Great Haywood to Huddlesford, 16.3 miles 4 locks in 6.5 hours.
Up with the dawn chorus and arghhhh it was dark. This means we are on the downward slope as far as 2011 is concerned and this was made more evident as we cruised. We were up at 5am and Paddy was walked in the dark, which is not my favourite thing to do. I am not very good in the dark it has to be said, but did feel happier with Paddy by my side. Back at the boat I readied her for the off, so took down the TV aerial, which was as much use as a box of chocolate frogs, because we had little or no signal, so ended up watching "The Pride and the Passion" before heading off to bed early. Boat all ready we left our over night mooring at 5.50am and trundled past all the moored boats over looking Shugborough Hall.
By 6.30am we were at Colwich Lock I stepped off of the boat in the railway bridge o'le to I could set the lock, but when I got there it was already full, so I only had to open the gate. As we were descending the lock, a gentleman with his early morning cuppa came and joined us outside at the lock cottage. He gave us a cheery wave and a good morning as we went on our way. It is nice to see people up just as early as us.
We were then moving through the Trent Valley and there was more evidence that Autumn was just around the corner.
The leaves on the trees are changing colour already to golds, reds and yellows, this does not bode well and yet it did feel quite warm to begin with, that changed though and I could feel a cold front coming over me followed by light rain, so I dipped into the back cabin to put my wet weather gear on.
At Wolseley Bridge we passed Ivor and Mel Batchelor on their working pair Mountbatten and Jellicoe. Ivor had just come back from taking their dogs for a walk. He asked " Are you to wicked to sleep", my reply was "Most definitely, this is the best time of the day". We waved cheerio to each other and we went on our way.
We then got our first sight of Rugeley Power Station.
It dominates the skyline.
We then passed Enseabee, which moors at Roger Fuller's yard. The boat belongs to our good friend Nigel, he and Anne are out for a few days. Nigel gave us a wave and a thumbs up as we passed by, I am sure we will see them both again sometime.
As we approached Brindley Bank Aqueduct, I took over on the tiller. I thought I was doing a fabulous job until I tried to make the tight turn at the bloody steps, no that is not me swearing, that is what they are called. They are named the Bloody Steps after the death in 1849 of Christina Collins, a female passenger who was travelling by canal from Liverpool to London. She was attacked and raped by the boatmen and her body was thrown into the canal. It was found here and carried up the steps to a nearby public house, hence the name. Well I did not make the turn so the bow was heading for the reeds as I put the boat into reverse, at this point Keith took over. I think I need a little more practice at that corner. Whilst Keith got us back on the straight and narrow I made us both a coffee. By 9.10am the rain had stopped and the sun was showing signs of coming out, so I ditched the wet weather gear. We cruised along the Armitage Tunnel, with me walking in front of the boat in case something should decide to come towards us and before we knew it we were at Wood End Lock, which was once again with us. By the time we were leaving the lock there was another boat behind us, so the canal was beginning to get busy. At Fradley Locks, although they were against us, there were no queues, so we had an easy decent to the junction with the Coventry Canal.
As we turned on to the Coventry I stepped off of the boat to open the small swing footbridge. We then decided that we would not moor up at Fradley.
So we carried on to where we are now moored and that is at Huddlesford. We are not far from the junction with the Wyrley and Essington Canal.
Another sign that 2011 is drawing to a close is the fact that the farmers are gathering in their harvests. This farmer was very busy getting his bales in before more rain. I remember those days well, but we used to do bale cart by hand and the bales were tiny oblong ones then. These days it is all high tech and the bales are huge, so huge that if one fell on you, you would be dead. I prefer the old days I am afraid, when life was so much easier.
So here we are all moored up in the sunshine. I think we may take a walk up the Wyrley and Essington Canal which is being restored. The restored canal is to be renamed as the Lichfield Canal and it is hoped to be completed by 2026, so we may see some progress.
Chat later xx