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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.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Hmmm, now what do we do?

Friday 11th Oct

Do we stay, leave the moorings at Westport Lake, or do we go? That decision was up to the weather app on Ian's phone. Torrential rain had been mentioned for this area, all day as well and nowadays we prefer cruising in dry weather, gone are our hiring days when come rain or shine one had to keep going. But then the weather app for the area showed no rain until midday we pulled pins fully expecting to be moored on the Caldon Canal well before the downpour arrived.

Westport Lake

The TV was rubbish here, but then again we were very low down and aerials on the houses were extremely high up.
Stoke on Trent is the world capital of ceramics. Don't take my word for it, visit The Potteries-Stoke
and cruising along this canal you can see why. In fact, I found this exert on Wikipedia on the Trent and Mersey canal.

 In 1761, Josiah Wedgwood showed an interest in the construction of a canal through Stoke-on-Trent, the location of his  Wedgwood pottery, as his business depended on the safe and smooth transport of his pots. Pots transported by road were liable to be damaged and broken, and a canal near to his factory would provide fast and safe transport for his wares. Wedgwood's plan was not to connect the two rivers by canal, but to connect the potteries to the River Mersey. "As a burgeoning industrialist, Wedgwood was a major backer of the Trent and Mersey Canal dug between the River Trent and River Mersey." (a quote taken from a short Biography of Josiah Wedgwood)

That's a lot of rejects!

Lovely autumnal colours at Middleport Pottery.

Even travelling through Stoke, the canal can be picturesque
 That weather app was wrong! Got to the Toby Carvery at Festival Park and it started to drizzle. Then passing the marina and a chap from Black Prince boats happened to ask if we were heading for the Caldon. "We are" I replied. "Well you had better give C&RT a ring because last I heard it was closed." A few choice words came out of our mouths and reprisals at each other for not reading the closure lists. We stopped at the first available spot to reassess the situation and in a way, this was to our benefit as boy, did it rain! Waiting for a lull and having phoned and been told by C&RT that today they were allowing assisted passage at noon only, we had to revise our plans. This from C&RT's closure list,

From Date: 07/10/2019 14:00
To Date: On-going
Type: Navigation Restriction
Reason: Structure failure
Is the towpath closed? No


Closest waterway: Caldon Canal
Starts at: Foxley Pub, Milton
Ends at: Foxley Pub, Milton


10/10/2019 10:16
We are currently allowing assisted passage through this section on a Monday and Friday only at midday. We will work on increasing passage as we put in more safety measures and review.
Thank you for you cooperation.  


Due to third party works causing a wash wall to fail, the Caldon Canal is closed at Foxley Pub, Milton until further notice.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused.  

So here was our dilemma. We had planned to meet the family over the weekend to celebrate Ian's birthday. Our chosen pub to meet was the Holly Bush at Denford. So where to now? And our final decision? Back to the Toby Carvery. We needed to wind and Eutoria was the perfect place. But then Ian mentioned doing the loo at Etruria facilities considering family are arriving and we don't want to have a full cassette when they turn up!. This meant going onto the Caldon Canal. So we set for Etruria, in the dry I might add but not 2 minutes into the cruise and we were once again soaked by a deluge.

A left turn onto the Caldon Canal and as you can see, in a downpour
Heading toward the block and we noticed a notice. But what did it say? I was assuming it mentioned the closure but why is it facing in the wrong direction?

Looking back towards the T&M and that sign which said..

Shame it's pointing in the wrong direction!
Okay, so I expect the wind must have blown it around but I wonder if we would have walked back to it to see what it said? In that rain and after doing the loo biz, we may well have carried on totally unawares of the stoppage. It's a good job then that we had been warned by that chap at Festival Gardens.

Reversing out of the Caldon

And winding

So now moored facing the wrong way and by the Toby Carvery
Let's hope the family is happy with the change of venue. If not, well, we will be celebrating on our own.

And seen on route,

No wildlife today, much to wet but this taken at amost the same time two years ago at Milton Keynes.

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