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Four Counties ring, spring 2000

Shroppie Fly pub
The Shroppie Fly, an excellent pub

A 1-week circular trip, starting slightly off the ring at Andersen Boats at Middlewich, and taking in parts of the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal. Total 108 miles and 100 locks.

Diary extracts:

Fri 2000-05-12
Away 1530. Sunny and warm. Stavanger Fjord, 70ft, water-cooled Lister, nicely fitted, very quiet. End at Wheelock at 1910 before br 154. Eve to Cheshire Cheese by canal. Andersen boats. Today 6mi 8L 3h40m. [6mi 0f]
Sat 2000-05-13
Very hot and sunny all day. Start 0830, then water at Wheelock yard, about 15 mins, so can't have been full when we started. Stop 1200-1330 at Rode Heath for the Broughton Arms, then on to wait for Harecastle tunnel 1625-1655. Moor after tunnel by br 130 at 1740. Today 8.75mi 26L 7h10m. Total 13mi 34L 10h50m. Eve on boat, knackered, but enjoying the cool eve. Tunnel no longer works to a timetable, just batched as appropriate at each end. There are no visible remains of Thurlwood steel lock, not even a sign. (I seem to have forgotten the length of the tunnel in today's figure, it should be more like 8.75mi) [15mi 1f]
Sun 2000-05-14
Me steering while the others get up and eat, starting 0725. Misty, but promising to be another hot one. Stop at Wedgwood factory 11h br 104, by which time hot. Restart 1315, lunch on boat on the move. Onwards in the heat to stop at br 80, Weston upon Trent, for the Saracen's Head. Today 18.75mi 16L 8h35m. Total 31.75mi 50L 19h25m. Most of us have red bits. Passed at a few locks, but canal really quite clear, given the sunny weekend. We think we're about on schedule, with more than half the locks done and nearly a third of the distance. [34mi 3f]
Mon 2000-05-15
Another hot and sunny one, but a few clouds and a bit of a breeze made it a bit less oppressive, and some of the afternoon steering a bit interesting. Start 0730, working a lock before breakfast. Lunch 1245 to 1430 at Staffs and Worcs br 92 at Moat Hotel. Rather expensive. Aft a long slog with most of the Staffs and Worcs locks, and speed limited by bends and later a crawler in front. Stop at br 71 Cross Green near Coven, and the Anchor late eve. The second pub today with no real beer, though both had handpumps not being used. Today 21mi 14L 10h10m. Total 52.75mi 64L 29h35m. About two-thirds of the locks and nearly half of the miles at about half time. I suspect that most of us had forgotten how much work there is in this ring. Gailey Marine name seems to have gone, boats have only the Viking Afloat logo. Boats queuing for water at Great Haywood, so we got ours at a private tap provided by a farm shop past br 105; BWB key, but requested to use the shop. We bought some pop. [55mi 2f]
Tue 2000-05-16
Cloudier. Start 0805, turn for home at Autherley jn 0910, and stop near Shroppie br 25 for lunch on boat at 1230. Restart 1345. Water 10min at Norbury yard. Stop br 55 at 1745, by which time chilly. Today 26.25mi 2L 8h25m. Total 79mi 66L 38h00m. Eve briefly to Wharf Tavern, a rather unwelcoming pub/restaurant. A little rain eve. [81mi 5f]
Wed 2000-05-17
Engine is water-cooled Lister 4-cyl 36bhp at 2600n/min. Engine bay is sparkling clean and everything seems to be properly fitted and routed. The engine starts easily first time (short pre-heat), runs smoothly and is very quiet; at the front you can't hear the engine at low speeds. Started off at 0805. A little rain with the sun, and cool. Passed in most of the Tyrley locks. Lots of embankments, which I had remembered, and narrow, often steep-sided cuttings, which I had forgotten. Pause for 15min by br 62 for water, while I nipped into the Netto in Market Drayton for bog rolls which we'd run out of. Lunch on boat after br 74 1230 to 1330. Aft through the Audlem flight, which was busy; we following down a couple returning their 3y-old boat to Nantwich for an engine overhaul, their boat had bow thrusters. Stop at Audlem wharf for the shop and a drink at the Shroppie Fly 1600 to 1700, then down the last 3 locks and moor at the bottom of the flight at 1735. Eve back to the Shroppie Fly to eat, we had mostly curry, which was good. It was raining fairly steadily by then. Pub full of boaters, and a completely different atmosphere from last night - the barman even remembered our order between aft and eve. Today 10mi 25L 7h30m. Total 89mi 91L 45h30m. [91mi 5f]
Thu 2000-05-18
Rain overnight, and more this morning, including getting soaked walking the short distance to the pub at lunchtime. Aft better, with some sun. Windy all day. Start 0810, stop at 1110, cold and wet, opposite the Barbridge Inn just after br 100. For the last few miles we had been following hire boat Snowdrop, so slowly that I could barely steer in the wind (Snowdrop was a lot shorter). Rang the pub from the boat to check opening time (1130) so that we had to make only one trip in the rain. Lunch in pub. Restart at 1315, onto the Middlewich arm at 1320, back at Middlewich jn at 1700, and moor at the boatyard at 1730. Did my back in again at a ground paddle on the 2nd lock on the branch. No force, just twisting again. Today 19.25mi 9L 7h15m. Total 108.25mi 100L 52h45m. Ave 2.1mi/h. This is consistent with 3.2mi/h and 6l/h. [110mi 6f]
Fri 2000-05-19
The boat's loos have a silly flush: the water does not operate with the "dump" pedal, it has to be turned on with a separate valve, and if left on it fills the tank in no time. I woke at 0h this morning to hear the water pump going every 10mins or so, to find the valve in the forward loo open a crack, and the bowl nearly full. Rain overnight and this morning. Unloaded and away by 09h30.
Day    Date    Hours   Miles   Locks    morn    aft     Water
Fri    000512   3.67     6       8      -       C       -
Sat    000513   7.17     7      26      S       K+N     Wheelock
Sun    000514   8.58    18.75   16      N       C       -
Mon    000515  10.17    21      14      N+S     K       Milford Farm
Tue    000516   8.42    26.25    2      N       B+C     Norbury
Wed    000517   7.50    10      25      N+S     K       Market Drayton
Thu    000518   7.25    19.25    9      N       C       -
Fri    000519   -        -       -      -       -       -
Totals         52.75   108.25  100

Day     Lunch                           Evening
Fri     -                               Wheelock, br 154, Cheshire Cheese
Sat     Rode Heath, Broughton Arms      On boat, br 130 (S of tunnel)
Sun     On move after pottery           Weston o T, br 80, Saracens Head
Mon     Acton Trussell, br 92, Moat Hse Cross Green, br 71, Anchor
Tue     On boat, br 25                  Cheswardine, br 55, Wharf Tavern
Wed     On boat, br 74                  Audlem, br 79, Shroppie Fly
Thu     Barbridge, br 100, Barbrg Inn   On boat, boatyard, Middlewich
Fri     -

©nib 2003-03-22..2003-03-22

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