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Calf Heath to Brewood (11 miles, 1 lock)

The end was in sight!  The last leg (22 miles and 2 locks) of our 130 mile journey to Norbury Junction from Foxton, and their annual festival was all that remained.

Drying out after a drenching.  The boats needed a good wash!

So we set off from Calf Heath to get through Coven and onto the Shropshire Union Canal.

This garden had 2 of these cart wheel seats ~ lovely design I thought

Coven was busy with moored boats, probably all heading in the direction of Norbury as well.

One trader we passed was the Jam Butty ~ how cute is this butty!

Pendeford Rockin ~ a narrow cutting half a mile long cut through sandstone and shallow!

The junction on the right in the distance will take us onto the Shropshire Union Canal

The Autherley Junction signpost ~ straight on for Stourport and right for the Shropshire Union and Chester

Dangling precariously midstream, I wait for Richard to set the lock for our passage onto the 'Shroppie'

This must have been rubbish if you had no crew in the early days, as the butty steerer has no chance of getting off before the lock.  No matter, I waited patiently and hoped no one was waterskiing on the main canal to bisect the butty!

Linked back together, Richard tows me through the array of hire boats moored 

Signpost every mile along this canal ~ very useful

We moored up after the M54 motorway bridge but before the proper visitor moorings before the village of Brewood.  Much painting was done the next day, to try to get Echoes looking smart for the show.....

Great Haywood to Calf Heath (14 miles, 12 locks)

Leaving Great Haywood after a weekend's trading, we approached the junction which would take us onto the Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Haywood Junction in the distance ~ a nice 90 degree left hand bend

The canal was quiet as it was quite early, our favourite time to move the boats.

Safely around the junction, we pass the hirefleet of Anglowelsh

Appropriately named Tixall Wide

The first thing Richard commented on, getting back onto the canal proper after Tixall Wide, was the shallowness of the channel.  Our speed slowed notably.

Me coming through a bridge on the butty

The new stern on the butty enables me to leave the tiller alone whilst the motor boat pulls in a straight line.  The old stern, slightly twisted, and with poor 'swim' used to crab a little, meaning I couldn't always leave it be!  Now I can do what butty steerers of old used to do and keep myself busy!

Complete change on livery for the motor as well!

We moored for the night above Deptmore Lock above the village of Wildwood.  Richard got the sander out and that was it, the old back cabin was going to be changed from green with cream and red borders, to green with scumbled (imitation woodgrain finish) borders.

 Just needs a red border around the green panels 

Later walking to the shop in Wildwood, we passed these calves, a whole field full and looking at us with the dogs.

Setting off again, we pass through Acton Trussell and finally Penkridge, to visit the chandlers at Park Gate Lock and moor up for the night.

Bit more work on the butty.  Diamonds to the fore of the back cabin

Tracey and Ray on their boats Tea Junction and Billy Whizz pulled up for a quick visit to the chandlers on their way to the floating market at Stone at the weekend.  It was great to have a real life chat with them (especially being fellow traders) as opposed to online!

Big fat ducks

Mooring in Penkridge village the next night, Richard hired a car for a couple of days, allowing him to see our son in his new flat.  We also had a run out to the wholesalers, to make sure we had enough goods to sell at the Norbury Festival next weekend.

The Roundhouse Canal Shop at Gailey in the distance above the lock

Gailey Lock was a bit fiddly with the butty, as the canal goes under the A5 and then the lock is immediately after.  The rope for the butty needs to be pulled back to stop the butty running into the gates following the motor, but the angle is not easy as the wall to the road is in the way.  Richard managed to push it back and we got the gates shut successfully.  

Leaving the waterpoint at Gailey, wiggling between the boats unscathed.  Luckily it wasn't windy!

That was the last lock after a run of 6 that morning, so we stopped for water and visited the shop for a nosey and some chocolate!

Hatherton Junction at Calf Heath ~ right main canal, left old arm (now a dead end) where boats now moor

We got drenched during our next leg, so to find a nice quiet bit of armco, for the night, just past the junction was very welcome!  

Fradley to Great Haywood (11 miles, 2 locks)

We resume our journey blog from Fradley's Shade Lock, hoping to trade at Great Haywood for the weekend.

Leafy Trent and Mersey Canal going past Ravenshaw Wood

Woodend Lock was just round the corner and as always, no boats, then everyone turns up out of nowhere!  We stopped further up the canal to refuel at Kings Bromley Wharf.  Richard slingshot the butty into the side, whilst he headed into the marina.

Armitage Shanks (dating back to 1817) dominates the outskirts of Armitage

The weather was great, so we carried on, hoping to get to Colwich to moor overnight.

Spode Cottage (restaurant) and shops below the canal level

Approaching the site of the old Armitage tunnel, after the road bridge

The protocol is to go and check for oncoming boats before entering the tunnel.  I jumped off the butty and ran to the mouth, quickly returning to inform Richard of a boat already committed to the narrow stretch beyond the bridge.  We waited and a good job, as another boat followed shortly after the first.

Under the A513, the canal narrows with only inches each side of the boat

The canal remains narrow as it negotiates the rocky remains of the old Armitage (Plum Pudding) tunnel

Spode House ~ famous earthenware firm

Time to let the boys off the butty and we needed a brew, but soon we were working our way around the outskirts of Rugeley.

Beautiful gardens tumbling down to the canal, as we neared the Trent Aqueduct

This is our view from the stern of the butty as we negotiated the 90 degree bend at Trent Aqueduct

Going over the aqueduct over the River Trent

Love this speed camera perched on a pole, seeking out rogue speeding boaters!

We reached Colwich, to moor and do some more painting on the butty.

Leaving Colwich visitor moorings for the short distance to Great Haywood

Lovely cottages

We stopped below the lock at Great Haywood and moored against the backdrop of Shugborough Hall and a chorus of woodpeckers and other wildlife.  Our weekend was fairly quiet but then it is still only April, but we bumped into fellow traders in the 'Fudge Boat' and 'All Things Spanish' and got to catch up with them.

Complete change for the 'big boat'~ scumbled engine room cabin sides and fresh green panels.  The rest of the cabin will perhaps be red oxide, but we haven't decided yet.

Final base colours on the elum (rudder) and the beginnings of Roses in the stern

Our eldest met up with us at Great Haywood and stayed overnight in the butty.  He is now using our car, which saves us parking it somewhere and worrying about it!

Leaving the lock at Great Haywood to continue our voyage to the festival at Norbury in a couple of weeks time....

Hawkesbury Junction to Fradley Junction (33 miles, 14 locks)

A foggy morning slowed our morning's passage onto the Coventry Canal.

Pulling off from our mooring at Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury Junction)

Our continuing resolute progress towards our next festival at Norbury was going to be a steady one this morning!

Marston Junction ~ nice and peaceful entrance to the Ashby Canal

The sun soon began to break through, as we passed through Nuneaton and onto Tamworth.

Beautiful scenery after the 'urbanness' of Nuneaton

Picturesque Hartshill Yard

We wanted to get some of the Atherstone flight of 11 locks done before we moored up for the day.

I wait for the next lock to fill whilst Richard brings the butty down the lock behind

We got a fair chunk of the flight done after having a dinnerbreak and a walk into Atherstone for a much longed for chippy meal!   We moved a few more locks down afterwards and moored for the night.

I love this farm!  The donkeys are adorable

Finishing the last couple of locks the next day, we carried on to Fazeley Junction where we could empty the toilet cassettes, rubbish and fill the watertank back up.

Amington on the outskirts of Tamworth ~ pretty gardens

We had a dinnerbreak at Alvecote and then set off again for Fazeley for the evening stopover.

Leaving the 2 locks at Glascote on the edge of Tamworth

As planned, we did the ablutions at Fazeley, enjoyed an average Chinese takeaway and relaxed for the evening on the visitor moorings opposite the Facilities.

Another cute picture....

The Tame Otter at Hopwas ~ usually very busy on the canal passed this local, but we are a bit early today it seems!

Gorgeous Hopwas

Bit further round the bend in Hopwas village

Tiny narrowboat on our way through the next village of Whittington

The gnomes still have pride of place in this garden!

Our final port of call for this day, would be Fradley Junction, round onto the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Through the first 2 locks at Fradley Junction, takes us onto the Trent and Mersey Canal and our mooring for the night ~ Shade House Lock

As the weekend was approaching, we thought we would attempt to get in at Great Haywood and open the gift shop.......