Thursday, 28 July 2016

Our worst ever night


IMG_6912We had been warned by so many people about mooring in Chester and they have all said it can sometimes be OK in the week but avoid anywhere around the main town at weekends,with the safest place to moor being the basin at the bottom of Northgate stair case locks.Even the guy on the Trust boat who we shared the locks with told us to be careful as it can get a bit unsafe at times. I’m sure hundreds of people have moored in the city and had no problems but unfortunately we had a bit of a bad experience. We were moored on a weekday next to the Gardens under the City wall which in the daytime was full of families and people sat about relaxing and soaking up the Sun. But as soon as it started getting dark the drunks and groups of youngsters moved in. To be honest they didn’t cause us any problems except for a bit of shouting and rowdiness.

The most disturbing incident occurred at 23.30 when we could hear men’s voices outside of our window. I looked out to see five men with a Staffie type dog and they were sat on the grass bank about 10 feet from our boat . Then some five minutes later another man turns up with a similar Staffie type dog, the two men with the dogs shook hands and then said ”right then, lets get on with it and let them fight” . They released the dogs and immediately they started fighting. As Carolyn was about to dial 999 on her mobile phone there was shouting from the wall above for them to stop and that the Police had been called ,the men separated the dogs and then hurried away . All the time this was happening Hamish was going berserk inside the boat . It’s obvious that it was planned ,but for it to happen in the middle of a city in a small park was very alarming. It certainly upset Carolyn and needless to say we didn’t sleep much that night. It’s an area of Chester we will never moor in again which is a bit of a shame.

IMG_6915 Anyway after all that we pulled pins at 08.40 the following morning to move down to the basin for hopefully a better mooring.  After leaving our mooring we headed towards Northgate staircase locks passing below Chester wall with all the houses perched on top.We are actually in what used to be the moat which was part of the city defences.

IMG_6924Entering the staircase of 3 locks and there was a very helpful Volunteer lockie on and with no other boats around we were soon on our way down.

IMG_6929These locks had to be cut out of solid rock when they were built and you can see evidence of this as you drop down the flight.

IMG_6934We made it safely to the basin at the bottom of the locks where hopefully we will get a better nights sleep. Several people have said that we should be fine here.

IMG_6863After mooring we walked up to the city centre and what a busy place it is. There where all sorts going on in the main streets and it’s a city that is full of History.

IMG_6866I thought this was a good idea . The phone box has been converted in to a cash machine but it has also retained the phone. I’m not sure how many people use public phones these days as I would have thought that most people have mobile phones.

Tomorrow we are going to walk the 2 miles around the city wall and after that Carolyn wants a bit of retail therapy in the hundreds of shops that are in Chester. No doubt she will try and visit most of them.

                                                                                                          Happy Days

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Welcome to Chester


IMG_6849We pulled pins from our best ever picturesque mooring at Wharton’s lock at 08.25 and made our way towards the city of Chester . We shared the last five locks down into Chester with a local Trust boat which made locking a lot easier.

IMG_6851There are so many stories that we have heard about mooring in Chester. We have friends who have had things thrown off their roof into the canal and even people walking on top of their boats plus numerous other horror stories. But as always we like to give the stories the benefit of the doubt and try it for ourselves. We had been told that there were some good moorings past bridge 123e which should be OK to use in the week ,but not at weekends when you should only moor down in the basin below the Northgate staircase locks. so we thought we would check them out.

IMG_6853There’s only enough room for about three boats on these moorings next to this lovely park which is below the famous Chester wall.So how lucky are we to get the last available one.

IMG_6906Within minutes of mooring we were chilling out in the park with not a care in the World.

IMG_6874There was even a very funny looking bird here . I looked in my British birds book but couldn’t find out what sort it was . It later turned out that there was a falconry centre on the other side of the wall to our moorings where I guess he came from.

IMG_6899This floating restraunt boat passed us several times and I was so impressed with how the steered reversed the boat past us . It wasn’t until I had a closer look that I could see that the boat could be propelled and steered from both ends as you can see from the wash coming from the bow.

IMG_6893We had a good old chuckle at this. I can assure everyone that there is no chance of us ever doing this with Hamish.

IMG_6885This is our mooring viewed from the wall which surrounds the old town of Chester .The moorings are 48 hours so we will make the most of them while we are here to explore the city.


                                                                                                      Happy Days

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Best ever mooring


IMG_6736We pulled ropes through the mooring rings above the Audlem flight of locks at 07.45 and followed another boat down the flight of locks. Of course the problem then is that all the locks were against us. Never mind as you can never moan about going slow on the canals. We used the services at The Shroppie Fly before continuing down the last few locks .

IMG_6741At the bottom of the flight we came across this boat. It’s not very often that you see a wooden boat of this quality on the canals. I take my hat off to the owner as it was in immaculate condition which obviously meant an enormous amount of work.

IMG_6751A couple of miles and we arrived at some of our favourite moorings on The Shroppie . There is probably room for about 15 boats and there seems to be a bench and a BBQ stand for each mooring . This is all provided by The Shropshire Union Canal Society who do some great work on this canal.

IMG_6794After a good night we pulled ropes yet again through rings at 07.35 and headed off towards Chester. After a good few hours cruising we got to the Bunbury staircase of two locks. It is now back to double locks on this section of The Shroppie. We were going down with another boat and there was a single boat coming up, so the Lockie asked us to do The Bunbury shuffle. As we dropped down the other boat came up and we all passed in the middle,and it worked a treat..

IMG_6801A lot of the locks up here on the Northern end of The Shroppie have these strange round buildings next to the locks. It seems that they were storage buildings for the old Lenghtsmen to store their tools. I guess by the chimney in the roof of this one they probably cooked their lunch and kept warm in them as well.

IMG_6808It was then another first for us when we passed through Beeston Iron lock . It was built of Iron plate by Thomas Telford due to the instability of the ground. The signs at the lock tell you not to share the lock with other boats due to distortion in the Iron plates. Luckily we were travelling alone.

IMG_6815After exiting the lock we spotted these Deer on the hill.

IMG_6827After a good days cruise we picked up this mooring above Wharton’s lock. This has to be the best view we have ever had out of our front room window in all our years on Inca. It is Beeston Castle which is over 500 feet high and dominates the skyline .Needless to say we just spent a most glorious evening sat out with a bottle or two of the Red stuff . Boating just doesen’t get any better than this !!

                                                                                                      Happy Days

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Broken engine ?



We passed this boat and I thought it was a great boat name .Obviously the guy has had trouble with his engine and one of the piston’s in his engine has broken. Although Carolyn thought it probably meant something different .

                                                                                                            Happy Days

Saturday, 23 July 2016



IMG_6652We pulled pins at 08.15 and proceeded past about a mile of errantly moored boats and got to Shebdon Wharf just before 09.00 . Tony of Bethsaida Covers was there and waiting for us . He wasted no time in getting to work on our cratch cover. We needed a new zip and a plastic side window fitting which Tony said would take a couple of hours to do . Of course Carolyn couldn’t sit back and watch,she gave Tony a hand to line up the new zip.

IMG_6651We used Tony last year when we came this way to do our last zip repair.The good thing is that unlike many cover makers Tony double stitches everything and his workmanship is superb . At £25 for a zip and the same for the side panel we were more than happy, that’s half the price we paid for a zip in miidle England. He works from his boat on the canal and will always help out anyone passing..

IMG_6658Pressing on after fitting our cratch cover back we soon pass a factory that seems to be in the middle of nowhere . The factory was opened by Cadbury in 1911 where milk was brought from local farms and then mixed with Cocoa and sugar crumb to make raw chocolate.I was then transported by boat to Bournville to be finished into chocolate. . The factory which is now owned by Premier foods is now used to make Bird’s custard .

IMG_6682It’s then onto Woodseaves cutting which at over 100 feet deep in places is a delight to travel through . In places there is only room for single traffic . Luckily we only met one boat coming from the opposite direction.

IMG_6687As soon as you come out of the cutting you are at the top of Tyrley locks (pronounced Turley). Its a flight of five locks with the notorious pound between locks 4 and 5 where there is a very fierce by-wash and no way of pulling in because of the rocks under the water.

IMG_6700Here we are in the pound and you can see me fighting to stop Inca being swept into the rock wall on the off side. I know a lot of boaters don’t like experiences like this, but I just love it .The more challenges the better !!!


IMG_6705The guy entering the lock after we left struggled to get in and gave his boat a bit of a bump as he entered .

IMG_6727After a stop in Market Drayton to replenish the cupboards we pushed on to the next flight of locks which was Adderley. Guess what was at the top lock ? . We have bought from this farm shop several times before and his produce is very good. We ended up with Bacon,Sausages ,cake and of course my favourite Pork Scratching's..just the ticket !!!!

IMG_6731After 10 hours from setting off and 12 locks we eventually picked up a mooring above lock 3 on the Audlem flight of locks with the guys above as neighbours . Tomorrow we will drop down the remaining 13 locks and hopefully chill out for the rest of the day with a BBQ at another one of our favourite moorings after bridge 83 .

                                                                                                Happy Days

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Up the Shroppie


IMG_6598After a good first night on The Shropshire Union Canal we pulled pins from our out in the sticks mooring at 08.10 and were soon heading through the Balustraded Avenue Bridge bridge 10 which takes the road to Chillington Hall.

IMG_6613After a while we reached Wheaton Aston and joined the chaos to get Diesel at Turners garage. They are renowned as being one of the cheapest places to get diesel on the canal network.

IMG_6616Eventually after about an hour of waiting we managed to get on the pump . At 51.9 pence a litre and no coal/diesel boats in the area there is no way you can pass without filling up. In the end we filled up with 105 litres.

IMG_6618We then passed this guy who was fishing off a pontoon. Carolyn reckons he catches more fish than I do .

IMG_6623Heading into Gnosall and we pass through the 81 yards of Cowley Tunnel. This is the only tunnel on The Shropshire Union Canal. It is unlined so it feels a bit like going through a cave.

IMG_6628After a quick stop for some milk in the village we were off again and passed this sign that someone had pinned on their gate ….                          

IMG_6640There is no way you can travel up this canal without putting this picture on the blog, It’s where the old telephone wires used to pass through the middle of the bridge. We have been up here many times before and this must be one of the most photograped bridges on the system.

IMG_6634 After 7 hours of cruising a chill out is what we decided to do .We picked up a good mooring near The Anchor at bridge 42. In the morning we have booked in to get our cratch cover repaired at shebdon Wharf so we can have a bit of a later start as we don’t have to be there till 09.00 and it’s only about a mile in front of us

                                                                                                                  Happy Days

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lockgate gates


IMG_6512After a night on the 24 hour moorings at Kinver we pulled pins at 07.10 and started our journey towards the Shropshire Union canal . I was well impressed that someone had made the effort to make these garden gates look like lock gates at this lock cottage.

IMG_6524I was looking forward to passing the Gardens at Ashwood which are owned by John Massey as believe it or not when we had a house I was a keen Gardener. I have read about these Gardens and seen them featured on TV .Although the Gardens looked brilliant I was not so impressed with the sign. It’s a bleeding towpath Mr and anyone can moor there , If people don’t like having a canal at the bottom of the Garden then put a 10 foot fence/wall up to block the view of all those horrid boats...or move away !

IMG_6537Moving on and after a couple of single locks we arrived at Botterham staircase locks . This is two locks joined together with no pound in between them . Looking back at Inca moored on the lock landing you can see a torrent of water coming down the side of the lock. The boat in front of us had gone up into the bottom lock and the person working the paddles had opened the paddles on that lock and the top lock ,hence flooding the bottom lock. Needless to say Carolyn was soon on the case and in no time had the situation under control.

IMG_6545Our next lock flight was The Bratch flight of 3 locks. They actually look like they are a staircase of 3 locks ,but there are short pounds in between each lock. The pounds only being a few feet long do not allow boats to pass. These locks were originally built by Brindley but were later separated with side ponds built to speed up movement through them and save water.

IMG_6553Luckily with this flight there is usually a lock keeper on duty which is a good thing. As you can see Carolyn is getting instructed on the use of the lock flight where you have Blue and Red paddles to operate.

At the top of these locks we picked up what we thought was a lovely peaceful mooring for the night. All was fine until about 7 o’clock in the evening when it sounded like a pack of angry dogs were on the rampage. We later found out that next to the cricket pitch moorings where we were there was a Greyhound rescue centre, Carolyn spoke to a local who said that every time a new dog arrives they all kick off. Anyway at least someone is doing something for these not wanted retired racing dogs.

IMG_6564The following morning we had a bit of a late start and pulled pins at 09.10 . At our first lock of the day we were greeted by this digger in the middle of the canal. It seems that they are dredging the canal in front of the lock which is always a good thing .There was a sign saying delays of up to 30 minutes,but the guy just moved to the side and let us straight in to the lock.                                                                      

IMG_6579After a few hours cruising we made it to Autherley junction where we turned left on to The Shropshire union canal.

IMG_6581We had just the one lock to go through which dropped us down the great height of about a foot. After filling with water at the services we cruised on for another hour to a good mooring we have used a few times before about a mile from Brewood. Hopefully we will have an early start in the morning as we want to get a good days cruising in and push on up the Shroppie ….                                           


                                                                                                               Happy Days

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


No chance of blogging in this heat , normal service will be resumed when the English Summer returns..
                                                   Happy Days

Monday, 18 July 2016



IMG_6464We pulled pins from our mooring at 08.00 and set off towards Kinver on The Staffs and Worcs canal. It wasn’t long before this pterodactyl took off from a tree as we were passing. I think we must have startled it. Hamish was a bit concerned as he would have been an ideal snack for Terry Dac..

IMG_6476We were told by several boaters not to stop in Kidderminster as it was a bit rough and there were Handcuff keys required on the locks. There was a bit of very good Grafitti under the road bridge before the main lock in the town ,but apart from that we couldn’t see a problem there. I think next time we pass through we will most certainly stop and spend a day or three here.

IMG_6481Kidderminster looks so inviting even Hamish seemed impressed. There are in fact a couple of retail parks right next to the canal,so even if you didn’t want to overnight here it would be a perfect place to replenish the cupboards.

IMG_6495A bit further along the canal and you get some great hairpin bends. It’s only single file around some of them so you just have to hope that you don’t meet a boat coming the other way.

IMG_6497Most locks that you go through are dirty and muddy and sometimes rather smelly. But this one was just covered in moss which aided us as we slid up the lock..

IMG_6501After a good cruise we ended up in Kinver and got a spot on the visitor moorings which were only 24 hours. We probably would have stayed a bit longer ,but if they don’t want us for more than 24 hours then we won’t stay more than 24 hours. Surely some of these towns/villages must realise that some of the boaters passing through can put a lot of money into the local economy..

IMG_6503Anyway Kinver is a nice little village,although not that little. We were surprised to see how many shops and businesses there were as most villages only have the odd pub and maybe a small shop.It was even a bigger surprise to find out that Kinver has a population of over 7,000 people. It seems a village remains a village unless its given a charter to have a market ,and then once it has a market it can call itself a Town.

IMG_6506One thing I have always wanted to do is to have a look at the houses that are carved into the rocks at Kinver. We walked all the way out of the village and up a dirty great big hill only to find that this popular tourist spot was closed. It seems that this famous attraction is only open 4 days a week even though it’s the middle of July . There were over a dozen people there when we were there and all the people were disappointed that it was closed. At over five pounds a time that’s a lot of money lost, but maybe The National trust has enough money that they don’t need anymore.

Tomorrow after our 24 hours here at Kinver we are off again. This time we want to get a bit closer to The Shropshire Union canal so we can then start heading North…

                                                                                                              Happy Days