We fancied cruising on Saturday even though light rain was forecast all day. After picking up our Saturday paper and saying goodbye to some of the boaters we had met whilst at Fazeley we set off for Kings Bromley.
I said yesterday that we were moored next to an ‘earworm’ boat and the guy was leaving as we went to get the paper. We both remembered each other and our boats but, as usual, not our names. We had spent a couple of weeks moored around Polesworth two years ago and bumped into each other occasionally since.
I did explain to him that I don’t like seeing his boat and he immediately guessed (and understood why) 😊
We were now on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal and wanted to get to the end and turn left onto the Trent & Mersey at Fradley junction. We find the Birmingham & Fazeley canal quaint because it has bridge names plaques, rather than just a number plaque as on most canals, and also stanking plank stores built into the bridge supports.
Hopwas School Bridge showing the name, rather than the number as on most canals, and the door to the stanking plank store
Even though it rained nearly all day we saw lots of boats on the move.
Karen walked with Buddy the first four miles or so and I drove the boat.
The rain suddenly came down harder around midday so we stopped for lunch a bit earlier than planned. We stopped just after Streethay Wharf – a boatyard that takes us back to the olden days. At the start of tea/coffee/lunch breaks a bell rings and all the workers file into a workman’s hut and all file back to work when the bell rings again.
Just after we set off again, the engine started straining and I realised that something was caught round the prop. I drifted the nose into the bank with the stern sticking halfway across the cut and Karen stood on the deck ready to indicate to oncoming boats that we were immobile. I couldn’t believe that it was just a plastic builders sand bag that practically stopped us dead! Mind you, they are made of quite sturdy plastic.
Approaching Fradley junction a couple of guys on a moored boat were gesticulating at me and I realised they were warning me of some large logs that had fallen in the water. I came to a stop and had a quick chat – they had been rescuing them with a grappling hook on a line and piling them on their boat. I tried to reach a couple but I only had my short boat hook at the back of the boat so I left them to it.
We stopped at the junction to take on water and get rid of yet more recycling and rubbish. Whilst we were standing waiting for the tank to fill Marie and Ray came by with their two dogs. They retired some while ago and moved onto their boat and we have often bumped into each other. They had it repainted recently and renamed it, ‘Two Odd Nuts’ which is a great name and must bring a few smiles to passers by. We mutually follow each other: they via our blog and we via Ray's social media posts on his runs and Marie’s on their cruises.
Just as we were putting the hose away a guy came along and was saying hello to Buddy and saying things like, "You're Buddy aren't you?". He introduced himself as Roger from Celtic Kiwi but already knew our names as he recognised us from the blog. He and Heather are on Celtic Kiwi and we have been leapfrogging each other over the last week. They are Aussies and have a six-week share in the boat that they take every spring which works out really well for them as they get a long break in the UK. The majority of shares in a boat don’t offer more than two or three weeks in one stretch so this means they only have to fly back and forth from Oz once a year.
Roger and Heather write a blog too and coincidentally this picture of our boat was the front cover on their entry yesterday 😊
We decided to do the top two locks at Fradley and then Wood End lock and moor up a mile later at Kings Bromley. We know a quiet spot there but it is very popular with continuous cruisers as it is close to a bridge with ample car parking. So, it was fingers crossed there would be room on the Armco so we wouldn’t have to use pins. We turned left at the junction towards the north west, right carries on to join the River Trent near Nottingham.
We were now going up the locks and, as is always the case when you change from up to down or single to double etc., it takes a lock or two before getting into the swing of how to operate them efficiently.
Approaching Wood End lock I was reminded of the pretty lock bridges at many of the locks on this part of the Trent & Mersey:
Karen walked quite a bit during the day and was forever on the look out for wild garlic as now is the season for using it. She finally found some by Wood End lock:
Just before the lock is one of the 94 mileposts on the Trent & Mersey. We have pictures of a lot of them but are still missing 25 or so. 59 of the mileposts are originals from 1819 (they weren’t installed when the canal was opened in 1777) and the remainder were replacements installed in 1977 to mark the bi-centenary (and to fill in gaps where the original had been nicked or whatever).
There was still room for three boats when we arrived at Kings Bromley and we moored up and retired for the evening.
Ironically the rain stopped after we moored, and it turned into a really pleasant evening – see photo at the top where there are reflections all around, including on the side of the boat which was surprising as it hasn’t been cleaned or polished for months ☹
Half an hour after mooring I popped outside and saw the remaining spaces had been taken so we had arrived just in time.
We travelled 13 miles through three locks during the day, leaving us only 68 miles and 33 locks to get to the Peak District in a fortnight to meet up with friends and family.
Our travels since Monday
We will have a cruise on Sunday, probably to a good remote spot we know just beyond Great Haywood, with a lunchtime stop in Rugeley. Monday is meant to be really wet and windy, so we don’t plan on moving then.