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
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..