Goldstone Bridge to Beeton Wood Bridge 66, then a bit further on.
Time to see what has been blocking the way ahead for a while. I’ve started to get bored of photographing every tree that gave up it’s will to stand upright during the storms, but today going through Woodseaves Cutting the camera was out.
Two years ago it was so magical along this stretch, today it still is, it just shows the scars of the February storms.
By Cheswardine Road Bridge clumps of snowdrops filled the banks, these have long been past their best in less sheltered sites, and daffodils covered the tops. We now entered the cutting. Vertical rock hugs the canal and towpath either side, cut through around 185 years ago. Just how did Thomas Telfords navies do this? How long would it take us now to do the same with our diggers and lorries?
As we cruised along patches of red earth showed where things had slipped and every now and then there would be a pile of logs and sawdust.
Two walkers with their dogs could be seen up ahead by High Bridge clambering over something on the towpath. The colour gave it away, this must have been where the main landslip had been.
A short distance on from the bridge a large red scar came down from near the top of the cutting. Red earth and large red boulders covered the towpath all very straight edged as if they’d been precut. The boulders were large and we’re sure some must have fallen in the water, but we sailed on past at our sedate speed, no bumps from below.
More trees had come down and there was another large red scar with tree roots by Hollings Bridge. Thank goodness the wet and windy weather seems to have eased as I’m sure there is a lot more that could have come down in the cutting given half the chance.
On reaching the top of Tyrley Locks we were slightly relieved, we’d made it through without incident.
The house at the top of the locks is up for sale. Built by Thomas Telford in 1837 it really is a picture. Three bedrooms and a private mooring for £385,000. Exposed beams and a bathroom with a walk in shower that looks like Tilly stepped in a pot of blue paint before doing circuits.
A change of footwear was obviously needed with the amount of mud and standing water around the top gates of the top lock. Quite a lot of branches and twigs accompanied us down where the next lock sat waiting for us with it’s top gate open.
From Lock 3, I could see there was a boat below the bottom lock, were they coming or going? We knew there was a boat ahead of us, but I could have sworn there had been one heading for the locks. The pound between the bottom two locks is where we got stuck two years ago. Signs, now very worn, warn you not to stop in the pound.
I hesitated to go and set the next lock, but Mick and some walkers said that the boat was heading away from the bottom of the flight. I had another look and sure enough it was. So as Mick descended I walked down to fill the next chamber.
Hang on! There was someone at the next lock. Then I could see the roof of a boat rising, there had been a boat coming towards us as well as one going away. I closed paddles and lifted others to empty the lock so they could use it. Swung the gates open and waved them in, then headed back up to let Mick and Oleanna out of the lock above.
Walking back down the lady recognised me. ‘Are you Pip?’ The boat was NB Bessie Surtees, our paths have crossed a few times over the last few years, but I’ve never met them before, sorry I don’t know your names. They come from Scarborough too, so it was very nice to finally meet them. Having said that we both kept our distance, something that will be common practice over the next few months.
As the boats swapped over we waved farewell and continued downwards. Normally Mick loiters in the throat of a lock and closes the offside gate for me, but not here, I wouldn’t let him. The bywash is a torrent and could easily have pushed Oleanna onto rocks on the offside, so it was much better for him to just gun it out of the lock and into the next one, leaving me with the gates.
Phew, no getting stuck!
A family were walking up the locks so I enlisted their help to open the gate and close it again. We pulled up short of the first bridge into Market Drayton, pulled out the shopping bags and walked into town to stock up on fresh food. Our walk felt like we were walking into the lions den, Corovirus just waiting to pounce. Normally a busy supermarket is just that too busy, too many people, but today this had a different edge to it.
Luckily the things we wanted were on the shelves, fresh veg, milk and bread along with our Saturday newspaper. We don’t see the need to stock pile, also we don’t have the space. We did however check the loo roll isle, nothing. Pasta, only the really expensive stuff left, opposite the gluten free fusilli, we picked up a bag just in case! Long life milk, none.
A box of white wine was added to our trolley to make up for the missing one the other day. There were plenty of people about, only one face mask though. This was a home made version worn by an old chap. I’m not certain but it was either made from a white cotton vest or from a pair of new pristine white underpants.
A quick call into Lidl where Mick was very pleased that there hadn’t been a run on cheese twists! We were done now and headed back to be away from the crowds again.
Betton Mill Wharf looks like it is now being used by C&RT for it’s work boats. A much better use than a few years ago! This is where we came to talk to Stillwater about the build of our narrowboat that wasn’t in October 2012. For those who don’t know the Crown Prosecution Service took the boat builders to court last year on two counts of fraud.
Since we went to the sentencing hearing last April, not much has happened. When we left court further hearings had been arranged to confiscate funds to be used as compensation to the victims, us being only one of several. Late last summer I contacted the lady who’d been looking after us to see who we should contact regarding what had happened. This is when she informed us that the hearings had been cancelled. She could give us no reason for this and was of a similar opinion to us about how ridiculous this was. We always knew we’d never get our full money back, but the court had suggested we’d get something. But it appears that you can fraudulently take money from people and get away with it if you keep your nose clean!
It appears nobody would have told us about this and we haven’t been told officially either. Maybe things were said in court for our benefit then not to be acted upon. What a joke our underfunded legal system is!
Anyhow back to today. Soon we came across the biggest tree that had been across the cut and to some extent still was! The jagged crack on it’s trunk suggested the force at which it had fallen.
We pulled in about a mile further on where the towpath was relatively green and dry. A herd of cows watched our every move from half way across the field on the off side. They made comments and I’m sure would have given us marks out of ten if they had hands.
Tilly and I played stick for a while and then she was left to her own devises, climbing trees, pouncing, she doesn’t need me for such things.
Shortly before sunset, Tilly came home a touch hungry. The teenage bovines in the field across the way had managed to get to the canal and were running around kicking and mooing, goading us. Then they were joined by another gang of teenage boys in the field alongside the towpath. We were surrounded with mooing and noises that sounded like several were elephants in disguise.
We looked at each other, then at Tilly who no longer was looking longingly, watching the birdies, but was warily keeping an eye on lip licking cows through the hedge. ‘Lets move’ we said to each other. Tilly agreed.
As we moved along the cows followed us, even more amassing behind. They must have such a boring life. Will this be what human teenagers occupy themselves with should/when the schools close? I suspect we’ll find out.
5 locks, 5.61 miles, 4 landslips, 7 trees down, 1 big bird, 1 high bridge, 9 boulders, 2 Scarborough boats in 1 pound, 1st meeting, 1 box of wine, 1 packet gf pasta, 1 loaf bread, 2 cheese twists, 1 joint pork, 1 cabbage, 4 carrots, 4 parsnips, 0 toilet roll, 1 newspaper, 1 y front mask, 2 boaters wanting to wash our hands, 0 compensation, 326 teenagers, 472853245 moos, 2 moorings, 1 quiet evening at last.