Thursday, 14 May 2015

Huddlesford to Wheelock.

We think early summer has arrived!  Depends on which day you choose!  Whilst we have experienced little in the way of precipitation, our greatest problem has been wind. Not mine, or Ali's I hasten to add...

Since posting last, we seem to have eaten up the miles. Leaving the Coventry and onto the Trent & Mersey. This remains very familiar territory for us, but none the worse for that. It is fair to say that this has been a very pleasant journey. Britain at its best, with the trees and flowers blossoming, birds nesting and tending their young. This is true even in the urban areas we have passed through.

(this swan was protecting his mate and nest and attacked our button and the back
 of the boat for about 1/4 mile)

Stone is ever delightful and we are fast altering our opinion of Stoke. The past industrial decay is now largely gone. That which has not been redeveloped is tidy and the whole conurbation free of litter and similar detritus. It appears the locals are loving the green corridor that is the canal, and looking after it. Well done.

May blossom really out now

On Monday it dawned dry and bright, but windy. We had a somewhat challenging journey through Fradley junction. Mainly the wind, but not helped by a volunteer locky, who was causing a back up of boats below middle lock, where there is but one landing, by not allowing boats to enter the next pound, which was empty! That said, we were lucky to ascend quite quickly, after hovering for a while...

From Fradley, we made a pleasant journey through Handsacre and Rugeley, until a day boat from Great Heywood bore down on us. The crew were all middle aged gents, well inebriated, one of whom appeared to have already been in for a dip!  Luckily, we bade them farewell as they turned into Anglo Welsh and we then meandered to our mooring for the day just South of Sandon.

The next day we ascended through Stone and to the outskirts of Stoke.  Another pleasant day following the Trent valley. We moored at Barlaston, just shy of the Wedgwood factory. Again a somewhat windy day.

 On Wednesday, our final ascent to the summit began. It was a glorious day. We made good time up the locks, past the turn for the Caldon canal, then through the town until the south portal of Harecastle tunnel came into view. After a short wait for two boats passing through south, during which we watered up, we were the last of three boats going north.

I quite like Harecastle. This trip was steady, but not too slow and we enjoyed the spookiness, including the skeleton stencilled into a niche, only visible as you pass. Once again the keepers were very helpful, so thank you.

Exiting the tunnel it is all downhill. Well it was for one boater attempting to turn onto the Macclesfield at Kidsgrove. Boy did he thwack his somewhat bespoke and expensive looking boat into the bank while attempting to pass under the bridge, the boat vibrated in almost pain, and we think he then jammed his rudder at tother end!  After this, we locked down, mooring at the rather pleasant rural Church Lawton.

For several days now, we have followed the weather forecast predicting a veritable monsoon for today ( Thursday).  But, the forecasters seemed to have altered the fine line between us getting soaked and staying dry, and it seemed that if we had an earlyish start, we may well stay dry at least until the afternoon.

Well we did stay dry, it did not rain on us at all, not a spot... But the bloody wind made up for it and it was cold. After 18 locks and early in the afternoon, we calls a halt and moored up at Wheelock, knackered.

(what a difference a day makes!)

Since our last post, we have covered the following.
Miles 48
Locks 47
Tunnels 2919 yds.

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