Monday, 30 April 2018

Ingestre (winter seems to have returned)

One of the seemingly many meetings we have with boats at bridge holes - I had to let this one through

With abysmal weather forecast for Monday we decided to move on Sunday.  The aim was to get beyond Great Haywood to a short stretch of Armco out in the open countryside.  We didn’t set out until 11.30 by which time all the other boats moored with us, except the ccers, had long since left on their travels.
I have to admit that I felt quite cold when I took Buddy out for his first walk and so we decided to keep the stove on tick over all day.  Not only that, I put on a thermal top as I knew I’d be standing on the back of the boat without moving for most of the day; it must be psychological, but I felt it was colder than many winter days.  I suspect it’s because you expect it to be cold in the winter but not at the end of April.

We were soon going through Armitage (home of Armitage Shanks) and passing the stockpiles of porcelain toilets.  I have refrained from including a picture of them this time as I think it probably only interests Aileen and she has seen them many times herself as well as pictures from each time we’ve gone past (sorry Aileen 😊).

Just outside Armitage we passed Celtic Kiwi with Roger and Heather on board having a coffee break:

A little further on was the old tunnel whose roof has been removed.  It is only wide enough for one boat and as there is a bend at one end you cannot see if a boat is coming the other way.  It’s fine if you have crew because they can go ahead and check, but the last couple of times I came through I was on my own.  That meant mooring up, running down the towpath, checking there was nothing coming and then running back to get through as quickly as possible 😊

Today was fine as Karen was off the boat with Buddy and went ahead to phone me when it was OK to go.

The narrows

Another shot of the narrows with Buddy walking ahead

We were soon approaching Rugeley with its four distinctive cooling towers that can be seen for miles around.  There are quite a few bridges on the way into town and, although there were few boats on the move, we seemed to meet one at every bridge, so someone has to give way.

We moored at the visitor moorings in Rugeley and had lunch before popping into the Tesco by the canal for a few provisions.

Karen had walked the five miles to Rugeley and was able to get some good pictures of the mileposts I mentioned yesterday.  Although we have travelled the 93 ½ mile length of the Trent & Mersey several times and therefore probably seen all the mileposts there are some we still haven’t taken pictures of.  Also, many of the existing pictures are blurry and need replacing.

The canal was opened in 1777, but the mileposts weren’t installed until 1819 and they were cast by the Rougeley & Dixon foundry in Stone (half way along the canal), hence the ‘R & D Stone 1819’ plate on the originals that remain:

These posts will be 200 years old next year!
To celebrate the canal’s bi-centenary in 1977 the Trent & Mersey Canal Society (T&MCS) arranged for new mileposts to be installed where the originals had gone missing. 

A replacement milepost with the inscription ‘T&MCS 1977’

Each replacement milepost was sponsored by private benefactors or local companies or both.  Plates can be found at the bottom of the posts with inscriptions about the sponsorship.

The inscription from the post above reading, ‘This milepost was donated and unveiled by Owen and Bob Hall for the joys of boating’.   Further plates can be seen with the mileposts on our ‘Mile markers’ tab.

Soon after leaving Rugeley the canal goes over the River Trent and for most of the journey up to Stoke-on-Trent the river runs alongside the canal.  The trees growing between the canal and river provide shady and damp conditions which are ideal for wild garlic.  Consequently, cruising at this time of year means you are often accompanied by the wonderful smell of wild garlic.  It is especially rife up at the far end of the canal between Anderton and Preston Brook.  

Cruising over the River Trent

We were soon going past Shuckburgh Hall at Great Haywood.  This is a popular spot for boaters and there were a dozen or so boats moored up already but we wanted to carry on for a couple of miles or so before stopping for the day.

Approaching Haywood lock with its quaint stone bridge

From Haywood onwards, the River Trent is gentle and makes ideal spots for children (and adults 😉) to go paddling.  Even Buddy has been known to go in on very hot days to cool his feet.

There are also many boats moored above the lock as it is Great Haywood junction.  This is where the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal heads all the way down to the River Avon at Worcester.

STOP PRESS:  Alf has pointed out that it's the River Severn at Worcester, not the River Avon - sorry for the typo!

Pretty towpath bridge at the junction

The last lock of the day was Hoo Mill lock complete with its own stanking plank shelter and milepost.  All the stanking plank shelters on the Trent & Mersey that we have seen are open and have shallow sloping corrugated roofs.

We moored at a place called Ingestre which is a strange looking word but pronounced Ingister.  We were going to moor further on but this spot is quiet enough and we were on our own.

Moored at the pleasantly named Pasturefields bridge at Ingestre

We travelled 11 miles through three locks on Sunday and didn’t get rained on all day 😊

Where we’ve been since Karen stopped working a week ago