Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Stone (so many orange tips on the wing)


What a gorgeous morning it was on Tuesday.  Mornings like this just make us want to get on the move so get on the move we did!  Our rough plan was to cruise the seven miles or so to Stone, go up three of the four locks in the town and then moor for the night.

Early morning breakfast view from our mooring at Ingestre

We set off after breakfast and were soon passing the winding hole I mentioned yesterday.  This is where the Shirleywich arm used to lead off to the saltworks at Shirleywich which were established in the mid-1600s.  You can imagine what a boon it must have been when the Trent & Mersey canal opened in 1771 thus greatly improving transport links.

Going past where the Shirleywich arm used to leave the T&M

We lost count of the number of orange tip butterflies we saw patrolling along the towpath as we drove along and Karen also saw a couple of green veined whites when she was walking at one point.  As many people have reported over the last week or so, there were swallows everywhere, constantly dipping into the water and wheeling in the sky.  We saw our first swallows when we were at Flecknoe on 19th  April – that was when the weather was really hot for a couple of days.  

I was really pleased to see a pair of lapwings right at the water’s edge, about six feet away from the boat; I’ve never seen them that close before and they didn’t take flight as we passed.  Seeing orange tips and swallows, which are both harbingers of spring, reminded us that we haven’t heard a cuckoo yet this spring.

The canal passes through some lovely open countryside on the way to Stone and still runs alongside the River Trent for much of the way.

  
  
Soon after going up Weston lock and the little village of Weston upon Trent we came to Salt, another small village which we remember well as it has a rather over the top bridge as far as Trent & Mersey canal bridges go.

  Probably one of the most photographed bridges over the T&M

The West Coast railway line ran alongside the canal for a lot of the morning and when the fast Virgin trains flashed by it made me glad to be pottering along at 3mph.  Canals and railways often run side by side taking advantage of relatively flat river valleys. 

We were soon approaching Aston-by-Stone where Aston lock is the half way point of the Trent and Mersey canal. 

Karen driving into Aston lock

I’m sorry to include yet another milepost but this is the one at Aston lock which shows that we are practically equidistant from Preston Brook (the northern end) and Shardlow (1 ½ miles from the southern end).

Original milepost at the half way point at Aston lock

I mentioned the other day that the original posts were cast by Rangely & Dixon in 1819, hence the maker's plate, 'R&D STONE 1819'.  Their foundry was in Stone, which was where we were heading for today, and I found out today that they ceased trading ten years later in 1829.  I trust these facts weren’t related

There was also a stanking plank store at Aston lock 😉

When Karen was coming up the lock a boat appeared the other way and their dog had great fun playing with Buddy whilst they waited for us.  The lady explained that the dog tends to bump into things; it has a strange complaint where its eyes and optic nerve seem fine but for some reason the brain misinterprets what it sees.

 

Karen getting a picture of a milepost

We arrived at Stone in time for lunch.  The visitor moorings were fairly quiet, and we carried on past them to the water point at the bottom lock.  There was one boat about to take on water and another already queuing, so we pulled the boat back and moored for lunch.  We took advantage of the sun and wind and hung the washing out to dry.

After lunch we went for a wander around town and to see if we could find some summer plants.  We weren’t as successful as our last trip here for plants but got a few fuchsia and petunia seedlings.  We also took advantage of the town and topped up with fruit and salad.   

Walking back after our shopping trip

The water point was empty when we walked past it, so I pulled the boat forward and topped up.  We then decided to go up one more lock and moor at the visitor moorings above the lock.

The bottom lock at Stone next to the Star, hence the lock name – Star lock

The visitor moorings on the towpath side were full but empty on the offside which gives an easy access into town.

Our mooring for Tuesday evening at Stone

Our original intention for the day had been to go up the next lock, Yard lock, call at the boatyard for oil, diesel, coal etc. and then go through Newcastle Road lock and moor at the top end of town.  The boatyard would have been on the verge of closing when we got there so we decided to stay put for the evening.

So today we travelled eight miles through four locks and tomorrow we may or may not move onto Stoke – it all depends on the weather which looks pretty crap at the moment.

1 comment:

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