Friday, 4 August 2017

Cruising From Trent Lock on the Trent and Mersey

We arrived back at Trent Lock after our quick sojourn on the Erewash Canal. Just after we arrived I received a phone call from one of my workmates, he was in the UK and staying nearby so instead of heading off straightaway tomorrow it was lunch at the Steamboat Inn instead. After lunch we took the short cruise to Sawley, mooring across from the marina on our second attempt. Our first attempt was abandoned when one of the more classy boaters you meet was trying to catch his dinner and complained bitterly that tying our boat to the moorings here would ruin his fishing. Our discussion was taking place over the top of the noise from his huge generator powering his boat electrics, I was only too pleased to move down a few boats and moor. We couldn't hear the generator inside our boat but it was still going when I locked up the boat at 11pm.

Overnighting in Sawley, we headed south-east down the Trent and Mersey Canal, this is the first time we have cruised this part of the canal. The countryside was unremarkable as we cruised south until we got near to Willington where it seemed to change, I'm not really sure how it just seemed different for some reason. We were doing double locks for quite a while until they stopped abruptly at Burton Upon Trent. Not sure why but I'm sure if I delved deeper there would be a reason.

On our way to Alrewas we met a fellow Australian over in the UK for the summer.

We spent the next night in Alrewas, our tour of this village went via the village butcher where we picked up some beautiful cornish pasties and pork sausages.

We moved on to Fradley Junction on Friday, only a very short cruise, less than an hour. Back on familiar waters we have cruised time and again, it seems you need to go through Fradley Junction to get to so many places. We took an extra day at Fradley although it turned out to be very busy over the weekend. I managed some more coats on the painting jobs with the extra time and we made several visits to the Canalside Cafe.

What was suppose to be a another short hop of a couple of hours cruising to Rugeley turned out to be the canal version of peak hour to get through the Fradley locks, we started at number six in the queue. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a mooring at Rugeley, it is hugely popular with boaters. The older boaters tell me it is the 'Tesco (supermarket) factor' being 100 metres from the moorings, it was never a problem mooring when there was only Morrison's. Another forty-eight hour stay at Rugeley with a chance to do some more painting and get another quote for some upgrades to Serafina.

We arrived in Great Haywood just after lunch and moored just below Haywood Lock. A few hours later a CRT work boat moored behind us with a couple of lock arms as cargo. My conversation with the two volunteers delivering the work boat was that first thing tomorrow Haywood Lock would be closed for three or four hours for maintenance. I quickly untied the ropes as Rachael set the lock and we now sat on a mooring above Haywood Lock ready for an easy get away tomorrow. Turned out to be a good decision, by the time we left, just after 9am, there were already half a dozen boats waiting at the top of the lock and several more at the bottom.

We cruised just past the junction to fill with water, reversed once full and headed off the Trent and Mersey canal and on to the Staffs and Worcester, all this under a very overcast sky. This will be the second time we have cruised this portion of the S & W Canal this season as it is the fourth time we have been through Great Haywood and several times mooring at Rugeley and Fradley Junction.

The soccerball count is now at 40.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Off the River Soar to the Erewash Canal

We were pelted with rain overnight in Leicester, we pulled away from our mooring with the skies overcast. After a couple of locks we got to Lock 10 where the River Wreake meets the canal, there was a considerable rise in the water level here. The cruising was safe, the river hadn't broken its banks, but the River Level Indicators at the next few locks showed a much higher water level before things finally went back to normal.We passed very few moving boats over the next few days as we crossed the junction of the Rivers Trent and Soar and Erewash Canal mooring at Trent Lock for Saturday lunch at the Tea Rooms.

After lunch we headed off along the Erewash, first opened in 1779. The going was a little slower than usual with most of the locks having vandal proof locks on all the lock gear, so it was out with the handcuff key. Not to mention that all the locks were against us, well every lock except one.


We initially thought we would spend the night at Long Eaton however, the moorings were next to a busy main road, we continued on. We arrived at Gallows Inn moorings 15 minutes after it started pouring rain. We seem to be getting regular heavy downpours overnight but the days have been great for cruising, this day right up until around 4pm. The Erewash is a lovely canal, nice and deep too but I must admit I did think we would pass through some quaint villages along the way but that was not the case.

On Sunday we cruised the two hours to Langley Mill in bright sunshine before winding and heading back towards Trent Lock. We didn't quite beat a heavy thunderstorm, I managed to sit under a railway bridge for 10 minutes waiting for it to pass. I was sure there wouldn't be any boats wanting to pass, we only met one moving boat in our whole time on the Erewash.

While we were on the Erewash I did notice the re-purposing of one of the mill chimneys as a telecommunications tower.


When the Erewash Canal was first established mills like these were bustling with commerce and looking forward to a new faster way of getting their bulk goods further afield.

The soccerball count jumped considerably while we were on the Erewash, it now stands at 38.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Grand Union, Braunston to Leicester

We have been short of data and wifi coverage just recently so it is another delayed post.

Heavy rain and a delivery from Amazon delayed our departure from Rugby by an additional day. However the retail parks are nice and close, around five minutes walk, so it was only a case of grabbing our umbrellas and making the short trip when the rain eased a little. Just after 4pm we received a text telling us the parcel had been delivered to the Amazon mailbox in the retail park so we picked up our parcel and headed back to the boat.

On Wednesday we headed off to Braunston, the sun beaming down once again after all the heavy rain the day before. The new marina just out of Braunston has progressed to the point where there are quite a few boats moored there.

Coming into Braunston, just near the 14 day moorings, was a reminder to keep our boat safety checks up to date.

We managed to grab one of the few remaining moorings in Braunston, once again just across from the Boat House Inn. It was just after lunch when we moored so there was plenty of time to visit Midland Chandlers to pick up a few bits and pieces. It was just an overnight stay heading off up the Braunston locks on Thursday morning. A rather busy day as we negotiated the Braunston (2042 yds) and Crick (1528 yds) tunnels, both two-way, I got a decent whack from an on coming, canal hogging boat in the Braunston Tunnel.

In between the two tunnels was Watford Locks, notorious for long waits due to the 4 rise staircase in the middle of the seven locks. Last year we waited four hours to go down! We arrived at the bottom lock, reported to the lock keeper at the second bottom lock who said go straight in. It's all in the timing! We finished the day at Crick, moored across from ABNB Boats where I see Waiouru, Tom and Jan's boat, waiting for a new owner.

Friday was another long cruising day in perfect weather. We passed another new marina being built in North Kilworth where it's always difficult to get passed the moored boats at the wharf, the build was well advanced with jetties already erected.

We finished a longish cruising day mooring at the top of Foxton Locks with plenty of time to have a look around. Across from our mooring was the fork in the canal, heading to the right once took you to the Inclined Plane built 1900 to speed the passage up and down the hill.

The canal arm to the inclined plane.

The top of the inclined plane.

Looking down the hill.

Picture of the working inclined plain with one of the two caissons moving down the hill, a 12 minute journey for two boats as opposed to the 1¼ hours.

We had a visitor while we were exploring the inclined plane, Foxton is a great place to have a drone!

It was important to get away reasonably early on Saturday as the Foxton Locks area attracts lots of visitors, many wanting to be right in the thick of the action (getting in the way) but the weather was patchy so we delayed for an hour to get past the misty rain before setting off. The light rain slowed but didn't stop the visitors.

It took us around 1½ hours to complete the locks after stopping in the middle to wait for three boats coming up to pass. After passing through Saddington Tunnel (881 yds) and completing five more double locks we finished the day on a rural mooring. It wasn't a particularly early finish to the day but it did give me a chance to delve down into the weed hatch and remove a ladies blouse and some chord from the propeller that we picked up at the last bridge.

Sunday was another beautiful summer's day and we were up early for our journey to Kilby Bridge, a good stop for our run into Leicester on Monday. Passed this extravagant teepee arrangement on our way to Kilby Bridge, while we were doing the lock we found out it was a wedding venue.

The water levels in some of the pounds were well down and so it was rather slow progress at times. We arrived at Kilby Bridge just before one o'clock and headed straight for the Navigation Inn for lunch and a cold pint of cider. We received a call over lunch that we were going to have a visitor on Tuesday afternoon for a few days so we decided to stay put for extra day. It gave us a chance to remove a couple of rust spots on the roof of Serafina and treat them with a rust remover where we couldn't completely get the rust out. I also managed to put several coats of clear gloss on the wood work in the engine room. Another beautiful day so, with the work done for now we sat outside until just after 9pm waiting for our visitor to arrive.

It turned out to be very fortuitous having an extra set of hands to work the twelve locks as we headed down to Leicester on another beautiful day. Once again several of the pounds were very low. A discussion with a CRT employee along the way mentioned the possibility of closing the navigation if there wasn't decent rain soon. However, once on to the River Soar the water level increased and so did our speed, Serafina enjoying the increase in water depth.We picked up the last mooring at the Castle Gardens moorings in Leicester, right in town and nice and secure too.

Having toured Leicester late in the season last year we were able to show our visitor around the key sights. I haven't posted any pics here as there were plenty posted in the blog last year.

The soccerball count has now moved to 29.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Fradley, Fazeley and on to Rugby

It's Monday evening as we sit, moored at Rugby for the second evening having just witnessed a short burst of rain, the first in over a week. The days have been terrific, plenty of sun with the last hint of rain last Friday week when we dropped off our visitor; could she have been the culprit?

After completing the paint jobs in Fradley Junction, they were the cream coloured paint jobs, we headed off to Fazeley Junction, the junction of the the Coventry and Birmingham and Fazeley Canals. A nice four hour lockless cruise finishing with filling the water tank at Fazeley before mooring up. I didn't need my BW key, it seems a regular thing now to leave water points open, with the more regular resultant vandalism requiring a pair of pliers to operate the tap.

Rachael designated Fazeley Junction a green paint zone so it was time to paint the stern hatch and the swan neck. In the time between coats we negotiated the bus system and headed into Tamworth, around 6 kilometres away, with a population nearing 80,000. Tamworth, a large market town, has a good sized town centre with all the usual high street shops but more interesting for me was St Editha's Church and the castle.

Tamworth Town Hall with statue of Sir Robert Peel
St Editha's Church sits where there has been a church building since the 7th century, the tower dating back to the 14th century, one of the oldest parts of the current building.

Several stunning glass windows...

And something different with guilt sections on the ceiling and additioanally, guilt bosses.

And the castle opened in 1070 and added and changed since then but mostly it has been a home for the powerful families of the area.

Inside the castle walls

The view from the castle over the park beside the River Tame.

We completed our green paint tasks at Fazeley, which were the aft hatch and the swan neck, over three days and have cruised on stopping again at Polesworth, Hartshill and Rugby, all of which we visited around three weeks ago. Tomorrow we will head off to Braunston and a little further on turn on to the Grand Union Leicester Line to head to the top of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The soccerball count now sits at 24. It was 25 but a floating bicycle helmet deceived me until I was right next to it.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Visitor and a Dab of Paint at Fradley.

It's nearly two weeks since I lasted posted, so what's been going on? What have we been doing? Well, quite a lot actually!

We had made our way to Stoke on Trent for a couple of reasons; we had decided to replace the old floor coverings in Serafina and also to head up to Scotland, we like to put Serafina into a marina rather than leave her on the canal side. Both ventures were very successful, the floor coverings were replaced and look rather good.

We spent four days in Scotland and while we were there we picked up a friend from Australia and showed her a few Scottish sights before bringing her back down to England for four days of cruising on Serafina. I will save you the Scottish tourist shots, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Glasgow and a castle or two.

On Monday (26th) we headed south and after some more sight seeing and shopping along the way we were back on Serafina in time to drop off the rental car and ready to depart by boat in the morning. Having already been out for six weeks we had a short trip in mind for our Australian friend so she could see a few villages and countryside that you rarely get to see as a tourist. We spent nights in Stone, Great Haywood (2) and Rugeley, all on the Trent and Mersey Canal. It rained from the first day we set out right through the time our friend was on board only easing on Friday as we did the short cruise from Great Haywood to Rugeley. We chose Rugeley to finish our friend's trip because the train station is close to the canal.

Saturday was a nice day and the first order of the day was to fill the water tank. Having an extra person on board as well as doing a load of washing and it was rather empty. The water point just outside of Rugeley has great pressure so it was less than a half an hour stop and the tank was very thirsty! Adding so much water really made a difference pushing the bow of the boat well down into the water, much easier to see now. Only another fifteen minutes cruising and we were surrounded by porcelain cisterns and toilet bowls as we cruised through Armitage.

The next order of business was to call into Kings Bromley Wharf for diesel (72p) and holding tank pump-out. Now with all the maintenance items completed we finished off our cruise mooring a Fradley Junction, a regular stopover for us.

Sunday and Monday the weather has been great, plenty of time to relax on the side of the canal. Today however, it was declared a painting day with little rain in sight. So this evening I write with sore knees and tired joints but comfortable knowing the painting looks pretty good!

We plan to do a little more painting tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and head off towards Tamworth when the paint drys, around three to four hours cruising time. Meanwhile Fradley Junction is a lovely place to stay.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

From the Oxford to the Coventry and on to the Trent and Mersey Canal

Rugby's not new to us, it seems we are passing through on a regular basis from cruising season to cruising season. We arrived in Rugby at lunch time so we made the short trek to the pub just up the canal, Bell and Barge Inn, with a Harvester Restaurant. We had shopping to do so it was a two night stay for us as we made our way in to the town centre by bus.

On Wednesday we were off early along a well cruised path making it to Hawkesbury Junction before lunch having only stopped for water at Rose Narrowboats, the last of two loads of washing finishing as we were filling the water tank. At Hawkesbury we turned right on to the Coventry Canal, it was not long before we were passing Charity Dock, which hasn't changed in the four years we have been cruising.

It was a great day for cruising so we continued on to Nuneaton we were made a stop for the 15 minute trek into town to catch the large market. Lots to see and but there, we had around an hour before it was all starting to close up. A lite dinner and we were back on the boat for an evening cruise, passing some nice communal garden plots along the way to our rural mooring just near Bridge 27.

Thursday we cruised for five minutes to Springwood Haven Marina to fill with diesel at 0.74p domestic, Serafina took 110 litres.

Rachael got busy on the camera taking some wildlife pictures in-between working the boat down the Atherstone Flight of 11 locks and the two Glascote Locks at Tamworth.

We continued on through Fazeley Junction turning right and heading for Fradley Junction only to catch up with a boat cruising at tick-over and not in a mind to be passed. It was a good time to finish our day near Tanborn House Bridge.

After turning on to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Fradley we cruised on through Rugeley were we made a short stop to find the railway station in preparation for dropping our friend off in the next few weeks as we show her a small part of the canal system. Cruising out of Rugeley we crossed the River Trent, one of the rivers feeding the Trent and Mersey Canal.

We were ready to buy some eggs along the way but none left!

We cruised on to one of our favourite moorings just below Haywood Lock at Great Haywood. I also like Tixal Wides just near here, Great Haywood is such a lovely area.

We are starting to see a few of these new signs erected by the Canal and River Trust with a little of the history of the area.

Saturday was finally a nice short cruise, this cow wasn't too happy to hear us coming and couldn't get out quick enough.

We were enjoying our cruise right up until the traffic jam at Aston Lock where we were behind three other boats going up the lock, slowing us significantly. We managed to get the last mooring at Stone before having to do another lock to find a mooring. Just in time for lunch at the Poste of Stone Inn and a welcome drink on a rather hot day.

Sunday we were up early as another hot day was predicted. We weren't keen to do both the Stone Locks and the Stoke Locks in the middle of the day. Cruising out of Stone I took a couple of shots of the old warehouses.

It was a little chaotic when we came across these canoeists all over the canal but slowed down while they got themselves sorted.

We have passed this old boat yard, now residence several times but this time I took the time to get a few pictures.

All was going well until we met an older lady waiting at the bottom of Stoke Locks for some help, she was single handing a boat all the way to Manchester to have it blacked. Why she wasn't taking it just down from her mooring we didn't get around to finding out. So, it was myself and another boater working three boats up the Stoke Locks, that wasn't fun! She continued on with lots of locks to go to get to Manchester, we on the other hand moored at Stoke just after the top lock.