Winter arrives

at from my phone, maybe it won’t be so frustrating as it is from the iPad   I thought I’d share a few views around Tattenhall Marina, where we’re based for the winter.

So far it seems a good location. We moored up there last Thursday so that Greg could leave me for a few days whilst he did some family and business stuff. The facilities are pretty good. There’s a cafe cum bar, where I could lounge about while I waited for the laundry to finish drying. They do a mean Sunday roast too – obviously I had to try this out.

On the Saturday I took the bus into Chester. There’s been a heavy frost overnight and in the morning this had turned into freezing fog. I was pleased that I wasn’t driving.

I don’t think I saw Chester in its best light. It was manic with the first weekend of Christmas shopping. However there are masses of things to explore, what with the city walls, Cathedral, the roman bits and the canal area.

I hadn’t realised the canal ran right through the centre of Chester. I’d known there was a river because I knew there was a rowing club there.  It’s the Shropshire Union still and goes up to  Ellesmere Port where you can, if you have a mind and don’t mind huge ships, you can lock down into the Manchester Ship Canal. We are not going to do that. We’re going to go up to the basin where the two meet to say we’ve done it and tick it off our list. While we’re there we’ll visit the Waterways Museum which has been a goal for sometime.

It looks as though there’ll be some good walks easily accessible from the Marina. I did one on Monday to the village of Tattenhall but it turned out to be longer than I’d planned. That was because I’d foolishly neglected to consult a map before I left. If I had I’d have known to turn right then left for a jaunt there and back of a little over 2 miles. However I turned left and ended up doing a circular walk of about 5 miles. Luckily for me the village is large enough to support a cafe so I was able to have a bowl of soup to sustain my walk back. There are a few useful shops, a butcher, convenience store, pharmacy and post office as well as 2 pubs, 3 restaurants and st least 2 hairdressers. The Spar shop is very well stocked with locally brewed beers and locally produced cheese. However it’s still quite a way to carry heavy bags of shopping back to the boat.

After our experiences last winter we’ve decided to hire a car for a couple of months. This will enable us to get about more easily, visiting local attractions, friends and going out for an evenings entertainment.

For instance yesterday we visited Erddig, a National Trust property just outside Wrexham. We had a hire car to return but not until the afternoon so we took the opportunity to go somewhere that we couldn’t easily get to from the canal. I was particularly interested because it has a grade 1 listed garden. It was fabulous.

Mid-October already

Where did the time go? I’ve been meaning to put up some posts for ages but whenever I have time I’ve no reliable internet access – grrrr – it’s very frustrating. 

We’ve been pretty busy over the late summer. We did have a spell off the boat towards the end of August, family weddings to attend in Essex and Sussex, visits to aging parents and attending folk festivals were all part of this. 

We lent the boat to some family fiends for a week, they met us at Penkridge and we duly handed Grey Wagtail into their care. They covered the same route that we’d taken up to Stoke and back via Great Haywood. It seems they had a great time despite rain as we met up with them in Stone in order to collect the tickets for Shrewsbury Folk Festival, which I’d stupidly left on the shelf in the boat. 

On our return to Penkridge to pick up the boat again we took the opportunity to gather wild plums from the mooring site and I had a great jam making session. We then decided to go back down the Staffs and Worcs so that we could visit things we’d missed on our mad dash to Willington in the spring. First attraction was Wightwick Manor, an arts and craft house operated by the National Trust. It was built by the Mander family (paint manufacturers in Wolverhampton) and houses a fantastic collection of Arts and crafts furniture, objet D’art and Pre-Raphealite drawings and paintings. The interiors are glorious and I’d have loved to have more time to study the individual contents. The garden was disappointing though, badly labelled, poorly maintained looking rather sad and uncared for. 

On the way down the cut we called in at a pub in Swindon, the Green Man, to take advantage of their amazing lunch deals. 2 courses for £5.50. We had Faggots and veg, unfortunately for me it came with a sea of gravy, followed by Bakewell tart and custard for me and home made rice pudding with jam for Greg. The beer there is really good too and the landlords and clientele very welcoming. Definitely worth the short walk off the towpath. 

One of our main aims for returning along the Staffs and Worcs was to take a trip up the Stourbridge Arm. It’s lovely, much more rural than you might expect, but that is in part due to the fact that so much of the old dirty industries have gone, to be replaced by the ubiquitous anonymous big sheds. We did pass a couple of old  glass works on our way up to the basin looking a bit grimy but mostly looking derelict. Along the towpath there are some excellent information boards showing what had disappeared and giving some of the history of the area however it seems they are not appreciated by the locals and many have been defaced. We moored below the junction with the short arm that goes into the town and walked up to the Red Cone. This is the remains of a glass works now turned into a museum and a variety of craft outlets but with a focus on Glass. The museum is a bit odd, it has huge potential but this is not fully exploited. For a start the entry point to the museum is at the end of the process of glass production, essentially the packing area and your are taken backwards to the glass blowing area. To be fair there was an excellent demonstration of glass blowing showing the major techniques and the woman demonstrator explained very clearly what she was doing. The other thing that was odd was that there were rather random information boards and posters around the place and glass cases with samples of glass ware just sort of stacked up on top of some of the equipment. A rather bizarre way to display these things, I enquired whether things had been temporarily moved from another museum that had closed down but apparently not. 

We left the area feeling that Stourbridge isn’t doing justice to to its heritage, which is really sad. glass making in Stourbridge was as important and industry as pottery making in Stoke on Trent was yet the quality of the interaction possible with this heritage doesn’t match the importance of this industrial gem. Stoke is doing a much better job with the Hanley museum, the Wedgwood Centre, Etruria Flint and Bone Mill and the Middleport Pottery. 

After our visit to Stourbridge we returned to the mainline and headed north back up to Autherly Junction where we joined the Shropshire Union canal. We were looking for a good spot to moor up for a few days so that Greg could make a start on the gunwale painting. I know the scars of our travels along the miles and locks could be worn as badges of our achievements but we’re a bit nerdy about trying to keep the boat looking nice and shiny so we have to polish and paint every now and again. We found a lovely spot half way between 2 bridges and got to know the locals who walked the towpath daily. One older lady was a real sweetheart. She spent a good half hour chatting to us about her life as a sheep farmer and living in her caravan, I think she quite fancied a boat herself. She walked  a changing group of dogs each day, some belonging to her and her family and others owned by less able neighbours. On the second day she brought us a box of strawberries that she’d picked from her garden, so kind. We hoped to see her the next day to find out how things had gone when she took her sheep to market but something must’ve happened as we didn’t see her again. 

I must admit mooring on the Shroppie (as it’s known in boating circles) isn’t the most comfortable nights sleep we’ve had. There seems to be a ridge about 30cm under the water, it’s not visible, it keeps the boat away from the edge of the towpath by another 30 cm and it’s impossible to stop the boat from banging against it with the fenders we have available. We’ve been informed that local boaters use wheelbarrow wheels between the bank and the hull but we haven’t been anywhere that we could get some to try out. 

Audlem has been our favourite mooring of the year. We found a spot at the base of the Audlem flight which had beautiful views across a small valley with a pair of small lakes in the bottom. It was brilliant for bird watching, we saw heron, lapwing and most special – little grebe. The cats were very happy there too, basking in the sun and pouncing on small creatures rustling in the long grass. ( in fact we liked it so much that we returned a couple of weeks later to chill Kat again when we were in the middle of our most horrible colds of the year and to meet up with our friends Paul and Kate. There is a great craft and Canal memorabilia shop in on old warehouse beside Lock 14 and the Shroppie Fly pub. I was able to buy traditional crochet lace patterns and the right yarn to make it , Greg picked up some Canal books he’d been after and we found a ribbon plate with “A Present from Eastbourne” on it – a very appropriate family connection for me.

About 10 days ago we picked up our pal Gil from Nantwich railway station and took a trip up the Llangollen Canal. We knew we wouldn’t have enough time to get all the way to the end but we called into Whitchurch where we Discoverd a great deli come tea room in which we were able to buy local Cheshire cheeses – just great to be able to get the genuine article from named farms-  we had red, white and blue versions (haha how patriotic). They were delicious and we’re looking forward to returning for further purchases when we do the whole length of the Canal in the coming months. We also bought some extraordinarily large veg from a tiny greengrocers, the carrots and parsnips generally weigh about 8-10 ounces each! These too proved to be pretty good eating, so far we’ve had then roast, stir fried and made into soup. There are still 2 parsnips and 1 carrot left. 

We do wonder whether our boat will feature in a TV or film production, on our way back to Hurleston Junction, coming down the staircase locks at Grindley Brook we came across a film crew. The celebs were in the cafe, Simon Callow – not really dressed for Canal boating, Nigel Havers – who looked just like my mate Tim from Coventry Uni days, Lorraine Chase of ‘Luton Airport’ fame and Debbie MaGee Paul Daniels widow. Greg was asked what the painted cans were on our roof as one of the film crew had asked the lock keeper what they were. We were amazed that he didn’t know himself but Greg educated him politely telling him they were Buckby Cans and that we’d got them from Buckby! No I didn’t get any selfies or autographs from the stars though a picture of Simon Callow with Barney draped round his neck and leaving orange hair on the impeccable black wool coat would have made an excellent souvenir. 

We dropped Gill back at Nantwich and were then joined by Pete who’d been walking up the the Roaches and fancied catching up with us. The last time we’d seen him was when he’d cycled off down the towpath after coming up the Driotwich Canal with us in May. We hadn’t tried any of the pubs in Nantwich by then so consulted the Good Beer Guide and  plumped for  the Black Lion on Welsh Row, a short walk from our mooring near the Telford Viaduct. It was a good pub, the beer was interesting and Greg and I each had a beer bat – 3 x 1/3 pint glasses of different beers. There was also a quiz though we didn’t join in, the questions and quiz style were too esoteric for us. 

On the Tuesday we stayed put. For several reasons really; so I could go to the hairsdresser, so that we could meet with a stained glass maker who is going to make us a little window insert for the porthole in the boatmans cabin and so that we could go to an Eddi .Reader concert being held in the local church as part of the Nantwich Words and Music Festival. A superb venue with amazing acoustics and a wonderful performance. 

On Wednesday we stayed so that we could pick up mail Post Restante and to look round more of the town and visit the small museum housed in the old library building. It was a really good local museum, there were carefully put together section on major industries, cheese, salt, and ready to wear clothing. There was also a collection of interesting town maps, some to do with a devastating cholera outbreak and more showinghistorically significant buildings of the town and also of the civil war battle in 1644. 

You can take it that we really liked Nantwich, we tried several cafes, the best being in the bookshop and were able to shop in the market and use other local traders. 

We eventually left on the Wednesday afternoon (12 th October) and moved up into the  Northwich branch mooring just above  Cholmondeston lock for the night. We moved again, up to Northwich itself to meet up with Sarah who had kindly brought us a supply of cat food and litter as she was working in Crewe for the day. On her recommendation we went to eat at the Kings Lock Inn, doesn’t look much from the outside, not fancy inside but serves a good range of local beers and an unexpectedly well presented food, the starters menu was particularly good and we have a definite plan to return there when we make our way across to the winter mooring. 

Now we’re back on the Trent and Mersey making for Macclesfield to meet with an old college friend before having another land based break as it’s time for the annual Lundy Gang get together, this time ‘oop norf’ in Weardale. 

Return to Grey Wagtail

We’ve had a great little holiday, been all over the country Suffolk, Sussex and Shropshire ending with the brilliant Folk Festival in Shrewsbury. Today it’s time to collect the puss cats from their holiday home and get back to Grey Wagtail to begin the Autumn section of the journey. 

We’ll be setting out from Penkridge later today heading south on the Staffs and Worcs. we’ve had to back track a little as we rather rushed up the Staffs and Worcs to get to the Trent and Mersey in May. This time we’re going back to visit Wightwick Manor, go up the Stourbrige arm and then along to Dudley fir the Black Country Museum before going through the Netherton Tunnel and down the Wolverhampton 21 to complete a ring. 

After that we’ll be getting on the Shropshire Union and we’ll go right up to the junction with the Trent and Mersey turn right and go down to Stoke so we can get to the Caldon Canal which we didn’t have time to do at the beginning of August when we were up at Etruria. 

So that’ll take us well in to Autumn and depending on how long we spend doing that we’ll either do the Cheshire ring through Macclesfield and Manchester or go off to Llangollen before getting to our winter mooring at Tattenhall. 

Really looking forward to it, let’s hope we get and Indian summer. 

After Erewash

We took a trip up to Stoke on Trent. 

On the way we had a couple of lovely lazy days at Great Haywood, primarily to visit Shugborough Hall. There are excellent moorings below Gt Haywood Lock, perfect for cats to take a mostly unsupervised wander up and down the towpath between one favourite smell and another. 

We made sure we got best value out of our visit to Shugborough, once the family home of the Litchfields. Sadly Patrick Litchfields heir has decided not to keep any private apartments there since the death of his photographer father. On top of that Staffordshire County Council have decided not to continue to house its museum or manage the property and it has been fully handed over to the National Trust. It’s quite special, being one of the few operational Georgian estates with all its ‘model farm’ outbuildings including a water mill, as well as  not  being designed by ‘Capability Brown’, which makes a real change. More detailed info can be found at nationaltrust.org.uk just search for Shugborough Hall. 

We made slow progress to Stoke because we kept stopping off to look at things. Stone was a good shopping opportunity and I needed to find a hairdresser there in order to look my best for Lee and Lauren’s wedding. It’s quite a pretty market town with a pedestrianised market street. There are still plenty of independent food retailers, butchers, bakers, green grocers. For once we didn’t need to find a super market and I even found some locally made oatcakes, which provided us with a delicious lunch. 

Past Stone we came to Barlaston, the home of the Wedgwood factory and museum. The site underwent a radical makeover last year, the factory now is really a show case for Wedgwood wares. The tour is worthwhile and the museum (saved for the nation and owned by the V&A but lent back to Wedgwood) is fantastic, very detailed in the history of the main Wedgwood characters and the development of the company from its earliest days at the Etruria Works and the workers village developed by Josiah I through to the designers of today. The cafe is quite good too. 


It didn’t take long for us to get up to Stoke. It’s the second time I’ve ever travelled there by canal. The last time was sometime in the early 70s with my mum and dad on a small hire boat out of Penkridge. It’s changed immeasurably since then. Cleaner certainly, blander definitely, due to the way the building of the A50 and A500 trunk roads have imposed themselves, creating corridors of concrete for the canal to run in. It’s not quite as grim as I thought it might be but it seems quite sterile in parts. 


Our main purpose for going to Stoke for that particular weekend was to visit the Etruria Bone and Flint Mill and the Middleport  Pottery, both of which were having a special steaming weekend. It turned out that we didn’t really have enough time at the Pottery. We did see some great archive film of bottle kilns being stacked and a chap making saggars, also we had a good look at the beam engine that served the factory and was a leading technological development for the time but there was a lot more that we didn’t have chance to view. A vintage bus was provided to transport us from one site to the other but it was a bit disappointing, we were expecting something out of the 30s but in fact it was built in the 70s and had just been repainted in its original PMT (Potteries Motor Traction) colours but with out the logo and lettering. It had also been updated to meet current safety standards and even though it was a public service vehicle it had to have seat belts as it was now being used in a different context. We only just got back to Etruria in time to see the steaming of the beam engine for the bone and flint mill. It was well worth it though, a lovely engine, so quiet, so powerful. We had expected to have a guided tour but we were anxious to see the steaming so we bypassed that and went straight to the engine room. 

Middleport Pottery


Jesse Shirley’s Etruria bone and flint Mill


The next day we moved back out of central Stoke  down to Trentham. This was so hat we could walk across to Trentham Gardens. There was a public footpath that cut diagonally across the Golf course. Really not well marked, though the natives were pretty friendly and put us right when it was obvious that we’d lost the route despite having our Garmin with us. This is a new device for us, we hope it’ll make it easier to plan walking routes and find footpaths but so far it’s mostly providing frustration on the navigators part. Anyway we made it and it was well worth the effort. The work that’s gone into the revival of the estate is tremendous. It was a hot sunny Sunday and it was full of people enjoying the resort much in the same way as they had done when the pleasure gardens were first opened to the public. The planting is stunning, examples of contemporary plant uses at their best. The planting  schemes of Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart Smith are now maturing and breath taking in their scope, very modern but somehow completely at home in this restored Capabilty Brown landscape. The new planting, developed by Professor Nigel Dunnet is going to be equally spectacular  – I’m sure we’ll be returning to view the developments. 


We also took the opportunity to meet up with some old friend which was great fun. We hadn’t seen any of them for ages, Greg hadn’t seen most of them since our wedding , nearly 17 years ago! So altogether it was a brilliant section of our journey. 

The Erewash Canal

Towards the end of July we actually managed to reach the Erewash Canal. It had been our intention to make the trip up to the Great Northern Basin when our friends joined us in June however the weather was against us so we rescheduled.

The approach to the canal is made from the Trent, not such a tricky turn from the Beeston direction as it would have been if we’d just come down from Shardlow but tricky none-the-less. The canal is not very long but well worth the diversion, it’s just under 12 miles to Langley Mill Lock, which is technically on the Cromford Canal, and there are 15 locks in all.

It was opened in 1779 is 11 3/4 miles long and has 14 locks, though strictly speaking the last one at Langley Mill is on the Cromford Canal. It cost £21,000 to build and  John Varley was the engineer.

Lock 1 is the aptly named Trent Lock outside the old British Waterways yard. Opposite is a pub (which we didn’t try) and a Tearoom where we bought ice-creams – it being a red hot day. There was a very nice pair of old boats moored right at the mouth of the lock. We also got a really good view of the huge power station at Ratcliffe, it seems to loom into view from all sort of places along the canal. There was also an interesting assortment of house boats moored along the way, some of which had been there since the 1970s as was verified by some old black and white photos we saw later.

 

We moored for the first night just north of Long Eaton. The cut backs onto many of the old lace mill buildings, some are now converted to house newer industries, apparently the upholstery trade is thriving in this region, and also as luxury living spaces turning what had been dark, grimy sweatshops into very desirable locations. The mills have various distinguishing features;  staircases in turret like structures on the outside of the the buildings, clocks and some very tall chimneys with decorated tops.

The canal follows the Erewash river through its valley almost as far as Eastwood – the birthplace of DH Lawrence. It was primarily developed to bring coal down from the Derby and Nottingham coalfields to the Trent and giving access to London via the Grand Union and the river Soar.

The Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association have done a wonderful job of making the canal accessible and useable by locals and boaters alike. They have restored a lock cottage and toll office at Sandiacre, which we were lucky enough to look round.  Its open one Sunday a  month and is jam packed with photographs of the canal in its heyday and of the dedicated work parties that restored it to a navigable condition. The people were very friendly having a deep knowledge of the canal’s history and about the building. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we became ECP&DA members on the spot. We’re very much hoping that we’ll be able to get to their annual rally in the future as it sounds like a fantastic get together of eating, drinking, entertainment, boats, boaters and enthusiasts.

Just past the lock cottage is one end of the Derby canal, the other end can be seen at Swarkestone where there is a short section still in water.

Our second night was spent just below Pasture Lock. We’d hoped to get further but there was a problem. Something was jamming one of the paddles open, just enough to not be able to entirely empty the lock and let us in. Such a pain. So we tied up early and took advantage of a sunny evening to laze about and walk the cats. We found ourselves moored very close to a chap who we’d met before whilst we were based at Stafford so it was a good opportunity to catch up with each others boating experiences over the past few weeks. We’d nicknamed this guy ‘Bedlington Bill’ he had four Bedlington Terriers who he walked every day and was very mindful of not spooking our cats when he came past. Funny thing was, we found out his name really is Bill.

Day 3 saw us get to the Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill. This is where the Cromford, Erewash and Nottingham canals all came together. Sadly its currently only possible to go a short distance up the Cromford and the Nottingham canal is impassible due to subsidence from coal mining. It was abandoned long before the Erewash ceased to be viable.

On our way up to Langley Mill we passed the site of an enormous iron and steel works at Stanton, ‘Stanton and Stavely’, there is little to see of it now, nor of the Nutbrook canal that went off to the west and another colliery. We checked it out again on the return journey and still couldn’t detect any trace of a canal junction.

The Great Northern Basin, well I have to say that I was expecting something a little grander, somewhat larger but really its a wide junction with a small basin off to one side which is really the head of the Nottingham Canal. There is a very elegant house overlooking the area, another toll house and several interesting plaques and we were told we could walk a little way along the Cromford but we didn’t have time. I did do my very best bit of steersmanship here though as I winded the boat on my own. Greg was off on the towpath chatting to the Chairman of the ECP&DA who had kindly brought us a brass plaque for the boat plus some other bits and bobs to do with our membership.

 

On our way back down the canal we stopped to visit a very interesting railway viaduct. The Bennerley viaduct is one of the few wrought iron lattice girder trestle railway structures left in the UK. It’s no longer used as a rail bridge, the branch line it carried have been long defunct. There is a campaign to preserve it and make it part of a Sustrans cycle route, which would be a great use for it. We couldn’t get up onto it but there must be stunning views from up there. We did have a good mooch around underneath around some of the columns. The viaduct crosses a large area of derelict land, ex-open cast mining and coal grading, as well as an existing rail track. The wasteland is returning to nature and it possible to see which plants colonise early, it was fascinating. I fully expected David Bellamy to emerge from behind a bush and thrust some insect at me for my inspection. In fact I was probably doing a pretty good impression of him as I rushed enthusiastically from one plant to another. I’m sure there are lessons to be learnt by gardeners too from viewing this kind of re-appropriation, there was a fascinating mix of grasses, annuals and perennials making up a Nottinghamshire prairie effect.

We were able to gain much more information about the viaduct when we visited the Erewash Museum in Ilkeston. Quite a steep walk up into the town from the canal, we were hot and thirsty when we got there and as luck would have it, it was lunch time. There were loads of pubs around, especially adjacent to the market place but none of them seemed to be serving food. We peeked into them but there were very few customers and they certainly weren’t eating anything more than packets of crisps. Thus we were forced to visit a Wetherspoons – The Observatory – not bad, good selection of beers and reliable food, some interesting photos of Ilkeston and information about the Frame Knitting trade.

The Museum was well worth the visit, its a little gem. There were excellent exhibits about the local mine and the Stanton and Staveley Ironworks. Displayed on the corridor walls was the work of a guy who’d been at school in Ilkeston and who’d become a graphic designer. These were images of key Ilkeston places done in a style reminiscent of classic rail travel posters, think ‘Skegness – it so bracing’ or some of the underground posters for Wimbledon and Kew done in the 30s,40s and 50s. Stephen Millership is the artist and its really worth having a look at his website.

The highlight of the day though was the moment Greg threw the boat keys into the canal! he was just about to lock up before we went up to the town and they just seemed to fly from his hand and land with a resounding plop beside the boat  but in the water. of course he didn’t have any float on them so they sank. He trawled around with the landing net that we keep for fishing things out of the cut but without any success. We laughed and laughed, it was so funny, he looked so surprised as they sailed through the air. There was a lot of ribbing about keys and where to throw them for the rest of the day. Thankfully we had another set artfully hidden so we could get back in again, oh! and get a new set cut. You’ll be glad to know that at the very next chandlery we came across we purchased some cork floats to latch onto the new sets of keys.

30

 

Oops forgot to post this – Marvellous discovery in Bath

We discovered a fantastic little foodie shop in Bath. We happened upon it because a lady at Number 1 Royal Cresent said we might find a cafe in Margaret’s Buildings when we asked her where we might get a cup of tea. 

It’s called The Foodie Bugle Shop. FoodiebugleThe owners were just about shutting up when we got there but I looked so crest fallen when she said they were closing that her lovely husband, in his very wonderful brown overall, said of course we could have tea and cake if we’d like it. Well the tea was just the refreshment we needed, oh and the cake was so delicious. Greg got to finish off the chocolate and pear cake – really could have been 2 pieces – and the clementine and polenta that I had was moist, soft, slightly bitter, hmm my mouth is watering as I try to recall the flavours and textures. 

So, it was so good that we went back today for coffee and biscuits, this time I had a coconut macaroon with a crispy shell dipped in good dark chocolate and Greg had a chocolate cookie. 

As we sat there perusing the shelves we were fascinated by the range of different flavoured vinegars, local cheeses and yogurts, the lovely labels on the tins of borlotti beans and plum tomatoes. One of the customers said  that being in the shop was like being under the duvet, it felt very healing but a little guilt making. Downstairs there was a fantastic array of vintage items along with more fresh produce and other tempting comestibles. 

Where next?

Several of our friends are following our progress using a map of the canals and rivers. Some have requested that I give them some clues about where we’re going rather than always showing where we’ve been. There is some little difficulty with this as we cannot always be definite, the vagaries of the weather have a huge impact on our choices as we know from this year’s proposed and failed attempt to go up the Erewash Canal. 

However here is the current plan of action: 

Currently we are moored up in Leicester beside Castle Gardens, this is a nice secure site right in the heart of the city but we can’t stay here long as we’ve external factors driving our progress for the next few days. 

Tonight we’ll be moored at Sileby Lock on the river Soar, both cats need to see a vet and there’s a very good one a half mile walk away in Sileby. If alls well with the creatures we’ll move on Tuesday to Loughborough to visit the Bell Foundry museum and do a spot of shopping. 

We’ll continue on our journey up the Soar and out onto the Trent before we turn onto the Beeston Canal and go into Nottingham, this route will then take us further up the Trent and we’ll go to Newark, stopping on our way to visit Southwell Minster. 

Then we’ll turn round, going back through Nottingham and go up the Erewash Canal. When we’ve finished up there we’ll return to the Trent and Mersey Canal. 

All that is dependent on the amount of rain we have, the Soar is very capricious rising to spate quickly and we’ve already been caught out by flood conditions in the Trent when we made our first attempt on the Beeston and Erewash canals. 

If we are successful we plan to go back up to Fradley Junction, stopping to look round Rugeley and Shugborough Hall, then on towards Stone and Stoke and the Cauldon Canal before turning round and going back down the Staffs and Worcs to Penkridge – to be there the weekend before the August Bank Holiday. 

We’ve a few events that are driving/constraining the trip this summer – 2 weddings a fortnight apart, periodic visits to Suffolk and the Shrewsbury Folk Festival at the moment. Life, as well as the weather, has to be lived and certainly drives our need to be places where it’s possible to hire a car or catch a train. It’s all part of the fun. 

 

a narrow boat journey around the navigable waterways of England