Lock 44 to Brook House Winding Hole
Alarm set, we’d had breakfast and were in the first lock of the day at 7:10 am, a little later than we’d planned but only by ten minutes. The plan was to reach the tunnel by 8 am when it opened to hopefully be the first through. All four locks needed some emptying, some more than others including one that had had a paddle left up on it. As we made our way past the boats at the services we noticed that there was now a space, one of the boats had moved backwards to the end ring.
At 8:10 am we pulled in on the waiting moorings by the north portal to the tunnel, the C&RT boat was just being brought out from the tunnel entrance. Would we be waved straight in? Sadly no, a boat had just set off from the south portal so we’d have a 40 minute wait.
Time for another brew and to try to use up the last of the gas I baked the remainder of my biscuit dough. Still not empty!
At 8:51 an Anglo Welsh hire boat appeared out of the tunnel, one chap stood at the front fending off. They all looked a touch chilly. With our pre-tunnel checks already done, light, horn, life jackets etc we were waved into the dark.
Our passage through took us about 35 minutes the glint of light between the doors at the far end just coming into view as we reached about halfway. These were opened with about a third of our journey left, the occasional head of the tunnel keeper bobbing round to see how far away we were.
We emerged to no waiting boats and only two Canadian Geese grazing, a bit of a surprise. Well on track to reach Capital Gas by midday we pootled along the summit pound. Only four boats at Westport Lake, maybe people have been put off after the Oatcake boat had their windows kicked in a few weeks ago. On past the bottle kilns and potteries, Stoke boats and empty land that once contained factories.
The stretch of towpath past Festival Park up to Summit Lock has very recently been resurfaced. If you have had a recent paint job this would not be the place to moor! The path has been sprayed with tar and then a thick layer of gravel added on top, most of it nice and loose. Bicycles have difficulty getting a grip on this and spray the loose stones up in the air. Like autumn leaves kids can’t resist kicking either!
With two new bottles of gas (the second one must have been on it’s last breath, it certainly was giving off the smell of a just about to run out bottle) we then headed up the hill to pick up a few bits and bobs from Sainsburys. I have a cake to make in the next couple of days for someones birthday, chocolate has been requested.
The service moorings at Etruria were empty, so we pulled in and made use of them, filling the water tank as we had lunch. The option was to back out onto the Trent and Mersey or go up to the winding hole, which is what Mick opted for. The junction had turned into a kitchen, everybody wanted to be there! A boat was coming towards us from Middleport, another just coming out from the lock wanting to turn towards us and we wanted to turn towards them and the lock. This all took a bit of doing but everyone ended up facing the direction they wanted to be in.
Down Summit Lock whilst refilling the lock below, Oleanna crossed the pound as the local helper on a bike appeared from below, who opened the gates and helped us down shouting to the boat he’d been helping to get out of the way ‘Boat coming down!’
This stretch is so familiar and Mick always
needs wants a train to go past when we’re in Cockshute’s Lock. Today a cross country train obliged with it’s timing bringing a smile to my boys face. The number of vehicles parked outside the house at Stoke Bottom Lock has increased again.
Passing over Trent Aqueduct where the narrow stream of the river starts. We’d last seen the river at Keadby on the 5th February, some 299.61 miles and about 270 locks ago. A bit of a different sight there!
Graffiti changes, a hot dog on legs had us hunting through Flintstone footage and then watching John Travolta singing ‘Sandy’ in Grease to find the reference which happens just at the end of the song. Wonder if this is where it came from?
Now we had the four mile pound towards Trentham Lock passing new warehouses that have gone up since we were last this way and all the gardens backing onto the canal. Once down the lock we only had to pass the Wedgwood Factory and then pull in on the outskirts of Barlaston. Here will do us for a day or two. Lots of work to get done and of course that cake to make!
10 locks, 12.32 miles, 10 biscuits, 1 wall route planned, 2676 m of tunnel, 2nd through, 2 bottles of gas, £26.15 each, 3 boxes wine, 6 possible chips, 1 left, 1 full water tank, 1 wind, 1 sharp left, 1 sour dough woken up, 1 sponge fermenting, 350 grams chocolate, 120 grams cocoa, 0 notification of my parcel.