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Friday 4 September 2015

Back on to the Shroppie

Up to a bright morning a we leave our last night mooring back under the the M54 motorway as we head towards Autherley junction and it's not long before we reach it and turn on to the Shropshire Union canal. 

A stop lock meets us first then we top up with water  before going under the M54 again, a little bit further on we stop at the village of Brewood, pronounced brood for the night. After mooring we change our clothes and take a walk into the pretty village, here we visit a few shops to top up our provisions before returning to the boat to chill out.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Down the Staff and Worcs

Up early again to a grey morninin, breakfast first then we set off and a lock greets us straight away, a deep,old lock but the gates are quite light and are easy for Denise to operate. We then pass the town of Acton Trussel a modern development with lovely manicured gardens reaching the canal side.Open countryside again now as we continue to cruise, a few locks  and bridges before we reach the village of Penkridge this village has grown around the Cross Keys which was once an isolated canal pub but now surrounded by houses.

We had already decided to take on water at the water point just above the lock, but as we arrived another boat had beat us to it, so we had to wait, and not in the best of positions as the stand post was located right by the lock, so we waited and waited, this boat had to have a leak because they took ages to fill it,after about  half an hour they had finished, so it was our tour and in about ten mins we had filled up to the brim and off we set again.
 Gailey  wharf with its round toll keepers watch tower and boatyard are now passed  and Leaving the village behind the canal again opened into countryside with the exception of a big chemical works once known as the 'black works' as lamp black was produced here, with the canal side warnings of 'no stopping even if the alarms went off'.

Then we decide to moor up as the sky above has gone black and threatens to rain, we moor opposite Calf Heath marina and speak to another boater who was from Maesteg before settling down for the evening .
See you soon ...

Wednesday 2 September 2015

On to another stretch of new canal

Up to a bright morning as we leave our mooring,and straight away we need to operate a lock just outside  of the village of Little Haywood with its two pubs and one shop, and then we cruise on to Great Haywood passing the house and grounds of Shugsborough Hall.

At Great Haywood we stop at take a stroll into the town and pay a visit to the local shop for some supplies, thier was not a lot to buy but luckily for us just by the canal is a farm shop where we wished we visited first as the vegetables, meat and others grocery bits are a lot better than the village shop.
Back to the boat and off we set again through another lock and then a turn left on to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, we have been on this canal before but not on this stretch. The canal is a lovely canal, engineered by James Brindley at opened in 1772 at the cost of £100000.00 it stretches 46 miles from the Severn to where we are at Great Haywood.

We pass Tixall Wide a stretch of the canal made to look like a lake as not to compromise the view fro the grand Tixall house, the canal then narrows with  twist and turns making this part an interesting journey.
We skirt around The village of Baswich
 and the heavens open so we decide to moor up opposite Stafford boat club for the night. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

The Suns back out

We leave Hopwas to a beautiful morning we pass Whittington firing range although no firing this morning,so we leave the woods and it open farmland again we pass the villages of Whittington and Huddlesford before we approach the famous Fradley junction, prior to joining  the Trent and Mersey canal we take on water then it's through the swing bridge and on to T&M and our first lock where we are helped by a Vlockie ( a volunteer lock keeper ) then another 2 locks before another clear run on the canal.
At Armitage the canal becomes industrialised with factories producing the product which most of us have used at one time or another ."......the toilet.

We pass Hawkesyard house which was once known a Spode house home to,the famous pottery family

and then on to the market town of Rugeley with its Hughes power station, its was also  home of  William Palmer or as he was known the Rugeley poisoner

The area of outstanding beauty Canock Chase is on our left with its exceptional flora and fauna, also home of fallow deer whose ancestors have grazed in this area for centuries.The site of Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof is also here, and contains graves of 2134 German servicemen from WW 1 and 2786 from WW2.
A little bit further on we moor up for the night, in a lovely spot over looking the chase. See you tomorrow.......

Monday 31 August 2015

Guess what it a bank holiday and its raining

Absolutely tipping down with rain this morning, we wouldn't normally travel in this kind of weather but we need to get to the new marina sooner than later, so wet gear on and off we set.
And soon we are at the village of Polesworth a busy town that was once built around the coal industry, and now is a great stop for provisions, but we don't stop and  pass Pooley Hall which was once home to Edwin Starr before his death, a singer of the seventies with great disco hits like War and  Eye to eye contact, then next  we head toward the M42 motorway  bridge.
We then pass Alvecote marina who are holding a festival of old working canal boats but aren't very lucky this year with the weather,

 suburban housing of Tamworth now meet the the canals edge and we have 2 locks to negotiate before stopping at Fazely junction where one could turn towards Birmingham for water, but we carry on Northwards and then stop at the village of Hopwas for our overnight mooring.
A bit of a strange tale where the local paper reported a sighting off Bigfoot in the woods near here 
The woods dates back officially to the 11th Century and the Domesday Book, and further back still, with many historical tales emerging from within.

Fascinating tales of witchcraft and occult activities have persisted for many years, especially after the arrest of 16 people who were taking part in a naked occult ceremony in 1984.

They were members of a secret group called the Silver Star Society, and the arrests led to fines totalling £2,000 for cannabis possession.

More recent headlines appeared in the Herald after a mysterious copper plate with magical symbols was discovered by paranormal investigators. Shortly afterwards an Egyptian figurine was also found buried in the woods by Tamworth man Andrew Lee.

The woods have also been the source of other colourful tales including sightings of big black cats and even reports of a ‘large sandy-coloured animal’, feared to be a lioness.

Ghosts have also been reported there, with one report of a small orange light appearing there before falling to the ground.

Further back there was a ‘great fire’ in the woods in 1976, and controversy in 1986 after plans were revealed to lease part of the woods for “war games” activities.

In 1999 the Army were called out to help round up nine Limousin cattle which had escaped from a farm in Hints and taken refuge in Hopwas Woods. Four were shot dead, but after a public outcry the remaining five were caught and taken to an animal sanctuary.

The woods were also the location of the Woodhouse, which dated back to the 1640s and the time of Oliver Cromwell, and was the only house in the now defunct parish of Hopwas Hayes.

The house had been home to many people over the years, including George Bryan, founder of Drayton Manor. It was demolished in 2010 after being declared a health and safety risk.

The Woodhouse also hit Herald headlines in 2003 when armed police swooped, after reports of a pool of blood, a severed finger and a gun toting man in Hopwas Woods. What they actually found was a tea bag, a rolled piece of bacon and a man with a walking stick.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Grey morning

Today we set off to a grey old mornining , the promise of heavy rain means we set of reasonably early,the canal have been quiet and last night even though we were moored right next to a pub not one other boat was moored near it.
So we head North toward Atherstone, the landscape here is man made with the spoils from the now abandoned quarries making large mountains of waste and glimpses of views towards Anker valley.
the village of Manceter with its old roman village on the outskirts
Also in 1555 Robert Glover was arrested and taken to the stake as a victim of the reign of Mary of Tudor where he was executed.

So onwards to Atherstone and its 11 locks and it seems that every boat on the canal has turned up to use them at the same time the first 5 locks are close together and its slow progress as we wait for one boat to go up and another to go down but eventually we get through them. In the 17th century this town was know for it Felt Hats and employed well over 3000 in this industry but with the influx of cheap imports this fell into decline.
Open countryside now as we negotiate the remaking 6 locks before we moor up just outside of Polesworth for the afternoon and night and right on cue the rain comes down, so it's a shower then Sunday dinner before settling down in front of the telly.

Saturday 29 August 2015

On to the Coventry Canal

Another lovely morning as we set off from last nights mooring, the M6 motorway is the first bridge we navigate under noticing how tranquil and peaceful the canal is as to the hustle and bustle of the motorway.
We leave the  noisy drone of the motorway as we travel towards the village of Ansty a tiny village that grew up alongside the canal, with its church of St James and Ansty hall which dates back to 1678.
Then it's on to Hawkesbury junction a busy junction with its stop lock, a lock where the water only drops a few inches but still needs to be operated and its sharp bend onto the Coventry canal, which seems to always cause problems to experts and novices alike.
Upwards towards Nuneaton with loads of allotments on the canal side where gardeners are working on them to produce fruits, vegetables and flowers.
We reach Nuneaton where pretty gardens flowing to the the water, and parkland reach the edge of the canal. 
Famous people from this area include 

The Novelist George Elliot,
  • Dean Richards, former England Rugby Union player and Rugby Union Coach (born inNun Eaton 

We leave the town behind and we are back in open countryside again before we moor up for the night outside of  a canal side pub by bridge 29 where we partake in a few shandies in the afternoon sun before back to the boat for the night see you tomorrow.

Today's ghost stories 


Location: Nuneaton - A5 between town and Hinckley (Watling Street)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1926 (wearing jacket), February 1927 (riding horseback), 1979 (shimmering shape)
Further Comments: One version of this tale says that, wearing a jacket with sleeves of bright crimson, a phantom highwayman lurks along the roadside with a tricorn hat hiding the face. Another version names him as Dick Turpin and when last seen, he was riding his horse across common land. It may have been the same entity seen in 1979, reduced to a shimmering shape which swirled like water. The witness to this event had an accident close to the spot later in the day.


Location: Nuneaton - Railway line and bridge near the Bomb Hills
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Circa October 1986
Further Comments: Two people walking home spotted steam coming from under a bridge. Looking down from the bridge they could see a stationary steam locomotive and dozens of people laying across the tracks - the scene was semi-transparent. The witnesses ran off to find someone, and returned several minutes later, by which time the scene had gone.

Mrs Stubbs 

Location: Nuneaton - Stubbs Pool, Camp Hill
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1970s?
Further Comments: Mrs Stubbs is said to have be caught up in weeds and drowned while swimming in this pool (alternatively, according to other stories, she had her face bitten off by a horse). She now haunts the area.