Sunday, 28 September 2014

Turning the corner - North to Norbury 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 97 Coven to Autherley Junction, onto Little Onn - 13 miles 2 locks
Day 98 To Norbury Junction - 5.5 miles
Days 99 and 100 at Norbury Junction

We continued our cruise south along the Staffordshire and Worcestershire towards Autherley Junction. Here the original Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal joined from Nantwich in 1835. Both canals are now in the Canal and River Trust's hydrology unit for water supplies - both being fed by the BCN down from Wolverhampton and significantly by the sewerage works at Autherley Junction.
The weather stays kind though fleeces are needed at times. We stopped in the country at Little Onn on a rare deep edge and had our last bbq and a wood brazier to enjoy dusk.

On the Staffs and Worcs at Pendenford Narrows - having just entered we passed this boat that had waited

Looking back at the single width cut through the sandstone outcrop

Chris steers the boat clear of 'the narrows'!

Having turned north onto the Shroppie. Sitting in the Stop Lock No.1, looking back at the junction, bridge and finger post

Completed in 1835, the B'ham and Liverpool Junction Canal was engineered by Thomas Telford with 'modern' design principles of straight, wide sections - as seen here

Crossing the A5, the ornate Stretton Aqueduct - it could do with a paint!

BBQ and wood brazier
Encountering one of the familiar solid, high road bridges

Into Cowley Tunnel, through the sandstone ridge - 74m long

Looking back through Cowley Tunnel

The CRT Yard at Norbury Jnc - with work boats and materials ready for winter maintenance

nb Song of the Waterways - looking good!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Southwards on the Staffs and Worcester from Tixall Wide Sept 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 94 Tixall Wide to Penkridge - 9 miles and 5 locks
Day 95 Penkridge to Bogg's Lock, before Gailey - 2.5 miles and 5 locks
Day 96 Gailey Locks to Coven - 5 miles and 2 locks

We are continuing our, everso leisurely, homeward cruise along the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal. This is part of the popular Four Counties Ring - so at times quite busy, especially midmorning as boaters set off!
We last did this section as long ago as August 2005 - not a lot has changed?!

The weather has been quite gentle though Autumn has definitely arrived with colder nights and some night rain and a colder wind - interspersed with a warming sun.
Photos of the 3 days for interest.

Looking across Tixall Wide at Tixall Gate House - built in 1580. The House was built by Sir Edward Aston as his family home - though used to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots for 2 weeks in 1586. The House was demolished in 1927?

First weedhatch visit of the day - a long length of bramble from recent lockside strimming!

Although it cannot be seen - on this section after Milford, the bottom is close to the top!

Severe pruning?!

Reeds encroach - fortunately nothing coming the other way

Chris discussing matters at the Deptmore Lock - another deep one at 10' 3"

2nd visit down the weedhatch - more brambles and a thistle! Just not my day!

Mind your head! Limited room up the boaters steps at Park Gate Lock No.40

Longford Lock - looking at the traffic jam on the M6

Evening shadow - in the warm sun at Penkridge

The following day, we enter Penkridge Lock

Another one of Brindley's deep locks at 10'3"

Waiting for Chris to set the lock at Robaston Lock No.35 - less deep at 8'6"

Instructions from the Tories - here at Gailey Wharf

Gailey Round House - actually the Lock Keepers house, built around 1771. The bottom floor was the old office - now a delightful shop, where I managed to get a horse brass of the Shropshire Union Canal. The unique round structure gives good views of the canal in both directions

Petrol chemical works at Calf Heath

Looking up the derelict Hatherton Canal which rises through 17 locks to the northern BCN. Plans are in place for it's restoration which must involve new routes being taken - a major undertaken - see this interesting link
Evidence of a transhipment wharf, next to the railway approaching Slade Heath

Sunday, 21 September 2014

North to Great Haywood Sept 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 90 Tesco's, Br.68 and a bbq on the Trent & Mersey - 7 miles
Day 91 Great Haywood Junction and the turn to Tixall wide - 4.5 miles and 2 locks
Day 92/93 Tixall Wide

Brindley's concept of the Grand Trunk Canal - now the Trent and Mersey - is amazing! It curls it's way past hamlets and towns, connecting people at a 18th century speed.
And so we cruised into Rugeley where we have often stopped and never stayed?! Today's destination was a close-by Tesco to stock our larder and wine store!
The weather had a warm blanket of comfort with a gentle breeze that whispered bbq!
So we did - out in the country after Br.No.68.

The next day started wet (so jackets for the first time for simply ages!) and locks up to Shugborough. We tested the TV signal which seemed poor so went on via the busy water point outside the Anglo-Welsh Yard and then turned up the Staffs and Worcestershire.
Good moorings to be had at Tixall Wide for the weekend - here til Monday!

Leaves have started to fall - is it now early autumn?

Passing a coal boat by the Armitage Factory

Looking back at the massive Armitage Shanks Factory

Toilets ready for shipping ...

This section features the industrial solidity of these edging girders to combat mining subsistence in the area

Entering the blind Armitage 'Tunnel' - I got off and walked ahead to check!

Armitage Tunnel was cut out of the sandstone ridge - subsequently opened out in 1971 due to subsidence with the A513 running overhead

Rugeley cooling towers

New house building on the outskirts of Rugeley

Moving north from Rugeley - a view of the River Trent

Considerate garden owners have given this 'Swan Area'

Plenty of water flowing around the byweir

Lock 21 at Colwich - a typical Brindley Lock, though with 'stubby' lock beams

Due to the short lock beams, extra weight is added

Giant gunnera - without a zoom?!

Busy boating at the Great Haywood water point

We are heading for Wolverhampton

Great mooring to be had at Tixall Wide - constructed to look like a lake to appease the Landowner Thomas Clifford

Fazeley to Fradley on the Coventry Canal Sept 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 88 To Bridge No.81 on the Coventry Canal - 6 miles
Day 89 To Fradley Jnc, then up the Trent & Mersey - 7 miles, 3 locks and 1 swing bridge

The history of this section is interesting as the Coventry Canal had not reached Fazeley by the time the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company had set off towards Fradley and the connection with the then Grand Trunk Canal (Trent & Mersey Canal).
In turn, eager to make the connection to the coalfields of the East Midlands, the Grand Trunk Canal Company had constructed the canal towards Fazeley.
Eventually, as finances improved, the Coventry Canal Company bought back this section - so there is an isolated section of the B'ham and Fazeley sandwiched between the sections of the northern Coventry Canal - finally finished in 1789.
Nowadays, it is just called the Coventry Canal!

The gentle warm breeze of this late summer kept us company as our leisurely cruise north continued. We found a great, open and sunny mooring just before Br.No.81 - with other boats - and stopped early (with good TV/signals too).
The next day we headed for Fradley Junction, intending to moor above Shade House Lock - however, the shuttering had run out and we beached on the edge - so carried on north along the Trent and Mersey to find a good spot (with others) just before Br.No.55.

Car seats - discarded into the canal

This boat has been here for more than 14 days!

The Canal Trust says that 4% of boaters don't have current licences - that's an estimated 1280 boats at a minimum of £500 each. £640K would build quite a few new lock gates though? Besides, by allowing non-payers, it signals it's OK to avoid the rules?!
This sign is at the Huddlesford Junction - Ogley Jnc is on the BCN near Anglesey Basin (we were up there last year - see link). Although it is only 7 miles, there are major roads to cross and the M6 Toll - besides the matter of where the HS2 is going to carve through?!

Looking back up the moorings for the Lichfield Canal Society - I was told they have the land to build a marina at some point - HS2 depending?

We called in at the working Streethay Wharf for a pump out

A low road bridge

A classic view of the Swan at Fradley Junction - we go left ...

Chris steering into Shade House Lock

A really old mooring bollard - still works though?

Shade House Lock - a classic Brindley design

Next lock up is Wood End Lock with these heavy cantilevered gate beams. The proposed HS2 route comes right through here - although I have recently read that the IWA Reps and MPs from the HS2 Select Committee have done a site visit to discuss the Alternative Route

The picturesque Wood End Cottage - similarly threatened by the HS2 folly?!