Summer Cruise#2-Day 34/5


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.


Summer Cruise#2-Day31-33 Resting

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?

And these lassies were out on a Hen party!

Summer Cruise#2-Day30


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!

Another curio

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.

Cheers David!

Final mooring spot.


Summer Cruise#2-Day29


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!

Nice range of beers too


Summer Cruise#2-Day 28


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!

Our mooring


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!.