Monday, 30 November 2015

Oh Dear!!

As planned we were up and about early and left Wheaton Aston at just gone 8am, we stopped on one of the many water points to top up and were soon up the lock and on our way. Unfortunately we didn't get far.

Another boat had arrived the other side just before us and had already phoned CRT to report it. It wasn't long before an army of men appeared (well five actually) to assess and remove what they could. They told us they would clear the tow path but the main trunk in the canal would need contractors. Dave was soon on the phone arranging it all and he and the team then got to work doing what they could. By 11:30 the path was clear. I called CRT in the afternoon for an update but unfortunately they couldn't give me any idea when the contractors would be out. We're hoping they are going to be out early in the morning.

1 mile and 1 lock

TOTAL 711.5 miles and 555 locks

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Gnosall to Wheaton Aston

Friday 27th November

Whilst James continued on the pens I took Dudley for a walk, I passed by the old dismantled railway on my way to the Post Office yesterday and thought it would be nice for a walk along there and it started out to be. The old railway is on an embankment with houses one side backing onto it for a while. Two chocolate Labradors appeared behind us but so sign of an owner, they were friendly, a bit too much and one kept jumping up at me - it was very muddy!! I was not happy, Dudley was though having two playmates on his walk. I assumed they had made their escape from one of the gardens as still after a while no sign of an owner walking with them, they had collars on but unfortunately no ID and they were insistent that they wanted to follow me. Then there was a lady walking towards me with a dog on a lead, the two labs ran off to say hello and did the same jumping up at her, by the time she reached me she wasn't happy that my dogs were running riot, I explained and told her my dog was Dudley, also on a lead and asked if she recognised the labs, she didn't, but said she hoped they stayed with me and didn't follow her - not very helpful, but they did stay with me. I was hanging around hoping the labs would get bored and return home, they didn't. Then a couple came along walking my direction, unfortunately they also didn't know the dogs. I explained I was heading down to the canal and didn't want them to follow, and didn't want to just leave them if they were lost, they said not to worry they would sort it. So off I went, when I got back to LJ James asked me if I had fallen over as I was really muddy.

A little bit later a guy walked by with three chocolate Labradors, I wonder if two of them were the escapees. On his way back I was out the back clearing up, he stopped and asked if I knew the dogs at all as he had found them and they followed him, so I guess the couple just left them. He then asked if we had some spare rope or anything he could use as a lead. He explained he had been walking along the old railway embankment when he heard a crying and whimpering sound coming from the canal direction, he went to to have a look and found the two labs in the canal not being able to get out, so he hauled them both out, which must have taken some doing as they weren't small, he was taking them home and would try and trace the owner but needed a lead as he would have to go along a busy road and didn't want them loose. So at least they would be safe and hopefully he found the owner.

After lunch we set off, we were originally heading for Brewood, but the forecast was high winds and rain for a couple of days so we would probably stay put and there are lots of trees at the visitor moorings there so we stopped just before at Wheaton Aston, there was one space left below the locks. 

Moored at Wheaton Aston
5.5 miles and 0 locks

TOTAL 710.5 miles and 554 locks

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Knighton to Gnosall

Thursday 26th November

It was our day for an early-ish start so we were up and on the move by 8:15am unfortunately it was drizzling although was fairly mild. 

The trouble with this part of the Shoppie is that there are a lot of off side permanent moorings and it really does make it slow going. We stopped briefly at Norbury Wharf then continued onto Gnosall. After a quick lunch James set up the workshop again and I had to go and find the Post Office to post off another pen order, not that I'm complaining.

No pictures at all on route, it was far too wet!!

Moored in Gnosall

7.5 miles and 0 locks

TOTAL 705 miles and 554 locks

Friday, 27 November 2015

Market Drayton to Knighton

Wednesday 25th November

James spent the morning in his workshop, the pram cover has been fantastic as we had rain all morning and he could carry on. As luck would have it by the time we were ready to leave just after lunch it stopped raining.

As we were getting ready to go a Norbury hire boat went by and then the boat in front of us followed on, so nothing past us all day then we were third in a convoy to Tyrley Locks. The two boats in front didn't hinder us getting through the locks we seemed to all be going at the same pace. This lock flight is still pretty even though it was damp and chilly.

Tyrley Locks

The Old Stables at the Top Lock

Tyrley Wharf House

Tyley Wharf House from the front
There is a notice on the Old Stables which reads:-

The Old Stables 1838
Originally built as a private wharf, Tyrley quickly developed into a vibrant hamlet of workers cottages and an ale house, making Tyrley an important overnight mooring and stables for working canal boats.
Past Occupants at the Wharf include a Lengthsman, Wharfinger, Game Keeper, Shoemaker, Boatmen, Horse Keeper and Estate Workers.
1917-1932 Cadbury leased the Wharf using it for loading and transporting milk churns from local farms to their chocolate factory at Knighton.
The stables have had many uses over the years, a Parish Hall, Meeting Room, Sunday School, Reading Room and Poll Station.
After falling into disuse in the 1970s, the Old Stables was first converted in 1983 into a small apartment above a workshop.
Having undergone a full restoration in 2013, this Grade 2 listed building of special architectural and historical interest, situated in a conservation area is now a modern three storey home retaining lots of its original charm and character.

The other sign on the side reads:

The owners of this Wharf hereby give notice that they are not to be held liable for any damage, injury or loss, whatsoever and howsoever caused to or by any vessel, approaching, mooring at, lying on, lying off, or leaving the berth adjoining this Wharf.
All persons using the Wharf and the berth do so entirely at their own risk for any damage, injury or loss whatsoever and howsoever caused.

We continued on stopping just by Knighton Woods on one of the strange 48 hour visitor moorings they have on the Shroppie, I can only assume that these are due to the Shroppie shelf on the majority of the canal and not being able to get to the edge apart from these visitor moorings. We moored up just as day light was fading and it soon become dark, the days are still getting noticeably shorter, the stew that I had simmering on the stove as we were travelling was very welcome when we stopped as we were both getting a bit cold.

6 miles and 5 locks 

TOTAL 697.5 miles and 554 locks

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Adderley to Market Drayton

Tuesday 24th November

We made an early start and straight into the five Adderley locks, these locks also leak quite badly so they were all empty which was great for us and we made good time to the top. 

Once the locks were done James went inside to prepare more pens for turning, we're on quite a tight schedule to get into Birmingham to join the RCTA (Roving Canal Traders Association) Christmas Floating Market and get the stock levels up so we have to make the most of the available day light hours. We stopped at Market Drayton and James set up his workshop and I wandered into town. 

This kingfisher actually stayed still whilst we drifted by, they normally fly off before I get the camera ready

Moored in Market Drayton

3.5 miles and 5 locks

TOTAL 691.5 miles and 549 locks

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Audlem to Adderley

Monday 23rd November

We were up fairly early and I took Dudley out whilst James finished off setting up his workshop and was ready to start work by 8:30am. When I got back I was busy in the kitchen, lasagne for dinner along with banoffee pie (to use up the bananas) and millionaires shortbread to go with coffee later, between us we had a really productive morning.

LJ at Audlem
After an early lunch we set off at 12:15pm and tackled the remaining 12 locks up the Audlem flight. A boat must have set off from the next visitor moorings as the first lock was empty but the next few full and no one had past us this morning, these locks really leak so they would have been empty. We passed a hire boat coming down, a couple from New Zealand out for two weeks and really enjoying it, this meant the next few locks would be empty too. A couple out for a walk (with a windlass) set two of the full locks for us so that really helped us along and then the final two and we were at the top. We continued on and moored at the bottom of Adderley locks.

Looking quite wintery now

Moored at Adderley - no cows for Dudley to watch this time
2.5 miles and 12 locks

688 miles and 544 locks

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Nantwich to Audlem

We have had a bit of a lack of signal as is usual for us on the Shroppie so although I had actually written the blogs I couldn't post them, therefore, as seems to be usual for me they are a couple of days behind.

Sunday 22nd November

On Thursday we went down to Nantwich Basin where Tim and Hazel from Cratch Covers and Canopies fitted our pram cover. Unfortunately, for them, it did start to rain but at least it wasn’t windy. They gave us a demonstration of how to put up and collapse it and left us with the cover we had asked for to protect the material from doggy claws when travelling, Dudley does love to sit on the roof and say hello to peoples and doggies when we are on the move. He also has made very good use of the little doggie windows we have had fitted in the sides.

The frame work in place

Fitting in progress
On Saturday it was bitterly cold, there had been some snow flurries overnight but all traces had disappeared in Nantwich but from our elevated position up on the embankment we could see the white Peaks in the distance. We walked to Argos and picked up our many packages, James went to the Ebay collection counter, which was unmanned but an assistant on the other counter said he could use any now, James asked him of he really wanted to serve him as he had a number of packages to collect, the Assistant replied - are you Mr Ward by any chance!! There were several packages to collect but luckily all but two were very small and they were all light weight.

Dudley relaxing in front of the fire
This morning we collapsed the pram cover and secured it neatly in its cover and set off in the winter sunshine. It soon clouded over but in a away we were pleased as the sun was shining right in our eyes making it difficult to see, we went up the two locks at Hack Green and passed our favourite mooring spot at the bottom of Audlem locks, there were only three boats there today. We tackled the first three locks of the 15 Audlem ones and moored up opposite the Bridge Inn. We popped in for a drink but unfortunately we were a bit late for food as the kitchen closes early on a Sunday, so after a drink we went along to the takeaway and headed back with it to LJ.

Ready for the off, complete with protective cover

We managed to get it back up again!

Moored in Audlem

6.5 miles and 5 locks

TOTAL 685.5 miles and 532 locks

Thursday, 19 November 2015


We stayed for a couple of days at the bottom of Audlem locks then made our way into Nantwich, we had an appointment on 9th November for Cratch Covers and Canopies to measure us for a rear canopy, pram hood cover. We arrived a few days early and passed Mark and Corinne, Dee O Ghee going the other way. They were half way through their week out and returned to Nantwich a couple of days later and called in for coffee, the next morning we popped over the them and had a look around their lovely boat, which they have completely fitted out themselves, before they headed back to their marina. It was lovely to finally meet up with them after spending a couple of years following their blog.

Mark and Corinne
Whilst at Nantwich we heard the hum of lawn mowers and strimmers, luckily they weren't doing the edge by the boats but the huge slope of the embankment, I was amazed to see the machinery they were using all by remote control.

Well the the day arrived for our appointment with Cratch Covers and Canopies but unfortunately it was pouring with rain and a tad windy. What we didn't realise is they fix the framework and then make templates for the canvas so they needed it to be dry and ideally little or no wind. As the horrid weather was forecast for a bit and they wouldn't be able to do it we decided to make our way to Chester and hopefully on our return the weather would be better.

We left in the afternoon and stopped off at the Barbridge Inn just before the junction with the Middlewich Arm, then continued on the next day. As we were approaching the Bunbury staircase lock we past fuel boat Hallsall delivering to his customers, we got the lock set and waited for Martin to join us, he had help that day as he said the locks are a pain on his own as his boat is slightly over 70ft so it has to be in the middle of the lock to get the gates open and also Iron Lock doesn't have a ladder!

The canal is wide from Nantwich Basin up to Chester as this section of canal was originally known as the Chester Canal and terminated at Nantwich Basin, the huge embankment and aqueduct were built later to as part of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal.

We went down the next three locks with Martin and Halsall where we stopped with a lovely view of Beeston Castle. About an hour after stopping we had a call from Cratch Covers and Canopies to say Nantwich Marina had allowed them use of their covered dock on Saturday (it was Tuesday) if we could get back for then. 

Outside the Barbridge Inn

The old stables at Bunbury staircase locks

LJ and Halsall

Moored up at Beeston

And our view

LJ's right in the middle of this picture
So we stayed at Beeston until Thursday as the forecast was rain all day Friday, dropped down the lock winded and back up to Nantwich. So unfortunately we didn't get to Chester this time but hopefully next year as we're hoping to join a floating market there.

Saturday came and it was pouring - again, but we made our way down to the covered dock where Tim and Hazel got to work fitting the framework for the cover and making templates, it took them over three hours to do, and three or four days to get the canvas done.  Once done we made our way back to the main canal but were now facing the wrong way, so we took a trip to the huge winding hold at Henhull and returned to Nantwich. In fact the canal at Henhull is extremely wide, there must be some history to there that I'll have to try and find out. 

Huge winding hole

The canal at Henhull
We decided to stay in Nantwich whilst the canopy was being made as both James and I could get a few things delivered to Argos via Ebay whilst we were waiting. On Tuesday the winds were probably the worst we have experienced on the boat, we were in a very exposed spot on the high embankment but there were no trees around waiting to fall on us! On Wednesday there were reports of quite a few trees that have come down blocking various sections of the canal so CRT and their contractors are busy getting them cleared and the canals open again.

26 miles and 12 locks

TOTAL 679 miles ad 527 locks

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Brewood to Audlem

We only stay one night at Brewood then continued our journey onto Norbury Junction where we stopped a couple of nights.

Moored at Norbury
It was a lovely sunny, but chilly, autumn day when we made the journey to Market Drayton (26th October), James was catching up with getting pens prepared so I actually did most of the steering. James set up his work bench at the front in the bow this time so he could get sawing up the pieces of historic wood ready for turning. We topped up with water at the top of Tyrley locks where i searched the length of hose to check for kinks or a leak only to realise that it was the slowest water tap ever and was just dribbling so needless to say the tank wasn't completely full when we left and headed down the five locks into Market Drayton.

Lovely colour

Great view on a lovely sunny day

Although quite chilly

Tyrley Locks looking beautiful

Moored in Market Drayton
The visitor moorings in Market Drayton have large trees shading the sun and as we intended staying a couple of days we wanted to be able to make use of the lovely sunny weather we were having so we continued on past the water point and bridge and stopped just before the off side pontoon moorings. The moorings here are a bit strange the signs say overnight mooring only, except on market day and pre-market day when daytime mooring is permitted. Well we arrived late afternoon on Monday so that was OK and as luck would have it market day was Wednesday and pre-market day Tuesday so we were fine there for our couple of days.

We then did the short journey to Adderley Locks where we bought a few bits from the Farm Shop stall at the top lock before dropping down and mooring up at the bottom.  We had a brief lunch stop here earlier in the year and thought it would be a great place to spend a day or so. Dudley loved sitting in the bow watching the cows, it kept him occupied for hours. The weather had really changed and we had downpours, any passing boats just seemed to go through on full power even though we were a couple of boat lengths from the lock landing, they were either full forward to full reverse with us being shoved around.

Bottom of Adderley, Dudley loves watching the cows
As the weather was horrid we stayed put and I had a sort out of the kitchen cupboards, whilst scrabbling around on the floor a boat past by, I caught a glimpse through the window and it was an Anglo Welsh hire boat, James and I both commented that it had been the first boat to pass us at a reasonable speed, a few minutes later there was a knock at the back door and I was surprised to see Irene Free Spirit there with Ian securing Merlin their hire boat they were moving for Anglo Welsh. As they were on a bit of a mission there wasn't time to stop for coffee, but lovely of them to call in and say hello.

When the weather was a bit better we continued on journey and made our way down the Audlem Locks, we dropped down 12 of them then moored up, I wanted to have a look in at the craft shop in the Mill and as we were right outside The Bridge Inn it would have been rude not to pop in for lunch. When we got back to LJ she was listing as the water level had dropped and she was caught a little on the shelf, we immediately pulled pins to continue down the three locks and moored in one of my favourite spots at the bottom of the flight.

Moored outside The Bridge Inn
29 miles and 26 locks

TOTAL 653 miles and 515 locks

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Sandhills Boat #15 For Sale

A rare opportunity to own a fantastically well looked after Sandhills Narrowboat.

Balmaha is a high quality reverse layout, cruiser stern Narrowboat.

Having owned Sandhills first built boat for the last 4 years we've seen that these excellent boats really do stand up against the elite of narrowboats. Of course I'm prejudiced but I'd put sandhills boats in the top 3 fitters that are currently available (behind hudson and Norton Canes). I'd guess a new boat of this quality would be no less than double this asking price.

Please share fellow boaters and bloggers and make this stage of the ten year adventure an easier one for Nessa.