23rd Feb 2020
After a last minute decision to cruise, ( as it was raining and windy in the morning (what a surprise)), we leave our mooring outside Kings Orchard Marina and head in a southerly direction on the look out for a pub for Sunday Lunch and somewhere to get a delivery of groceries. We were going to visit the Plough Inn at Huddlesford but we were unable to moor up in a convenient mooring to get a shopping delivery, so we plough on.
We pass through the village of Whittington and onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. There is some open countryside here before we are engulfed by Hopwas Hays Woods, there is a Military Firing Range and landing is forbidden followed by Hopwas Village where the River Tame follows the course of the canal. We moor outside the Tame Otter for Sunday Lunch and pick up some groceries the following day. However unbeknown to us the pub was due to close for refurbishment the following day and they closed the car park off. We were worried as to how the delivery man was going to get in to deliver the shopping. Anyhow he did manage, but was reprimanded by the site manager! (oops).
24th Feb 2020
That afternoon we take a short cruise through some open farmland to moor between two busy roads for a few days to visit the retail park nearby as Pat had ordered a few items from Ebay and they delivered to the local Argos shop on the retail park.
1st March 2020
When we leave we cruise towards Fazeley Junction and pass Peel Wharf, surrounded by new dwellings. The previous day while out walking I discovered that the boaters facilities at Peel Wharf which are advertised in the Nicholsons guide was no longer open. As I was unable to read the signs from the tow path, I Googled the services and found out that they had been closed for the past 18 months, but CRT had an arrangement with Fazeley Mill Marina to use their services. Before continuing on the Coventry Canal we make a sharp right turn on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to visit the services at Fazeley Mill Marina. Here we met Alan from NB Georgia, who is one of our viewers. Watch out for the lovely old mills on the canal junction making it a centre of industry until the mid 19th century.
We return to the Coventry Canal and moor just past Bridge 76.
17th February 2020
We leave our remote mooring at the top of Wood End Lock following Storm Dennis and make our way through the last of the wooded heathland before arriving at the busy Fradley Junction. As it’s winter time the usual Gongoozlers are nowhere to be seen as we quietly pass one the most photographed pubs on the canal network. Here we take a sharp right turn onto the Coventry Canal where we negotiate a fallen tree and a swing bridge.
We stay at Fradley Junction for 5 days and manage to catch up with our friends Neil and Lynsey who own a Bickerstaffe boat called Little Miss Sunshine, we had a meal at the The Swan, locally known as the Mucky duck. We can highly recommend the homemade pie, it was delicious.
Pat had ordered a couple of bits of off Ebay and we had them delivered to the local post office at Fradley under the Click and Collect System, we also take a walk to the local Co-op store to top up with some provisions.
22nd February 2020
The morning dawned bright and sunny although it was still quite windy, we had planned to leave as the weather forecast had predicted a rare dry day but we were unsure because of the high winds. However after much indecision we finally decided to move, we back up to the water point and fill up with water before leaving, we were aiming to reach Huddlesford Junction but we don't quite make it. As we cruise past Kings Orchard Marina we are forced to stop due to the high winds. A fuel boat passes us on the way and we take the opportunity to fill up with some essential fuels, we pass a man struggling to save his boat from sinking, we offer assistance but there wasn't much that we could do. The busy A38 runs adjacent to the canal for a while.
12th February 2020
Storm Ciara has passed and Storm Dennis is on his way. We leave our safe mooring at Taft Wharf and heading South -East down the Trent and Mersey canal on our narrowboat we pass over the Brindley Bank Aquaduct, built in 1777, the canal crosses the River Trent on four low arches, turning at a right angle instead of following the contours of the canal as the technology to build skew arches was not available.
We moor at Rugeley for a few days to pick up supplies in preparation for Storm Dennis that was due to arrive at the weekend. Rugeley for a small town has a variety of supermarkets to suit all budgets. Tesco, Morrisons and Aldi are all within short walking distance from the canal. In the centre of town there is a small indoor market which sadly has many stalls vacant. There is a post office and sorting office which is handy to pick up any parcels ordered online.
14th February 2020
Leaving Rugeley we stop at the water point east of the town, before passing through the village of Handsacre and some wooded countryside. The wind starts to pick up and in the video you can see the effect it is having on the boat and Pat now starts to feel uncomfortable navigating the boat. We moor at the top of Wood End Lock where we found some Armco to moor to (as this is stronger than inserting mooring pins) to prepare for Storm Dennis which hit us the following day.
The winds increased considerably and the boat was being buffered around, we had some torrential rain, the water levels were noticeably higher and the lock ahead was overflowing the gates. However throughout this time we did not feel unsafe, just slightly uncomfortable and it was a relief when the wind finally abated.
8th February 2020
We have been moored on the beautiful tree lined Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal near Great Haywood for 4 days. I have managed to pick up a few supplies at the farm shop nearby to keep us going for a few days. However, Storm Ciara is on her way and we need to move to a safer mooring spot as we are sounded by trees. We cruise up to Tixhall Wide where we can turn around and go back onto the Trent and Mersey where we use the boaters facilities before continuing on our journey south, we pass through some stunning countryside on the edge of Cannock Chase and although the day started off cold it has turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We are searching for a suitable mooring spot away from any large trees and preferably on some mooring rings or armco. We finally moor just past bridge 69 at Taft Wharf opposite Taft Farm to wait out Storm Ciara.
1st February 2020
We leave our mooring above Aston Lock and passing Aston Marina we head South Easterly into the Trent Valley. We had about a 30 minute wait at Aston Lock as just as we cast off a boat cruised past to the lock landing. I helped the two man crew through the lock, they had only just bought the boat and were taking it to Nottingham. It had an old Lister engine which kept cutting out, I wished them the very best of luck!
We moor up beside the little village of Burston for a few days before heading onto Great Haywood. You can see here that the River Trent meanders beside the canal from Stone to Great Haywood forming many meandering cut off loops evident from the drone footage. We continue in a south easterly direction as the canal cuts its way through Sandon Park and the villages of Salt and Western upon Trent, although feeling quiet and remote, major roads and the railway are never very far away. We arrive in Great Haywood, it’s busy here as it’s a popular area to moor with boaters facilities above Haywood Lock. As there was little space above the lock, and the alternative was directly opposite the cafe and farm shop we decide to make the sharp turn onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and moor near Tixall Wide. This beautiful scene on the videos thumbnail was taken here on a cold and frosty morning. As the farm shop was only a short distance I was able to top up on a few fresh provisions.