Thursday, 9 August 2012

Trent & Mersey- The Climb to Etruria Summit.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

I like this picture, but it needs lightening up a bit!
Although we have been being pretty relaxed about timing, and not putting in long days, it is becoming apparent we either need to revise plans, or make some cruising days longer!  We had stopped early yesterday to guarantee a good rural location for a barbecue, and still not managed to start particularly early today.

Stone - Blue skies replace the rain we got with "Sickle".
Anyway we quickly settled into the ascent through the various locks, most of them in flights, up to Stoke on Trent.

This is actually Trentham Lock, still some way from Stoke centre.
Unlike last time we passed through Stone, when conditions were foul, today we did so in brilliant sunshine.  We had talked to the AngloWelsh hire base at Great Haywood about how the hire companies are faring.  They said they keep in contact with the independent one based at Stone, and that it had been struggling.  Given the number of idle boats here in August, I can believe it - a great shame, as their fleet unusually includes some really nice little compact boats, ideal for a couple, who don't wish to spend a mint on each weeks hire.

No further caption required.
There is quite a good chandlery at Stone Boat Builders, and I was able to buy a replacement chimney for the stove here, having failed to do so at Great Haywood, (most Chandlers stock a popular size of about 6" at the base, but the smaller size around 4 3/4" at the base seems harder to find).  There was also debate about whether to buy the fast growing, but remarkably un-buoyant "Odin" a life jacket.  It would not last long, but its risky not having one.  We thought "Charlie's" old one would serve, and initially decided not to bother with a new one, but closer inspection showed its construction got in the way of "Odin" needing to pee!  So a party was sent back to buy a smaller one, while David and I carried on up the locks.

Still one of my favourite canalside banners!

Though this also appeals to our puerile sense of humour.

David and derelict building.
Stone locks soon give way to the very picturesque Meaford locks, but then there are quite a few lock-less miles before, initially, Trentham lock, well outside Stoke, then the actual climb through Stoke to the Etruria summit.  Some of these locks are relatively deep, and whilst the Trent & Mersey locks with one ground and one gate paddle are quite benign when filling, you do need to watch the ones that are deep with two ground paddles, if both are drawn immediately.  Just sometimes the boat will "take off" forwards suddenly, if you lose concentration.

Bone and flint mill, and "Admiral" class butty "Keppel".
A few locks from the top we caught up a brand new build "butty" boat being worked through, ander tow by a modern motor boat.  Because children were doing the bow-hauling, (pulling by hand between locks), with unsuitable ropes, this caused a bit of a delay.

New build Roger Fuller butty at Etruria top lock.
We turned onto the Caldon branch for services like water filling, toilet emptying, and rubbish, and I failed to appreciate as I tried to turn the boat near the facilities block, that there is a far better "winding hole", (a widened part specifcally for turning in), around the corner.  I managed to not do well in front of someone we were meeting for the first time, including David ending up on the bank on the wrong side, locked into the confines of what I believe was a a residential care home!  David was not particularly chuffed, having to get "released", and make a long walk around over the nearest bridge!
Dog at ease with his surroundings!

We had planned to push on to Westport Lake, (really the only other ideal and "secure" mooring before Harecastle Tunnel, which we were too late to pass through today).  However moorings at Westport can be limited, and as two full length boats had gone that way, we had no guarantee of a space, and no real "plan B".  So we decided to stay put at Etruria, which has the benefit of land based showers and toilets.  Stopping at Etruria use d to be discouraged, but I'm glad to say it is now a fairly popular and OK overnight mooring.  It is ideal for traing a young dog, with one big caveat.  The grass area nearby has a brand new high quality bin for disposing of dog "poo".  However I doubt I have ever seen as much dog "poo" with no attempt to clear it up quite so near to a bin.  whilst we like coming North on the canals, we always feel that there is far more reticence to "pick up afterwards" than further South - a shame, really!

Burston to Etruria
(Trent & Mersey)
Miles: 13.2 Locks: 15
Total Miles: 224.5, Locks: 91 (Worked)

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