Friday, 25 October 2019

Middlewich to Hatherton

My apologies for the lack of posts but a combination of poor signal and the inability of my phone to link effectively with my laptop meant that frustration stopped play!  All is well now so in the words of the song I will 'finish what I started'...

Wednesday dawned overcast and by the time we had made our way into Middlewich it was raining cats and dogs. Mooring up above Kings Lock Joe went into the Kings Lock Chandlery to get some diesel for the Refleks stove, there was already a  boat on the service mooring hence Joe walking down with a five litre can instead.  I had also requested another key for the water/diesel tanks while he was there.   As I was tidying lines etc.  the chap in the adjacent boat came out to warn me that two boats, one of which was his, had had their windows broken the previous night by local youths. Nice..

When Himself arrived back with the diesel and key we set off again and I contemplated whether I was going to use the plastic key he brought back or frame it... £5 for a plastic key seemed a tad exhorbitant!
Kings Lock Middlewich

 Watering at Wheelock

We were aiming to moor at Wheelock overnight and tackle the Cheshire locks the next day. Having got ourselves moored we took ourselves off to The Cheshire Cheese for a late lunch cum dinner and a pint of ale.
After a quiet night we set off before 8am and started the long haul up heart break hill.  All but two locks were against me so I was turning locks all the way but we were joined after a couple of locks by a crew of four experienced boating Aussies in a Black Prince hire boat. With me leading and cracking locks for them and they closing the gates behind Steadfast allowing me to prepare the next lock or locks we made excellent progress.

 A bright start to the day on Heart break Hill

Arriving at the last locks before Red Bull services I spotted a boat that looked both distinctive and rather familiar. As we approached looking to moor behind this boat we spotted a chap on the towpath. Joe tooted the horn and I waved as I walked along the towpath towards him. Of course said chap didn't recognise the 'new' boat and was obviously befuddled by the scruffy old biddy waving at him... I saw the light bulb go on we he recognised us and was greeted by a most welcome bear hug.

NB Seyella, Geoff and Margaret's boat

The kettle went on and we joined Geoff and Mags and old dog Meg for a welcome cuppa and a catch up on all the news.  We all crossed the Wash together in a convoy of Narrowboats back in 2015.

 Taking our leave the following morning, Geoff and Mags and below Meg the dog

We got off just before 10.00 on the Friday and made our way to tunnel where we were waved through. We took on water at the south portal and worked our way through Stoke stopping for a break above Etruria.

 The must have photo of a bottle kiln

 Middleport Potteries

 Etruria flint and bone Mill

 The overnight stop on Friday night was Barlaston

Next morning we were woken by the distinct engine note of a Lister and peering out of the porthole saw tunnel lights approaching in the pitch dark and lashing rain. Historic boats, The King, Ilford and Thea heading north. We headed back to bed.
On Saturday we made our way into Stone, stopping at Stone Boat Building for diesel before mooring up above Star lock. Sadly Stone Boat Building will be closing this winter, another chandler bites the dust. 
We did some shopping and had lunch in town.

Next morning we were away before 8am on a lovely sunny day. We made our way to Great Haywood and turned onto the Staffs and Worcs for the last leg of our Autumn cruise.   We moored on Tixal Wide and I cooked a roast dinner and then we just took it easy for the rest of Sunday.

Our final night out was spent moored on the service point at Otherton Marina. The staff had gone home and we were invited to moor up by resident boaters to await the services of the marina pump-out the next morning.  I washed the side of the boat down and made friends with Monty a Wheaton Terrier.  The next morning the boat was serviced and we got on our way for the last stretch to Hatherton.

Gailey round house, the last picture of our cruise.

We will be back in a couple of weeks to move Steadfast to Glascote Basin Tamworth more of which later..

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Visitors and perfect cruising

We woke on Monday to a dreary dank day following Sunday's persistent rain. Setting off shortly after 7.30 we headed north towards Nantwich where we moored close to the aqueduct so we could go into town.  We needed to buy diesel for the Refleks stove in the saloon and a few bits and pieces.  We found Morrison's, got diesel and odds and ends then went looking for a traditional Cafe for a traditional breakfast.
Once breakfasted we headed back to Steadfast and moved off to the Nantwich arrive point.

Filling with water

Once serviced we moved on a couple of miles to Barbridge where we moored up outside the pub. We were going to meet Pip and Rog Haynes of NB Windsong the next day for a catch up. They now live in this part of the world though they no longer boat. We met this morning over a coffee in the pub after a quick tour of Steadfast.

We turned on to the Middlewich Arm after we parted with our guests and headed towards Middlewich.   After three and a half hours with our batteries re-charged we moored up for the day just short of our planned destination.  A lovely sunny day, perfect for cruising.

Our overnight mooring

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Chilling at Coole Pilate

We woke at about 5am, I was hussled out of my pit to make tea for Himself....and me of course.
We were on the move at 7.45 on a clear autumn morning heading for the fifteen locks of the Audlem flight.

We moored up after completing eleven locks, only passing two boats on the way up, and toddled into Audlem village to look at the artwork in the Audlem Mill and then a quick raid of the local Co'op for a few bits. Back at the boat we had a belated breakfast before resuming our journey.

Joe 'shooting the rapids' as he leaves lock 12.

 The viscious side stream as you leave lock 12

 Shroppie Fly looking just a bit tired and uninviting.

Moored at Coole Pilate for tomorrow's
G1 Grand Prix. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Destination...Market Drayton

We left Norbury Junction as the ground aired, plans to stop on the water point abandoned as it was already occupied by someone up and about before us..
The first bridge after Norbury was the much photographed High Bridge so I also snapped away.

Approaching High Bridge

The Anchor  at High Offley, probably not much changed since the 1930’s but characterful for all that.

Approaching the ex chocolate factory with its loading dock for Narrowboats where chocolate product was transported to Cadbury's at Bournville.  That cargo must have been better than coal, apart pilfered chocolate isn't going to heat the back cabin...

                                               Deep cuttings require big bridges

                                                 The first of the Tyrley locks.  No water pointthere any longer but we were able to get rid of the accumulated rubbish.

Overnight mooring in Market Drayton. Joe went off into town to buy a hack saw, loads at home but none on the boat when he needs one.  The folding exhaust stack is going to be beheaded.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Another hectic day

A lazy start to the day we had read the papers, done the crosswords and  drunk tea before thinking about getting up and dressed and on our way.  The joggers had been passed at seven am and a buzz saw was busy at the top of the Brewood embankment from just after seven and as we set off at 8.40 the offspring of Brewood were squealing and shouting enmasse ahead of being caged for lessons.
Our first stop was going to be Wheaton Aston for diesel.

Fuel here is still very reasonable and maybe the cheapest on the cut.  As we were almost finished fueling another Narrowboat was pulling in.  We moved across to the towpath side and moored up to have some late breakfast or early lunch resuming our journey after a couple of hours but we did cram a hot shower into that break.

 Sunlit Shroppie with hardly any boats moving.

Moored Norbury Junction after four and bit hours moving.  Time to rest ahead of another hectic day. Supper was on board, homemade turkey burgers, spinach and cheesy mash...oh, and vino.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Shroppie bound

We set off below glowering skies late morning yesterday.  About an hour out the heavens opened and gave the boat a good wash which saved me a job.

We were well wrapped with wet weather gear but we pulled over and moored up to let the worst of the rain pass through and we had a cuppa.  We are heading south towards Authersley junction where we were going to turn on to The Shropshire Union. We haven't been this way for a while so time to revisit.

We passed this floating garden centre enroute to Authersley.

Negotiating the narrows north of Wolverhampton.

Steadfast has turned on the Shroppie and I have prepared the stop lock.  We pulled into Napton Narrowboats for a pump-out before continuing on towards Brewood where we planned to overnight.

Our overnight mooring at Brewood.  We had a walk around this award winning village, chatted to a number of local dog walkers and had the essential 'dog fix' now we are without our own dogs and dined in The Bridge pub which was welcoming, clean, sold good beer and presented us with a pleasant repaste.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Folding Exhaust Pipe

This is work in progress but after our trip down to Stourport last month it was evident that a folding exhaust stack was highly desirable.  Joe had built one for our previous boat, Yarwood, but on this occasion we had access to a highly skilled fabricator so Joe designed what he wanted and sourced the materials then handed all to Jeff for him to work his magic.

We tried it out yesterday and with some minor adjustments around the methodology of getting it to rise and lower job should be a 'good ern.'

Monday, 7 October 2019

Steadfast revealed.

Steadfast was in last week with Phil Jones Marine at Hatherton Marina for grit blasting, two pack blacking, replacing her anodes, removal of cant seats and repainting of tunnel bands. Here are the photos taken of her experience.

We are off this morning to bring Steadfast back to her berth in Hatherton. Joe is going to 'polish' the fuel before we go off tomorrow on our autumn cruise.