Wednesday 28 June 2023

 Wednesday 10th May

Mancetter to Wyken Basin

The last day of our trip – homeward bound. We left Mancetter soon after 8.00 on another day of very mixed weather.  We stopped at Boot Wharf in Nuneaton hoping to pick up a gas bottle, but the delivery had not arrived so we’ll get one another day.

Onward to Hawkesbury and the very last lock – the water depth in this one changes by less than a foot, but they all count!

We turned into the basin at about 11.30, and slowly moved past other boats towards the widest part of the basin, where Steve usually turns the boat round, but there was so much weed that he decided not to risk getting the weed wound around the prop, so we just tied up in a convenient narrow section to unload stuff from the boat into the car we had parked on site some weeks ago. We managed to do all the unloading and loading in the dry, but a heavy shower did dampen us as we moored up in our proper mooring space.

A very weedy basin.

Today’s miles and locks – 10.75 miles   1 locks    

Total miles and locks – 307.25 miles       191 locks

Tuesday 9 May 2023

 Tuesday 9th May

Amington to Mancetter

Today is our last full day of cruising – home tomorrow. We set off in the dry though we were not sure that this would last! We made our way towards the Atherstone Locks, but came across an obstacle in our path in the shape of a workboat which had come adrift at the front and was floating across the canal. Steve managed to nudge it out of the way and he phoned the firm which owns the boat to let them know of the problem.

We soon reached the bottom lock of the Atherstone flight which is Number 11. We were quickly through Number 11 and Number 10, but then we came up behind another boat. There were also boats coming down the locks so progress became a bit slower. Through Numbers 9 and 8 and then we met Don, a volunteer lockkeeper on this flight. So we now had help, but it was still slow going because of the number of boats. Through Number 7 and as we approached Number 6, the sky darkened and it started to rain. Everyone put their coats on, the rain stopped, the sun came and everyone took their coats off again.

From Number 5 through to the top lock, we (and, obviously, all the other boaters) had help from other VLKs in addition to Don. It had been a busy morning for them and they were ready for their lunch, as we were too. We moored up straight after the locks, Steve went into town for a new battery for our smoke alarm and then we had lunch.

Mum and 10 ducklings

Mum, Dad and 4 cygnets

Meanwhile, the clouds had gathered and just as Steve returned from town, we had a downpour together with thunder and lightning.

We stayed where we were until the rain lessened and then moved on, mooring for the night at Mancetter.

Mooring for our last night away.

Today’s miles and locks – 9.50 miles   11 locks    

Total miles and locks – 296.50 miles       190 locks

Monday 8 May 2023

 Monday 8th May

Fradley to Amington

We started soon after 7.00 which was before any other boats appeared. We had also hoped to beat the rain, but it arrived early and we did Shade House Lock and Fradley Middle Lock in the rain. We turned off the Trent and Mersey Canal onto the Coventry Canal through a swing bridge.

Swing Bridge at start of Coventry Canal

Chyandour turning onto Coventry Canal

 No more locks for hours, so I hid inside, while Steve put up his umbrella and steered through the rain. Not surprisingly, there were not many boats on the move.

We stopped for lunch at Fazeley, but as the rain was lessening, we were soon on our way again hoping to travel in the relatively dry spell. Half an hour later we arrived at Glascote Locks. We were following another boat, but as they stopped for water immediately after the locks, one of their crew kindly helped us in working the locks. We carried on a little further to Amington where we moored up.

The weather was still dry so we went for a short walk around Amington and then went for a cup of tea with a local BCF member.

Back to the boat just as it started to rain again. Rain continued throughout the evening.

Today’s miles and locks – 13.75 miles   4 locks    

Total miles and locks – 287.00 miles    179 locks

Sunday 7 May 2023

 Saturday 6th May – Coronation Day

Barlaston to Weston

Our minimalist coronation bunting.

We started off in the dry, but by 10.00, it was raining and that continued for most of the day.  We made our way to the Meaford Locks of which there are four.  Then onwards to Stone. We did three of the Stone locks and then stopped for fuel at Stone Wharf.

After refuelling, we went down Stone Bottom Lock. From now on, the locks come one at a time, well spaced out. We did Aston Lock and stopped for lunch. After lunch, it was about an hour's journey to Sandon Lock and another hour until we moored for the night at Weston.

We watched the Coronation Service on iPlayer and then went for a meal at the Saracen’s Head.

Today’s miles and locks – 10.50 miles   10 locks    

Total miles and locks – 257.75 miles       170 locks


Sunday 7th May

Weston to Fradley

Unlike yesterday, today dawned sunny and the sunshine continued all day. The cold wind had dropped and we had a lovely warm day.

We only had five locks to do today. First was Weston Lock, then about an hour later came Hoo Mill Lock.

Staffs & Worcs Canal

 We passed the turning leading to the Staffs and Worcs Canal and soon reached Haywood Lock where we met the first queue of the day. We were fifth in line following boats which had come out of a nearby marina. With plenty of people to help, it wasn’t too long before all the boats were safely down the lock and we were on our way again. This lock is very near to the Shugborough Estate.

Shugborough Estate

Opposite Shugborough, bluebells in the wood.
There were only two boats waiting at Colwich which was the next lock. They were both small boats hired just for the day by families celebrating the coronation, all new to boating. We helped them on their way, went down the lock ourselves and after a while, stopped for lunch. We decided that as the weather was so good, and the forecast for tomorrow is for rain, we would do some extra miles today.

We stopped briefly at Rugeley to do a little shopping and then carried on to Woodend Lock, some four hours after the previous one.  Time to stop and moor up for the night, just above Shade House Lock which will be the first one for tomorrow.

Today’s miles and locks – 15.50 miles   5 locks    

Total miles and locks – 273.25 miles       175 locks

Friday 5 May 2023

 Friday 5th May

Kidsgrove to Barlaston

Another 7.00 start as we wanted to be at the entrance to Harecastle Tunnel by 8.00. We were quickly through the sixth Red Bull Lock that we didn’t do yesterday, and when we arrived near the tunnel, we lined up behind the boats that were already waiting.

 We started through the tunnel at about 8.10, with 3 boats in front of us and 2 or 3 behind us. It took around 35 minutes to go through the tunnel and then we continued on our way towards Stoke-on-Trent.

On our way into the tunnel.

And out at the other end.

Near Etruria came the five Stoke Locks. It was slow work going down these locks as we were still following one of the boats that had been through the tunnel in front of us. We had to refill every lock, but we did have help from people off boats following us.

Just one more lock, Trentham Lock, before we stopped for the day. Our mooring is close to the Wedgwood Museum, so after having a late lunch, we walked up to the site and spent over an hour looking at the exhibits.

Mooring with Wedgwood in the background.

Josiah Wedgwood

What is now called the V & A Wedgwood Collection is fascinating, but the cup of tea we had from the van in the grounds was less than interesting!

As we walked back to the boat, we had a shower of rain. Given that the forecast for today, had been for rain from midday, possibly with thunderstorms, we thought we had escaped very lightly. Both today and yesterday were mainly sunny, though there was a strong cold wind yesterday.

Today's fluffies.

Today’s miles and locks – 11.00 miles    7 locks      

Total miles and locks – 247.25 miles 160 locks

Thursday 4 May 2023


Thursday 4th May

Wheelock to Kidsgrove

We had an early start today leaving our mooring soon after 7.00, as did the boater who helped us out yesterday. (He had moored near us last night.)

Many of the locks today are paired – two side by side which should help prevent queues. However, not all of the original pairs are still usable.

Two working locks side by side

But one of this pair is unusable.
The first of today’s locks were the 8 of the Wheelock flight.  Where both of a pair were still usable, I was able to help our helper from yesterday who was singlehanding.

Hassall Green Bottom and Top Locks came next, followed by Pierpoint Bottom and Top Locks, Lower Thurlwood and Upper Thurlwood Locks, the three Lawton Locks, Halls Lock, and finally (at least for this first session) Church Lawton Bottom and Church Lawton Top Locks. After doing 20 locks, we decided it was time for lunch!

A peaceful scene between the locks.

Having had a break, we carried on and did 5 more locks – five of the six Red Bull Locks (we’ll do the sixth tomorrow). Time for a cup of tea, before walking to the local Lidl for supplies.

Today’s miles and locks – 8.50 miles    25 locks      

Total miles and locks – 236.25 miles 153 locks

Wednesday 3 May 2023

 Wednesday 3rd May

Barbridge to Wheelock

Today was another sunny day, though it was a little breezy. It turned into a long day for us for various reasons.

We started off only a minute or two after 8.00, and 5 minutes later, we turned onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union canal. 

The Middlewich Branch

Soon afterwards we arrived at Cholmondeston Lock and after we’d gone down it, we stopped at Venetian Marina for a pump out. I also took the chance to stock up on bread and milk.

Next were Minshull Lock, Stanthorne Lock and Wardle Lock. There were a lot of boats around on this canal and we got held up at the locks as there were boats ahead of us. We also got held up at bridges where we had to wait for oncoming boats. So progress was quite slow.

1. Interesting house

2. Another interesting house (originally stabling for canal horses)

We turned off the Middlewich onto the Trent and Mersey Canal after Wardle Lock and almost immediately were faced with King’s Lock where again we had to wait while another boat went through it.

A quick lunch on the move after King’s Lock before getting to Rump’s Lock and then the three Booth Locks. The first one went smoothly and I walked on ahead to prepare the second one for us. After a little while, I realised that Steve was not arriving and when I went to investigate, I discovered he had gone aground on an obstruction underneath the surface. He spent some time trying to free the boat, but nothing worked. Even with the help of another boat pulling ours, it was still stuck fast. So I went back to the lock I’d set for us and let down lots of water, so that eventually, Chyandour floated free! We carried on and went through the lock I’d first prepared what seemed like hours ago! Just one more lock and then we soon stopped and moored up for the night.

We have a mooring in open countryside, very quiet but we are being buffeted by the wind – perhaps it will rock us to sleep later.

Today’s miles and locks – 16.75 miles    9 locks      

Total miles and locks – 227.75 miles 128 locks

Tuesday 2 May 2023


Tuesday 2nd May

Marbury to Barbridge

Today was another one which started off cloudy but brightened up as the day went on. The afternoon and evening were sunny and warm (at last!).

Just Marbury Lock to start the day and that was quickly done as it was set ready for us. Then we had 3 lift bridges, but we got through them very easily as one is permanently open, one is electrically operated (I got to hold up the traffic again), and at the third one, another boat had just come through from the other direction so the lift was already open and they waved us through before closing it after us.

Next came the three Baddiley Locks and the two Swanley Locks. We did meet the occasional boat, but not as many as perhaps we had expected.

We had lunch before starting to go down the final four locks of the Hurleston Flight, the last on the Llangollen Canal. At the top of the flight, the water that we saw in Llangollen being diverted into the canal from the River Dee flows into Hurlestone Reservoir from where it is treated and piped to houses in Crewe and the surrounding area.

Hurleston Reservoir

Hurleston Locks can get very busy with boats coming off the Llangollen Canal or turning onto it from the Shropshire Union, so there are usually volunteer lockkeepers on duty to help control the comings and goings.

Hurleston Flight

Today the locks were not very busy, and with the help of the lockies we worked down them and when we arrived at the bottom, we turned left back on to the Shropshire Union. 

Out of the last lock on the Llangollen Canal

After another mile or so, we moored outside the Old Barbridge Inn where we had a meal later in the evening.

Today’s miles and locks – 9.75 miles    10 locks    

Total miles and locks – 211.00 miles 119 locks

Monday 1 May 2023

 Sunday 30th April

Gledrid to Whixall Moss

Quite a quiet day. The weather was grey and drizzly most of the time though not quite as cold as some of the previous days. We did the two New Marton Locks – no more locks today.and no lift bridges. We had lunch at Ellesmere and took the opportunity to pop to Tesco for a few supplies.

There was a lot of work being done on the towpath and the canal edge in this area.

By late afternoon, the weather had cheered up and by the time we moored up at Whixall the clouds were clearing. We had our evening meal a little early and then went for a walk in the evening sunshine. A little way along a local road we found a bird hide overlooking one of the local meres. We hadn’t brought our binoculars so we didn’t stay long in the hide.

Bird Hide

Mere in the evening sun

Once we were back at the boat, I decided to return to the hide, this time with the binoculars. I saw swallows, a lapwing, a sandpiper (I think), wagtails, and shelduck (plus the usual Canada geese and mallards). As I walked back to the boat, I could hear a thrush singing. It had been there an hour earlier when we first went out. He was certainly claiming that tree as his territory.

Today’s miles and locks – 16.50 miles    2 locks      

Total miles and locks – 191.50 miles 100 locks


Monday 1st May

Whixall Moss to Marbury

Another grey start to the day, but we only had a little rain and again we had a lovely sunny evening.

The thrush was still singing in his tree as we set off soon after 8.00.

More activity for us today, with 5 lift bridges in the first couple of hours. We stopped to take on water at the top of the Grindley Brook Locks, and then there was a bit of a delay because boats were coming up. But with the help of the two volunteer lockkeepers on duty today, we were through the staircase in reasonable time and then the other three locks of the Grindley Brook flight were set in our favour so were quickly done. Lunch followed and then we just did three more locks (Povey, Willey Moor and Quoisley) before deciding we had done enough, and mooring up near Marbury.

Only photo today is some ducklings and their mum.

Our walk in the late afternoon took us up into the village of Marbury, a small village with some old houses, a pub, a church and judging by the notices in the church porch, a number of active community groups.

Today’s miles and locks – 9.75 miles    9 locks      

Total miles and locks – 201.25 miles  109 locks

Saturday 29 April 2023

 Saturday 29th April

Llangollen to Gledrid

Today we started our homeward journey, leaving Llangollen in bright sunshine. This part of the canal has some very scenic views.

It was beginning to look as if the sunshine would not last.

A big black cloud.
So we repeated the last part of yesterday’s trip in the opposite direction – through the narrows with me acting as look-out again, and then over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct where we stopped and moored up. 

We wanted to go to the visitor centre at Trevor and walk down to the Dee valley and see the aqueduct from below. We walked back across the aqueduct to the wharf at Trevor,  had a coffee from the machine in the Anglo-Welsh hireboat office (the wharf could do with a proper cafĂ© of some description!) and then made our way down a long flight of steps to the bottom of the valley where there were a couple of places with a good view of the aqueduct. We continued our walk along the River Dee and then climbed another set of steps to another viewpoint before returning to the wharf and another walk across the aqueduct to return to the boat.

Pontcysyllte from river level.

And from a little higher up.
By now it had started to rain, but we decided to move on a bit further. Back through a lift bridge, Whitehouses Tunnel, Chirk Tunnel and Chirk Aqueduct, past Chirk Bank where we had moored a couple of nights ago as far as Gledrid where we decided to stop. The rain continued on and off through the afternoon and evening.

Chirk Aqueduct in the rain.

We made our way through the rain and the puddles to The Poacher for our evening meal.

Today’s miles and locks – 9.50 miles    0 locks      

Total miles and locks – 175.00 miles  98 locks

Friday 28 April 2023

 Friday 28th April

Chirk  to Llangollen

The sunshine was back and it was even a little bit warmer.

Very soon after we left our mooring on Chirk Bank, we arrived at Chirk Aqueduct. Rather than try and describe it, I’ll put plenty of photos.

Chirk Aqueduct with Railway Viaduct to the left.

River Ceiriog below.

Showing towpath, channel and an edging (not for walking on!)

Fields and River Ceiriog

Viaduct in use.

After the aqueduct comes Chirk Tunnel, then Whitehouses Tunnel – no photos in tunnels.

Crossing into Wales and heading for Chirk Tunnel

No locks on this section of canal, but there was one lift bridge - actually there are two, but one is permanently open so doesn’t require any action from us.

Then we reached the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – again photos rather than words.

On to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Down to the fields - no edging to this side of the channel.

River Dee

More River Dee

On the last stretch into Llangollen, there are some very narrow sections where two boats cannot pass each other, so I walked ahead to alert Steve about any boats coming from the Llangollen direction. As it turned out, there were no boats, just a couple of kayakers,

In Llangollen, we moored in the very nice basin provided for boaters to use at the end of navigation for powered boats. 

The horsedrawn boat does go further along right to the absolute end where the River Dee feeds into the canal.

"Dakota" at work
After having lunch we walked down into the town and did some shopping. We took the shopping back to the boat and then walked along the towpath to explore the rest of the canal. We walked right to the end to the Horseshoe Falls before walking back to the boat for the evening.

The canal starts here where water from the Dee is fed into the channel.

The Horseshoe Falls - the weir where water from the Dee is diverted to the canal.

Today’s miles and locks – 8.75 miles    0 locks      

Total miles and locks – 165.50 miles  98 locks