15 08 05
harnser 2

Mon August
We left Tunbridge Wells at lunch time after spending a long weekend visiting
Diana's mum in the nursing home. Our next stop was Gloucestershire where we were
to met my Grandson for the first time at just 6 days old, from here it was off
to Southam and back on Harnser. It was 7pm before we reached Southam so we
stopped and picked up a Chinese take away to eat on the boat. After devouring
the Chinese we set off down the cut to the first lock to load the boat from the
car with the boat moored in the lock, when this was complete we planned to moor
for the night in the next pound, but there were 8 boats there already so we
carried on down the next 3 locks before mooring for the night in the dark.

Tue August
The alarm went off at ten past six and we were soon on the move heading for
Braunston. Boats were moored from the bottom of the locks , passed the winding
hole and right up to the bend. From here there were boats moored on and off
until the Bridge Inn. Once in front of the Bridge Inn boats were moored from the
bridge, across the winding hole and way beyond the end of the piling. Between
Wigrams turn we saw a Kingfisher, Mink, 2 wild black rabbits and numerous ducks,
swans and moorhens. On the Puddle banks one of the old working boats had sunk,
this has been staked off with scaffold poles and orange plastic netting. We
slipped into Braunston Marina beside Nuggler for a pump out. There were very few
boats moored in Braunston when we arrived but a boater told us that it had been
packed the night before but most had left early. After filling with water we
headed up the North Oxford, at Hillmorton locks we came up on the butty Brighton
but no sign of Nuneaton. The crew had already taken Nuneaton down the flight and
were about to start bow hauling Brighton down the flight. We didn't get held up
at all but had to turn all the locks with very little traffic coming up, we also
drew the paddles for Brighton to ease their passage. We arrived at Sutton Stop
about 6pm to find quite a few vacant mooring spots, but not for us, we were
carrying on for a bit. The signs at Sutton Stop requesting boaters to leave both
paddles open have now been removed. We had discussed earlier the possibility of
making the Anchor before they stopped serving food but it would be a very close
call. In the end we went into the pub just on 9pm. to be told we were to late
for food, so it was back to the boat to eat. As Diana wanted to use the electric
grill and I thought it a bit unsociable to sit on the moorings with the engine
running so as Diana cooked I motored slowly down to Hartshill, about 15 minutes
run. We finally moored for the night at 9-30 pm in the dark again and a 15 hour
day.

Wed 17 August
I set the alarm a little bit earlier for today and we were away by 6-10 am. We
arrived at the top of the Atherstone flight with out another boat insight and
the top lock full of water. At the third lock down we met a boat who had started
from the bottom that morning. Most of the locks had leaked a bit and required
the top paddles drawing before the lock could be opened. Diana walked to the
next lock on the close pairs and drew the paddle and then walked back to help me
down the lock above. At one pair a young lady sped up on her bicycle and whipped
the bottom paddles up on the lock below us, unfortunately she hadn't noticed the
top paddles open and her boat was no where insight. She was very apologetic when
we emerged from the lock just above and I wound down the top paddle for her. We
had to wait some time fro her dad to arrive with the boat and she again stressed
how sorry she was she pinched our lock, she even told her dad and he came up to
say sorry as well. After we had parted on very good terms we had a good run down
the rest of the flight. We arrived at Tamworth locks with 2 Canaltime boats
waiting to go down. I had to float around in the entrance to Steve's basin as
all the moorings above Steve's entrance were filled with 2 more Canaltime boats
facing the other way. There were a couple of boats coming up which speeded
things up a bit but when we went down we had to turn both locks and this adds
quite a bit of time to working the flight.
We stopped for a two hour lunch break about a mile before Hopwas and then moved
to the Tame Otter in Hopwas for for an evening meal. Following a not over
exciting meal we moved on to moor somewhere a bit quieter than a pub car park
for the night, so at 9-20 pm we have just tied up by bridge 84 making it easy
striking distance for Fradley junction in the morning.

Thursday 18 August
We set off at 7-20 AM with about 4 miles between us and Fradley Junction. As we
passed Streethay Wharf I saw the tug Governor up on the stocks, what a lovely
shaped hull she has, I bet she will go better without the great ball of poly
bags on her prop.
We swung into Fradley junction with nothing in front of us and met a boat coming
down the first lock. The butty that was moored beside Monarch last time was
still absent but boats were double moored all along the long term moorings
leading to the lock which would have made things difficult when more boats were
trying to get up to the lock while others come down. There was also a boat
moored outside the Swan on the part that according to the BW notice is for lock
use only. We were clear of the locks by 9 AM and then on to Woodend Lock where
we caught up with the boat ahead. From here we had a clear run for 10 miles to
just before Colwich Lock where an oncoming boat informed us that we would be
eleventh in the queue for the lock, that's equivalent to almost a 2 hour wait
just to enter the lock so we decided to stop where we were for a BBQ After tea
we set off again and went straight through the lock with no holdups. We moored
for the night looking over the marshes to Shugborough Hall

Fri 19 August
A lay in this morning before walking up to Shugborough Hall for the 11 AM
opening.
It cost us 8 each to get in but it turned out to be good value for money. For
this we were able to visit the domestic quarters like the laundry, kitchen ,
pantries etc, as well as the carriage collection. We then wandered round the
house with the normally informative National Trust attendants in each room. We
had lunch in the tea rooms that was home cooked before catching the choo choo
train to the farm museum. We left the grounds about 3-30 to return to the boat.
There were no queues at the locks or the water point in Great Haywood as we
continued our journey towards Preston Brook. As we left Sandon Lock we spotted
"Fringilla" moored for the night, she is owned by a couple from the Ipswich
branch of IWA so we decided to moor with them and partake of a glass or two of
wine before eating onboard.

Sat 20 August

The alarm went off at 6 am and we were on the move by 20 past waving goodbye to
"Fringilla" as they would be setting off about a quarter of an hour later. We
arrived at Aston lock to find it set for us as Nigel had cycled down from Stone
to help us up. We carried on towards Stone. Nigel set Stare lock but a "Ginger"
nipped out and used it just before we arrived, as we locked up another "Ginger"
boat pulled out from just above the lock so at the next lock there were 2 of
them ahead, luckily they were only doing 1 lock to get back to their base, but
these little holdups wold all ad up to a longer delay later. At this point
"Fringilla"caught us up. After this we had a good run with only short waits if a
boat was coming down. Nigel stayed with us all the way to Meaford House lock
before cycling back to "Enseebee" moored at Roger Fullers yard in Stone. After
this we met very few boats and began to wonder if there may be a holdup ahead.
The holdup turned out to be the temporary tunnel and Stoke bottom lock. Passage
through hear was being controlled by two young chaps who didn't always do things
the most efficient way and we waited behind the boat ahead of us for some time
until a boat appeared out of the tunnel, then he sent us both through, the first
boat to enter the lock and us to wait below until the next boat came down. This
meant that the lock was idle all the time that half the boats going south were
in the tunnel, so a queue had built up above the lock, as we were well spaced
going up we found boats at every lock coming down.The Eturia Stone and Bone mill
was in stream but as we were hoping to get through Harecastle tunnel today we
didn't have time to stop. It wasn't until we were passing the Water Sport Lake
that we started to meet boats and now they were coming thick and fast, it was
obviously the south travelling convey that had just come through Harecastle
tunnel and it was a good mile before we would reach the tunnel mouth so it was
safe to say they we had missed that passage. We arrived at the tunnel to be
first in the queue for the next and last passage North which was due to leave at
5 pm. We arrived at the North end of the tunnel at quarter to six to be
confronted by a boat reversing all the way from the tunnel mouth to the junction
with the Maccelsfield canal. By the time he was out of the way and we had gone
through the first lock time was getting on and we decided to moor for the night
and go to the Red Bull pub to eat.

Sunday 21 August
I set the alarm for 6 and went out to set the first lock and what did I find, BW
had chained it up for the night. As I said yesterday that short delay on
Saturday mooring would have quite a big effect. If we had not been held up by
the Ginger boat we wouldn't have waiter a further 30 minuets at the temporary
tunnel and we would have made the 4-30 Harecastle tunnel passage which would
have meant we would not have moored here last night and I would not have got up
a 6 this morning for nothing but 3 hours down the flight.
A little after 7 am I felt we should move off and sit at the head of the lock,
this turned out to be most fortuitus as just as we pulled away so did "Billbo
Baggins"who was moored a couple of boats behind us, not only that when we
arrived at the locks there was no sign of any chain or padlocks, I know I was
half asleep but I'm sure I didn't dream it. We set the lock on the right and
Ivan set the one on the left for "Billbo Baggins" We left the locks first and
they followed us down to the next single lock,. After this most of the locks are
tandem so as we locked down I filled the second lock for them, we carried on
like this almost to Sandbatch when we didn't see them again.
We carried on down towards Middlewich meeting very few boats on the way. At the
Middlewich arm we turned left to moor behind Persephone and Thorn for the night
and enjoy a BBQ with the Watson's

Tue 23 August

Well yesterday we had a day off and remained moored up all day in Middlewich. We
wandered into town and spent some time watching the queues of boats working
through the locks. This included the recently restored butty "Saturn" being
handled by a man who knew what he was doing. Just after they had gone down
"Raven" came up and moored a short distance ahead of us. We spent quite a bit of
time chatting to Maureen who lives in the lock cottage at Wardle Lock, she was
born and brought up on a working boat and is very interesting to listen to. In
the evening 10 of us went to an Indian restaurant for a meal, we sat down at 8
and the main course arrived at 10, we drank all their stock of "Cobra" beer, it
was quite like the GIG again.
This morning we pushed off at 9-45 to go at far as Hurleston junction. To say
the locks were busy would be an understatement, at one lock there were 15 boats
waiting to come down and we were number 8 going up. In the light of this we
thought it may be prudent to start our return journey tonight. First we had to
fill with water at Barbbridge Junction, we had to wait half an hour for the boat
who arrived just ahead of us to fill their tanks and then it took us well over
half an hour to fill ours, by the time we were ready to set off it had turned
7-30. At the first lock the queue was now down from 15 to only 3, but there were
another 3 behind us before we locked down. We did the first 2 locks and then it
was to dark to continue so we moored for the night and ate onboard.

Wed 24 August

We set off about 10 am. in light drizzle, within a mile it was sheeting down and
carried on alternating between the two all the way to the lock.
As we approached the railway bridge I saw a very smart single carriage being
pulled by a diesel locomotive,it was dark coloured with coach lining so I
wondered if our Royal's were using it. It could have been coincidence but there
was also an Army helicopter following along overhead.
At the lock we were pleased to see only 3 boats ahead of us and that the sun had
peeped out from the clouds. As we came into Middlewich we pulled over for lunch
and the boats streamed passed. When we set off there were 5 boats ahead of us at
Wardle Lock and we had to wait outside John and Gillian's until some had gone
down the lock. Once down on the main line I reversed up to Kings Lock to fill up
with diesel at 41p/lt. Much to our surprise after maneuvering around, filling
with diesel and getting going again we were only one boat back in the queue for
the next lock, "Granny Buttons" who had been behind us at Wardle lock was now in
front. BW were assisting at the first two of the Middlewich 3 locks now bathed
in bright sunshine. We stopped below the locks for water and for Diana to nip to
the shop before continuing down to Big Lock which is a wide beam lock and then
over the aqueduct which is only 8 ft gauge. We carried on for a few miles passed
Croxton Flash with its old sunken boat and finally moored at 6 o'clock just
beyond bridge 176

Thursday 25 August
We woke to a bright sunny morning at about 7am, we were in no great hurry so we
didn't leave until 9. very few boats passed us in those two hours, but 3 set off
as we passed them. The good weather didn't last and we had rain and hail at
Anderton. We stopped for a while and watched the trip boat go down and a couple
of private boats come up. It appears that the technique for leaving the lift arm
and entering the main line is to blow the horn while you are still half a boats
length back and then come straight out hoping that no one is coming or if they
are they heard your horn and stopped. I think it would probably be a better be
for some one to go to the bow of the boat and look to see if its all clear
before steaming out.
BW were controlling movements through the tunnels and lock. At the first tunnel,
Barnton we were instructed by BW to treat Barnton and Saltesford as one and go
straight through both. A few yards into the first I caught up with another boat
showing no light at all to the stern and moving at tickover speed, as the tunnel
is not straight you don't even see a silhouette of the boat against the end. We
followed them through both tunnels, sometimes at tick over and sometimes in
neutral. We caught up with them again at the lock, the BW chap was both
controlling the flow through the tunnel and working the lock, neither of them
got off the boat to assist the BW chap but let him do all the work including
opening both the bottom gates as best he could. We had to wait at Preston Brook
tunnel for two boats coming the other way before we could go through, completely
disregarding the allocated passage times. We arrived at the Festival site in the
poring rain and travelled the full length of the moorings and then a bit before
we could turn and come back to our allocated spot as we wanted to be facing the
right way to leave. We are one boat from the North end of the moorings and have
about a mile walk to the site. We moved "Tam Lin" out so we could moor on the
inside of her and secured her on the outside, by now it had turned 7 and we
decided not to visit the site to night but to eat onboard and go over in the
morning.
 

Tue 30 August
We said goodbye to our guests Chris and Gwen and saw them on their way to
Suffolk and then set to getting ready to leave the National site moorings. At 11
am it was pins up and we were away heading for the queue at Preston Brook Tunnel
where the BW men had things well in hand. IWA Waterspace had booked the boats
out an 10 minute intervals. BW collected them into fleets and sent them through
the tunnel about 12 at a time, unfortunately this lead to a very smoky tunnel
which wasn't helped by one of the boats at the front doing no more than 2 mph
and the others going into reverse to avoid running over him.
We were at the back of the queue when we started off and the boat behind joined
us, but the 2 behind him had to wait for the next bunch. Some way after the end
of the tunnel I stopped to talk to the owner of a very old Bond Minicar with a
Gt Yarmouth registration number. About 10 minuets later I set off again only to
catch up with the rest of the fleet in Barnton Tunnel. We stopped for water at
the sani station just beyond Anderton with Dusty Miller. We felt we may as well
stop for water as to carry on at tick over. After this we had quite a good run
until we caught up with a slow boat just beyond the Salt works. He pulled over
and waved us passed, I don't know if he was the same boat that had held every
thing up through the tunnels.
We carried on to Middlewich Big lock where we were told that there had been
queues of 20 boats at the next lock earlier in the day. By the time we reached
the next lock the last boat in the queue was just going up so we had timed it
well. We followed them all the way up through Wardle lock where Maureen assisted
us up the lock and when she found out Diana was going for Fish and Chips she
insisted she went via he back garden. We moored in the first spot we came to at
9 pm. this was just prior to bridge 29

Wed 31 August
I set the alarm for 6-30 but as a boat went passed in the early hours I tossed
and turned until 6 and then got up to get started. As I pulled out a boat exited
Wardle Lock and followed us to Stanthorne Lock, when it arrived it turned out to
be Willy No Name. We carried on to Minshull Lock where there was a queue of 4,
we had not been there meany minuets when the queue had grown to 9. We let Willy
go first as we were only going as far as Barbridge Junction, At Cholmondeston
Lock there were only a couple of boats ahead and we were soon at the junction.We
moored opposite the Barbridge Inn as we had we had arranged to meet friends
there for a meal that evening. The morning had been quite warm and humid and I
was expecting a thunderstorm before the day was out. In the end we had rain in
the afternoon which cleared up by about 7 pm. to give a clear evening. As the
afternoon progressed more and more boats arrived or passed through and it was
soon obvious that an early start would be needed on Thursday to get ahead of the
crowed so I set the alarm for 5.50 am. We ate in the Barbridge Inn which was
very busy with quite a delay for food, I was glad I thought to walk round and
book a table. Our bill for the evening was about 54. This was for 5 starters, 4
main courses and one child's main course, a bottle of red wine, a pint of beer
and a glass of lemonade. The size of portions was so good that no sweets were
called for.

Thursday 1 September
I realeased the ropes and started the engine dead on 6 AM and there was no sign
of life on any of the other boats, we didn't see another boat on the move untill
we reached Hack Green Locks where we met our first boat of the day, after this
we met several boats before catching up with boats going in our direction at
the Shroppie Fly but even this didn't cause a problem with a steady flow of
boats coming towards us passing in mid pound. We followed the same boat all day
from the Shroppie Fly to theTyrley Wharf. At Market Drayton BW were working
hard to stem a leak in the towpath bank and green dye was quite visible in the
water which they must have used to trace the site of the leak. We moored for the
night at 6 PM just beyond bridge 50 in the middle of nowhere after much pole
prodding to find water deep enough to get close to the bank.

Friday 2 September
As we had planned a short day today I didn't set the alarm last night. What
happens, the phone rings at 3-30 am. "number with held" all we needed..
We set off at 9 am in bright sunshine which stayed with us all day. We passed
through Cowley Tunnel, this is 81 yards long and BW have put double arrows in
the middle and arrows 20 yards in to show which end is closest, that's just a
little less than the length of a full length working boat. What next, fit them
under motorway flyovers, they must be 40 yards long!
It was a very uneventful day and we have just moored opposite the Wolverhampton
boat club.

Sat 3 September
I set the alarm for 6 am before we went to bed last night so we were on the move
by twenty past. We reached the end of the Shropshire Union at the stop lock with
a rise of about 3" and I was unable to close the bottom gate, I had a good rake
around for rubbish in the cill and in the end opening and closing the gate fast
washed it out of the way. We passed "Sarnie" moored outside Orph's boat yard but
no sign of life, it was quarter to seven on a Saturday morning. We arrived at
the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 and found all the locks against us, also hey
are now all fitted with anti vandal keys requiring the use of a squat holed key.
All these locks are in first class order and if it's necessary to fit locks on
paddle gear I think BW have probably come up with the best option. We worked our
way up the 21 and left the top lock dead on 10 am. exactly 3 hours. We didn't
see another boat move until we entered Croseley tunnel when we met a boat
coming towards us. We turned right at Tipton to call into Olbury Boat Services
to fill with diesel at 44.9p/lt. The canal from Tipton was gin clear with quite
a bit of plant growth (weed) The rubbish that came up in the bridge holes had to
be seen to be believed. We only met 6 boats between Wolverhampton and Bornville
and three of them were trip boats. We met a few more boats between Bornville and
Norton Junction, but not many. At the junction we turned hard left into the
North Stratford canal and carried on to The Draw Bridge where we stopped at 6 pm
to eat. We set off again at 8 for another 50 minutes before mooring for the
night in the dark again. tomorrow we hope to moor in the Saltesford Arm which is
why we pressed on tonight.

Sunday 4 September
It was a good job that we moored where we did as there was quite a party going
on further up the cut with lots of shouting, loud music and fireworks, which
didn't impress Magic at all. I did wonder if the revellers may come our way but
thankfully that didn't happen. The alarm went off at 6 and by 20 past we were on
the move to a slightly misty morning. The Lapworth flight were against us and by
the time we reached the second lock I had a lady in Cotswold green breathing
down my top gates, we never did see her boat but there she was again at the
third and forth. Just after this a hire boat pulled out immediately behind us,
but that didn't slow down the lady in green. We then passed a nice little tug
called "Tardebigge" Two faces were surfacing but the third member of the crew
was walking back from the locks having just set the next four and found he was
third in the queue for them. After this we met a boat coming up that set the
rest for us. We turned onto the Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction and
headed towards Hatton. Here we waited for a pair of boats coming up as the top
lock had leaked away and the second was empty, they were just under the bridge
by the BW yard.By the time they were in the top lock "Tardebigge" had arrived
and was taking water. They left their tank filling to join us down the flight,
this was handy as there were now four of them onboard. We had a good road all
the way down the flight and met boats in several pounds so we could leave gates
open.
At the bottom we went into the Saltesford arm for a pump out which cost 10.
"Tardebigge" came in behind us to stop for lunch but were informed that this is
not allowed and he could only stay if he stayed overnight. We didn't see him
come out so he must have changed his mind. We carried on down the Grand Union
mooring for the night a short way below Radford Semele lock at 6 30 pm. Since we
have been here ther has been wave on wave of geese flying over, all Canadas and
all making a horrific noise

Monday 5 September

As we went to bed the skys opened and it rained until after we were asleep. This
morning things were better but with very high humidity and the occasional gentle
shower. We set off at 7 am. and waited inside Radford Bottom Lock to see if
another boat was coming to join us for about 30 minuets before proceeding alone.
All the locks were empty and the pounds well up as we made our way up the
flight, After about 4 locks we met a pair of hire boats coming down and then
nothing until we met a boat coming into Bascote Staircase Locks where we waited
in the lower chamber for them to come into the upper.
In the Stockton flight we met a single boat in every other lock so obviously no
one was waiting at the top for a boat to join them. Stockton Marina was selling
diesel at 44p /lt. as we passed.
At Calcutt Locks we had to wait for a pair of boats to leave, one of them was a
Canaltime and the crew member working the lock not only waited on the offside
gate for me to enter and then close up behind me, he then went to the head of
the lock to draw the top paddle and even open the gate to let me out closing up
behind me.
We stopped above the Calcutt Locks to fill with water before we continued on to
the Bridge at Napton on the South Oxford Canal. Most of the Calcutt moorings
above the locks on the off side were empty so some people must be out cruising.
We moored at The Bridge at 2 pm. tucking in between 2 other boats, one locked up
and vacant, the other with a 3 cylinder Gardener engine nestling in the engine
room. A little later another couple of boats moored up leaving a gap between
them and the next boat so making it impossible for any more boats to moor on the
rings.
 

Tue 6 September
We set off at 9 am. only one boat had gone passed earlier in the day. We stopped
to top up the water tank at the bottom of the Napton flight and waited while a
boat came down. We then had a good run up leaving all the gates open behind us
as there were always boats coming towards us, there was even a queue of three
waiting at one lock. How different from Wolverhampton and Birmingham where we
saw next to nothing. Once at the top we winded in the arm and moored in our
allocated spot, packed the boat away and drove home. The end of our summer trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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