This is Steve & Viv Carter's log of the trips and travails on the narrowboat Adagio – liveaboards from October 2015. Then back to the shore, in Trefin, Wales from November 2019. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (Mark Twain)” email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Davies wanted to be the first in the door of Wedges (the marvellous bakery/butchers etc), so he chugged past us at around 0740! He said they’ll wait for us! Worth a shop – sausage rolls, pies, cream cakes, bread, black pudding!! Another hour chugging along in the spotting rain to the Lapworth locks – yes, big flight today 19 locks and we had a queue of 4 ahead of us already!!
First two lift bridges – with Two’s Company taking the lead role today, Lucia gets to do the bridges!
And again! Thanks!
Some of the waiting hire boats decided to stop together after a few locks and let us go by – strange but very charming of them.
Viv & I take it in turns to do a few locks and then drive . . . it proved to be of a frustrating day as a few hire boaters seemed a little clueless but never mind we got to where we wanted to go in the hours CanalPlan said we would. And a wonderful Volly called Roger helped us down the wholes main flight! I met him before a month ago when we came up this way – he has a smart Audi and is into cars – nice chap – thanks!
Nearing the end
Stephen stops to take on water but still finds time to help us into the penultimate lock, cheers mate!
We even get help from a little boy, in awe of the big boats despite clutching a cute toy of Darth Vader!
The Force was definitely strong with that one!
And thru our 19th lock – Roger still helping out – what a star!!
We finished the day just before bridge 63 and the pub, Tom O’ the Wood. Toby is always happy when the boat stops – we are too I think. A long day but a visit to said pub and a a meal as we wait for Stephen & Lucia’s kids to arrive from Sicily (Gemma & Antonia).
We had some great beers and splendid food at the Tom O’the Wood (sadly no pies and only 1 salmon – must adjust my TripAdvisor review!;-) ) but a marvellous jambalaya, fish n chips and two harissa baked fish with cumin samphire and taboulleh! Many thanks to them for this!!
Mr Davies has itchy feet – he always has to be moving! And so he was off at 0830, waiting for us at the water point at Holliday Wharf. Then the lock free chug down the canal to the King’s Norton junction where we turn left and head on to the North Stratford canal to a mooring (as before) near the Blue Bell Cider House. Where, yes, we’ll imbibe some cider before Steve cooks a fish risotto (including Baz’s Zander!).
Here’s a rare view – the centre of Birmingham on a Sunday morning
Gas Street Basin
Worcester Bar – there used to be a small swing bridge here . . .
Two’s Company bringing up the rear as we coast past Bourneville
Making that sharp left turn at Kings Norton Junction
Then under that guillotine lock . . . bit of a squeeze
Pit stop for lunch near the Drawbridge . . .
I spied Stephen washing up! And Lucia shows me the Sicilian flag
No more pix of today – but we had a few ciders in the Blue Bell!
Another day in Brum. Time to do some shopping – Viv for food in Sainsbury’s Local, me on the bike to Conley’s wine shop (for some Shetland Reel Ocean Mist gin) and then to the Western Arcade for some pipe tobacco. Discovered the Indian brewery (and street food but no dogs!). We dragged poor Toby around the place again – looked at Brindley 3 building – trying to work out if the clock had real bells and what was the tune they played – still no idea. The Sicilians were on their way and had done a very long day coming up all the locks to Brum. They moored at the bottom of Farmer’s Bridge locks – one of the dingiest, grimiest places but enough for one day. I cycled down to see em & sampling one of Stephen’s 100 or so gins on board. We’ll help them up the remaining locks on Saturday morning.
Here’s the Brindley building
And Saturday morning . . . Two’s Company coming up the flight . .
They all got going at 0830 . . . Stephen gets itchy feet . . .
Not easy to pass boats coming the other way
Helping this nice chap on Whitstable, a single-hander
Strange mixture of cultures here with the ancient canals; the Post Office tower straddling the canals and offices/restaurants overlooking the rather dingy area. Still it’s better than when we came thru here last – about 30-40 years ago!
In the evening we planned to stroll out, have a few beers then find a suitable Indian restaurant – here’s Stephen & Lucia, all dressed up!
After a rather long walk to the Vaults and an embarrassing encounter with their contrary landlord who threw us out – no dogs, despite having been there 3 times before with our dog! Brewdog, round the corner were much more accommodating. The back to the Celebrities Indian restaurant, near Gas Street Basin (early bird meal, 3 courses for £13.95 and jolly good it was too)
Getting a bit behind? Well, it is the same route going back, for the most part. We try and keep up with the news, via the Internet. Good old BBC. Seems Trump wants another Korean war and the BBC want to debate Climate Change again or is the Earth really flat? “History repeats itself, has to, no one listens” as the poem goes.
Meanwhile, Adagio, what’s happening?
We moved off from Brewood on Tuesday, just a bit to beyond bridge 8 as we had seen some nice moorings, out in the open air and with rings. The batteries were down to 53% – their lowest on any trip so far, so we had run the engine, so better move as well.
The Shroppie does have its narrow bits:
Past the Wolverhampton Boat Club and a boat that has a canopy for the trad stern!
Down at the Autherley junction – which obscures, just, a huge sewage works – now the main source of feeder water for the canals – and here it issues forth
Autherley junction and the “silly” 6 inch drop lock
We turn right and moor up
We’ve only been an hour or so but the rain stopped at 11 and so we bimbled on. Stopping opposite Oxley Marine, where the marvellously named Orpheus Mable supplied us with a pump out (@ £12.50). All set for the early start on the Wolverhampton flight in the morning.
One reason I always snap our “final position” is for the record – so if CRT wanted proof that we don’t overstay, we have it!
Here’s Oxley Marine
With the prospect of doing 21 locks and then maybe pushing on to the Black Country museum or even Birmingham, we got up early on Thursday and with the sun streaming through, we slipped our lines at 0720. Through the dawn’s early light . . . .
Under the magnificent bridges with some hidden graffiti
Only a few hundred yards of the Staffs & Worcs canal, turn left
And straight in to the first of the 21:
Thankfully ALL 21 were in our favour and empty, so the gates just pushed open, making our ascent very easy and rapid. Here’s Viv, doing the first one.
About a third of the way up we spy a chap in blue – yes, a CRT volly, who has been opening lock gates for us, yippee!
Nearly there, lock No 2. . . .
At the top! And lock No 1 – yippee – all done by 11, cool!
Not bad. So we decide to press on to Brum . . . .
How little did we know what was waiting for us just round the corner and for the next 5 miles . . . . WEED and lots of it.
Adds a new meaning to “Down the hatch!”, as poor Steve had to turn the engine off, open the hatch, take the hatch bar off, drag out the heavy steel weed hatch and fish around for the blockage – shed loads of weed.
I know that weed is a blanket term but we had blankets of weed . . . down that f****@#$$ing hatch every 5 minutes – “it do make I vivid” as our late neighbour Ron would say! Extremely stressed I would add.
Still it was not for long. A huge working boat from CRT zoomed by towing another, so hopefully they might have swept out a path for us. Another half hour and we had come to the Tipton junction, where Telford’s new arm meets Brindley’s old one. We took the old arm last time, so we’ll take the new one this time. Down the Factory 3 locks first.
I like these long shots – makes our boat seem even bigger.
Telford’s new cut is very long and straight. Different and now no more weed. (Note the wild Sweet Peas on the right!)
There are connections to the old route – here’s one with 3 locks.
And here, at Spon junction (lovely name)
Here we pass under the M6 and the aqueduct carrying the old line above us.
There’s the aqueduct . . . what we came over last time!
Lots of heritage here – this is Galton bridge – carrying the Engine arm branch
Here’s where the old and new lines meet/part . . . come full circle now
And the Soho factory
Steve looking a tad less stressed now but a bit fatigued after this longest day! Eight and a half engine hours, sixteen miles and twenty-four locks.
Must be getting nearer to Brum as the graffiti increases . . .
We moor up, rather opportunistically, at the first mooring we come to as it’s a 14 day mooring! And hopefully a tad quieter? After showers & a rest, we saunter out to have a well-earned pint at the Vaults then the task of finding some food. Something that turned out a bit tricky. What is it with these giant city centres? Maybe a take away or a pub with a garden? Most suitable places rapidly turned to unsuitable as they wouldn’t accept our dog. In the end we stopped at the Tap & Spile for a Mexican burger and two beers (£28+). Despite their huge sign, they had no Timothy Taylor’s Landlord so we had Mexican beer to go with the burger. Very odd and insipid after a decent pint in the Vaults. Better planning next time. We sat outside – spot the Toby? What a long-suffering dog he is.
Oh and it came on a bread board, with chips imprisoned in a cage. If you haven’t heard John Finnemore’s rant about this . . .
Our mooring, opposite the Oozell’s loop and just by the Gin Distillery.
Lazy Sunday morning. Slipped around 10. Through Cowley tunnel and down the last few miles of the Shroppie. Take on water and dispose of rubbish at Wheaton – also a good time for a shower, plenty of hot water and more water being taken on.
Through the only lock, busy, busy! And on to “Brood”, same mooring as before.
Wonderful scenery through the cuttings
But cuttings do mean no drainage and lots of mud, plus the odd shoe
Viv peeps out to admire the view – Steve is now sitting on the roof driving
Final mooring spot – pretty much same space as last time
Just down from twodelightful boats – one was selling plants – lots of interesting herbs such as Vietnamese coriander and Caribbean thyme
Back to the Bridge Inn and that notice board!
Quite a neat idea too! Proper industrial machines and only £3 a wash and £1.50 dry. All done in less than 2 hrs. Perfick.
Dogs catered for too
Nice friendly place
But better choice of beers in the Swan in town plus a re-visit to the butchers – they make their own pies (pastie + game pie) plus do all their own bacon, brilliant.
Thursday and a rest day. David leaves us around lunchtime as his wife plus Mother-in-law swing past in their drive home back to Somerset. The 5 nights went by so quickly. My old tooth was playing up, so I tried to get Denplan to sort a dentist – always tricky when you’re out & about plus with no phone signal on the boat even worse! But they came through in the end, well, on Friday.
So David’s trip was 4 days cruising – 24.5 engine hours, 44.5 miles and 38 locks! Back at Gnosall. Will spend a few days here – having a rest, doing washing, taking on water and thinking of the next phase.
Potentially, we are only 14 days away from “home” at Yelvertoft and that’s doing our ponderous 4 hours/day. We need to spend a week here and another week there. Hopefully we’ll meet up with the Sicilians (Stephen & Lucia) as they are back and about to cruise around the Warwickshire ring – so our journeys could coincide.
We also want to see Jenny & Penny and hope they can pop up for a visit.
Will bimble off on Sunday to Brewood – the pub there has a laundry, so maybe get all the bedding down in one go & dry too.
This must be a contender for the best kept water point?
Another long and damp day. From Market Drayton, thru the gruesome Tyrley locks, the Jurassic forest of the Woodseaves cutting, Norbury Junction and then easing into Gnossal. David leaves us tomorrow but time to wander down to the town and re-visit the George & Dragon. For us it’s been 174 miles so far and 191 locks!!
Coming down the five Tyrley locks was bad enough – the last two have to be prepared together as there’s nowhere to pull over and moor – it’s too shallow. This time we are going up and there are huge by-washes where the overflow gushes out. The first one really took the boat and bashed her about. Second one, I was ready and plotted my wind & tide reckoning to get her in without a scratch:
If you don’t go at a fair lick, the boat’ll get swept over to the right and pinned on the rock face.
I suppose in hindsight, the best thing would have been to wind up the paddles at the top of the lock which should reduce the by-wash.
No damage done (no flower vases thrown over this time) apart from scraping the rubbing strips & me pride. Got 10/10 for the next lock.
And not far from these locks are the cuttings – huge ones, cut from the rock. Time has brought a great green forest to cling to the walls. Some places are narrow and yes, we met 3 boats and had to pull over.
And you can get a feeling that someone or some thing is watching you!
This next clip even has some animals closing in . .
Out of the cutting and a playful dog shows off his coat! Complete with holes for his legs and er, other bits.
Aiming for bridge 35 so a way to go yet but here’s a bridge 42 for Lucia & Stephen!
Past Norbury junction.
And then we ran (lit.) into these herberts. Previously, one boat got stuck for 15 mins trying to get past. Someone should dredge this canal, oh, they are!! They had to use the digger bucket on the front to pull us thru!
It’s a good 30 minute stroll into town but we use the old and disused railway line into the main part. They have a good fish n chip shop so the plan is to have a pint or two in the George, shop in the Co-op (for some Fizz) and then collect our fish supper on the way home. Nice.
The George had Black Grouse stout, Golden Glow and a few others.
Even though the forecast was for rain, showers, thunder & lightning, our valiant crew decided to push on. Twelve miles an TWENTY TWO locks. I had planned to stop soon after the last lock but this would have meant stopping in the middle of nowhere and missing out on the delights (pub!) of Market Drayton. So, after a massive (for us) 7.5 hours we stopped in splendid sunshine at 1700. Time for a rest before strolling down to Joules brewery . . . . again. Bangers & mash for tea!
Firstly, the two Hack Green locks
Also in B&W
Then the 15 Audlem locks – mostly in our favour – nice to share the lock-wheeling and the driving amongst the three of us. We shall miss David and all his help.
Busy but mainly all coming down – which helps us
Viv’s driving. David & I do the lock bit . . .even in the rain!
Hmm, dark clouds approaching . .
David shifts the gate
Yep, it did rain but only for a bit . . . and the thing is, you can’t moor up inbetween these flights – so onwards & upwards
Nearly there . .
And David does some driving.
And the sun really did come out again
Another visit to Market Drayton and the Joules Brewery!
We left our quiet & rural spot just above Wharton’s Lock and headed for Nantwich – more Chinese, more beer and a visit to the gin shop.
Its a nice town and David’s research had discovered a cake shop and a good butchers. So off we walked and bought cakes, bacon, cheese and wonderful pies (from Clewlows) and a bottle of Haymans navy strength gin from Rodney Densem Wines. We sampled some local beers in the Black Lion, with its sloping floors. Then collected our take away order from Chopstix. A grand day indeed.
Toby, that ball and a field of oats!
Hmm, that nasty Beeston iron lock . . . but plenty of help this time
David plus gloves
Past the entrance to the Middlewich branch . . .
Past the old Black Prince hire boat – Mum & Dad should remember our trip up the Llangollen canal in one of these! (Buddug – probably pronounce bee-thig? The name the Welsh gave to Boadicaea).
Past the entrance to the “golli” – quite a crowd waiting to go up
Ah, a visit to Rodney Densem Wines and to marvel (level 2) at their vast stock of gins (over 140 I believe) . . . a nice picture for Mr Davies to drool over!
We bought this one:
And we enjoyed a pint of Salopian Oracle at the White Horse too.
Here’s one for our Welsh Ladies – your very own boat!