NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Atherstone to Great Haywood–via Shardlow!

I have had my wrists slapped! I havent kept the blog up to date – and if it wasnt for facebook Sue and Vic would have missed us!

So this is the first instalment of our travels since 9 Feb when we arrived at Atherstone!

It was our wedding anniversary on 9 Feb, so we treated ourselves to yet another meal out! This time we visited Herbs and Spice Restaurant for a fantastic Indian meal! They are not licensed, but you can take your own drinks and we would highly recommend them.

We did the usual shopping in Aldi and rested up ready for the 11 Atherstone Locks – since November we have only been up and down the 3 Hillmorton Locks so it would be a bit of hard work!

It was good to get on the move again, we are now making our way to the Llangollen Canal, taking our time, but hoping not to have any more forced stops!

Heading off from the top of the Atherstone locks and working down – at last!


We moored at the bottom of the flight, didnt move the next day because it was raining and then made a dash to Fazeley Junction. As I explained in the last blog, we are doing longer days to make sure we moor close to a water point/elsan in case of any more inclement weather!

On the way we passed some interesting paint jobs!


and the birds painted on the wall at the junction!


We just spent one night at Fazeley and then moved on to Fradley Junction.

After a long days cruise, we popped into The Swan for dinner, and stayed for the “open mic” music evening, which was very good.

Monday it rained, so we didnt move and then we decided we would make a detour to Shardlow before we moved on north!

We wanted to pop in to see the guys at Lockgate Stoves to get them to check our Reflex Stove and to get some cleaning tablets.

It is 25 miles from Fradley to Shardlow, and we decided we wanted to get there and back before the next Sunday, so that we could visit The Swan again for “open mic” night and to be back off the Alrewas river section before the forecast rain made it go into flood!

So Tuesday morning we left our mooring at the top of the Coventry Canal, filled with water and headed through the swing bridge and turned right at the junction!


We know this stretch really well, as we used to come this way all the time in our timeshare days!

It was lovely and sunny and we were soon moving down the locks – and passing NB Percy on its mooring!


We were soon dropping down the lock into Alrewas, and noticed the cottage next to it was up for sale – what a great spot!


We were soon down the next lock on to the river – which was running quite fast even though the level was low down on the green! I made lunch to eat as we cruised and nipped back up in time for the lock off of the river!

On the Wychnor Lock Landing, CRT were doing a great job of repairing it!


I think they could do with working on the bywash area/lock landing below Barton Turn lock too!


We moored up at Branston Water Park – 7 miles from Fradley – 18 still to do!

We set off next morning and stopped off at Morrisons to stock up the cupboards and headed down the last of the single locks – all the rest are big doubles on the way to Shardlow!


Just before Willington we passed a huge field – filled with free range chickens!


This house looks like it has an observatory on its roof!


We spied another famous boat moored outside “The Dragon” in Willington.


By the time we reached Stenson Lock (the first of the BIG locks) it was getting grey and cold, but I still had fun letting the water flood into the lock, filling it for us to use! (You cant do that with a boat inside!)


With no-one to share the lock, we had to be careful to keep the boat against one wall – but going down is relatively smooth!


I couldnt see the weight on these gates – but they are REALLY heavy – they are huge – and I did struggle to close them after Gary had moved out!


We had achieved our goal for today, and were looking for a place to moor, when “The Ragley Boat Stop” appeared, they have moorings with electric hookup, so we took advantage – nipped in for a meal, and charged and equalised our batteries overnight too!! (10 1/2 miles travelled – 7 1/2 to go!)

The next day it was raining, and the forecast was for it to continue all day. Normally we would stay put – but we were on a mission – so off we went!

With 4 big locks left to do we put on our waterproofs and slogged on! We did stop for lunch and to dry out and warm up for a bit, but then we carried on and just as we approached Shardlow and the last lock the rain stopped – typical!

Just after we moored up NB Comfortably Numb and Butty Echoes came past – they were hoping to make it to the Erewash – if the river wasnt flooding!


Success – we were here – now just the journey back to contemplate!

In the morning we pulled over to right outside of the Lockgate Stoves workshop and Gary went to talk to the guys and get the cleaning tablets. (He had rung them a couple of days before and confirmed that the stove wasnt set up correctly – the burning ring had not been placed in the correct position (about half way down the mesh basket) when we had first moved onto the boat – no instruction manual had been given to us and Gary had been struggling to light the stove for some time!) The guys were really helpful, gave us an instruction booklet, lots of tips for use and popped on board and checked the stove to make sure all was now well. We left reassured and with 20 cleaning tablets for £20 – much cheaper than at the chandlers!


Now it was time to head back to Fradley – but the weather forecast was not good for Sunday, so we decided we had to make the journey back in TWO DAYS!

We very carefully worked Muleless up Shardlow Lock – letting the water in very slowly whilst Gary used the centre rope to stop the boat moving about too much – and just as we were exiting the lock a boat appeared below! We told them we would wait at the next lock for them – it would be a lot easier doing the locks with two boats!

So at Aston Lock it was much easier! Room for two!


With both boats comfortable at the back of the lock, we could soon open the gate paddles as well as the ground paddles!


So much easier with two boats!

Unfortunately our locking partners were only going up one more lock but at least Gary had someone to chat to for a change!


There are some interesting bridges across the Trent around here and we spotted this old railway bridge between Weston and Swarkestone Locks – one day we will have to explore further!


At Swarkestone Lock – we hit a bit of a problem! Gary dropped me off before the lock landing, so that he could keep away from the strong by-wash until I had the lock gates open. Unfortunately Muleless ran aground – or at least ran up on a concrete block or something similar!

The boat came to a stop with the stern a good 2 inches higher out of the water than usual – and no amount of revving, or pulling or pushing would move it.

Eventually I had to half fill the lock (which had been empty ready for us to go straight in!) and then let the water out – and Gary managed to pull the boat off the obstruction with the extra bit of water running under it – phew!

We were quickly in the lock and rising up slowly – having lost our locking partner to keep the boat straight, Muleless ended up a bit sideways – but in a controlled way!


With only one more big lock to do, we passed The Ragley Boat Stop – and didnt stop this time!


And then at last, Stenson Lock loomed in front of us. Our last big lock for a while – look at the size of those gates!


Gently does it with the paddles! Just the ground paddle open – the gate leaks a lot!


And as the lock fills we get that crooked thing going again!


Out of the top and just a short plod to Willington – where we pull on to the services and do a pump out! As if the day hasnt been long enough! It didnt take too long and then we moored up opposite – happy with our days cruise!

We moved off at 10.10am, ready for another long day, but at least easier locks!

The sun was out, but rain and sleet were forecast and the clouds looked ominous!


A swan decided to race with us – he obviously does know the rule about not making a breaking wash!


The River Dove was looking quite full – as were those clouds!


About then I popped down into the boat to sort out some washing – and just at that moment the heavens opened and hail stones rained down! Luckily Gary had his waterproof coat, hat and gloves on – and I stayed inside and made him a cup of tea!

I didnt think he would be amused if I took his photo, so made do with these shots!


Luckily it stopped after about 15 minutes!!

We pottered on and pulled up at Barton water point to fill up and have lunch.

We were a bit apprehensive about the river section and when we saw the sign at Barton Marina, we did start to worry a bit in case the river was high!


Just a bit further on, the board just before Wychnor lock told a different story!


As we worked through Wychnor lock I looked in vain for the marker board – I couldnt remember where it used to be and there was no sign of it anywhere! The water level wasnt too high – so we decided to believe the second sign – and headed on up the river!

A new footbridge had been put in place over the last couple of days – Gary saw the workmen on our way down.


The river seemed quite calm, and Muleless swam along happily enjoying the deep water!

As we approached the main weir Gary was careful to keep to the towpath side – as much as the reeds would allow!


As we went past we could see just how fast the river was flowing down the weir!


And then we were approaching the lock – where you could see the marker board – which was still in the green as it was on our way down just a few days ago!


As we worked up the lock we looked back – and more dark clouds had gathered and rain was falling again – releasing a rainbow!


Luckily we only got caught on the edge of the rain and we happily carried on knowing that we had passed the river!

With only a couple of miles and a few locks to go we decided to get all the way to Fradley – even though the sun was setting!


It was 6.10pm when we moored up opposite the water point!

Phew, what a week – we havent done that sort of boating since our hire boat days!

We promised ourselves 2 rest days before going anywhere – so Sunday we headed into the Swan for Sunday Lunch – and what a treat we had!!!

They do a Carvery from 12-3pm. For £10 you get a choice of 5 meats, dessert and coffee!!!!! What a meal – and as we didnt have room for pudding – we had it to take away!!

At 8pm we made our way back to the Swan for the “Open Mic” night again. We met up with Andy and Lou (and Bassett Hound Solo) from NB Cousin Jack, as we had the previous week – Andy did a very good turn singing and playing some of his own songs and well as some covers!

Monday we were expecting visitors Richard and Sharon from NB Oakapple, they have been in Aston Marina for winter and as they had their car they opted to come and visit us at Fradley.

We spent an hour or so catching up on Muleless and then popped over to The Swan (!!!) for lunch – and what a lovely lunch we had! We then returned to the boat for coffee and more chat before they headed back to their boat. Thanks for visiting guys – see you again soon.


Tuesday was time to head off again – rested (and well fed) our first stop, of course, was the water point!

We then headed through the Fradley Locks, straight across the junction and headed north again!


We noticed that Shade House next to Shade House Lock (!) was up for sale (again?). Another nice spot!


We were back to normal cruising, so we were moored up by 1.30pm in Handsacre! No more long days!

Next day we passed through the Armitage “tunnel”.


We stopped off in Rugeley to do some shopping. Trips to Aldi, Tesco and Morrison were needed to get the bits we like!

Fortified with hot sausage rolls on the move we were soon heading over the Brindley Bank Aquaduct over the River Trent – which definately looked full now!


Shortly after we arrived at Taft Wharf, where we pulled in next to the “fuel boat” for a diesel top up!


After topping up we headed off (a bit lighter in the wallet!) and were soon approaching Colwich Lock – and the sight of a dredger before us!


He saw us coming and was soon pulling out of our way.


Just above the lock we passed an empty barge being taken back to the dredger for filling.


On the final run up to Haywood Lock we could see that CRT had been busy all along this stretch – making a good job of rebuilding the offside of the canal.


As we approached our mooring spot, who should we pass but Cousin Jack!


So there we are, first instalment of catch up complete! (But this is still only 25 Feb, so still a bit more to do)


  1. Hi Della and Gary
    We'll be on the Llangollen after Easter. Would be great to catch up if you are around then
    steve & chris

    1. Will probably still be around then so will look out for you!

  2. Hi both. Hey, that was a bit of an epic trip, and a long post too!
    We're in Venetian Marina for a few days, then across to Middlewich and down the T&M to Stone. We should meet up at some point....

    1. We have headed down the Staffs & Worcs and now turned up the Shroppie. Decided to go this way as we haven't done this route before. Currently moored at Brewood - visiting the Curry Inn tonight!
      Hope to cross paths sometime over the summer!