Summer Cruise#2-Day25-27


Friday & Saturday in Chester – cleaning ship and shopping in Tesco’s & Waitrose. Plus a chance to wander round the city walls and explore. Toby discovered there are loads of squirrels in the parks which kept him amused. We went and saw where the canal went off to Ellesmere Port as well as the junction down to the Dee. We did some research on what pubs to go to when David gets here on Saturday. Hmm, made one mistake – Saturday was race day in Chester – thousands of race goers descended on the city – all glammed (and beered) up!

The cathedral was playing host to an exhibition of modern sculpture – we were a bit miffed as dogs weren’t allowed (why? most other churches & cathedrals do??). Plus the supposed free entry still meant you had to buy a guide book otherwise you had no idea what the pieces were, still here are some of them.

What I would like is the the house & garden to go with these “ornaments”

Damien Hirst, obviously


A Hepworth:

Toby gets some water (not beer!)

We were recommended the Brewery Tap – a newish pub in the oldest medieval hall in the city! Great beers (some from their brewery – Spitting Feathers) and superb food – we spied two guys having their giant pies!  We came back here on Saturday night, fighting our way thru the race goers, for some beer and food with David.

Menu looked good – we tried the pie, the risotto & the sausages!

Chester remains a gorgeous city to visit, with it’s tired timbered shopping areas

They even had falconry displays in the grounds

Sunday saw us leaving pdq, as a boat was heading our way & it seemed good to share locks. We teamed up with Bright Bryazel (a Sea Otter boat) for the 5 locks

Crew numbers have been swelled by 100% and indeed it is swell to have Mr David Thomas on board

We chugged on thru the same route as Thursday – stopping this time beyond Wharton’s Lock, as we’d had enough and there were storms forecast!

Moored up tidy like! Cheers David! Home made Paella tonight with a robust Rioja I think!


Summer Cruise#2-Day 24-CHESTER!


The Met Office screwed up – their 5 day forecasting is usually so good, we always check it first thing and plan our day accordingly. So we set off soon after 0900 o’clock, a.m and thought we’d be home and dry by 2 but lo, it drizzled and drizzled and then it poured – just when we’d got to the 5 awesome if not gruesome locks. Normally, we don’t do rain but I blame David . . . got to get to Chester! Actually we have several days in hand . . . got to clean ship and re-vittel . . . I think I saw a Waitrose (darling) back a bit. We have a shopping list for the mundane things (Tesco’s) but the special things like wind-dried water, architectural chips and whole sturgeon (a nod to Posh Nosh there – watch if you have time or bookmark. Must get a Aga for the boat)

Let’s look at the day as it unfolded. Are you sitting comfortably children?

We’ll start with Wednesday . . . Nantwich to Bate’s Mill Bridge, let’s get water . .

“Please move on after use . . “

Bit of traffic congestion at Barbridge junction – the arm that goes off to join the Trent & Mersey at Middlewich

Viv drives the boat into the Bunbury staircase lock – one boat coming up, so we move over . .

A few more locks to do and then it showered, heavily!!

But the clouds soon rolled by and we were painting the sky with sunshine . .

Sing along with Uncle Jack, children . . .

We moored with a lovely view of Beeston castle, no TV, no signal but a view!

Thursday – moved off to miss the rain . . . oh no we didn’t . .

Five big and heavy locks going down into Chester – sharing gleefully with “No Regrets” (I hope they didn’t) and more rain!! Viv said she didn’t like these locks – 41 turns to wind em up!!

It rained so hard the locks overflowed and the landing stages were awash

But on our final few locks, the sun came back out . . (Chemistry Lock)

Viv & Toby – drying out

Final straight into Chester

Not a very salubrious mooring – very noisy with lots of footfall but it’ll do. Very close to Tesco’s and all the main streets


Sorry, poor signal, no blog! Nice n quiet though!


Well, enough signal for some text. The English Summer now moves into its more usual state, rain and showers!

We moved off from Nantwich after the early rain had stopped. Around 10 ish. Pootled on all of 500 yds to get some water from a very reluctant tap, must have taken 30 minutes but then we was a tad low and 500 litres does take a while. Meanwhile we watched hordes of people heading for the Nantwich show. You somehow felt that if they weren’t wearing green wellies they wouldn’t get in! I wandered off to buy a new mooring chain (cos, ‘er indoors had left the last one at that Bunker site, easily done I said). Water intake done we pootled on rather slowly behind three boats, past moored boats, past the junction to the Golly (Llangollen canal) and the other junction (to the Trent & Mersey), thru the Bunbury staircase locks and various other locks, past gorgeoous countryside and rolling hills until we called it a day at  Bate’s Mill Bridge (109). We make our thrust or rather wander, into Chester tomorrow. I say, this Cotswold gin is rather good.

Summer Cruise#2-Day21/22



Audlem’s very pretty and very small. We stayed two days. Walked to Overwater marina with a dog, found out they wanted £1400 for a 6 month over winter mooring, hmm. Had a pint in various pubs; they were all OK but nothing special. On day 2 Viv bimbled around the town and I retouched the blacking, starboard side. We met up again with Midnight Trace, 2 JJs and Suzie Q – you meet some odd characters (Steve included!). We also met a nice couple on Aja, who recommended the Chopstix Chinese restaurant in Nantwich. We shared a table for a pint outside the Shroppie Fly. It was leading up to the weekend for the historic boat  rally and many such boats had turned up early (and hogging the 48 hr VM!) There was only room for one boat width in the centre of town. We were glad to move on before it got worse. We’re an odd couple, we don’t like crowds which includes rallies, events etc. Tuesday saw my Dad’s birthday and our 36th wedding anniversary. We chugged on fairly early, thru the last 4 Audlem locks and onto the Hack Lane, where Steve wanted to visit the Secret Nuclear Bunker! After that we chugged on to Nantwich – they have a mega show (lots of cheese centred exhibits & events), so it got very busy.  We planned a tour of the town, visit a few pubs and then order that take away as we don’t want to leave the Boggle on the boat. He got a swim in the Weaver as a reward but it did then mean dragging a soggy dog into various pubs, always a good test!

Here’s Steve at Overwater marina

Here’s a boat we thought about buying but at £90,000 didn’t. It is a Dave Thomas design and quite a unique boat – up for sale soon!

Very tricky boating thru the wharf area – just one boat width!

A look back at the wharf

And that boat – the one that got away!

Thru the last of the four locks, all rather easily and off . . .


An hour later . . . tourist attraction beckons . . not quite so secret now!

(Met another boater here, bright green boat with a sat dome, he said he follows our blog, hurrah! Do get in touch, love to hear from you, and any others too : ) 

Being of a certain age – we lived thru the nearly constant worry of “when the bomb drops”. I guess folk today are free of any concept of war – cold, or otherwise. It was good to look round this place but it was a bit chilling

Lots of bombs!

28 rooms on different levels, all motion activated and really well  stuffed with kit! Most of it whirring eerily into life on approaching.

I liked this room as you get to press the “red button” and put the room on high alert – all the boards change and recorded voices highlight the action taken.

A reconstruction of the Russian end of things . . .

It was a fascinating film – 45 mins of hell really – lots of actors playing firemen, dying – all in B&W and rather horrifying.

Even more chilling was this room, where they had obtained all the old kit from the Rugby radio station – the very machine that Thatcher sent the message to Conqueror to sink the Belgrano! Not nice but it did mean that not a single Argentinian warship left its port afterwards.

I felt it could have been more interactive and lacked the personal touch, there was no one to talk to or answer questions. And, of course, lots more buttons to press!

A spot of lunch and then chug on! Thru the delightful Hack Green locks . . .

 And round into Nantwich – very, very busy but we found a spot and off to find some beer! (White Horse)

And more beer . . . (The Crown Hotel, very ancient!)

And more beer – at Beer Dock!

We had (halves) of No2 and No5

Well, Oim very happy r u Viv?? We took home six bottles to have with the Chinese, tastier and cheaper (just) than wine.

We placed our order at ChopStix, walked back to the boat and then Steve got on his bike to pick up the take away! Phew! Long day but a happy ending (?).

The aqueduct – going over this tomorrow.  Meanwhile, more beer anyone??


Summer Cruise#2 – Day 20 Audlem


Well stab me vitals, can it really be nearly 3 weeks away? It feels like 3 years. The Shroppie is very busy. An endless stream of boats! At 0805 this morning two heritage boats went by – the powered one towing t’other. Hmm, I bet we catch with those later – and we did! Taking these boats down narrow locks means 4x the time as the butty boat has to be pulled in and out of locks on its long bit of string.

Talking of etiquette – flying a white ensign – only for HM warships and members of the elite Royal Yacht Squadron but inland, it seems you can do what you like!

Viv bought a headscarf from Mudskipper – who make such things and repair canopies – we kept their card, as our cratch cover is wearing.

A rare sight – a turnover bridge (67) designed so the horse needn’t be untied, it can walk under the bridge on the right, up and over and down on the left!

These are planks to shut off the canal, should there be a breach or a need to drain it.

Five locks at Adderley (31 ft down) then we shift over into Cheshire.

Very bucolic – is that the right word? Nice wide canals and pleasant pastures.

Round the corner and it’s the first of the 15 Audlem locks. You can just see the back end of the heritage butty boat.

We got drenched in a big downpour, halfway down! But then the sun came back out once we’d moored up at the visitor moorings (inbetween locks 11 & 12).

Boats were still zooming past in both directions but we are staying put for a day or two.  Chance to explore Audlem. 103 miles and 136 locks done already!.


Summer Cruise#2-Day18/19


Summer seems to have gone by as the forecast is for 40 mph winds and rain for days . . . So we decided to press on and away by 0830. Hoping to make Market Drayton before the rain set in. A blustery day and as luck woould have it, the boat moored in front of us, set off minutes before we did and then an old boat steamed up behind us. No waurez. We saw the hill The Wrekin in the distance and Viv informs me this is partly volcanic (ah, the joys of having a geophysicist on board). Lots more moored boats – I thought CRT was promising to move all these into marinas? But then charging em over a grand a year for these inline moorings must bring in a pretty penny. After a while we entered Woodseaves cutting.  This could have been used for Jurassic Park or one of the Rings films . . .deep, dark, overgrown and not much room to pass boats – very creepy! Soon we came to Tyrley and 5 locks. Leaky and with amazingly ferocious by-washes – the overflow bit that spurts out from after the lock, trying malevolently to pin you against the rocks! And round the corner, Market Drayton. Found a good spot before bridge 62, plus rings. Good. Doors to automatic. Crew to landing stations. Tie up. Finished with engines. Lunch!

I zoomed off on the ship’s landing craft (the folding bike) to post me Dad’s birthday card – for yes, the 25th is imminent! My Dad’s umpteenth birthday and our 36th wedding anniversary too!

We then bimbled into town, dog and bag-on-wheels in tow. Found Joules brewery & tap, nice. Shopped in Asda (rubbish – such a wee shop). Steve then cycled on to Morrison’s on his bike for essential vittels (i.e. Gin x 2, port, cheese etc).

Trying now to soure some grub for the dog! Haven’t run out yet but we will soon.

The Wrekin, in the distance, before the clouds engulfed it
Another snail inspired name
Deep Cuttings – Woodseaves
More tall arches but barely visible – is that a Hobbit up there?
A very we boat indeed
Tyrley Locks – Viv does the winding
Very pretty and probably quite nice on a sunny day!
Top lock – very leaky
An unusual welcome to Market Drayton

 We were moored almost on top of an aqueduct – over a road and the river Tern – so Toby got his swim, at last.

And Steven got his gin – one Morrison’s own (£15) and one Cotswold Gin (er, for a lot more).We stayed another day. Steve went off again on the “shuttle”, to Morrison’s, again, this time to buy some dog food. Yes, time’s hard. They stock Forthglade but in meal form (viz. duck plus veg rather than pure duck!) Toby gulped it all down anyway so that was good. We then strolled the mile or so down the back road into the town to try out the Joules Brewery Tap – a very nicely refurbished pub! And tonight was grill night – one ribeye steak and one pork steak – remarkable food and not too bad beer either!

Last pic shows the aqueduct – our boat was sitting on top of this!




Summer Cruise#2-Day 17

Gnosall to somewhere quiet – Flat Back bridge or No 47 seemed a good spot and it had rings too. And a bit like Hitchcock’s Birds, once we’d arrived several other boats arrived too, including a boat called “The Name’s Bond”. Owned and skippered by the delighful and very chatty, Neville Bond. And being a Welshman he had a rather odd thing on his bow (see pic later).  It was a very busy canal, with dredging boats and all manner of boats to’ing and fro’ing. Sometimes very straight and quite crowded with moored boats.


Neville’s boat


With his bovine figurehead


Deep cuttings means high and even double arches


Long straight Telford canal


At Knighton, Cadbury’s old yard – they now make Bird’s custard



 A quiet spot but it had its downside – a ledge – which kept bumping, freaking out the dog. Oh, such a brave bold doggie! Poor Toby. He went for a walk and refused to get back on!! Time to watch some Hyperdrive, the bed.







Summer Cruise#2-Day16


Rain was threatened but in the end we saw none. Off by 0920 and our chance to study this lovely canal – the Shroppie. Under the M54 the over the A5 (Watling St)

A fairly straight canal with lots of either embankments or cuttings

Steve tries to sit on top of the boat to steer (and pose)

Only one lock for days at Wheaton Aston, where we stopped for water and fuel at the marvellous Turner’s garage – thanks to Hodmadod for the recommendation and at 56.9 p/litre a very good price. Why do we pay 76 in Yelvertoft (et al)???

Unfortunately, our Boggle jumped off the boat and dropped his ball in the canal!

We couldn’t get to it as we were refuelling!! But afterwards we tracked it down and the ball retrieval team deployed the special kit reserved for this operation.

We often take piccies of wildlife and here were two llamas!

Only one tunnel on the whole canal and ere tis, Cowley Tunnel, 81 yds

We got to another weird-to-pronounce town, Gnosall (Nossal) and walked the mile into town to find the much acclaimed, nay, pub of the year for Staffordshire, the George & Dragon. It was an off-licence for 20 odd years run by George & Lynn, they converted it to a pub a few years ago – a lovely, homely place with lots of real ale, good ciders and a good price (£2.90 a pint for beer!), here’s Lyn:

Interesting furniture

And even more interesting, the beers . . .

Steve tried a few then went on to the ciders . . . .


Summer Cruise#2-Day15


Met a nice family on a hire boat from Mercia, they were off thru Wolverhampton and then on to Brum! They left their mooring at 0647! We were still horizontal!

A quiet day – no more locks – aiming for Brewood (pron. Brood) – meeting up with a colleague of Viv’s from her work days (remember them??)

A lot of landowners required slightly more elaborate bridge work, if the wretched canal were to go thru their land! (Chillington)

Just 3 odd hours and we’re here. Brewood.

Lovely village – the railway never came this way and so the village retains it’s old world characteristics. Marvellous butchers (Maidens) and this odd building (Speedwell Castle – named after the horse the won!)


Summer Cruise#2-Day 14


Off at 0840. Two hours to Wolverhampton – longer if you have to dive down the weed hatch every 10 minutes! Still very weedy and full of plastic too. Then it’s the 21 locks – most set against us but we do four or five each and swap over.  The day got hotter and hotter. Poor Toby. Lunch on the go (Steve admits to squirrelling off to Macdonalds for a cheese quarter pounder meal!! At lock 15). Turn right then turn left and we’re on the Shroppie! Hurrah. Back to a more rural setting.

Yes, very weedy – shoals of fish though!

Down the hatch – to be renamed the Plastic hatch – nice and clear, though.


Ah yes, approaching the industrial bit

The other end of the Wyrley & Essington Canal (or Curly Wurly as it’s known)


It says Wolverhampton Tunnel . . . . . .And here it is . . .

And round the corner . . . the start of the 21 locks!!

Viv starts . . .

The incinerator

Not far to go now . . .

Nearing the end – two knackered old guys here . . . .

Viv does the very last lock, No 21.

For a bit of fun we recorded some of the flight and used a trial bit of software to speed it all up, here it is – just for a laugh!

And here’s Steve asking that all important question, Are we there yet?

No, but only a mile or so to go (now on the Staffs & Worcs.)

Left turn and onto the Shroppie, after a very silly lock (6 inches indeed!)

Here’s the lock . .

We went on to Bridge No 4 and moored at the VM. Seven and a half hours – more than enough for us. Some gentler days ahead methinks.