NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Down the Staffie and up the Shroppie!!

Yes, I have done it again (or to be precise not done it again!!!). We are now on the Llangollen Canal – and I have neglected the blog again! Must try harder!!!

The last blog left us at Penkridge on 1 March – and it is now 26 March!!! (but not posted until 31 March due to no internet signal!)

As usual the first thing to do was to reverse back to the water point and fill up – this time with no rain!


As we made our way through the next couple of locks they were determined to give Muleless a bubble bath!


The canal follows the motorway quite closely too!


It didnt take too long to get to our destination of Gailey – and we were finally on new territory!

I knew that Sue and Vic on NB No Problem were close by (they keep their blog up to date!) so we arranged a morning rendezvous!

After helping them down Gailey Lock they moored up for a catch up and of course, posh coffees!!


After an hour or so we had to go our separate ways! Great to see you both – enjoy your spring and summer river cruising. Hopefully we will catch up again in the autumn – I will stock up the posh coffees ready!!


We then headed up Gailey lock – with the famous round house next to it!!


No more locks for us on the Staffie, just a gentle plod along enjoying the view – until we came across this!


Luckily we didnt hear an alarm – so no problems there!

We passed close by this incinerator – luckily no smoke billowing out!


As we followed the wiggles of the canal we came across Calf Health Marina and we spotted the Wandring Bark and the Jam Butty – just!! No sign of Andy and Helen though!


Luckily there was some handy signage on the bridge at the junction to tell us which way to go!!


Just a bit further on we found the Fox and Anchor (Where Sue and Vic had left in the morning) and decided to moor up and pop in for a drink!

When we set off in the morning it was only a mile before we headed under the M54.


And very shortly after we were in the narrows! Luckily no-one was coming the other way!


Just a mile further on and we had reached Autherley Junction and turned sharp right on to the Shroppie!


or at least we almost did – but there was a boat just coming out so a bit a manoeuvring was needed first!


And then we were on the Shropshire Union Canal – and straight into the Stop Lock!


Gary had to squeeze past the hire boats as I shut the lock.


We stopped by the first bridge so that I could pop over into Morrisons for some essentials, and then we moved on about a mile and moored up for the night – with our first encounter of the Shroppie Shelf – which kept us away from the bank!


As we set off the next morning we marvelled at how wide the Shroppie was – and then we found the first set of narrows!


Luckily we were part way through when a boat appeared ahead – and had to wait for us to come through first!


The bridges on the Shroppie all seem to have these cast iron protecting strips where the ropes from the horse drawn boats rubbed over them.


We passed a Shroppie Mile Marker – the Llangollen Canal is just a couple of miles past Nantwich – so now we have a countdown!


We went under the M54 again – this time heading north! And there in the distance was that incinerator we passed too!


We were watching out for nice mooring spots – for when we come this way again, and passed a nice one – but was it a bit close to this “Martian Red Weed”?


Through more Narrows – this time we could see the rock under the water making the channel narrower than it looked! and again we timed it right with someone coming the other way!



And then we started to enter one of the many cuttings on the Shroppie – with its impressive bridges – and very boggy towpaths!


And then there was a flash of blue on a branch and I snapped a quick picture AND AMAZINGLY I CAUGHT IT!!!!!!!!


The trouble with these cuttings is that after all these years they are getting a bit unstable – we passed this slippage and some workboats waiting to sort it out!


As we approached the workboats and bridge a boat came through the bridge – luckily it was only a yoghurt pot and it squeezed through easily!




In keeping with my marvellous wildlife shots – I spotted these fellas too!


We moored up at Brewood – not a mooring we would normally use as it was in the cutting – too many trees – no sunshine – no satellite!! but we wanted to try out The Curry Inn – as recommended by NB Armadillo!

We had a very nice curry – but our favourite, both for taste and price has to be Herbs and Spice in Atherstone!

That’ll do for this instalment – dont want to bore you silly!!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Great Haywood to Penkridge

Right then, if you have recovered from the last mammoth blog, here is the next instalment!

Thursday 26 Feb saw us moored overlooking Shugborough Hall, but we had better things to look at!

The dredging team were hard at work back below Colwich Lock, but the dredgings were being moved to above Haywood Lock! This meant that the full/empty barges were passing us quite regularly – and it was really interesting to see the difference!





Late morning we went for a walk, passing Haywood lock just as the empty barge was entering.


We checked on our route through the junction – a bit of a tight squeeze there!


And from the road bridge, looking south, the dredging barge being emptied (with the junction to the Shroppie just under that bridge to the right of the pic!)


Our walk took us through the village, passing the mile marker telling us how far it was to everywhere else!


We had to check how the river was running under the packhorse bridge


And on the way back to the boat check out the ornate bridge over the canal and the view from it – thats Muleless in the centre of the moored boats!


We couldnt get a satellite signal on our mooring, so we moved the boat up above Haywood Lock, and found we could get internet and phone signals there too!


Friday it was time to move on again, and of course first stop was the water point. We had to wait whilst 3 other boats filled and manoeuvred about before we could fit in, and we got tied up just in time before the next full dredging barge turned up to be emptied right opposite!


First the empty barge had to be pushed away from the bank, and then the full one was slipped down next to the bank, then the tug boat detached from the barge and went to the far end of the empty barge, spun round and tied on, and then headed off back to the dredger!


Then the full barge was pulled into position by the digger, who then proceeded to empty it into the wagon being pulled by a tractor (for delivery to a farmers field near Hoo Mill Lock) and when he finished the ends of the barge were washed off ready for collecting and refilling!


All the time this was going on it felt like we were at sea – he was creating waves!

Luckily for us by the time we had finished filling with water the barge was empty and everything was still whilst they waited for the next full load to arrive – so Gary managed to reverse back off the water point and then head under the bridge and on to the Staffie with no problems- just squeezing through past the hire boats!


We have been down this way a few times in hire boats, but this is the first time Muleless has been here.

We went through Tixall Wide, and pass the ornate gatehouse to the now non-existent main house.


At Tixall Lock we saw our first spring lambs!



We passed the first turnover bridge we have seen for a whilst – it was designed so that horses towing boats could change from one side of the canal to the other without having to detatch their ropes.


And just then, on the other side of the railway I saw some deer! Unfortunately me and the camera are not really up to wildlife shots – this is my best effort!


We passed the Stafford Boat Club and spied this owl watching us go by!


Our second lock of the day was Deptmore Lock – definately a deep lock!


Then we passed a field of swans – very unusual to see so many together – they must be youngsters!


Nearing the end of our days journey we entered Acton Trussell – the home of the immaculate lawns and gardens!


We moored up opposite the Moat House – there was a wedding party there and as it got dark the photographer was taking arty shots of the bride and groom in the dark!


Not wanting to be moored so close to the M6, we were happy to move on in the morning.


As it was Saturday we saw a few boats on the move and we soon came across a fishing match – right on the lock landing of course! Luckily a boat had arrived at the top of the lock, and as it was in our favour opened the gates for us to go straight in!


We were soon heading under the M6 – Motorways are almost more like tunnels than bridges! You definitely get a different perspective than in a car!


Our next lock was another of those really deep ones!


We moored up on the outskirts of Penkridge and went to check out the market and the bakery that we had been told about.

Gary managed to find some useful things in the market – and we tried out Jaspers Bakery and were well impressed with our purchases.

Sunday was forecast to be raining later on, so we decided to move the boat up Penkridge Lock and use the elsan point just above it to do a self pump out.


Unfortunately for us, just as we got set up the heavens opened and the rain started early – and carried on and on and on!

We did our pump out, filled with water and moored up on the first available spot about 100 yds further on!

We would move on to new territory when we set off – so that will be the next blog!