Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

The Odyssey 2009: Day 50

Posted by indigodream on 18 September, 2009

Friday 11th September

Weston-on-Trent to Fradley Junction

So many beautiful views today...

So many beautiful views today...

The mooring at Weston on Trent was very quiet overnight, despite the passing of fast Pendolino trains nearby – it’s a good spot to wave at trains! The railway has been our constant companion today, as it was yesterday. The juxtaposition of these two rival modes of transport is interesting, we didn’t find the train intrusive.

We had a very relaxed morning, noting the passing of the many boats heading north; a few went south, but not so many as to make us dash off to join the rush.

When we eventually set out we noted that the moorings around Bridge 80 were still pretty full but there are good moorings by Bridge 77, though too far from the pub for us!

The canal was busy from Hoo Mill onwards; it was especially jam-packed with moorings around Hoo Mill Lock, though there were plenty of moorings available below the lock. I wondered why boaters like to cluster together like this, then my brain caught up with my day-dreaming – I may as well ask why do we live in towns and cities!

Ironically, I dropped the camera into the water bowl while photographing 'Wrekin havoc'!

Ironically, I dropped the camera into the water bowl while photographing 'Wrekin havoc'!

I landed myself in the dog-house today when I managed to drop the small camera into the dog bowl, the new one full of water on the back deck! Oops! Unfortunately it’s wrecked, despite our attempts to dry it out; fortunately it is insured.

Soon afterwards we passed by the famous junction at Great Haywood. The service point here was as busy as ever. We resisted the temptation to take a little trip to Tixall Wide just to see if it was as beautiful as we remembered.

We left the River Dane behind today – the canal’s companion is now the River Trent. It’s a distinct contrast; where the Dane was hidden in deep valleys, the Trent runs alongside in a broad and open flood plain. There are stunning views here – the approach to Bridge 70 is particularly scenic. The road bridge over the river (by canal Bridge 70) is massive but the river itself is a shallow stream; I wondered whether the river rises to cover the plain in the winter (or should that be the summer, as we seem to get most of our rainfall in July now). Later on we left the Trent behind and picked up the River Tame. It was good to see the river Tame flowing wide and unfettered under the aqueduct. The last time was saw it was under spaghetti junction, buried unseen and neglected at the bottom of the heap.

The Trent plain makes for wonderful views

The Trent plain makes for wonderful views

There’s good mooring just past Bridge 70 – the canal’s softly shaded here and the river’s on the other side of a shallow  embankment – it’s worth nipping over to get a view of the river. I though the dogs might like a splosh here but although there are numerous paths down to the river’s edge, there’s a foot drop into the water and they won’t jump that far (they’ll only step into shallow water). More adventurous dogs will love a swim here – I just enjoyed the view over the water. I’d suggested mooring here because it was such a beautiful spot with good dog rummaging, but Blue and Lou lost interest immediately and went back to their beds for a sound sleep. I don’t think they sleep properly when we’re on the move – they have to keep one ear open in case they miss something. I reckoned that this would be a good place to moor for the night – it’s tranquil and there’s a pub across the road bridge nearby.

I poached the pears that we were given in Kidsgrove – they were lovely, just perfectly ripe – thanks!

Where we moored for lunch

Where we moored for lunch

The next bit of interest was the town of Rugeley, which is another boating community. We bought a round fender from nb Lynneth – the boss was wielding a pint mug of beer and was a merry soul. He had very good rope fenders though, and a selection of tiller pins, though none as fine as our new greyhound. Rugeley is dominated by its power station – it’s visible for miles and we were surprised at how close the canal comes to it. We were also surprised by the proximity of a tower block which has been one of our landmarks when whizzing along the M6 toll – we hadn’t realised how far South we’d come, or that the canal came so close to the motorway.

We passed the afternoon in a mixed landscape of farmland and suburban gardens – all very pleasant. We were amused by one back garden who’d installed a dummy speed camera pointing at the cut (well, we think it was a dummy!) with a proper Trent & Mersey canal sign. A little further on we got a good view of Hawkesyard Hall, a fanciful construction in red

The fanciful facade of Hawkesyard Hall

The fanciful facade of Hawkesyard Hall

brick, reminiscent of Hampton Court Palace, though on a much smaller scale.

We noticed a lot of boats carrying the Boaters Christian Fellowship (BCF) logo today – has there been a gathering nearby or is it a regular community here?

Note: nb Strait and Narrow says that the water point after Bridge 62 has very good water pressure

We were too busy looking around to pay attention to our map so we were taken aback by the BW sign warning of narrows ahead. The sign advises boaters to send a crew member ahead to warn boats coming the other way to stop. Richard, Blue and Lou volunteered and the dogs had a good rummage (once they were past the road); Blue had a very good time as he found a few illicit paths to keep him happy. The narrows are a remnant of an old tunnel which has had its roof removed at some point; it still retains its tunnel-like atmosphere with high stone walls on one side. The canal opens out at the far end of the narrows, with some useful moorings and a large pub nearby.

The Swan at Fradley - the most photographed pub on the canal apparently. Looks good at sunset...

The Swan at Fradley - the most photographed pub on the canal apparently. Looks good at sunset...

The stretch down to Fradley is surrounded by woods and full of squirrels. The section above Shadehouse lock has 14-day moorings and would be a perfect dog-rummaging spot. But we were heading for the junction – hoping to get a mooring just after the turn onto the Coventry Canal. We were in for a shock – the nearer we got to the junction the busier it became, with a mix of long and short term moorings – all jam-packed. As we turned towards the swing-bridge Richard spotted that there was a 24-hour mooring spot right on the junction on the left just before the ‘narrow’ channel to the swingbridge. We couldn’t believe that it was a mooring, right there on the junction, and that no-one had nicked it! We got in quick! Just as well, we wouldn’t have had to cruise at least a mile down the Coventry canal before finding a free space.

We decided to eat on board – the Swan pub opposite seemed a bit busy and we had plenty of food on board. The dogs relaxed and we got on with a few more chores and watch the world go by. There’s plenty to watch here – the comings and goings by the pub, boats working up the locks, boats turning at the junction, walkers on the paths – it’s a good spot for lounging around. By chance we were moored opposite nb Trundles, a fellow participant on the BCN Challenge.

Luckily for us the sheer busyness of the canal heading towards Alrewas made it easy for us to resist the pull towards Shardlow, though we did regret missing the chance to bump into Sanity who was moored only a few short miles away. We had a quiet night on the moorig – it’s a big boating community and that’s always a good omen.

Photoblog:

A unique garden ornament

A unique garden ornament

Haywood Junction

Haywood Junction

Aah he's just so handsome.....

Aah he's just so handsome.....

More sweeping views

More sweeping views

The railway's never very far away...

The railway's never very far away...

The River Tame....

The River Tame....

What a gruesome tale...

What a gruesome tale...

Fine skewed railway bridge

Fine skewed railway bridge

Rugeley power station dominates

Rugeley power station dominates

Canalside trampoline - how often do they land in the canal?

Canalside trampoline - how often do they land in the canal?

Big bird - we didn't catch the species but it looked proud and fierce

Big bird - we didn't catch the species but it looked proud and fierce

This is one of our landmarks on the M6....

This is one of our landmarks on the M6....

That figure int he nightshirt is a model but it oculd have been a real person - you can never tell with some boaters :-)

That figure in the nightshirt is a model but it could have been a real person - you can never tell with some boaters 🙂

Meander....

Meander....

A glimpse of the landscape.....

A glimpse of the landscape.....

King's Bromley Wharf - huge mooring basin...

King's Bromley Wharf - huge mooring basin...

Softly wooded canal - there's lots of squirrels in those woods...

Softly wooded canal - there's lots of squirrels in those woods...

At our mooring in Fradley - it's been a long day....

At our mooring in Fradley - it's been a long day....

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.