We worked our way down through the Fradley locks this morning, meeting a couple of other boats on the move as we went. People are beginning to be out and about again. We have chosen to carry on along the Trent & Mersey as we may not have the chance to 'do' this stretch again while we are on Tacet. Though we shall have to come back to make the journey southwards along the Coventry Canal and Grand Union down into London. It has been cold out on the tiller again, no sun and a fresh wind blowing over us. A stop off at Alrewas (All-ree-was) was needed to warm up, though not inside by the fire, but with a walk around the village, it's such a pretty place, we enjoyed and inspired by our wandering, here's a taster for you too.
Snowdrops in the churchyard
Inside the church, this wall-hanging displays the family names of parishioners, embroidered, stitched, beaded or appliquéd in various styles.
Why not today?
Mend a quarrel; Seek out a forgotten friend; Write a love letter; Share some treasure; Give a soft answer; Encourage youth; Find the time; Forgive an enemy; Listen; Apologise if you were wrong; Think first of someone else; be kind and gentle; Laugh a little more; Express your gratitude; Gladden the heart of a child; Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth; Speak your love; Speak it again; Speak it still once again.
Over a village house doorway.
Traveller as you pass this way. A blessing on this house I pray,
And if you've the time (I ask your pardon), Spare another for the garden.
Signs of Spring
Mill on the river Trent
This dates back to 1614, but most of the building is from 1785 when it was a water powered cotton mill. More recently it was a mill for animal feed. Now appears to have been developed into housing.
We moored at Rugeley last night and went to church there this morning, it's a bit of a walk out to Fernwood to the Community Church, but it was good to meet them again and worship together. We needed to move on this afternoon to make sure we were through Wood End Lock before work starts there tomorrow. It was very cold on the tiller, so we took turns even though it really wasn't very far, just about 7 miles altogether and just the one lock. We decided to stop at the top of Fradley locks, we'll tackle them tomorrow. Ian and Jumble went for walk down to the junction while I washed down the boat, a much needed operation, it's been a long time since any boat cleaning has been done. Here's some pictures from their walk.
The work was finished on lock 29 and as the CRT boat pulled out of the lock with the last of the tools, fences and other bits and pieces, we were ready to go in. Once we had got down the locks in Stone, we met Mikey on nbVictoria. He was having a bit of trouble turning his historic working boat round in the winding hole. In fact the front was stuck on silt and the back was against the piling.
We threw him a rope and putting Tacet into reverse, pulled him round, and after a bit of further to-oing and fro-ing he was free and could back up to the mooring point.
It was good to see Mikey again, we met last year on the BCN Challenge, he is now living on Victoria, selling coal and gas along the cut. Find him on http://www.facebook.com/nb.Victoria
It was a bitter cold day with no sun, just the biting wind in our faces as we left the Caldon Canal on Wednesday and joined the Trent and Mersey again. We were heading down the 5 Stoke locks, back into the countryside to Barlaston and the Wedgwood Visitor Centre. Josiah Wedgwood was one of the first business entrepreneurs to invest in canal building as he saw their potential for the safe transport of his delicate porcelain wares.
He was born in Burslem to a pottery, or should that be a potting, family. By the age of 9 he was able to craft the workaday pots that the family business produced. He began work as an apprentice potter with his older brother, but after suffering from smallpox he had a weakened knee and was unable to work the potters wheel. So he began to concentrate on designing the pottery and experimenting with different clay mixes and glazes.
He was able to start a business in partnership with Thomas Whielden at the Ivy works, soon moving onto the site he named Etruria before finally building a new complex here at Barlaston. All these sites have the Trent and Mersey Canal running beside them. so the industry was changed from small home based family potteries to large factory production, inspiring new design and experimenting with various techniques resulting in 'Jasperware', most famously, and 'Creamware'.
Today we made our way down to Stone,
following nb Sokai down through the locks.
Here the CRT guys are working on a lock repairing the gates.
They are apparently on schedule to be finished tomorrow, then we shall make a quick dash down to Fradley to get past the next locks for repair starting on Monday. Walking down into the town this afternoon, we came across nb Emily Anne, a steam powered boat, just a massive chimney showing from the outside, sadly no-one on board so didn't get a view of the engine.
What better way to spend a Monday morning than a walk through the woods in February sunshine. It was lovely.
The footpaths were soggy and muddy, but we were soon getting very warm climbing up through the woods to Foxtwood. Back on board we had coffee and then set off from the quiet basin and back through that tunnel (see previous post) passing back through Consall, past the Black Lion following the Churnet Valley Railway Line, on to Cheddleton, Hazelhurst junction and stopping as the sun set at Endon.
Tuesday morning was very frosty and very beautiful, the sun was shining through the frosty haze and when it finally broke through the day was glorious. A super day for cruising and we were heading back to Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent aiming to get to Minh's Oriental for a buffet lunch. Working the 9 locks and 3 bridges kept me warm and the walk between them was a treat. Unfortunately our camera is broke....... the switch to turn it on, doesn't! So sadly there are no pictures of those beautiful frosty trees and hedges, you'll have to imagine them. Once the battery is charged on the old, not so good camera, we'll have photos again on these pages.
We need to rewind a bit. With all the excitement of posting about that tunnel, we've missed out some of the journey.
After spending some time at the market and looking round the town on Saturday we were ready to leave the moorings at Leek around lunchtime. The thin ice was almost melted in the warm sunshine we had been enjoying.
Just emerging out of the tunnel, very narrow but with plenty of headroom, so no scrapes and bumps here.
The reflections were lovely today in the still waters.
And so many great places to live with views over the canal.
This lovely lock cottage at Hazelhurst locks has wonderful views in every direction. The lucky owners were sitting out in the sunshine eating their lunch. What a great spot. I had got off Tacet at the aqudeuct and walked down from the Leek branch to the lower level of the Caldon Canal, walking up the locks, setting them as I went, to meet Ian at the top. He was just coming through bridge 1 as I got there.
making the tight turn into the lock
3 locks down
then under the aqueduct this time
Before long we were at Cheddleton mooring up by the Flint Mill.
Cheddleton Flint Mill has a complex of buildings, two water mills, a miller's cottage, two flint kilns, a drying kiln and other outbuildings.It has grade II listed building status and is managed by the Flint Mill Industrial Heritage Trust.
The earliest reference to milling here at Cheddleton dates back to 1253, some of the foundations of the south water mill may date from then. Other documents refer to corn milling on this site, and in the late 18th century the south mill was converted to grind flint, and the north mill was purpose built for flint grinding.
The Canal was built around the same time and would have carried the heavy flint stone to the mill and the ground, calcined flint produced would be taken back to the potteries of Stoke where it was an important ingredient in the 'creamware' which was popular at the time.