Thursday, 25 February 2016

Great Haywood (and a trip into Stafford)

If the trees weren't bare this could be a day in the summer

Wow!  That was a hard frost on Tuesday night – the first time our mooring ropes have been really solid this year.  The roof was also very icy so great care had to be taken when climbing down the lock ladders onto the roof to get back onto the boat at each lock.

Ropes frozen solid
It was such a sunny day that we set off for Great Haywood straight after breakfast.  We were soon entering Stone in Staffordshire.  Our memories of this town were from last summer when the town hosted a music festival on one of the wettest weekends of the summer.  We also remembered a couple of pubs by the locks but as they were so dreary looking and packed we gave them a miss.  As it was only about 9.30 in the morning we gave them a miss this time through too.

The North entrance to Stone
A boat yard near the centre seems to be hosting and renovating old working boats.

Boatyard full of converted and restored working boats
The towpath had its own tunnel under the road at the first lock.

A Buddy tunnel
Then we passed the original site of Joules brewery but they are now based in Market Drayton.  We paid a visit to the Market Drayton brewery on one of our trips up the Shropshire Union.  We remember the brewery could be smelt across town and down to the canal.

Old brewery building in the centre of Stone
A highlight for us was passing the midway point of the Trent & Mersey canal.  Although pedants would disagree about it being at this point as the canal continues for 1 ½ the other side of Shardlow to its real end when it hits the River Trent at Derwent Mouth.

Milepost with 46 miles in each direction
The lumberjack precariously balanced up the tree was left by his two workmates who came to see us through a lock.

Abandoned up a tree
This bridge is really out of character with the rest of the bridges on the canal.  I assume it was built in this way to appease the landowner when the canal was built.

Can't remember which bridge this was
This chair tickled us – maybe it was a case of, “your chair’s on the roof” akin to, “your dinner’s in the dog”.

It was another still day as seen in this reflective shot of a moored boat.

The Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal starts at Great Haywood junction and runs for 46 miles down to Stourport on the River Severn, thus linking the North West to places like Gloucester and Bristol.

The start of the Staffs & Worcs canal - another one of our favourites
We saw a few boats on the move today and one came out of the last lock of the day which was handy for us.

Coming in to Great Haywood lock after a boat had just left
The moorings at Great Haywood junction were packed so we continued on for a bit and moored overlooking Shugborough Hall having covered eight miles and gone down eight locks. We caught a taxi into Stafford to get some papers signed - our first visit to Stafford.  It was very quiet as it was early closing day, unusual for such a large town to still have an early closing day.  When we got back we spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat.

These are the other six locks we went through during the day.


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