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Brewood to Norbury (10.5 miles and 1 lock)

The beautiful Shropshire Union Canal, sometimes shallow, sometimes very narrow, but consistently gorgeous!

setting off after a couple of days mooring in the middle of nowhere

Moored in Brewood for the weekend

Micro butty in it's new livery and fresh herbs in the hold

We moored over the weekend on the outskirts of the village of Brewood, swapping the shop over to the opposite side for the towpath.  We opened for trading on the Saturday but the rain stopped most efforts to attract customers.

On the move once again

Another Barry Hawkins narrowboat ~ Lincoln

Pulling off the waterpoint at Wheaton Aston

Once we had dropped down the lock at Wheaton Aston in the pouring rain, I moored the motor and began the ablutions, starting with filling the water tank.  I ran back to help Richard with the butty and we continued on to the wharf to fill up with diesel.


arrival at Gnosall via Cowsley Tunnel

We had planned to have an Asda delivery of mega proportions during our stay in Gnosall village and take delivery of a washing machine.

Leaving Gnosall for the final couple of miles to Norbury

Whilst I put away the delivery the next day, Richard peddled on his bike into Stafford to buy plumbing bits for the new washer.  It was a bit further than he had thought and around 2.5 hours later, he arrived back at the boat, tired but ready to get the machine working!  Having put the plumbing in from scratch, soon the washer was up and running, except the invertor is not big enough to heat the water, but we have been part filling with hot and allowing the cold cycle to complete.  It works!

Moored at Norbury ~ Sleaford Navigation boat Rosewood.  The river Slea near Sleaford was our home  mooring  once upon a time...

So now we have enjoyed our first day of trading at the Norbury Festival, classically in the pouring rain with the other 30 something exhibitors, but have we let it dampen our spirits?  

Gt Haywood to Bridge 6 Brewood (19 miles, 12 locks)

Continuing our slow journey to Norbury for the festival, May day weekend, we set off from Great Haywood on a cold miserable Monday morning.

Tixall Wide

After filling up with water, dropping off rubbish and emptying cassettes, we set off onto the Staffs and Worcester Canal.

The River Sow Aqueduct

Going round the bend..

Stafford Boat Club marina

The Roundhouse at Gailey Wharf with the last lock after Penkridge locks

We had stayed overnight in Penkridge, where we could post another parcel and get some shopping.  Then, we completed the few locks out of the town to arrive at the last lock, under the A5, rising up to the Roundhouse Gift Shop at Gailey Wharf.

Wiggling in between at Gailey

Dredging works at Coven

A slight wait at Coven for some workmen to reshuffle their boats, apparently reinstating the bank on the offside.

This made me giggle ~ a portaloo for the workmen, like they are going to bother!

The (Pendeford Rockin') narrows before the junction ~ about half a mile or so long, cut through a solid belt of sandstone by Brindley's navvies.

Very narrow with a couple of passing places.  Luckily we didn't need them!

Autherley Junction ~ straight on for Stourport, right to Norbury and beyond on the Shropshire Union Canal 

Turning into the junction

The stop lock is just beyond the bridge, meaning that I can't get off until the motor is in the lock.  This is fine as the lock is only a few inches in drop and so doesn't take ages.  The problem arises when there is an oncoming boat, as you can't see from the main canal!

View back to the stop lock

Richard picks the cross straps back up and away we go again

Wolverhampton Boat Club moorings on the left

The dogs enjoy some sunshine

We moored for a couple of nights on the straight between bridges 6 and 7 to get some jobs done, before setting off for a weekend at Brewood...

Alvecote to Gt Haywood (27 miles, 7 locks)

Setting off very early in thick fog, after being rudely awoken by the local frisky cockerel, Richard lined the boats out as I walked along the towpath with the dogs.  

Putting the cross-straps back on after the boats have been breasted up overnight

Tunnel light on!

The fog lifted quite quickly, as I met Richard at the narrow bridge hole further along the path.  There, Reilly (greyhound), Lister (lurcher) and myself jumped back aboard to continue the journey.

Amington on the outskirts of Tamworth and no fog!

Over the aqueduct over the River Tame

Passing through Whittington, with, of course, an oncoming boat!

We dropped down the 2 locks at Glascote and moored briefly at Fazeley Junction to post a commission off and nip to the shop.  Meanwhile, Richard cooked breakfast sandwiches with everything in to keep us going!

Fradley Junction swingbridge with the 'mucky duck' (The Swan) in the background

Soon arriving at Fradley Junction and luckily someone kindly opened the swingbridge, so we didn't  need to negotiate getting off and on again before swooping around the 90 degree bend at the Swan pub.

There was around an hour's  delay, when we got to the lock around the corner as the water level was low, due to broken gate paddle further up the canal.  So we let the dogs off and had another brew!

Pulling off our mooring (Shade House Lock) the next morning

The night before, as we had managed, at last, to rise up the 2 locks after Fradley Junction, we struggled to get the boats moored for ages, as the water level was preventing the boats getting into the side.  Someone must have let a lock full of water down from the lock above and we were able to urge the boats (butty on the inside as she only draws around 12inches!) into the edge and drop mooring pins in quickly before the level changed again!  Another long day....

Approaching the A513 underpass and it's rocky cutting where one way traffic is the rule.

Before this bridge, I have to jump off the butty, run on ahead and see if the way is clear, otherwise we have to wait.  Nobody about on this occasion...

Boat pushing passed us in the bridgehole, as we waited patiently trying not to jackknife!

However, as we lined up for the blind bridge further along, an oncoming boat decided to proceed through this awkward angled bridge regardless.  He apparently didn't realise that a blast on a hooter meant there was a boat near enough under the bridge.  He was quite embarrassed!

Colwich Lock - the boys wait in the rain for their ride on the butty again

Me and the boys walked from our overnight mooring at Colwich, meeting Richard at the lock with the gates open ready for him to pull in.  We then moored above the next lock at Great Haywood on the Visitor Moorings.   Unfortunately, I had, in my decrepit old age forgotten to pick up the dog shovel and the dog leads at Colwich Lock!  So, the afternoon walk consisted of a lovely long walk back to the lock to find amazingly, our lead and shovel tied to the fence at the lock.  There are some considerate people out there!

Another commission for a client done and dusted!

We had a good weekend at Great Haywood after we had had to swap the gift shop over to face the other towpath!  
Our next festival is Norbury Junction on Mayday.  Please come and see us and the attractions if you can!

Braunston to Alvecote 41 miles 15 locks

In our push to get to Norbury Junction comfortably for Mayday, with trading places at weekends, we have done some early and long days cruising.

With some very low bridges enroute! Mind your head and chimneys!

Now Springtime is upon us, more and more boats are out of marinas or on hire, making mooring up a challenge, as we need a bit more room either widthways or lengthways.  So mooring up in the middle of nowhere on mooring stakes (12  as the ground was soggy!), was what we did when we had passed through Rugby. 

Lovely to see the wildlife thriving along the canal.  This watervole was happy to sit for long periods over the 2 days we moored, nibbling and sunbathing!

We were a bit early to grab a trading spot at Hawkesbury Junction (Sutton Stop), so we moored just after Bridge 5 (Oxford Canal), behind Geraldine and Michael on the Cheese Boat.

Rick and Linda on Auriga, the fuel boat passed us

So did Keri and Dan on their pair of boats

Lister debates getting back on the boat and avoiding the mud...

The mud was getting unbearable so it was a relief to move around to the junction on Saturday morning.

Early  morning on Monday, we lined the boats out and carried on our journey

We had a good weekend trading, despite the weather at Hawkesbury Junction and hopefully will return later in the year.  Thank you to anyone who came to visit our gift shop!

The Ashby Canal (Marston Junction)  - we will go up there again, but no time at the moment

Springwood Haven - a beautiful setting for a marina

Hartshill Yard - very model village - esque!

We moored above Atherstone flight for Richard's doctor's appointment in Market Harborough the next morning.  Unfortunately, he got all the way there (via train) to be told it was for the following week (when we will be at Great Haywood!), so a wasted trip and a red face!

I think this is Stiper's Hill on the outskirts of Polesworth - obviously an offroad course for vehicles or bikes

Thanks to the help of several volunteer lock keepers and our friend Rod (who had very kindly offered to help) we got all the way down Atherstone's  11 locks with ease. 

Another commission paid and posted out for a horse stable

We moored at Alvecote for the evening and breathed a sigh of relief.  Atherstone is not a flight Richard looks forward to, but now it is out of the way, the rest of the journey should be easy!

Foxton to Braunston 28 miles and 13 locks

Thank you to everyone who came to see us at Easter and last weekend as well, but now we have to move on to our next destination....

6.30am, we set off as quietly as we could with a 2 cylinder Gardner!

Husbands Bosworth tunnel entrance

Yelvertoft Wharf low road bridge.  I always take off my chimney for this bridge!

Yelvertoft Marina

Crack's Hill - we know we are nearly at Crick when we begin circumnavigating this landmark

M1 motorway on the approach to Watford locks

I take the motor into the first lock and leave the butty behind for Richard to deal with

The butty waits patiently for it's turn on the lock flight

Watford flight consists of 7 locks dropping 52 1/2 feet, all within the sound of the M1, so not as salubrious as you would imagine! 

Leaky lock gates, making me thankful our boats aren't longer than 60feet, else we would be getting a drenching!

View back up to the 'staircase' where Richard is bow hauling the butty

After a long day, we moored around the corner at Norton Junction, so that we could tackle Braunston tunnel and the flight of locks beyond, the next day.

The approach to Braunston locks

Approaching Braunston tunnel, we were flagged in by a Canal and River Trust, informing us of a 'widebeam's' oncoming  passage through the tunnel. It was a few minutes later, when we could see the bow of a hire boat widebeam emerging out of the darkness.  Thankfully, widebeams have to book passage through tunnels only wide enough to take 2 narrowbeam boats, so no embarrassment and lots of reversing happens!

Braunston tunnel (2042yards long) was busy!  For earlyish morning, we passed 4 boats in the tunnel!

I open the gates whilst Richard brings the boats into the double lock

This flight is always quite enjoyable for us, as the gates and paddles all seem quite user friendly.(unlike the Buckby flight on the Grand Union down from Norton Junction) Also, they are double, which means we can strap the boats together (breast them up) which makes the locks quicker to negotiate.

The boat comes down the side of the motor and once in the lock, Richard can strap them together.

Bottom lock (with the shop in the background) of 6 locks dropping 35 1/2 feet to Braunston

We moored again for the night, doing a whirlwind of a tour around the chandleries and shops in the village to get everything on our list.  Walking past the butchers, I saw Tim and Pru of the 'Great Canal Journeys' series and a said a 'Hello' without gushing!  I was quite proud of myself for not going stupid as being brought up in Skegness, fame was totally another world to me!

Leaving sleepy Braunston behind

And after a peaceful night's sleep ( and a beautiful kebab and chips meal from the chippy!) we set off for Rugby....