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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 32

Posted by indigodream on 27 October, 2014

Rewind to Thursday 4th September

Stone (Star Lock) to Westport Lake (with extra captions by Archie)

Our newest hound!

Our newest hound!

We had a good start to the day – after a quiet night on the mooring, I took the hounds off for a walk and had a lengthy (by greyhound standards!) exploration of the woods and fields beyond the leisure centre. The greyhounds are pretty relaxed when it comes to exercise, but the linear nature of the towpath does cramp their style occasionally. Today we found a bit of woodland then we hit the jackpot, an absolutely deserted meadow where they could do some zoomies. These runs only last a minute of so, but they are a joy to watch as they circle an invisible track. Of course, zoomies guarantee that they’ll spend the rest of the day, and probably the next two days, fast asleep!

While we were having an extended walk, Richard was catching up with the crew of nb Albion. Although we’re fiercely competitive on the BCN Challenge, when the marathon’s over, we can appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to get to know the BCN and our fellow boaters. It’s lovely how we could all congregate in Hawne Basin one minute then be scattered all over the system the next πŸ™‚

The hounds really did have a splendid morning – on our way back to the boat, a squirrel hopped onto the towpath and then skipped toward the hounds (who were safely on lead) – Archie and Henry were astonished – a kamikaze squirrel – top entertainment. I hissed at the squirrel and it finally got the message and went back to its tree. Then they topped it all off with breakfast – great!

With the hounds exhausted, Richard and I wandered into town for breakfast at Costa. We had a look around the shops and found one which had a few different greyhound/whippet sculptures (bit grand really as they were cheap and cheerful). We settled on a silver resin greyhound – I’m not sure what we’ll do with it but it took our fancy. Although we’re very happy with our chrome greyhound tiller pin, we’re always on the lookout for replacements if it should every come to harm (our first greyhound tiller pin is lying on the bottom of the Stort).

Just chillin' by Stone Chandlery...

Just chillin’ by Stone Chandlery…

We eventually set off at midday, again, but we didn’t get very far! We stopped at the wonderful Stone Chandlery to get a pump-out, fill with fuel and explore the chandlery for some bits and pieces. The hounds don’t enjoy being locked in, and the deck would be occupied by fuel/pump-out hoses so I took them off for another bimble. They weren’t really interested, so I sat on a convenient seat outside the chandlers and they settled onto their sheepskins and waited to be admired – they didn’t hae to wait for long! Several passers-by gave them a big fuss, but then a passing young woman, Italian by the accent, stopped and fell in love with them on the spot. Henry and Archie made the best of it and soon had the young lady feeding them bits of her freshly-bought baguette – they are shameless πŸ™‚

We then set off for a steady day’s locking, with a stream of boats coming the other way. One was nb Kingfisher, who we last shared locks with in Braunston several months ago, with the same houndie crew. His little dog is still yapping madly when her daddy’s off the boat; Henry and Archie continued to ignore her πŸ™‚

Great canal but areas alongside are run down

Great canal but areas alongside are run down

This stretch of the Trent and Mersey has some wonderful contrasts – there’s Stone itself, a town with its smiling face turned towards the canal – and that was before author Terry Darlington made it famous; then there are lovely country locks, the dishevelled Wedgwood Factory and then Stoke on Trent….

Stoke on Trent is such a dump from the canal – although the towpath is well-maintained and obviously well used by cyclists and runners, it has nothing to entice the boater, and the section through the new road culvert are particularly dispiriting. However, the deep Stoke locks carry the canal through an iconic industrial landscape which tells the tale of the once thriving potteries.

We weren’t sure whether to stop at the pub that used be the “China Gardens”, but the pub moorings were full. There were plenty of enticing mooring rings beyond, with several other boats moored there, but Stoke has a fearsome reputation and I had a fancy to go to Westport Lake (which, confusingly, is in Longport!). We had food on board so we didn’t need to find a pub – we carried on, passing yet more iconic buildings – the bottle kilns that are such a characteristic feature of the area.

An open deck door would normally be an invitation to mischief, but Henry and Archie were happy to just sit and watch the world go by - they'd had a busy day :-)

An open deck door would normally be an invitation to mischief, but Henry and Archie were happy to just sit and watch the world go by – they’d had a busy day πŸ™‚

When we first cruised this way in nb Dragonfly, there were still some derelict industrial buildings flanking the canal. These have been demolished and cleared since, though I was surprised that they hadn’t been developed yet. The clearance allowed the westering sun to light our path and it became a golden afternoon.

The moorings at Westport Lake were largely deserted – this suited us just fine! We found ourselves a spot away from the visitor centre – this was good for the hounds, especially as the towpath was slightly high so we had to leave the deck door open. Not that they were interested in escaping after their super-busy day πŸ™‚

Richard cycled back for the car – he figured he’d have just enough daylight for the job; I pottered around with the hounds. The lake is lovely and a fine walking spot, though they were far too tired to walk right round this evening.

When we came here last, the visitor centre was still being built – it now looks as if its been there forever.

It didn’t take long for Richard to come back, and we settled down for a DVD. Oh dear, BAD mistake, we watched the film “all is lost” with Robert Redford (ok, ok, the clue IS in the name!), which I personally would rate as the most boring and pointless movie ever made (though I accept that there might be a lot of competition for that title…).


First lock of the day

First lock of the day

Fantastic pump out machine!

Fantastic pump out machine!


Good access to the engine, comfy seat, plenty of cooling breeze, what more could you want (other than windscreen wipers)?

Good access to the engine, comfy seat, plenty of cooling breezes, what more could you want (other than windscreen wipers)?


more locks . . .

more locks . . .

Trent & Mersey locks don't have fill the lock quickly.

Trent & Mersey locks don’t half fill quickly.

Love the gate

Love the gate


Sad looking Wedgwood sign

Slip quietly past here whilst Richard is inside . . .

Slip quietly past here while Richard is inside the boat . . .

Ah someone I can tart up to!

Ah someone for Archie to tart up to!

Strange combination of activities

Strange combination of activities

Worth coming up here just for the various Bottle kilns

You get to see loads of Bottle kilns

Look closely, there's a boat coming!

Look closely, there’s a boat coming!

I don't think I realised there was a reasonably busy road that close

I don’t think I realised there was a reasonably busy road that close…

A proper deep lock

A properly deep lock


Eturia, here we come!

Eturia, here we come!

*sigh* from Richard

*sigh* from Richard; “grrrr” from Sue – this is an example of “yarn bombing” – I don’t like it, looks like litter to me!

Not a place you want to stop overnight but Eturia looks so interesting

Not a place you want to stop overnight but Eturia is interesting

I smell rabbit

I smell rabbit

Oh yes, just there

Oh yes, just there

Any more?

Any more?

or are they there?

or are they there?

Did I miss one?

Did I miss one?

End of the day overlooking Longport Lake

End of the day overlooking Westport Lake

The true meaning of "footrest"...

The true meaning of “footrest”…



3 Responses to “Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 32”

  1. Geoff and Mags said

    Hiya both. Just for future reference, mooring at Etruria is fine, good for the dogs around the corner on the Caldon, below the first lock. The museum is worth a visit too, especially if the flint mill engine is in steam.
    Cheers, Geoff.

  2. Greygal said

    Didn’t realise our dogs were having such a luffly time!

  3. No problems mooring in Stoke Its all rumour and untrue rumour never had any problems mooring by the museum good for hounds

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