Thursday 14th August 2014
6 miles, 4 locks
This journey marks the end of phase 4 of our summer voyage.
My first job of the day was to walk Monty. Chris had taken him along this route the evening before and it certainly did not disappoint. Down to the lock, cross over and you are beside the weir
And the unnavigable part of the River Trent
Along the side of a vast expanse of grass that had several football pitches on it. We turned left at the end and follow the Trent through some very pretty paths covered in wild flowers
Out to a wheat field
I then turned left to cut across another huge area of grass – rugby pitches this time. Then left again to follow the canal back to the lock where I found the boats had moved to the sanitary station and jobs various were being undertaken.
There was a family of swans – once again five cygnets which seem to be the most common number on our travels to date. There was only one adult, but he/she was a very insistent hull nibbler – thankfully she did not start until after 8am!
Just as we were about to go two boats came along to use the lock!
Setting off in the opposite direction were three men in a boat – the dog had stayed at home. They started at Tamworth and were heading for Dunham Bridge – a journey of some 140km in a week.
Into Beeston Lock which is very pretty and well tended. Along one side of the lock there are many ‘mobile’ type homes. We reckon there must be some great ‘gongoozling’ dinner parties held under the white pergola.
This chap surveys all at Beeston Marina
Past an island which has numerous landing stages with huts of various types nestling in the trees and many ‘Private, no mooring’ signs at every landing opportunity.
We were soon back on a very wide and scenic river again
Another house that looked strangely out of place – it towered above the neighbouring single storey chalets.
Then to Cranfleet lock with the best lock landing stage we have ever come across.
We have a rake at the Stoke flight for clearing bywashes when we are doing our stint as volunteer lock keepers, but nothing like the size of this one.
The windlasses are all attached to the paddles here – the lock keeper (off duty) explained that they can get up to 250 boats through a day over bank holidays, so the last thing you want to do is to be rushing around carrying a windlass.
Good job we obeyed the instructions to use ropes whilst locking – it is a fierce flow.
Just past the lock we came across this boat – was it entered in ‘The Shed of the Year’ we wondered – I have to confess that we found the TV programme strangely compelling!
Back to canal country for a short time
Until we arrived at flood lock at Trent Junction
That is the way to go
Maybe next time we pass this way we will explore here
Past the tea room
And the pub
It was a good job the river was wide again as we had to pass this very slow moving traffic – two boats – one engine
Then Sawley lock appeared on the horizon – not one but two locks
But with hardly any landing stage – such a contrast to Cranfleet
This one is all mechanised – you just need a key and a finger
and even the gates are opened electrically. Please not the wet weather gear - 15% chance of rain the forecast said and we got three short, sharp showers, mostly at locks!
On the other side – well boats as far as the eye can see!
Our journey was nearly done – within minutes we arrived at Sawley Marina. A small entrance, but with visitor moorings at the front past the yellow boat
Boatwif was landed and set off to find the office. We were expected. The Captain took Cleddau to the other side of the cut, we joined him and we waited and waited and waited. The visitor moorings were rapidly filled with Canaltime boats and inevietably as one of the them was exiting the marina another boat came along the cut. Just to add to the excitement a flotilla of canoes came the other way.
At one point we thought Boatwif had been abducted by aliens. She did return eventually with papers in hand and instructions of where to go – into the narrow marina entrance, turn left and find pontoon H numbers 17 and 21. There were no signs anywhere. We spotted a man busy with a hoover – we eventually caught his attention – ‘I have no idea’, he said ‘I am just doing some work here’. He did, however, go along the pontoon and ask another man. 'Yes this is H' we were told and he kindly walked along to find 17 and 21. Before long we were safely moored. Cleddau just for the one night and us for a week.
So what exciting things did Boatwif and I find to do on our last afternoon together – we spent about 3 hours in the laundrette!! Towels and bedding all washed and dried, so although a real chore, it was a job worth doing.
That evening we dined in style with a bottle of bubbly to mark the end of phase 4 of our trip. We provided the starter and dessert and the Cleddau crew provided the main course and the cheese. And so to bed.
Friday 15th August 2014
It was bright and sunny and we waved Cleddau and crew off with tears in our eyes, lumps in our throats and very heavy hearts. It has been a fantastic 2.5 months and the first joint venture. Others sure to follow (Ellesmere to Liverpool, the K & A to Bristol and onto Gloucester have both been mentioned already!). It has certainly made a very memorable introduction to our floating life. Thank you both for all your help and guidance and we wish you well for the rest of your trip home to Macclesfield.
and were gone
Our son collected us and took us to Beeston railway station where we got a train to Bedford (just one hour and five minutes and no changes), then it was taxi to The Captain’s and Boatwif’s house where we collected Chris’ car and headed for home. We both agreed that motorways are not good places to be, but they are a necessary evil. What a sight met us on our return – about 50 molehills in our very small patch of grass! That is a job for Sunday – try to clear the earth and then mow the grass. I rather suspect that we will have a lot more to do when we finally come home at the end of September.
Saturday 16th August 2014
Today we went to our local museum, Avoncroft with our daughter, son in law and two grandsons. It isa very non commercial, low key place to go, but we love it - http://www.avoncroft.org.uk – if you want to know more about the place. First we had a very chilly picnic, then we went for a wander round. Today was a Civil War day. Lots of people in costume, the local constable along with this stocks and pillory, armour for children to try on, a man making pencils to name but a few of the things to see and do. We went to examine one of the permanent exhibits - the WWII air raid shelter
And then read all about their latest project which does look quite exciting.
At 2pm there was a ‘battle’. The leaders followed the standards to ‘talk’. The local army would not be persuaded to leave the battle field and go home
So the fighting began - The Royalists on one side
And the locals on the other
Then the Pikemen were brought in to play
However, despite having a big canon
The locals could not win through and men started to drop like flies
It was too noisy for J, so he and I went to the park
Much more fun
When the others joined us we were assured that the Royalists won. A good time was had by all
On the way out the old privies were examined (J wrinkled his nose when he was given an answer to what was in there!)
What better way to end a day out - a good old ice cream!
The day ended with a BBQ at their house and we have found ourselves booked for babysitting duties tomorrow evening!
It will be back to the boat on Tuesday at some point and we will be off again on Thursday for part 5 of the summer cruise.
Total Stats since leaving Droitwich Spa Marina on 23rd May 2014
460.5 miles, 231 locks