About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hey ho....such is life.

Saturday 30th

Oh what a joy to have a lie in, an extra hour and time for tea and toast whilst still in my pit. Ian of course was already up, well he had to be to make me the tea and toast! Anyway we still got going before 9am which turned out to be a bad move. Arriving at the Black Prince yard at Longport Wharf, literally a stones throw from Westport Lake, the returning hire boaters took over the canal. Now in my book it's courtesy to wait for an oncoming boat to pass before a reverse or winding manoeuvrer is performed into the marina. Obviously those Black Prince workers just wanted to get the fleet back into the base as quick as possible because there was no regard to us at all. And behind us another Black Prince reversing fast towards us ready to go onto the Marina.  Quiet where he thought he would go is anyone's guess. So a good 5 minutes sitting mid channel before the first boat got into the base. Bit annoying really as reaching Etruria  a boat was just coming out of the junction and into the first of the Stoke locks flight. Hey ho, as they say, such is life!

At first we thought he was winding. You can see where he was moored, by the light grey/blue boat. Took off right in front of us.

But no he was reversing into the marina

And the one reversing behind us.

Etruria junction with first of Stoke locks on the right and the boat that just beat us.
 Deciding against stopping in Barlaston for shopping as getting to Stone seemed the better option. Morrison instead of a Premier would give us better selection and possibly cheaper products. It does mean though that we are well ahead of schedule now. Baby sitting duties have been requested for 5 days during the school holiday in August as the child minder will be on holiday so we need to head toward Burton.

Stopping above Limekilm lock and holding the centre rope, a loud splash was heard. Quick look round to see a spaniel swimming toward a load of ducks. No chance of catching any but the dog was thoroughly enjoying itself anyway. What was not so enjoyable for the owner was retrieving the dog from the canal. A good soaking was the result.

 Should make Great Hayward tomorrow and, as NT members, hope to spend several hours looking round Shugborough Hall.

And on route,

I think this was once a cruiser

Bit tight at Meaford locks

Bank collapse at the bottom of Stoke locks
 And wildlife seen today,

Red Admiral

Saturday, 30 July 2016

A freaky phenomena.

Friday 29th

Had high hopes that the morn would bring fine weather. How wrong we were!

Last nights sunset

550ft climb from the canal to Mow Cop. It was once called the 'Killer Mile' by road runners in the 1970's and, having walked all the way to the top, can see why! To run it one must be mad!!! An extract from the Mow Cop residents Association.

The "brief but brutal" race route breaks into several different sections - a gentle first 1/4 mile away from the level crossing, then a 1-in-5 section up to Birch Tree Lane. A steady climb up through the fields in full view of the horrors to come, and at last the truly killer bit - the 1-in-4 section past the most popular spectator spot outside the Cheshire View, whose front door is the 3/4 mile mark. Even the comparatively level section from the top corner to the Finish is still climbing - never have so many people "sprinted" so slowly. 

From the canal at bridge 86 to the crossing was about 1/2 mile.

The last 'killer bit'

Getting to the top was worth it for the views and then the strangest sight greeted us as we looked round.

Weird or what! We felt as if we were being swallowed up by an alien being and even tasted weird. And the most freaky thing was the way the cloud surrounded us, like it was leaving us, the tasty morsel, till last.

This looking West

and then East!

A local postie told us about the Old Man of Mow, ''twas on the other side of the road" said he and even though we were shrouded in mist, it was a must go and see.

Think I can make out the face. Left hand side with a mohican hair style
As we got lower the mist cleared and the views came back. Not sure what was worse, going up hill being out of breath, feeling knackered and having to stop often, or downhill when the back of the legs are screaming, the knees are clicking and feet slipping on the loose gravel.

Once back at FS it was an early lunch and then head off to the T&M and to the Harecastle tunnel.

Last lock on the Macc and it was pouring down

And at that bend met a hire boat

And another all heading back to Sherbourne wharf.

Hardings Wood junction
 Took about an hour to reach the tunnel and with us being the only boat North Portal, and none waiting at the South side, we were told to proceed. First was the safety talk and an insistence that we wore life jackets and, in light of what happened when that man died falling off the back of the boat, think it a very sensible thing to do. 

North Portal top and 3 boats waiting when we exited South.

Still there and looking as good as when he was first painted by the students 2008/9. Not sure the exact date but told to us by the tunnel keeper that it appeared during rag week.

Looks like rust seeping from the ceiling. Wish we had washed the drips off FS when we moored up. Her grey roof is now very stained!

Fans running clearing the air but boy were they noisy. The doors opened well before we got to the mouth.

 Stopped by Westport Lake around 2ish and off for an icecream and a walk.  Lots of piccys of the lake dwellers so will put it on my wildlife blog.

I cringe when I see this as now I'm older, I can see the dangers. But who am I to say anything because when our children came with us in the late 70's early 80's (similar ages to these childrens) we also allowed them to climb on the roof

And the wildlife, Calves at play by our mooring last night.

Ducks crop seems abnormally big

Black Swan on the lake

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