Wow! how has it got to a month already. Photo albums can be found here:
Day 22 – Middle of Nowhere to Burston
We split the tasks today, for the first part I worked until we reach locks then got up and did the running of the locks as a good screen break and a bit of movement. Met plenty of lovely people, a couple of lovely single handers who were enjoying the change in weather. Parked up in this glorious spot for a day of actually advancing an upcoming special show and working with my Covid side hustle job finished with this glorious view!
Day 23 – Brunston to Trentham
I’ve fallen in love with this little section of canal, so picturesque, gentle and meandering…for a while anyway. It was too hot for outdoor office so I decided to enjoy boating instead and play catch up when we got there. I spotted a funny little bird in the field with a cockatoo looking hairdo making very loud calls. I had to google it as I then saw about 4 mini versions of it close by, turns out they were Lapwings. A pair off terns also appeared, I knew their call from the marina where we have a feisty breeding pair. They like to divebomb everyone.
Pulled over for some water while Richard nipped to the shops! Must have picked the slowest tap ever, a lovely welsh gent was waiting with his cruiser. I offered to let him fill up once he said he only had a 30 litre tank as it taken nearly half hour already to fill 50 of my 500! Lovely sunny chap, we decided not to fill completely and find a different tap later! Got given an ice lolly by a random person who had bought a box for their kids and didnt want the others to go to waste!
Familiar landmarks start appearing now from last year as we head more into Stone and Stoke. Found a lovely spot to stop for the night (and batter through some emails!).
Day 24 – Trentham to Engine Lock
Showers this morning which was fine as I was on shift until midday, just as the sun started appearing! Succulents thoroughly appreciated the little watering.
Injured myself on the first lock of the day, slipped my footing opening the gates and the base of my ribs caught my fall against the beam, shame it was an iron gate and not wood. OWWWW! Ground was just a bit slippy from the rainfall even with the walking boots on, did it again later. #idiot.
As we reached Eturia Junction, I pulled of an epic swing round onto our first steps of the Caldon Canal. We met a lovely man on a boat called Sha-N-Gra-La, a single hander, bought the boat in January and loving it. We would pass time and time again over the next few days exploring this lovely waterway. The night before I had asked on one of the Facebook groups about mooring as the book said ‘not before engine lock’ but these things can be out of date. Overall consensus was that it was still valid advice so we changed plans and pushed on. Shame as the park actually looked alright.
We passed our friend as he was sorting a minor prop foul but managed to time it so that we had the road lift bridge open for him to come right on through. We passed again a little further up and found a great spot to moor in the sunshine.
Day 25 – Engine Lock to Leek
Well this canal is a total change the deeper you get onto it. Straight round the corner into Engine Lock, we’d noticed the man from yesterday go past this morning. It happens a lot while boating so it’s nice to see a friendly face. A couple of manual lift bridges, I was at the helm today as i really didn’t feel like being that physical. A shallower canal we’re forced to take it that little bit slower and be more mindful of the sides of the canal as they can be very silted up and the likelihood is that you’ll ground your boat on them.
We caught up with Sha-N-Gra-La on the next flight of locks, the Stockton Brook Flight, very kindly as he had pulled over for a snack break, he had set the lock ready for us! I was enjoying being at helm and took a call to a friend when all of a sudden there was a little road island in the middle of the channel with a bridge straight after then, then a no entry and a sharp right turn. I had to concentrate so paused the call while managing to manoeuvre all those things without a single one touching the side! Karma soon got me later as i totally fluffed up a 90 degree turn into a bridge!
A quick pause to visit the bins and then we were at our junction. Today we were heading down to Leek which take you right, sweeps you around and on an aqueduct over the other arm of the canal below – very interesting water engineering that! This canal twists and turns, hugging the side of the hill. A large pond proceeds the short tunnel, unfortunately we got so distracted we forgot to change the battery on the camera so my perfect turn in the winding hole at the end of the branch is etched on our memories alone but I was very proud of myself. Turning well and then reverse parking!! go me!
Day 26 – Leek
I had work for the morning so Richard went off to the shops then we hopped on OS Maps to find a nice circular. 4 miles door to door through some countryside, Ladderedge country park and back along the canal. Perfect.
Day 27 – Leek to Froghall
From one arm to another as we meandered back up the Leek branch and turned a sharp right to go down the Froghall arm. We already knew we’d be too big for the tunnel at the end but the gauge over the locks further down confirmed it for us. It was nice to do both arms but we both felt like the Leek branch was prettier. The stretch where you join the River Churnet was nice though! A few narrow cuttings where only 1 boat would fit always makes for a nice challenge when you meet a canoe coming from the other way! The nearer to the tunnel looked a little uninviting so we spun around and found a nice mooring for the night backup the ways.
Day 28 – Froghall to Hollybush Inn
A normal 4 hour day and we decided a pub dinner was on the cards for tonight. Back the way we came, worked most of the locks with a hire boat that stopped for lunch at the pub before carrying on their journey. Earlier on it was lovely to hear the volunteer lock keeper had offered to drive them to the local shop when he saw they were mooring and preparing to walk there. Kind gesture. We saw a boat name that made both of us chuckle and groan as it’s the song that ends up in my head nearly every day whilst on tour with Jools Holland in the autumn & winter.