Thursday 20/08 our destination was to be Great Haywood. It meant passing through Tixall Wide, but we fancied having the grounds of Shugborough Hall as our backdrop. On route we passed Stafford Boat Club which had been our home for a week, on our way to Chester. As we entered Tixall Wide, we recognised a boat moored that we had seen several times over the past few days. 'Millie Rose' was one of Steve Hudsons final boats, and we had met the owner a couple of times on our way down the Shroppie. What we did not expect was to see the crew of 'Lowen' another Hudson boat popping out of the rear doors. We had not seen them for over a year since the last Hudson open weekend, so we made an unscheduled stop on the Wide for a catch up. About an hour later we resumed our journey to the junction with the Trent and Mersey, then turned right and descended the lock before mooring in front of Shugborough Hall as planned.
Friday 21/08 our planned destination was Fradley Junction, but we saw an opportunity to extend the day and then have a rest day on Saturday. We passed the pig farm and fuel barge near Bishton which seems a popular mooring spot, then continued on through Rugeley and Armitage before arriving at Fradley. We descended the locks with the help of the volunteer lock keepers, and turned right onto the Coventry Canal. Our revised destination just prior to the village of Whittington, was a further five miles away. We secured the boat mid way between Huddlesford and Whittington, and decided that having foregone lunch, an early evening meal was called for at the Plough Inn.
Saturday 22/08 was a warm, very humid day, and the furry crew member did not appear to be enjoying his walk in the heat. We therefore kept it short, simply collecting a few supplies from the co-op in the village, then returning to the boat to relax and attempt to keep cool. Later, we were treated to a brief thunder storm which cleared the air a little.
Sunday 23/08 our aim was to reach Polesworth. We made good progress to Glascote where we had two locks to navigate. Both are renowned as slow to fill. The bottom lock takes 8 minutes and top lock 12 minutes. The Canal and River Trust are closing them on Wednesday to conduct an inspection and see what the problem is. After exiting the top lock we passed the entrance to Glascote Basin, our boats home port. This has now been taken over by Norton Canes Boatbuilders, so we popped in for a brief chat. Resuming our journey we passed through Polesworth, taking a mooring just prior to bridge 50. We were close to the main railway line here, but the mooring is shielded by a small hill making it quite a pleasant spot.
Today we had the Atherstone flight of 11 locks to deal with. The rain was not expected to arrive until late in the afternoon. Just as we slipped our lines it began to drizzle. Fortunately it was short lived. We used the services at the base of the locks, then set off up the flight. The first two locks went without incident, but then we encountered very low water in the pound between locks 10 and 9. Someone who had gone through the flight at 6 am, had left a gate paddle raised which drained the pound by nearly a foot and a half. We travelled along the pound staying in the centre of the channel. The boat bumped along in a few spots, but entry into lock 9 proved impossible. We then spent about half an hour running water down the flight to raise the levels. After this the remainder of the flight was in our favour, and for the final four locks we had volunteer lockies helping. We passed the CRT yard at Hartshill, then Springwood Haven Marina. Our chosen spot was free and we moored up. Soon after the rain came and we were rapidly joined by another couple of boats.
Wednesday 19/08 totals 10 Miles 10 Locks
Thursday 20/08 totals 8 Miles 3 Locks
Friday 21/08 totals 17 Miles 4 Locks
Sunday 23/08 totals 12 Miles 2 Locks
Today's totals 6 Miles 11 Locks
Running total 499 Miles 245 Locks 18 Tunnels