Monday, June 24, 2013

Through the Potteries towards Cheshire

The weatherman certainly got it right yesterday and the predicted stinker of a day arrived as forecast. We stayed put for the morning and watched the occasional boats pass us with the steerers looking miserable and wet. We finally pulled the pins after midday and our journey improved gradually as we headed towards Stone.

We wanted to get above Meaford Locks as there was a planned stoppage this morning between 8am and 2pm. We passed the halfway point of the Trent & Mersey Canal at Aston Lock...46 miles to either end from here. It was like crossing the equator...I wonder if the water will go down the plug hole the other way now ?

We always seem to get lucky at Stone and today was no exception. We were straight in to each lock and soon at the top lock where we met an Anglo Welsh boat waiting to come down. A couple of blokes helped with the lock. Apparently they were doing the Four Counties Ring in a week. They had no idea whether or not they were on schedule and didn't even have a guide book. They did have a map which a friend had drawn for them telling them where the locks were though !! Louise suggested they have a look at Canalplan to give them an idea of how far they had to go. 

At Meaford Locks we passed one of our old shared ownership boats 'Marbury' as it was heading in the opposite direction. Just time for a quick hello as we passed in the pound between locks. There is a lot of work going on in this area with piling going in to save the banks and the towpath being restored which is good to see. We spent the night at Barlaston ready for an early start for the run through Stoke.

Today has been pretty uneventful. The weather has stayed dry although the wind has been strong at times. We left Barlaston around 7.30am for the long drag into Stoke. It's not our favourite stretch of canal, but needs must. We didn't see another boat moving until the middle of the Stoke flight which then meant the rest of the locks were in our favour. We had a short break at Westport Lake to give the dogs a good run and then headed up to Harecastle Tunnel where we were the second boat in the queue.

We were told by Dave the tunnel keeper that we would have about an hour to wait and that 7 boats would be coming through. Time to get the deck chairs out then and watch the world go by. His prediction was right and surprisingly no other boats joined the queue, so just ourselves and nb Scorpio made the trip north.

Half an hour or so later we emerged into the orangey waters of Kidsgrove. Scorpio turned left (or is it right) onto the Macc and we began the descent of 'Heartbreak Hill'. We stopped at Red Bull Services which were very clean and tidy and then plodded on towards Rode Heath where we moored near Bridge 140 for the night. 

We had a meal tonight at The Broughton Arms (2 for 1 grill night). A nice meal, but very slow service. Tomorrow we will head for Middlewich. 

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