Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post Christmas

The day after our guests left was a bit colder and it had snowed overnight. Our water tank was half full and two cassettes needed emptying. There was a good possibility that more snow would fall so we decided to move up to Sutton Wharf. It may get colder later so left early. Ploughed through slushy ice in places along the canal and it did snow again. "Hope it doesn’t get any worse cos we want to get back to the mooring". Managed to turn and back up to the water tap by pushing the thin ice away. The tap was frozen so got the kettle off the stove and poured hot water over the pipe to melt a plug of ice.

Water tap, Sutton Wharf

While the tank was filling I emptied the cassettes and Ann dumped the rubbish. The sun came out to make a cheerful warm run back and several boaters were out moving up and down the canal as well. But by the time we had returned to our mooring the grey clouds blocked out the sun and it was snowing again.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pre Christmas week

We had moved up to get water on a mild sunny day. On the way back we stopped so that Sue n Vic could cut up some more wood for their fire. Then the temperature fell to zero and ice formed on the cut over night. So we were forced to stay put. Sue came round with another of her 'walk maps'. "Come on Annie, we're off with the dogs to explore". "Please get back before it gets dark" I pleaded. Vic and I are left behind to look after the boats and make our own sandwiches. Passing the time reading our favourite books. The girls returned by 3:30 just as the sun went below the horizon.

Is that Father Christmas?

Next day John and Jean arrived by car from Braunston in less than an hour, a full 5 days by boat! Good to see them again and we talked about plans for next years cruising.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Saint Nicholas

He was a 4th century bishop in Asia Minor and is buried, circa 346 AD, in his cathedral at Myra. He has become a patron saint to many categories of people over the years. He is honoured throughout the canals of Europe as the boat peoples special saint. In Britain he is known as Father Christmas while in America they refer to him as Santa Claus. In France he was called Papa Noel.

The giving of presents results from the saint learning of a poor man who considered selling his three daughters. St. Nicholas visited the property anonymously and tossed a bag of gold through the window. It landed in a stocking hanging up to dry.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A winter day

The sun rose at about 8 this morning and slowly made its way along the horizon not getting much higher than the trees before dipping down and setting at about 4. The day was clear bright and warm as the girls went for their walk with the dogs through the country side. The fire was allowed to go out to be cleaned and relit just as the temperature started to dip down with the sun. On the other boat the chimney was modified during the day. The girls returned with wet dogs having made them jump in the canal to get clean. As the boat warmed up inside we all enjoyed a hot cup of tea and the dogs dried off in front of the fire.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas shopping

The village of Stoke Golding claims to be the birthplace of the Tudor reign. Crown hill is where Henry Tudor 'found' his crown and became Henry VII in 1485.

We were able to moor on the off side where we can gain access to the village. The Post Office was very busy with people and their Christmas mail in a never ending queue. Next day we went to Nuneton to do some shopping. An interesting ¼ of an hour trip through the countryside and villages in a small bus. Thankfully a dry mild day making for a pleasant trip. We saw a statue of a lady called George. George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans in 1819. I wondered what she would have thought of this town now. Much changed since the loss of the coal mining industry.

Monday, December 05, 2005

'Gosty Hill'

Iain & Alison came up the Ashby with their coal & diesel supply boat 'Gosty Hill'. Recently back in the water after having a new bottom fitted. Plying their trade on the Coventry Canal and coming up the Ashby when called. Their price is considerably cheaper than the local marina. Both No Problem and Moore 2 Life needing at least a hundred litres of diesel each.

Hang on Sue

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Not Moving

Still moored between bridge 17A and 19 just north of Hinckley. We had left No Problem behind and next day the ice prevented Sue n Vic moving the boat up. Only 2 miles apart and next day they both walked up to visit for tea and sandwiches. Vic did very well walking that distance and was very stiff the next day. Then No Problem managed to move up through a channel of broken ice made by a hire boat moving down earlier. Hire boat companies have been making the most of the relatively mild winter so far.

Snow on roof

Air pressure is very low making for unsettled stormy weather. But at least it is mild with no ice now. The girls have been out exploring the countryside and coming back with two dirty dogs. The tow path has been chewed up by the hedge cutters during these damp days. A dangerous job now as in places the path is a bit narrow and the vehicle could slip towards the canal!

We have contacted a coal / diesel supply boat which is expected to return here next week. There are of course plenty of boats on private moorings on the canal. Some are occupied by their owners who have cars to go to work. They are therefore able to get rid of their disposables.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ice and snow

Christmas is fast approaching and we are busy making and sending cards to friends and family. Some pictures taken down south on the Grand Union at Cowley when it was cold and frosty were used. We stopped a few days with Sue n Vic on No Problem at Baskerville, four and a half miles in to the Ashby Canal. Then NB At Last stopped by and John & Militza joined us and Sue on Moore 2 Life for coffee. Several boats had passed breaking up the ice as they went. The facilities provided by British Waterways on this canal are few and far between. Rubbish disposal is going to be a problem. We have had to dispose of it in the towns litter bins. The large Marina has started charging for disposal of waste material of any kind. We moved on a few miles to Hinckley to collect our post and send off most of our cards. It had been a bright warm day till then. It started to snow lightly but as we continued past the marina the sky turned very grey and it snowed so hard that the roof got covered. We could not stop because there were so many boats moored outside the marina. Eventually stopped on a bend before bridge 19. Took a while to warm up inside drying off coats, gloves and hats. Hope to get pictures in the morning as it was too dull this afternoon when we stopped.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wintery days & the Ashby

We were able then to get on up to the end of the Oxford Canal and on to the Coventry. Heading north to meet up with Sue n Vic again who are now heading south. The plan is to meet at Heartshill. Both arrived within an hour of each other. The night time temperature dropped below zero and on the fourth day the canal water went smooth with ice. It had been quite mild until then, so warm in fact that one pair of ducks had produced 10 chicks. They were eventually abandoned so the lock keeper at Atherstone kept the surviving 8 in his bath. "How do you look after them in such an un natural environment".

We always have to be prepared for occasions when we cannot move. Water topped up, diesel in the tank, gas bottles replaced when empty and food in the cupboards. Never go past facilities without using them. It was back in the late 1960's that the canal trade was finally stopped by a long hard winter. We wait to see if this is to be the start of another.

Turned the boat round and after a few days in the ice we both move back south. Filled up with diesel at Springwood Haven and moved down through Nuneaton. Yet another car had been tipped into the canal! Got past that and all the other rubbish to stop at a rather exposed spot by Gipsy Bridge and waited for a TESCO delivery. Access between road and canal here was far from ideal. Used our own trolleys to transport the goods to the boat on a cold wintry morning.

Springwood Haven

Twenty two miles with no locks. Turned left into the entrance to the Ashby canal under the bridge and through the disused lock trying not to hit the sides. A bit surprised to find thin broken ice in our path. Two boats passed us to leave the canal which indicated that the canal was not yet frozen solid. It is here that we all intend to spend the winter months.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Power Plus

I thanked Beta for replacing my failed alternator.  It was replaced 'as goodwill'.  They suggested that the only causes of failure are 'shorting the output' or 'using a battery management system'.  I have pointed out that a 'Beta Controller' was fitted.  Their advertisement claims "Fast and efficient domestic battery charging with our 'Beta Controller' option.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Three Bloggers Meet

Moore 2 Life and No Problem met at Hartshill. Then Andrew of Granny Buttons called to see us. We all chatted face to face on M 2 L. The wonders of information technology bringing people together. 

Sue Andrew Chas

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Power Loss

We all take it for granted when it is always there. Power that is. Run the engine each day and there it is stored in those batteries for use in the evenings. The warning buzzer sounded in the evening. Quick rush to switch off the engine. The red light indicated that the alternator had suddenly failed. That thing on the engine which generates the electrical power. Lifted the board to let smoke out! Run the engine again to see sparks inside the alternator!

Don't like things like that going wrong, it's a threat to our boating life. We felt vulnerable even though we were only 4 miles from the nearest boat yard. Good job we were not in mid ocean! We had caught up with Terry & Myra again and Terry came round for moral support. Myra also came round to keep warm. It was Sunday evening so no point ringing for help. However our son Chris gave some advice on the phone. Terry agreed and also suggested how to charge the batteries using our start battery alternator. Yes, thankfully we have two alternators. There was enough charge in the batteries to last the evening but we had to limit ourselves to one light and no TV to ensure that the fridge kept going! It was a particularly cold night and time slowed down.

The next day after an unsettled night we set about rearranging the battery wiring and removed the drive belt from the dead alternator. This enabled the engine to be run without the sparks! A call for help to Rose Narrow Boats was answered. "Yes we can help, when you get here ask for Wayne." An hour later we were there and the alternator was removed for inspection. Our friends Terry & Myra on 'Juno' had set course for home. Wayne told us that the stator insulation had failed. He rang Beta for a replacement and they agreed to replace it as the alternator was less than 2 years old. Another long night with one light as the electrician had gone home without providing us with land line power.

Woke in the morning to find the fridge still going despite the low charge state of the batteries. We moved the boat back to a power point which was now available. Plugged in and charged the batteries for a few hours. The new alternator arrived and Wayne fitted and tested it. Then gave some valuable advice on how to charge batteries correctly. Its better to run the engine in the morning for at least 3 to 4 hours in order to fully charge the batteries. Then there is no need to run it again in the evening. It is no good running for short periods of time during the day.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lights in the tunnel

We had seen the lights installed in Newbold tunnel some time ago and wondered why. The tunnel is so short it was hardly worth illuminating. Braunston tunnel could do with lights especially where it turns corners! We passed through in November when they were on and felt silly with our tunnel light on as well. Looked like we were passing through a rainbow with ribbons of multi coloured light. Public money can always be better spent. It was meant to attract visitors as the tow path goes through but the tunnel is well north of Rugby and there was nobody about.

Newbold Tunnel 1

Newbold Tunnel 2

Newbold Tunnel 3

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A happy loss

Our second phone has got 'lost'. Been using it a few times in Daventry and kept it in my coat pocket. Back on the boat it was gone. Got the phone originally to get on the Internet but the lead kept popping off the connector. Then the phone got a soaking in a thunderstorm. The screen was never the same since! So whoever 'finds' it will probably not keep it. While on 'pay monthly' calls were never less than 20 pence a minute. Orange have disabled the SIM card so that it is unusable now. But I think that the phone book was in the phone memory. Apparently new phones can store the phone book in the SIM card. So if it is lost and disabled the numbers cannot be seen. We thankfully still have our old original phone.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Meeting with old friends

I mean that we have known Terry & Myra for a long time. They had sold their boat over a year ago and had just taken possession of a shorter boat. Met them on the way down the Braunston locks and celebrated in the Lord Nelson pub. Next day we all went early to Davetry intending to go on the bus. It passes at quarter to the hour but apparently not at quarter to nine. It had passed through at 8:30! Phoned for a taxi which arrived in 10 minutes but stopped just outside the town due to a puncture! We went off to join a queue at the medical centre for Ann's flu jab. Back out in 15 minutes all done. Got some veggies at the market and winter pansies before all returning on the 10:30 bus. Spent the next few days in each others boats and visiting Bob n Jane who we all knew.

NB Juno

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Friends and Bloggers

When we were down the south Oxford canal between bridge 102 and 103 NB At - Last stopped by. John & Militza have been known to us since we first left our boat in 'Springwood Haven' on the Coventry canal. They, a young couple semi retired, came to see inside our boat. We talked about our adventures during the year over a cup of tea. They enjoy cycling and walking a lot. Their pride and joy, the boat, is powered by a 'Gardner' diesel. A slow running engine reconditioned by Tony & Paul Redshaw.

We had moved to just north of Braunston and were chatting to Sue on the net. She told us that NB Liberty Belle was heading our way and had been in conversation with Angela on board. Angela does a Blog which we read occasionally. Next day Trevor and Angela arrived and stopped just to meet us on their way to Braunston to get a job done on the boat.

Liberty Belle

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Braunston Pickle are to play at the local pub. So we head back to Braunston. The pub is called 'Admiral Nelson'. Known locally as 'nelly'. We walked up past two locks on the Grand Union Canal and into the pub. There we were faced with a 'dressed up' interior. Signal flags all over the ceiling and the bar staff wearing eye patches and hats. A special brew was on offer called 'Eye Patch'. Ann had a rum & coke. The Braunston Pickle consisting of three players were setting up next to a table of locals dressed as wenches and crew. A tough looking gent complete with black beard, scars and scabbard was quite capable of repelling boarders.

We found a seat and table behind the fireplace wall and enjoyed the scene and atmosphere. The group started at about half eight. The pub was full of noisy people so later we moved round to hear the music. They were playing guitars, piano accordions and squeeze boxes without the aid of amplifiers. Many others joined in with penny whistles, tambourine and rattling spoons.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


We have settled in and around our 'home port' for a while. We need to return to the dentist next week and Ann can get a flu jab in November. So we drift off on the south Oxford canal and stop by Flecknoe Farm. There are still many boats coming and going. A few miles further on at Napton Junction a new marina has opened. 'Black Prince' hire boats are based there. Three other marinas within a mile of the junction already exist so that junction has become very busy at weekends in particular.

pic 1

Discovered that 'Hobo' was here. Bob and Jane with their friend Rose from Australia. She has been over here for several years touring the country with her dog 'Tara' in her own boat. Then along came Barbara who plays the Accordion with a group called 'Braunston Pickle'. While I was painting the lower part of the boat Barbara started playing folk music. Rose normally plays a violin in an orchestra but was able to join in as well.

pic 2

Sunday, October 09, 2005

MV Sulaskar

Our grateful thanks to Stewart and Carole Sampson for NABO. They are currently on tour and were spotted going through Braunston.  As most boat owners know they represent the interests of boaters on canals and rivers.  Their boat is also used as a research vessel for the 'First Mate Guides'.

MV Sulaskar

Maria Jessie

Passing through Braunston this time got these pictures.

Mari Jessie

Mari Jessie 2

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Passing Bloggers

NB Maria Jessie and NB Moore2Life passed each other and exchanged greetings near Willoughby, just north of Braunston.  "Read your blog" we called, "Oh look Moore 2  Life" they replied.  Tis nice to meet bloggers for real, not just in 'hyper space'.

Have just added our pictures of Working Boats to our web site www.moore2life.co.uk

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Two boats together

Well for a while we plan to travel together again, No Problem & Moore 2 Life. Sue and Vic want to get to Great Haywood and we have a dentist appointment back at Daventry. So at some point we will turn to return.

All set off after shopping up at Braunston, the butcher providing good meat, pies and veg. As usual. Eventually got to Hillmorton and enjoyed an excellent Sunday roast at the 'Lock Shop Bistro'. Sue and Vic had been looking forward to this treat for some time. Still many boats moving through the locks in October on a sunny Monday. Stopped at Brownsover near Rugby to shop at the 'out of town' centre and at Tesco before mooring for the night at Newbold.


Vic at Hillmorton

Continuing north we then stop at Hawkesbury Junction. Where the Oxford and Coventry canal meet. Sue and Ann plus two dogs have been enjoying long walks together, sometimes returning just before dark. The fire is lit in the evenings now to keep the autumn chill out.

The half way point was reached at Hartshill. Turning here should give us time to get back to Braunston without rushing. Hopefully getting through Nuneaton with less bother. On the way through we passed some floating chairs and a settee! The propeller picked up a shopping bag complete with zip which took time to clear through the weed hatch. Last time through there was an upside down car with the police wondering if the driver was under water as well!

Car in canal

Thursday, September 29, 2005


We had met several people on our travels this year and found that some of them had also 'returned' to Braunston. Dave and Georgina on 'Drift' came in for a coffee and chat. 'Rachael' was also seen having first met up at Bugsworth Basin, near Whaley Bridge. Next day we decided to move up the locks and through the tunnel and wait the arrival of our friends Vic and Sue on 'No Problem'. They are returning to BW waters and we met them half way up the Buckby flight. Plenty of space at Norton Jn. and we all went to the pub for a celebration drink. Next day we escorted them through Braunston Tunnel. Luckily for Sue no boats were coming the other way. This after all is not the easiest of tunnels to go through especially if you have not seen a tunnel for some time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Return to boat

Three hours on the road got us all, including mum, back to the boat. The car hire company came and took the car away on a tow truck. After filling our tank with diesel at 55 pence a litre we were off to our first stop for the night just a mile away. The satellite signal provided a picture then later we converted the table into a bed for mum who had a comfortable night.

Next day we passed through Nuneaton where boaters were warning us about a car in the canal! Three policemen were seen by the upside down car with only the boot and two wheels showing. At this time they had no idea if a driver was inside! We continued on past well kept gardens before reaching Hawkesbury.

We all then walked to the junction where the Oxford Canal joins the Coventry. Watched as many boats made the turn and operated the lock on a warm sunny afternoon.



Ben was christened at a church in the New Forest. A pleasant gathering at the church and in the hall after the event to see the family again after many months away. We were able to visit the children many times during our stay and took them both to the forest. Then it was Josh's birthday. We dressed up as Pirate Jim and Rosie Lee! All the children came as pirates with an assortment of swords dress and makeup. The village hall was filled with activities for the little pirates. A large rubber dingy and cardboard boxes provided the boats for them to 'capture'. They all just ran around letting off steam before sitting down at the table to eat sandwiches sausages and cake. Other organised games including 'pass the parcel' finished off the day.

Josh as pirate

Back to 'Rush About'

We left the boat at Springwood Haven and hired a car from Research Garage Group at Hinkley. They came to fetch us from the marina. The Peugeot 307 with 4 doors did us proud. A diesel doing 53 mpg. We were away for two weeks and did 780 miles in the car feeding it with about £80 of fuel. Car technology is taking over some functions that the driver does. The lights come on when driving through short tunnels or in the dark. Windows close and the mirrors fold in when the doors are locked! What it does not do is ensure you are not exceeding the speed limit. The traffic and navigating on the roads was difficult to get used to.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


We are doing our bit to cut down the towpath vegetation. British Waterways have a 'Veg Pledge' but are not keeping up with the rapid growth. So it seems that the only way to get off the boat and tie up without getting stung is to cut it back ourselves.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Painted roses

When we arrived at Hartshill we met Margery on 'Watermouse' who paints roses on canal ware.

NB Watermouse

We have had a water container called a Buckby Can for many years and it needed repainting. Some months earlier we had rubbed it down and applied several coats of paint. It is now the same colour as our boat. Margery spent several days covering it with roses and daises. Even the name of our boat is now painted on it.  All the daisies have a little red mark on them where the fairies have kissed them.

Buckby can

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Atherstone locks

As we approached, a queue of boats formed to go up. There are 11 locks spread over 1 ½ miles. At the time no boats were coming down so every lock had to be emptied to go up. At about the half way point boats were coming down thus not wasting water. However one boat had stopped for lunch much to the annoyance to those coming up because the lock gate had been left open for them! Ideally a boat goes down with a lock full of water in to the next lock. The delay caused a queue of boats to form. There is really no advantage because each lock can only take one boat up or down. It's a bit like getting 'grid locked' in traffic on the roads. Thankfully there was enough water coming down to keep all the boats afloat in that short pound! We eventually got to the top in 4 hours and luckily it was a nice sunny day. When locking up or down you get to know many people.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A life saved

Ann went fishing and landed a wood pigeon. It was a young bird seen floating on the water with it's head on it's back. Dried it out in the sunshine on a nest of dry grass. Seemed to recover enough to crawl into the shade of the hedge for a while. Later getting up onto a fence where it stayed all night. It was still there in the morning rain preening itself and looking lively. Then after our breakfast it took off and flew away. We had been quite concerned then relieved when it went.

Wood Pigeon

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Fradley Junction

From Rugeley we passed Armitage through 2 miles of narrow canal with Ann walking up front with Molly looking out for approaching boats. There are passing places but caution is required due to many blind bends. Several boats managed to pass. Stopped at the end of the top lock landing before the junction for the night. Some boats were still coming up after 9pm that evening and the lock landing became full of moored boats.

Set off after breakfast and went down as boats had started coming up. Only 3 locks to the junction but many boats were queueing to come up. The junction by the Swan pub is always cluttered with boats waiting to go up the locks or just moored. Squeezed through and turned right on to the Coventry canal. After 5 miles going south we found a spot just north of Whittington to moor for a quiet weekend.

Later in the afternoon NB 'Maria Jessie' went by. Ann recognised it as one of the 'blog'er boats and chatted to them as they passed. They are on their way to the boat gathering at Preston Brook near the Manchester Ship canal. The work boats 'Nuneaton' and 'Brighton' passed by after getting stuck on a mud bank. I wonder how many more times they get stuck due to the lack of depth. These old boats were designed with a draught of 4 foot 3 inches when fully loaded.

Nuneaton & Brighton

Thursday, August 18, 2005

August rush

We are being woken up in the early hours by moving boats. We stopped at Penkridge for lunch and several boats rushed past. Set off and joined the queue at the first of two locks. Much help provided by young energetic students from the boat behind. We had done our daily quota of 10 lock miles that day so tried to moor opposite the prefab houses but grounded on a mud bank. A local resident suggested moving back as it is always shallow there. 'So why don't BW dredge it' I wonder. There is only ½ mile to the next lock so the water level rose and fell many times that evening causing the boat to lean over.

Next day we got to Baswich, near Stafford and stopped again for lunch under the shade of a tree. It was another hot day. Then on later to Tixel wide and were very lucky to find a space. Unfortunately a tree prevented Sky reception.

We are in need of water so set off to fill up at the junction with the Trent & Mersey canal. Left early thinking of the many boats heading north to the Boat Festival but found the water point free. Ann went off to get the post while I got on with filling the tank. The two locks in and beyond Great Haywood were very busy with a queue of 4 boats going down. Counted 12 coming up at the next lock. The last in that queue would be waiting at least 2 hours to get through! We continued to the aqueduct over the river Trent just before Rugeley.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Passing through

We are moving south east down the almost strait and flat Shroppie. Only one lock at Wheaton Aston and 25 miles since the last back at Tyrley. There seems to be more boats gathering at Wheaton Aston. The local garage sells cheap diesel for boats and it takes an age to get past them all slowly as we do.

The boats are on both sides of the relatively wide canal and the owners on the 'private' side are busy constructing landing stages with their boats tied to the trees. Some of the boats are unkempt, covered in leaves and green with algae. Many with no name or licence displayed.

We turned left to go north on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Soon passing through the 'narrows'. The canal here is a narrow channel cut into the rock base. Several passing places enabled at least 3 boats to pass as we went through.

The narrows

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tyrley Locks and cutting

The locks south of town take the canal up a deep cutting through rocks. It would have been hard work chipping away all that rock with hammer and chisel back in 1846. The cutting is now covered with huge trees which are clinging to the rocky edge. The canal continues for two miles through a narrow tree covered cutting till it reaches Cheswardine. We continued to Shebdon Embankment where we met John & Jean on Omega. Next day we got to Gnosall in light drizzle. Had intended to go further but it remained damp most of the day.

Tyrley Locks, Shropshire Union Canal

Market Drayton

We approached from the north and stopped on the 5 day moorings before Lords Bridge. Don't quite understand why BW invite boaters to moor at 'Visitor Moorings' only to find they are not deep enough! Next day we walked into town to 'enjoy' the market day. Fruit and veg in abundance. Ann got a new bag.

Back at the boat we set about placing an order to Tesco on the net. The first thing you need is a local post code so we used Ted's Boat Yard which we happened to have. Then go to Street Map to find a suitable road for the delivery. Pity you then cannot find a more suitable post code. Our instructions for the driver enabled him to find us from Stoke on Trent without resorting to a phone call.

Our friends John & Sue invited us to their house for a cup of tea and a chat. They told us that 'Ted's Boat Yard is to close. Shame cos their diesel was only 38.5p! Apparently they cannot afford the rent since it has been increased. A café and canal ware shop has already left. There are plans for a new housing estate and a 'Boat Share' operation is moving in.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Ghost ?

At the top of the Adderley Locks and past bridge 66 we entered Brownhills Wood. It was so thick the suns rays found their way past the branches producing an eerie feel. It felt cooler in the shade. A lonely fisherman sat there on the tow path. Ann and Molly passed by the man who spoke but she did not hear the words. Somebody was cutting the grass using a noisy machine. He was dressed in protective mask and goggles so all you could see was his glowing eyes. Which one was the ghost which is known to haunt these woods? As I passed the fisherman I asked if he had ever seen the ghost. I heard his reply as the grass cutter had passed on. "It's too noisy for ghosts" he said.

Barbridge Junction

Here the Middlewich branch ends at a 'T' junction with the Shropshire Union. Approaching slowly with Ann at the bow checking for boats. There are two at the water point on the left and two more passing them. One is trying to overtake and the other is wanting to turn into the branch where we are coming from. "Where are you going?" he asked gruffly. We had to come out of the narrow junction before they could go in. Ann pointed left and we slowly and carefully moved across their bow and Ann jumped off on the right bank. There is just enough room now to pass in silence. "It's the August rush hour"! So on to the Shroppie going slowly past moored boats with large gaps between them. We found a place to stop further on.

Barbridge Junction

Here the Midlewich branch ends at a 'T' junction with the Shropshire Union. Approaching slowly with Ann at the bow checking for boats. There are two at the water point on the left and two more passing them. One is trying to overtake and the other is wanting to turn into the branch where we are coming from. "Where are you going?" he asked gruffly. We had to come out of the narrow junction before they could go in. Ann pointed left and we slowly and carefully moved across their bow and Ann jumped off on the right bank. There is just enough room now to pass in silence. "It's the August rush hour"! So on to the Shroppie going slowly past moored boats with large gaps between them. We found a place to stop further on.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Boats and Moorings

There are people who invest their money in boats. New narrow boats are being produced at a high rate. The only problem is that the supply of moorings is not keeping up with the demand. BW and public enterprise are creating many new marinas but finding suitable places 'off the cut' and getting planning permission takes time. Some boaters are able to travel around the canal system and don't need a mooring.

There are also people looking for cheap second hand boats to live on. They cannot afford to buy a house these days. BW and private land owners provide moorings 'on the cut'. Some boats taking up space on the canal don’t display a licence. BW are not really doing enough to control this growing situation.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Locking down

Back on the Macclesfield canal we stopped at High Lane. Shops and a surgery are here so we booked in as 'Temporary Patients' and got checked over. We are ok with the treatment we are getting so on we go feeling good. So on then to Gurnett for the night. Then after getting filled up with water went down the 12 locks at Bosley. It is getting busy now with at least 10 boats coming up so most locks were ready for us with a boat coming out. Grand views across the valley as we leave the foothills of the Pennines.

After a night at the lower level we continued to the end of the Macclesfield and stopped in the rusty red water of the Trent and Mersey. Now a long stretch with loads of locks between Stoke on Trent and Middlewich with 32 locks in 12 miles. There are several small places to pick up supplies on the way down. Still busy with boaters coming up and helping at the locks. These are single locks which come in pairs. But often one of the pair has been left derelict. Some of the lock gates have been repainted but others have been put out of use. It seems that BW are not spending our money effectively.

Church Locks, Trent & Mersey

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A hold up

So after a few days enjoying the scene in Derbyshire we left. Further on a man ran round a bent waving frantically. "Stop here, there's a tree down". Sure enough just round the bend was a queue of 4 boats. Two lovely huge willows had fallen across the canal and the branches were blocking the tow path as well. A 'Black Prince' hire boat was first in line and had called BW. They had also rang the hire company to say they may be back late. They only had 2 days to get back to Stoke on Trent, a full 48 lock miles away. We enjoy travelling at about 10 lock miles a day. So they are pushing it. The canals are better seen at the slower pace. The men from BW had cleared enough to pass by late afternoon and all the boats moved off very quickly. We stayed the night.

Tree down

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Peak Forest Canal

Moved on slowly through the county of Cheshire for a few miles to reach Marple. Now we are in Derbyshire, and join the Peak Forest Canal. Turn south east and follow the River Goyt with it's wonderful views across the valley. After lifting and swinging several bridges we reach Bugsworth Basin. Now full of water after British Waterways found a leak and made it all water tight.

Bugsworth Basin

Here we met Mike & Liz again.  This time we offered a cupper on our boat.

Bugsworth Basin is a scheduled ancient monument. An industrial archaeological site.  The site comprising several basins and arms was opened in 1776. Lime stone was bought down from the Peak District and burnt in several kilns here. By the 1880's the industry had grown into a major complex of basins, arms and wharfs and become one of the largest and busiest inland ports in this country. Coal was bought in and lime taken out in narrow boats down the Peak Forest Canal.

Bugsworth Basin

Now it is a wonderful site for boats to moor and boaters to enjoy the view. The stone bridges, walls and old rail sleepers providing interest.  By the time we left there were at least 20 boats here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Macclesfield

It was back in 2002 that we first came up this canal and we had forgotten how pretty it was. The Cheshire country side is all hills and valleys. Providing grand views as the canal crosses a valley. The bridges are all made of large blocks of stone as are the 12 locks at Bosley. Much of the canal is lined with trees. Having got up the locks we are now 518 feet above sea level. We passed the old Hovis mill at Macclesfield and got to Fourlane Ends.

Here we met a couple who live on their boat and had got in touch through the internet. "Now I know you are not supposed to meet people on the internet but Mike & Liz are OK". They have a boat called 'Snecklifter' and two dogs. One is a Jack Russell called Molly! The two Mollies got on so well together that they both disappeared in to 'Snecklifter'. We were given a cup of tea and later went to the local pub. It is great when you meet such friendly boaters. By the weekend we had moved on a few miles to Higher Pointon. A marina and a mile of moored boats line the canal. We stay here for a quiet but damp weekend.

Clarence Mill

Clarence Mill.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Low Bridges then a Tunnel

Low bridges, bone & flint

Bridge No. 9

Two very low bridges were scraped under, "mind your head", to reach the locks taking us down to the end of the Caldon Canal.  The flowers kept their heads!

We looked round the Bone & Flint Mill Museum. Built for Jesse Shirley in 1857 to supply ground bone and flint for the pottery industry. The mill at Cheddleton was water powered but here a beam steam engine provides the power. Fred Dibner opened the museum some time ago. A modern factory took over the grinding in 1972.

To the tunnel

Set off next day and stopped at Westport Lake Park where super new mooring were inviting. Took a good walk round the huge lake which had plenty of wild birds to see. Picked up broken crockery like shells on the sea shore!

Harecastle Tunnel

Not far to Harecastle tunnel where we had just missed an opening. An hour later we were the first and only boat to go north through the 2 mile (2926yards) tunnel. The canal water turned red from the iron deposits underground. We could see the other end as the doors closed behind us and huge fans blew air through. The noisy wind caused a fine mist to form and it was like going through a fog in a black hole. The old tunnel had sunk in the middle so head clearance was limited. Out the other end into the sunshine again. Not nearly so bad as we had imagined. Boats only go through one way at a time under the strict control of a 'Tunnel keeper' at each end. After scraping under those very low bridges on the Caldon Canal this was easy.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

British Waterways Licence Increase

We have news that BW are proposing to increase our licence by 140%. A protest campaign is underway. Over a thousand boaters will be affected by this unwelcome news.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Back up,Tesco & Fine Feathers

We are heading back up out of the Churnet valley past the lime kilns at Consall Forge having carefully negotiated the low bridge by the railway station. Many people watching from the pub on the hill. Up through 2 locks at Cheddleton and stop by the old flint mill where James Brindley may have served as a Mill Wright.

Continue through the widening valley, under Hazelhurst Aqueduct where the Leek branch goes over, and up 3 locks to reach the summit again. The flat plain as we approach Endon a sharp contrast to the deep valley.

A lock bridge

Stopped at Park Lane Bridge and placed our order to TESCO through the internet. The phone signal now being strong and reliable. Next day the van arrived and we were fully stocked up again.

The delivery

That evening we had another of those 'all day breakfasts' at Fine Feathers. Got some more gas as well. Caldon Chandlery operates there and got me a new oil filter which is correct for my engine. It was different to the one fitted when the first service was carried out at Willow Wren in Rugby.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Down at Consall Forge we are on the river Churnet between two locks. Now out of touch as the phones, TV and radio, except Classic FM which has never let us down, could not find a signal. We are surrounded by trees in this lovely valley.

Consall Station

The canal turned into a one way street past the station which overhangs the water. Ann walks ahead with Molly to warn me of on coming boats. It is just possible to pass if the trees and bushes are not too thick. Down the lock and eventually reach Froghall moorings and turn.

Froghall Tunnel

Just round the corner a very low tunnel prevents most boats reaching the brand new facilities and empty basin. We asked about local shops but there are none. So we have discovered this canal. It proved to be quiet and peaceful and we had come prepared with a full fridge and well stocked up with food. Thankfully our tank of diesel is nowhere near empty but one bottle of gas is!

Froghall Basin

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Leek Branch

Continued round onto the Leek Branch and stopped with 2 other boats at the Hazelhurst aqueduct. This canal crosses a narrow valley with a railway and the Caldon Canal passing under it.


Next day got away first and arrived at the end near Leek. Lucky to find a space as several boats were here already. The scenery was dramatic with the short winding canal clinging to the hillside through woods and past fields with stone walls. Then through a short stone tunnel to reach the end. We walked in the cool drizzle along the feeder that brings water down from Rudyard Lake.

Still Water Cottages

Still Water Cottages

Caldon Canal

Turned sharp right onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria. This canal was built in 1779 to bring limestone and coal down to the potteries. It climes up through 9 locks to reach 484 ft. above sea level at Stockton Brook. At Hazelhurst it goes down through 8 locks for 6 miles to reach Froghall. The navigable canal is now 15 ½ miles but a further 15 miles to Uttoxeter was replaced by a railway in 1845. A branch joins the canal at Hazelhurst and continues at the same level to Leek where it picks up water from the Rudyard reservoir. The entire canal became un navigable by the early 1960's. Two new road bridges were build so low as to force us to stop and remove every thing off the roof again. Another new bridge further on had been built with sufficient clearance, presumably since the canal was reopened.

Etruria Locks

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Josiah Wedgwood Experience

We moored by bridge 104 on the Trent & Mersey and walked to the Visitor Centre and factory complex near Barlaston. When we left we had learnt and seen a lot about making artistic pottery. Back in the 1930's the old factory at Stoke on Trent was being undermined by the coal industry and eventually flooded by the canal. This new factory started production in 1940. We watched as girls applied white relief to blue jugs, automatic robot arms sticking handles to mugs and lumps of clay being transformed into plates by machine.


Josiah was apprenticed to a potter and he became an outstanding scientist, artist and engineer. He invented many revolutionary processes. One was to accurately measure the very high temperatures in the ovens. After many experiments he created green glaze. His creamware was later called Queen's Ware after he sold a full service to Catherine 11 of Russia in 1773. He also encouraged the building of canals which he used to great advantage.

Josiah Wedgwood

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Holiday Traffic

The canals were not built for fast motorised boats and is suffering from wash damage. Some holiday makers are showing a lack of respect these days. "We are on holiday so must drink as much as possible and get as far as possible". They seem to rush along even when passing moored boats. Presumably have not experienced mooring pins being pulled out or had their boat lurch backwards and forwards when a fast boat passes them.


Gt. Haywood Junction

Having got our order back at Tamworth we are now heading north again. Each year requires a general plan to explore favourite canals and discover new ones. We want to get through Stoke on Trent to turn off on to the Caldon Canal. Many boaters have encouraged us to go see it. It is only 15 miles long to Froghall but there are 17 locks. The summit being 484 feet above sea level.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Commercial traffic

The government have suggested that the waterways should become more commercial. Some of the wide canals & rivers may be able to cope but the lack of investment since the railways 'took over' means that it will take a long time to achieve. Perhaps the railways should take more. The commercial boats are much deeper in the water than the average pleasure boat. So the much needed dredging will have to be addressed.

The canals are increasingly being used for recreation these days by many user groups such as bikers, walkers, fisher men and boaters. It is a 'natural' environment now and is very relaxing for hard working people to enjoy. Commercialisation will destroy all this.

Work boat