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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.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

What with roundabouts and gardens.....in the canal????

 Monday afternoon 18th and Tuesday 19th September

Instead of stopping before Etruria staircase locks as planned we decided another couple of hours would be well worth the effort. First was the 2 Bedford Street staircase locks. These locks have a unique way of getting rid of excess water. The top chamber of the lock is larger than the bottom so a weir is set about 1/4 of a way along the bottom lock wall. The photo below explains the procedure.

weir set in the bottom lock
Cruising this lovely canal is both rewarding and challenging. So very rural with spectacular scenery. But those narrow bridge holes with tight turns calls for all your skill and attention. The offside foliage was also a problem.

It was also going through one of the bridges that we picked up rubbish around the prop. Tiller started jumping and we felt the vibrations right throughout the boat. Wow, it must be something pretty big to do that to FS. No, just a large plastic bag and rope with debris causing the problems.

We did retrieve it from the water.

This also greeted us as we emerged from under the bridge.

Right in the centre but a good shove by FS and it was pushed to one side

I don't do lift bridges!!! I find them very hard to wind up and those mechanised ones where you have to stop the traffic gets me all hot and bothered. But I found myself having to do lift Norton Green lift bridge as I was already off the boat. Windlass in hand I strode over the bridge, looked around and was immediately bewildered. Where was the winding gear?? Oh, it's on the towpath side and it's mechanical!!! Oh help........but more like a farm bridge with car access and, would you believe, as I got to it a car wanted to come over. So for the first time EVER I inserted the key and pressed the button to raise the bridge. What a sense of achievement. Whats that Ian???? No...absolutly not ....never again...this is a one off!!!!

You wouldn't think it was mechanised just by looking at it.

Found a wonderful rural spot to moor, just before Long Butts lift bridge. Within 15 minutes we were joined by another boat who pulled right up to our back button. I'm sure they had their reasons but with a long stretch either side of us, it could only have been for security.


Woke to find a mist rising from the water and foggy conditions.

Crickey that boat behind us must have left early!

The lift bridge had to be opened and yes... muggins here said she would do it! This one did have to be wound up and having had Weetabix for breakfast, I was all ready to give it some welly. It went up like a dream....only had to use one hand to wind it up that's how easy it was. Shhhh, not letting on to Ian otherwise he will be having me do all the bridges in future.

As I walked on to do the first of the 5 locks, from out of the gloom I spied a boat with a unique front. Hmmm, I know that boat. None other than Nev on Nb Percy. Well, I had to say hello and a natter and wonderful to meet up with him at last. Ian came past on FS and I made him take a photo!

Nb Percy

Nev and me

Up the five locks at Stockton Brook and...is that a roundabout I see in the canal?

Instead of continuing to Froghall on the Caldon we decided to have an excursion to the end of the Leek branch.

Leek branch to the right

  Again we had some challenging turns through bridge holes and a reverse was needed to get around at bridge 3.  Even harder on the way back!!!

Bridge 3

 And coming back

Through Leek tunnel to wind and head back.

Winding hole
Then the most perfect spot to stop for lunch.

Stopped before the junction and called it a day. The weather was perfect for a BBQ, may well be the last one of this cruising season.

And seen on route

That's the Caldon canal seen from the Leek branch

How pretty is that!


Adam said...

It's a great canal, isn't it? We did it at the start of this trip, the first time in years, and really enjoyed it again. We had a good meal at the Black Lion at Consall Forge, and they have wifi as there's pretty much no phone signal there. Shops are few and far between, but we found a very useful one. From the bridge by the roundabout, you take the path across the field and turn left at the main road. There's a Co-op along on the left. Good moorings by the boat club arm too.

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Thanks, Adam, May well try to find the Co-op as certain items have been depleted...namely the wine!

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