 13 locks 4.22 hrs 4.04 lmph

Tuesday 4th August ~ Etruria to Kidsgrove (Red Bull) (en route to Middlewich)

A damp and drizzly morning greeted us today. Up and on the move quickly, headed for the tunnel. Just got moving when I noticed a sign advertising gas. Pulled in just at the road bridge and rang the bell at the back gate of Capital Gas Centre Ltd - they apparently supply to both trade and public and I got a replacement bottle at the cheapest price I've found anywhere since we got "Paws". Stocked up again, we continued on towards the tunnel. I always find this stretch depressing, with the derelict buildings of the Industrial Age, some which were re-purposed, then some of those now derelict again. One bright point in the 'wasteland' is Westport Lake, with its wildlife visitor centre and good 48-hour moorings. Arriving at the Harecastle Tunnel southern portal, we were checked in for our 11:00 passage. The drizzle had increased over the morning and it was not particularly nice 'boating weather'.

The southbound convoy was through quickly and all the boats for the northbound were ready, so we were allowed through at 10:45. Steady run through, exiting to more drizzle. Descended the first three locks of the Red Bull Flight, and pulled over for services (loo, water, and rubbish) - CRT need to have a word with their collection service as all the bins were overflowing. There was a space just above the next lock so, when finished, just moved forward and moored for the day. Lunch, then had a quiet afternoon waiting for a parcel to be delivered to a local shop. The drizzle died out, but the wind increased during the afternoon.

The parcel was finally delivered at 19:30, so it can wait till tomorrow.

6.41 miles 3 locks 3.37 hrs 2.80 lmph

Monday 3rd August ~ Etruria (en route to Middlewich)

Sunny start, but quickly clouded over, although remaining a pleasant day. Having been told that we can't get passage until Tuesday, we decided to stay put today and move direct to the tunnel tomorrow. Phoned the Hospital and a very helpful gentleman took the details, sympathised, and said he would investigate - we should ignore the letter. The original letter from Stafford County still has not reached our surgery (will email our copy).

Remainder of day spent in general routines/cleaning. Phoned Black Prince at Festival Park to see if they had gas, but none available. A slight shower of rain at lunchtime, but the sun came back out again afterwards.

Sunday 2nd August ~ Barlaston to Etruria (en route to Middlewich)

Took our time getting going this morning. Put in our booking request for a passage through Harecastle Tunnel - let's see what they can give us. Dropped in to Live Stream Faith from Doncaster. On the move after the service, with a pre-prepared lunch to eat along the pound above Trentham Lock. Didn't quite work that way. Arrived at Trentham to find 7 boats waiting! Had our lunch while we waited!

After an hour waiting while the boats ahead ascended, we got our turn. Lovely trip along the pound to Stoke, birds singing. Arrived at the Stoke flight fourth in the queue. Long slow climb up the five locks, then stopped for the night, somewhat later than expected, just above Junction.

Skype call with daughter to see their two new guinea pigs - absolutely gorgeous. Received an email from CRT giving us our choices of passage for the tunnel, then later on confirmation of passage at 11:00 on Tuesday.

Lovely sunny day throughout, but not overly hot for working the locks. Threatened rain once, but it never came to anything.

5.58 miles 6 locks 4.44 hrs 2.61 lmph

Saturday 1st August ~ Stone to Barlaston (en route to Middlewich)

Nice sunny morning for the new month. Up earlier than normal, but ended up not getting on the move as quickly as we would have liked considering the weather forecast. Moved forward to Star Lock behind a hire boat. Helped them up while one of their team went forward to prep the next lock. Reset Star and ascended. Did the same at Yard Lock, where they pulled in at the end of their holiday. We continued on to the services below Newcastle Road Lock - loo, water and rubbish. While we were there, we got a phonecall from our daughter to tell us we had received a letter from Royal Stoke University Hospital asking for proof of entitlement to NHS benefits (this despite Stafford County having been given the details).

After completing services, we started up the remainder of the Stone Flight (2 more) and the Meaford Flight (4 locks). A good road this time, with all locks set for us, and most had boats just leaving, giving a clear run in. The canal continues to parallel the railway but the main road (A34/51) diverges at the bottom of the Meaford Flight. We caught up with a couple who had walked past us as we were working the locks - Mattie & Nettie - and started chatting as we continued along towards Barlaston. Reaching the "Plume of Feathers" pub, we invited them aboard at the bridge'ole as they were very interested in the 'boating life'. Pat did a tour while I took "Paws" ahead to a mooring. Look forward to seeing them out on the Cut at some point in the future. Finished mooring for the day and had a belated lunch.

Quiet remainder to the afternoon. The later-than-planned start didn't cause any problems - the forecast rain never materialised .

3.77 miles 8 locks 3.21 hrs 3.67 lmph

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