Brooke House Winding Hole to Lime Kiln Lock 30
Browsing through Facebook on Tuesday morning we came across photos of the next pound down from us being empty. This had been put on a local page and as ever boaters were commenting, blaming C&RT. Where as the more likely reason for the pound being empty was someone had left gates or paddles open at the next lock. The short length of the pound could easily be refilled from the pound above which is around 3 miles long, so we weren’t worried.
We pushed off around 11am passing a few boats on route, nobody mentioned an empty pound to us and when we arrived I checked ahead. There was plenty of water, someone had sorted it.
The Meaford Locks were busy we managed to swap with boats at two of the locks, paused to empty the yellow water tank between locks, before the towpath changed sides again. Our hope was to be able to pull up on the five day moorings above the locks in Stone. From here it would be a ten minute walk to the station for me to get to my panto meeting. We were in luck, there was space.
Tuesday afternoon I finished off my white card model ready for my meeting whilst Tilly became unimpressed with Stone and Mick had a walk down to Morrisons for a few bits. He returned via the towpath to see if he could find NB Mr Blue Sky who we’d shared the locks into Manchester with a few weeks ago. A rendez vous was arranged for Wednesday morning.
Wednesday arrived and two moorings became vacant (after one boat moved on!) so we nudged up, closer to the footpath to the station. A short while later Clare appeared, followed by Graeme at the helm of NB Mr BS, they slotted nicely into the gap behind us.
Time for a catch up on their travels. Since we parted ways in Manchester they have been down the Shoppie, done some of the Staffordshire and Worcester then come back up the Trent and Mersey, covering at least twice as many miles as us. They also wanted a sneak peek at my model. Despite the still fairly early hour we all had a thin slice of birthday cake, only half left to go! It was lovely to see them again, our paths may cross next time they are over or when/if we venture over to New Zealand.
Mick walked up to help them with the Meaford Locks whilst I was left to finish off my technical drawings. A trial pack and check through of everything for my meeting, I was ready by 3pm.
Fountains came along trimming the overgrown towpath and kicking up a lot of dust. We did get a knock on the side of the boat asking if they could cut alongside our mooring. Mick said yes as he could be stood ready to brush it off as soon as they finished. This proved a touch harder as the sun immediately baked it onto the gunnels, half an hour of washing got rid of it. At least we were in, our neighbour wasn’t, so didn’t get asked they just cut the grass anyway.
We had a walk to the station to time it as my train in the morning is early, ten minutes without getting too puffed climbing over the footbridge. Then we walked down through town (the Co-op had gone) to the new Marks and Spencers which is canal side just below Star Lock. With sandwiches for tomorrow and a few bits and bobs we walked back along the canal to Oleanna.
The bywash at Star Lock was roaring away, a boat was coming down Yard Lock above. As we walked along the pound we paused to pay our respects to Alex Bennett who’d died early last year in a boat fire here. We’d seen New Year in with her at Bugsworth Basin 2016/17 in the hold of her Fellows Morton and Clayton boat Tench, our paths had crossed a few times since.
We turned to carry on walking. The gates of Yard Lock opened, a snap shot of atmosphere with the leaking gates sprouting water behind the helm as the old workboat engine chugged it’s smoke into the chamber. As we got closer we could see that it was a Fellows Morton and Clayton boat. Closer still, it was Tench. We’d hoped we’d see her about somewhere, but in this pound where her owner Alex had died! A very spooky coincidence.
There was a chap at the helm, was that Brian from NB Elk? We’d seen him the other day in Middlewich and he was a very good friend of Alex’s. I checked later with a mutual friend and she confirmed that it most probably was Brian. We’re glad Tench has a new owner that will care for her as Alex did.
4 locks, 3 miles, 0 empty pounds, 5 day mooring to 48 hr mooring, 2 smiling New Zealanders, 4 slices of cake, 1 model ready, 12 sheets of drawings ready, 1 new yarn order, 1 assistants approval, 1 Tench, 1 spooky coincidence, 1 new owner.