Monday, 19 September 2011

Lots of Canals

We left Gailey on Friday morning, the weather wasn't as bad as we thought but we did get a few showers throughout the day.  Our plan was to cruise to Tixall Wide as its another one of those places where we have always wanted to moor but it has never fitted into a 'hirers' schedule.  We did the first few locks into Penkridge queuing behind a couple of boats.  We stopped in Penkridge and went to do some shopping, we then had lunch and set off again, the next lock had five boats waiting, this slowed our progress somewhat as there wasn't much traffic coming in the other direction.  We gradually passed some, as they moored until the last few locks towards Tixall there was just one boat that we kept catching as the were in the lock or exiting.  As we approached Tixall Wide we didn't think we were going to get in but we did just manage.  As we moored the owners of NB Bradgold started chatting to us.  They were the last Heartwood narrowboat.  About two hours later we said our goodbyes, it was by then dark and the temperature had dropped.  Dinner went from a planned meat and veg to a quick pasta!

Saturday started with showers, a couple of which we sat out before leaving Tixall wide, other than just one other quick but heavy downpour it was a sunny autumn day.  The twelve miles we travelled covered three canals, we left Tixall wide on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire, turned onto the Trent and Mersey at Great Haywood and then we turned onto the Coventry at Fradley Junction.  The Coventry then becomes the Birmingham and Fazeley for a short time before reverting to the Coventry Canal.  We planned to moor above the locks at Fradley but it was full so we went down there was quiet a lot of boats coming off the Coventry turning up the Trent & Mersey so John was hovering between moored boats as we couldn't get into the turning and I was having to direct them as they couldn't see if anything was coming down, which boats were as well as coming up the locks, it was quiet interesting!  The visitor moorings on the Coventry were full as well, so we continued just after the first bridge and moored in a nice spot.  We walked back to the Swan (Mucky Duck) the boats were still coming up and down the locks even as it was getting dark.

On Sunday we continued down the Coventry, this is a section of canal that we haven't done before and we were pleasantly surprised its much more rural than we expected, passing through woodland, meadows and not unpleasant urban areas.  The canal through Tamworth was pleasant with no rubbish.  We passed Alvecote Priory and Pooley Hall an area of reclaimed spoil heaps.  We moored by bridge 50.

Today we set off and used the services before arriving at Atherstone Locks, there are still restrictions on these locks, opening at 08:30.  We have been chatting to a number of boats all of which were planning to be there for the opening at 8:30 so we decided to arrive a bit later hoping then that by the time we started there would be some boats coming down, and no queue, which turned out to be a good decision, as we arrived there was no one queuing and as we exited the first lock there was a boat coming down, it was like that for the flight except the last two locks.  We moored up at the top of the flight and went for a walk around Atherstone, we then decided to continue at bit further and have moored by bridge 28.

Penkridge Lock

River Sow, Staffs & Worc Canal

Tixall Wide

Great Haywood

Trent & Mersey

The neatest allotments we have ever seen

Coventry Canal

Atherstone Locks

Friday 12.5 miles 12 locks
Saturday 12.5 miles 5 locks
Sunday 16.5 miles 2 locks
Monday 5.5 miles 11 locks

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