Thursday, 31 July 2014

More progress than expected, and it's all really rather wonderful.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Thursday 31st July.

Perfect breakfast location.
Another longish day, which I note has the highest mileage of any we have yet recorded since starting this trip.

Our overnight location below Deptmore lock proved to be a stunning one, and just as a meal had been enjoyed outside last night, a slow breakfast was enjoyed outside with lots of fresh filtered coffee.  At locations like these, far from roads and farm machinery, (and even other boats), Odin can just be on the towpath, largely left to his own devices.

Tixall lock is one of the prettiest, I think.
The expected rush of boats away from Tixall wide that we had been part of when travelling the other way never really happened - it is less hectic now, and we saw little setious queing for locks going back on the Staffs and Worcs.  Around Tixall Wide, Canla and River Trust contractors have cut huge amounts of canal-side vegetation, some of it many feet high, and quite substantial. and it is all tossed in the canal, often forming very large clumps.  "Sickle" blasted her way though most of it, with no serious prop fouling, but leisure boats were not so lucky, some hire boats reporting 4 or 5 trips down the weed hatch in just a few miles.  I can't help feeling when this much is cut that putting it in the canal is not a great idea, even if the canal is as wide as it is at Tixall.

Tixall Wide
As we got back onto the Trent and Mersey at Great Haywood, the queues were initially not bad in our direction, but coming up through Heywood lock, at least six boats were waiting to come the other way.  Why do people insist on only opening one paddle when the delays are so large, though?

Many of the locks are attractive in different ways.
However at the next lock, Colwich, it was our turn to queue - not quite so bad, but 4 boats waiting ahead of us when we arrived.

Yet another very attractive lock.
We had planned to stop at Fradley, and nearly did when we saw the visitor moorings less than half full, (very unusual at this time of year - it is often stuffed full).  However we were going so well, we decided to carry on quite a bit longer, eventually stopping at Huddlesford junction, where the heavy freight traffic on the railway looked like it might be an issue.  I'm glad we stopped here, as the hospitality at the Plough was as good as the beer.  The pub is dog friendly, (and very people friendly), and a very Scottish accented landlord took great interest in Odin.

Ex Stewarts & Lloyds "Reginald", but no sign of owner Mike.
Deptmore Lock (Staffs & Worcs) to Huddlesford
Miles: 0 (Chalice), 23.1(Sickle), Locks: 6

Total Miles: 344.8, Locks: 187

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