Tue 1st September
Hopwas to King’s Orchard Marina
Summer is officially over!
We walked back to the Tame Otter car park to pick up the car, and drove to Tamworth to return it to Enterprise. No extra charge for having slightly less fuel than when we started. This was good, as last time we returned the car with far more petrol than when we started. We had the lift back to Hopwas as arranged, and returned to the boat.
We set off soon after, at 1050, and cruised slowly up the Coventry Canal. It seemed shallow, and we occasionally gave a reverse thrust to clear the prop.
We noticed that the Hademore badgers had been very active, with fresh earth spilling down from their setts.
At Whittington we stopped to clear the prop, but found nothing on it. We must be just stirring the sludge at the bottom of the canal. James went back to tie up a small narrowboat which was loose at the bows. There seemed to be no mooring pin to hold it. He found a steel rod in the stern, so used that, but it wasn’t very satisfactory.
As we passed Huddlesford Junction we looked for someone to speak to about the festival here in two weeks time, but there was no-one about.
As rain was forecast, and clouds were gathering, we decided to moor near bridge 84, Just before King’s Orchard Marina. It was a pleasant mooring, but quite noisy from the A38. Hugo was happy, and spent a lot of time in the bushes, as there were no dogs.
Hugo enjoying the towpath
A lot of boats went past, including David Ward on Trimstone.
James went for a short exploration to pick some flowers. He found a planning notice in the field opposite regarding HS2, which will pass through here.
We found details of the boat gathering at Huddlesford, and printed off an application form. It needed to be sent to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, and not the Lichfield Cruising Club, so we would need to post it.
0 locks, 4 miles.
Wed 2nd October
King’s Orchard Marina to Fradley Junction
While taking the pram hood down this morning, James trod on a mouse head! Hugo had spent a lot of time out in the bushes and this was the result. Athough we have been keeping a tally of his mouse catches, there must be many more that we don’t know about.
Half a mile up the canal, opposite Streethay Wharf, we found Trimstone and invited David Ward for a meal this evening. We continued past the very noisy section alongside the A34. There always seems to be a boat or two moored along here. Perhaps they are deaf.
We were hoping to pause at bridge 90, in order to visit the shop in Fradley Village, buy something for tonight’s meal, and post the boat entry form. Sadly the moorings were all taken, and it looked too narrow to breast up.
We carried on to the moorings just before Fradley Junction, and found a place using a mooring ring and the piling. Rings are seldom spaced frequently enough.
Hazel took the rubbish down to the bins, one lock down on the Trent and Mersey. We will do the same with the cassettes tomorrow.
James went for a walk back to Fradley village, about a mile and a half. He posted the form, but the shop did not have any fresh meat of any description. A few vegetables, some cold meats, and some tins were on offer, but this was not what we wanted. The owner very kindly offered to drive me to the co-op, as he was going to a place next door anyway.
The Co-op was on the other side of the canal, in a new housing area, built since our Nicholson Guide was produced. Armed with some suitable purchases, he returned to the canal at bridge 90a, which is also new. There is a scramble down a steep embankment to get from the road to the canal.
One the way back he stopped to photograph a butterfly and pick a few more flowers, and foolishly left the umbrella there by the towpath, a mile from the boat.
Small copper butterfly
Sunshine and woods
Back at the boat there was a heavy shower for about 15 minutes. A few minutes later a man walked past with the umbrella, which he had used, as he been caught out in the rain. He said he felt it had been provided by God!
It was quite chilly, so we cleaned the Morso Squirrel stove and lit a fire, the first of the autumn.
First fire of the season
David came on board for a meal
0 locks, 4 miles, 1 mouse
Thu 3rd September
Fradley to Rugeley
Today’s wild flowers
David said that his water heater had not worked, so he was going to return to Streethay Wharf to get it fixed.
David Ward with Trimstone
We took another cassette and some more rubbish down to the sanitary station, and then set off through the little swing bridge, turning left onto the Trent and Mersey.
There was the usual queue of boats waiting for the locks, and a volunteer on each lock. The couple on the boat two in front of us just sat on their boat while everyone else did all the work! The ones immediately in front of us and immediately behind were all helping and there was some good natured banter going on.
The boat behind was Solace, a shared ownership boat. The guy on board was the only original member of the consortium, and he was wanting to buy a boat to live on. He had seen Maranatha for sale and was asking questions about it.
The house at Shade House Lock still had a “for sale” board, but one of the volunteers said it had just been sold.
Trent and Mersey milepost
The boat immediately in front moored up above the lock, and we were therefore behind the two people that had stayed on their boat. There were no volunteers at Wood End Lock, so they had to get off and work some paddles.
A little further on we met BCF boat Hope coming towards us. No opportunity to chat.
On through Handsacre, and Armitage.
Armitage Shanks factory
At Armitage Tunnel, we had to wait for a boat to come through, and then we stopped at the water point to fill the tank. It took 25 minutes as we were nearly empty.
As we approached Rugeley a chap on a white cruiser saw our BCF logo and shouted out that he was also going to the “BFC” do. Not sure who he is. No doubt we will meet him properly this weekend.
We moored up and visited Specsavers, to see if they can fix Hazel’s glasses. Then Wilko, Aldi, and Tesco.
We saw Edwin go past on Ferrous. Jubilee was also there, with no-one aboard. We had planned to move on, but by the time we had finished all the shopping it was getting late so we decided to stay.
There was another brief visit to Tesco for some kidney beans later.
3 locks, 7 miles, 1 swing bridge.
Next: a short journey to the Taft for a weekend to celebrate 20 years of BCF