Through The Arched Hedge. 30th April

Broken Ankle, Great Haywood to above Longford Lock, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

Swans nests are way better than those made by geese

Windy but sunny this morning, the world would be filled with green and blue. We considered going across the way for a cooked breakfast, but stuck to our cereal as that would be quicker.

Tixall Gate House

We turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, passing the Anglo Welsh hire fleet. Yesterday we’d put off coming round the corner and heading for Tixall Wide due to the wind and wanting to visit the farm shop. Arriving at 10/10:30 would mean having more chance of grabbing a mooring with a view of Tixall Gate House, this morning there were several up for grabs, but we needed to be further on today. The newly surfaced towpath looks good, but the armco still looks like it’s the same, only one stretch has had sandbags added to raise the bank from the water a touch.

At Tixall Lock we rose up infront of the nice lock cottage, a possible for a painting, if we ever stay put long enough for me to get one started! The next length of towpath has also been upgraded, a cyclist proved it was ride worthy.

Pair 18 coming along nicely

By now we both realised we were over dressed, big coats no longer required, the strong wind was almost warm. It was warm enough for me to bring my knitting out onto the stern to work my way towards a heel turn and still be able to keep an eye on things passing us by. This is another stretch of canal I’ve rarely seen in the last few years as there are several miles on the flat so I’ve been working below.

Around Stafford, the land to our west was exceptionally boggy and brown, a flood plane, but far browner than we remembered. I wonder how long it’s been under water for this year? A fisherman sat with his kit neatly tucked away by the hedge where there was an arched opening for him to pass his rod through. On closer inspection all the fishing pegs were marked out thus, grass neatly trimmed both by the cut and the hedge and an hedge opening at each.

Once up Deptmore Lock we pulled in for lunch, a nice sunny spot but would we ever get off the bank due to the wind? This took quite a bit of doing and thankfully we could hold our line without going too fast past moored boats. We were now being followed by a hire boat, Shutt Hill lock the lady came up to help, but hardly said a word. As we pulled away she closed the gate and ran back to the bottom gates, maybe they were trying to do the Four Counties Ring in a week!

At Park Gate Lock we’d just about caught the boat ahead of us up, only one top paddle working on the lock meant it took a long time to fill. As we worked our way up a boat came out from the wharf, took it’s time to wind blocking off the canal for a while. Was this a new boat, boxes covered where the mushroom vents would be, the paintwork looked new, apart from below the gunnels. Bourne Boats used to be based here. There were no signs and two rusty shells sat out on the hard were not really a good advert for them. Does anyone know if they are still trading?

The hire boat caught up with us again and this time there was chance for a chat. Four Counties in ten days. We watched as the new boat was manouvered back into the wharf and then under a crane. As it was lifted it was obviously not positioned quite right and was brought back down to the water to find it’s balance.

£975,000 click photo for details

Should we stop early? The wind was one thing, the depth below us another making our progress really quite slow. This of course would be no different tomorrow, but the wind may have died down. As we passed under the M6 we made the usual comments about the house alongside, lovely gardens, but maybe the need for noise cancelling headphones. Then we spotted it was for sale! Blimey! Just how much would it go for if they didn’t have the motorway as a next door neighbour? *The agent has removed the house from their website, but you can still get a shaded look at it from the link.

First Lollipop Lock gates

The M6 stays with the canal for quite a way. Once up Longford Lock we decided to pull in with the motorway opposite, here Tilly would have more fun even if there was a fence cutting the school off from the towpath. Straight out, then the complaints started . But there’s a fence! It’s high! Things look great on the other side. Mick went out to check on her, there she was on top of the fence, wire mesh variety. I was practicing my tight rope act! Thankfully she made it down by herself rather than by us wrestling our way through the hawthorne hedge.

Time to pack the faulty bully boy battery up. The Shed was emptied, steps removed and the battery pulled out. It was put on the stern deck so as not to be in our way overnight and hopefully I’d be able to pack it up out there.

What’s that woofer doing?!

Originally I’d thought of making boxes to surround it in the original box, but these would have to be so strong to hold the batteries weight. Instead I opted to cut widths of cardboard, stick them together and then these would help keep the battery away from the sides of the box. Tilly came to help, but kept a beedy eye on the woofers as they walked past. It took a while to have packing strong enough, but then the box was taped up ready to be sent off tomorrow. All we need to do now is actually get it to a drop off place for UPS, easier said than done!

Packing wadges

4 locks, 9.7 miles, 1st Lollipop, 0.5 pair of socks, 1.5 cardboard boxes cut into strips, 6 layers for strength, 1 tight rope walking cat, 1st proper sunny day without coats.

One thought on “Through The Arched Hedge. 30th April

  1. Brian Anthony Holt

    I can’t remember the last time that lock had all paddles working

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