An earlyish start – away at 0845. Aiming to do the five hour chug to Great Haywood, pick up water and then moor just beyond the lock at Shugborough. Hmm, very busy today. Well it is Sunday and it is Summer and it is actually very sunny, so they’re all out out. Luckily coming up the cut and not down it with us. Some locks had seven boats waiting. We had to do doubling up manoeuvres at the water point. And all along the Shugborough straight were dozens of boats. I mean it wasn’t like this a few weeks ago, no, sorry, it was two months ago when we came along. It’s the school holidays now. Still it was so sunny, I switched off the 230volt charger and let the solar panels do their job. Brilliant. Moored up before three and time for the local delicacy of those oatcakes with the full monty inside: eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding (the smoked ham and leek one), tomatoes and cheese! Viv took the dog off to the Trent, never far away, for a well deserved swim. Quite a scorcher today.
Today’s forecast was set for a scorcher – so defo stopo, ya? Sorry the sun’s getting to me already.
We’d heard it were market day in t’town. So a few chores – like giving me stack a second coat of paint then off to town, via the Trent to give the dog a swim.
The Trent is just a trickle here but enough for a Toby swim – nice action shot from Viv.
And even a short video of the squirmy dog
A very busy market – mainly food on sale and mainly local too
A whole stall dedicated to Black Pudding!
I bought a jar of gherkins, pickled eggs (Balti flavour!), black pudding with smoked bacon & leek – I found out from the stall holder that all black pudding is already cooked – new one on me – it’s nicer fried but can be eaten as it comes!
And the local speciality are oatcakes – there’s a restaurant in town that does em and everywhere there’s stalls selling them stuffed hot with whatever you want!
Plan is to leave this lovely place tomorrow and head for Great Haywood or beyond. Slowly making our way back to the marina. We have a funeral to attend back in Bristol – our dear 94 year old neighbour Ron. Here’s a photo from earlier days:
With the forecast set fair and the promise of lots of sun, we move the boat all of 100 yds, so the solar panels can reap the benefit. A quiet day with a few boat chores to do . . . add yet more silicone grease to the stern gland(it was dripping whilst stationary), fix the wooden seat (with the help of the neighbouring boat Frodo’s Dream), paint the chimney surround, regrout a bit of bathroom tile & clean the floor. Viv went off to walk the dog and found an easy route down to the river Trent. So,Toby had a swim. Just deciding when to leave . . it s a nice spot here.
Hmm, taking a dim view of the met Office 5-day forecast. Normally so very accurate but today it let us down. NO mention of rain but from 11 it rained all day . . . only easing off at 3 where we ventured out with the dog. Just for sommit to do, I noted all the boats what went past – nearly 20 of em from 10 to 2!
Brindley, Linnet, Peridot, Many Meetings, Ellesmere Navigator, Roheryn, Antelope, LeoII, Warrior, The Angel’s Share, Northern Lights, Harlequin, Victoria, Frances, Ava, Bethany Bear, Ariadne, Pendlebury, Savannah and Sir Thomas Brocklebank (cafe boat!).
Once the rain had stopped, we took the Boggle off for a walk, down the towpath to Aston Marina just 1.4 miles away . . . some nice houses on the way
Aston Marina was very nice and is very popular – it has a one way system with an entry and exit. It also has a farm shop with a butchers plus a bistro. We spoke to one of the moorers who’d been there for two years and she was most delighted with the place . . . maybe a future possibility? It rained here too. So we stopped and waited . . .
Two houses – next door to each other but very different
This is the view from the bridge just over the bottom lock
Off on our pub crawl – to find the Lymestone Brewery’s tap, the Borehole
Past the old Joules brewery
And half an hour later, at the Mount Industrial estate is the wee pub
It was a smashing little place , a community pub. it was quiz night and was heaving, so we had a pint and left them to it. Maybe come back over the weekend – here’s the list of beers and their bar.
They also had Waen brewery’s Lemon Drizzle.
And back via the Royal Exchange, the Titanic brewery pub for a “Plummage” – a mix of Steerage & Plum Porter. Yum.
Yes, we’re back in Stone for a few days.
One of those, shall we, shan’t we, days? With all the moored boats here we thought we’d better get going. And so at around 8:30 we pushed off for Stone. Only a few miles but eight locks. Bright n breezy and fairly busy too with a couple of boats in front of us. Travelled through some lovely rural countryside – here’s bridge 100, a turnover bridge, meaning the ‘Orse could pass up, over and around without being unharnessed from the tow rope.
The Meaford locks (see http://vivatek.co.uk/2016/06/page/2 – Day 10 and on) were lovely, gentle and well cared for. Getting into Stone was a bit breezy and there were 4 boats all vying for the water point & services. One boat (very much in our way) took our suggestion (eventually) to get water at the bottom lock. Letting us get into the spot for the boatyard/chandlers where we summoned Brian to do a pump out! (£15) Several minutes later a vintage tanker/wagon crept around and the job (or jobbies) was done. We finally moored at almost the identical spot to Day 10 just beyond the 5-day mooring spot.
A quick run round the shops (picking up some post at the P.O – yes, poste restante really works) and then it started to rain, so we had to pop into the Swan! A pint of Citra and Green Tea IPA. Yum. Back for a mushroom & chicken risotto for tea.
Our overly generous data allowance (we went for the biggest and got 32 GB for £28/month – on a rolling one month contract), meant we were awash with GB and so watched a fillum (Waking Ned – great stuff!). Seems odd to think that this fillum was coming to us over the mobile phone waves . . .
A grey and slightly damp start. We cast off at 0900 and formed a small convoy of boats heading south. Round past Longport & Middleport (still making pottery), past signs to Spode and on to Etruria. Here the canal branches off to the Caldon canal but we head down and down past grimy Stoke. Not exactly welcoming boaters. Under the huge incinerator. Past ex coal mines and Stoke City football ground. Through some hard and deep locks. And then out into the country. Through Trentham lock and round to Barlaston. 8 miles, 6 locks in around four hours. Arriving just in time for luncheon at the Plume of Feathers – the recently refurbished pub owned by Neil Morrisey. Not too cheap (coronation chicken sandwich with salad and chips = £7) but the beer is varied and very good – Plum Porter on offer today with Jaipur coming on soon (all at £3.30). Time for a snooze.
Meanwhile, here’s the man himself, James Brindley.
Chugging past Dolphin marina . . . an odd sign . . .
And under the giant incinerator
Just past the Wedgwood factory, a heron poses for the camera
And into the pub – lots of pub signs & Morrissey memorabilia everywhere
I don’t know what it is about us. We moor up, just a couple of boats and then a bit like the film The Birds, you turn around and there’s thirteen of the blighters! With the prospect of a dozen locks and the Hairy Castle tunnel, oh yes for it is that near 3,000 yard monster today, we were up early and off by 0740. A record for us. But the sun was out and it was lovely, serene and really enjoyable. Some of the locks were in our favour and we were at the tunnel by 1110 and straight in, the last one. All moored up by 1230. Brilliant. And beside a giant lake for Toby. We even shut up shop and took luncheon in the visitors centre:Westport Lake Visitors Centre. We had a pot of tea for two, real trad, with a spare pot of hot water plus homemade oat pancakes stuffed with cheese & bacon.
Here’s the inside o Lock No 47
Usually duplicated but this other one is now derelict – makes a good subject for a photo
An unusual view – a happy Steve!
More arty shots from Viv
And a view of Mow Cop in the distance
And that happy skipper (tummy clenched in!)
Locks nearly all done – notice we’re back to the filthy ochre water now and the bridge ahead is in fact an aqueduct, carrying the start of the Macclesfield canal.
Lots of boaters – esp. the hiring sort, whizz round doing a “ring”. The Cheshire Ring is quite famous, in fact we’ve done the left-hand bit. This sign gives you some directions and the miles too.
And thru the tunnel. Nice being last one in as there’s no b*gger steaming up behind you. A good photo, with the newly polished side of the boat on view plus a jolly relieved Toby, thank God that’s over he’s saying. Note to boaters – there’s a good water point here.
Our final (for today) mooring point at 1230. Again, we were just 2 boats and then the flock descended and there were nine. Then a stream of dozens as they shot off to or from the tunnel.
An example of Steven not taking nice photos! Here he is in Gumby mode! Nice cafe & view of the lake.