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Four Counties ring, spring 1987

Thurlwood steel lock
Thurlwood steel lock - now gone

A 1-week circular trip from Gailey Marine via the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal back to Gailey. Total 110 miles and 94 locks.

Diary extracts:

Sat 1987-04-25
Arrive at Four Crosses by about 1220. On boat and away by 1500 in hot sunshine, shorts and T-shirt weather. Get to Weeping Crosses (br 98). Moor 1/2 out in stream 'cos all the good moorings are taken by 1900. Toby Inn (The Trumpet), children outside in the garden only. Fortunately it's still warm enough. (11 locks 8 mi)
Sun 1987-04-26
Off at 0745, good start except 3/4 hr to remove from the prop 2 metres of 12mm plastic-covered steel hawser, barbed wire, plain wire, wire netting, an old sock, a piece of washing line, twigs and bits of rope, all held together by a partly unravelled reel of fishing line. Bright but cloudy morning. No lunchtime stop. Hot again, shorts, T-shirts and sunburn. Lots of local spectators at locks through Stone. Moor about 1745 at (103) Barlaston. Mooring right opposite a pub with a children's room! Watched by a large crowd of drinkers in the pub garden/car park. (13 locks 17.5 mi)
Mon 1987-04-27
Fog, visibility <50m. All but two of the crew off on foot to Wedgwood factory. We meet them at bridge 104 after the fog clears. Leave about 1020 and run up through Stoke as the weather got gradually warmer and then hotter. Water at Etruria BWB. Shopping. Under way again and manage to get to Harecastle at 1430, the latest time for going N, and go straight through with one boat behind. Door shuts behind and fan starts up. Cold in tunnel, so warm air sucked in turns to a cold fog by the time it's got to the other end of the tunnel, producing a weird swirling effect in the headlight beam. 1 hr to go through, all rode through, the girls stayed inside with the lights on. Then heavy locking down to stop at Hassall Green (about 1900) bridge 146. Photos of aqueduct carrying Macclesfield canal over Trent and Mersey and Thurlwood steel lock. Evening to "Romping Donkey". Sign on pub says "No children's room" but in practice children can come into the lounge bar. (22 locks and about 16 mi)
Tue 1987-04-28
Under way by 0750 or so, bright right from the start, and warm by 0900. 10 locks before breakfast, then steady locking to Middlewich, for a water stop. Twit trying to turn right out of the Shroppie provides amusement for all. Through the first Shropshire Union lock, shopping then off down to Barbridge by 1845. Very hot, 23degC. Red arms, burnt nose and back of steering hand despite sun lotion. Evening to Barbridge Inn for Boddington's Bitter. Mooring site has changed since last year, as construction work on the Barbridge by-pass has started. (19 locks, 18 miles)
Wed 1987-04-29
Start at 0755. Sunshine at first, but rapidly clouding over and starting to drizzle. Pass "Queen Jennifer" of last year at her moorings at Nantwich. Sun re-appears when arrive at Audlem locks and "Shroppie Fly" pub (with Marston's Pedigree AND Boddies). Lunch stop 1200-1430 (with water). Old mill shop, buy biography of Jessop and 4-counties T-shirt. Hot and sunny again in afternoon for all the locks, moor just beyond bridge 62 in Market Drayton. So 87 locks down & 7 to go (despite the 4-counties ring T-shirt that says 110 mi & 93 locks). Finish about 1810. Evening to Talbot ("Families welcome") but no room, so sit in garden. (22 locks, 15.5 mi).
Thu 1987-04-30
Overcast but warm. Shopping in Market Drayton then leave at 1020. Through Tyrley flight, then just 30-odd miles and 1 lock + 1 stop-lock to go. Stop 1500-1550 at Norbury Junction for water and 2 pump-outs (10L), then to Wheaton Aston, just after bridge 20, by 1830. The contrast between the contour canals & the SU became even more obvious with the long level from Tyrley, which is hardly ever on a level with the surroundings, but blasts its own way with deep cuttings and tall embankments. (5 locks, 19 miles)
Fri 1987-05-01
Rain and heavily overcast. Start 0810, through the last real lock and away, all in wet-weather gear for the first time. Cabin temp down to 14C. Lunch at Coven (by bridge 71) - arriving about 1240. Leave about 1415 and head straight for Gailey, arriving about 1600. (2 locks, 15.5 mi)
	Day	mi	km	hr 	ksec	l	ms-1
	Sat	8	12.9	4h	14.4	11	0.90
	Sun	17.5	28.2	9h15m 	33.3	13	0.85
	Mon	16	25.7	9h	32.4	22	0.79
	Tue	18	29.0	8h50m	31.8	19	0.91
	Wed	15.5	24.9	7h45m	27.9	22	0.89
	Thu	19	30.6	7m20m	26.4	5	1.16
	Fri	15.5	24.9	6h15m	22.5	2	1.11
	Tot(Ave)109.5	176.2	52h25m	189	94	(0.93)

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