How Different Our Day Would Have Been. 13th May

Bridge 22 to Rookery Railway Bridge 158, Trent and Mersey

No shore leave for Tilly this morning, we weren’t going to risk her getting carried away and not returning for hours! With a mooring in mind we pushed off in the glorious sunshine to find the next winding hole to turn in.

Shuttered house

Just over a mile and a half away there it was, for a change nobody was using it. Mick swung Oleannas bow in towards the V and started to turn her just as a boat came round the bend, they’d have to be patient for us to finish, which they were. Then we were on our way northwards again to be able to head southwards.

Bridge after bridge

More fields were being ploughed, hay turned, cattle grazed with a few very young calves having a rest by Mums feet. The branch is so rural, just the West Coast Main Line to break things up. We passed the cottage with it’s painted shutters, a new coat of paint has been added avoiding the roses. The converted stable block is another must for a photo.

On the new rings

By the time we had descended Stanthorne Lock it was lunchtime, so we decided to try out some of the new mooring rings at the breach site. I walked along to have a better look down at the side of the aqueduct where the breach happened. You can’t get down to see from below, but from above there is a definite scar where the water pushed everything out of its way.

Looking down to the river

The bank has a fresh layer of grass taking hold, but at the bottom there is still earth showing. The bank of the river has been made good and twigs mark where a hedge will grow in the future. The stone up on the aqueduct almost certainly marks the spot, a local dog has also left it’s mark here!

After lunch we swapped with a boat coming up Wardle Lock. A horn sounded below, then the bow of a boat appeared round the bend just after I’d lifted the bottom paddles. The bow hit the far side of the bridge as the chap at the helm tried to get their boat to turn, then the cabin top took a bump as the angle aligned perfectly. A chap walked up towards the lock and saw that I was opening the gates, ‘Thank you!’ He hadn’t realised there as a boat in the lock.

One swan!

I walked on to set King’s Lock leaving Mick to navigate around the hire boat and turn. As he waited for the lock to empty he spotted that the annoying water point at the junction has gone. Here there used to be boats moored up outside the chandlers, boats turning into and out of Wardle Lock, boats waiting to go up King’s Lock with another sat on the water point. Such a busy busy junction, all empty now.

Up above NB Elk was pulling in. We saw New Year in with Brian a few years ago at Bugsworth in the hold of NB Tench (I doubt he recognised us, we were yellow then). We wonder where Tench is now as her owner sadly died in a boat fire a year ago.

Four more and a boat in front

When on NB Winding Down we’d always count the swans in this pound. A popular spot for them, a fence was even put up to keep them from wandering onto the road. But we now seem to arrive when the numbers are low. At first count there was only one who’d made the effort, but another four were hiding at Rumps Lock.

We once bow hauled a boat here along the treacherous towpath

Some work has been done by C&RT on the lock landings along this stretch. For years the concrete edge has been collapsed and you had to choose where to step off your boat carefully.

Salt mountain

British Salt is always an interesting sight. The mounds of white stuff outside looking like part of the Alps and indoors the more pristine mounds were being rounded up by a very diddy digger. A short distance further on is a footbridge that goes to nowhere now. When we first bought into Nb Winding Down here stood the remains of the 1920’s factory for Bisto.

As we reached Booth Lane Bottom Lock, we’d caught up with a boat ahead. I asked if the locks had been full when they arrived, ‘Yes’, ‘The same here!’ I helped with the gate and reset the lock for us.
All the locks on the Trent and Mersey today have had chains and padlocks at their bases. I’ve not noticed this before.

Nice lock

Crow’s Nest Lock 67 is a nice lock. It used to occasionally be a really nasty lock too, but now it’s just nice. This was quite often the first lock we’d go through on NB Winding Down, it was also quite often the last before tidying, cleaning and packing away after our time on board. I helped a hire boat down, then it was our turn.

Artie’s back yard

Artie’s backyard is still a mishmash, the cottage looks like there are new owners and a boat is pulled up on a permanent mooring where the Carefree Cruising turn arounds used to happen. New build houses over look from behind and Artie’s new backyard is settling down well, it really is a huge house.

We’d originally planned on mooring at Wheelock, but the afternoon was ticking on. A fill of water also required, so once through the railway bridges we pulled in where there are rings, deployed our tyre fenders and settled down for the remainder of the day.

Today would have been the first day of the fraud case in Derby. The last few weeks we’d have spent cruising to get to a mooring. Mick would have been in court today, I’d not have been allowed to watch until I’d given my evidence. Our life would have been taken over by it for the next four weeks. How different today was, we made the most of the lovely weather and cruised.

I wasn’t too enamoured with this outside to start with. The friendly cover too thick for my liking and the towpath had just been cut, removing all the tastiest morsels. But after a while I found a good patch of trees. These provided me with very good climbing and a group of crows and magpies flocked to join me, serenading my achievement at climbing so high.

She came out to see what all the fuss was about, I think my new friends were being a touch too noisy. As we walked back to our boat a Tom stuck his head up out of another boat. ‘Excuse me is that Jingle Cat?’ This is the name I go under on social media. This was my Tom friend Ben. I met him in the Bugsworth outside ages ago, his memory is better than mine. She and Ben Tom chatted away whilst I found more grass and then disposed of it as only cats can. Then I spotted Ben Tom’s cats inside his boat. Olga and Betty. They shouted at me then hit each other, I’m not that surprised as I would never ever dream of living with a cat!

7 locks, 8.16 miles, 1 wind, 1 right, 5 swans, 1 bumping boat, 2 boats with boats in front, 0 water, 2 familiar boats, 1 with a repaint, 2000m, 0 court, 67 nice lock, 1 Ben Tom, 1 hour chatting, 2 bickering cats, 0 yarn news.

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