Monday, 25 August 2014

Tixall Wide


Our blog this week comes to you from A beautiful,if a bit damp,mooring at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.We’ve been here since Friday and I’m not sure yet when we will be leaving ‘cos it is lovely and peaceful here and there’s plenty of room for me to play at my new hobby of fishing.I’ve recently bought a small whip and a rig and,together with a bit of bread,I can now sit and watch a float bob up and down all day.I’m not after a huge fish or anything to shout about,though we have had quite a bit of success over the last few days,some nice Rudd and Perch have given themselves up to my amateurish attempts.

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We left Wombourne a week ago Wednesday to make our way up the S&W,through the 3 Bratch Locks,to Dimmingsdale.Above is Chyandour entering the Bratch bottom Lock and almost up the second of the three locks,with the old octagonal Toll House in the background.The Bratch Locks are three individual locks and not a staircase as they first appear to be.There are side pounds hidden to one side of the flight so that the space between the top gates of one lock and the bottom gates of the next is only a few feet.The locks raise the canal by just over 30 feet.

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Above you can see the pound between the top gates of the middle lock and the bottom gates of the top lock,a dozen feet maybe? The Toll House at the top lock.We carried on through another three locks after the Bratch locks till we got to just above Dimmingsdale Lock and the 5 day moorings on the off side.It was not the best decision to stop on those moorings as later events were to show.

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Just after half twelve last Thursday morning a tree came down onto Tadpole 2,our friends boat,while we were on the moorings above Dimmingsdale Lock.The sound woke us all and,as the first photo’s show,it looked a bit scary.A couple of the pic’s the next day showing quite a substantial tree across the roof and between the Stern doors and the Tiller.It all looked as though some serious damage could have been done but after contractors from Fountains arrived and set about the tree,there turned out to be no damage at all,very very lucky.As soon as the tree was removed we set off for our next stop,Oxley, between Aldersley and Autherley Junctions.There’s a boatyard at Oxley where we could empty the loo and top up with diesel and water.Lisa and I have moored opposite the boat yard before but this time we all went to the bar in the boatyard itself and received a very welcoming reception.They were happy to order a takeaway from one of the local restaurants and provide cutlery etc.for us to eat in the bar.

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Top left is something I was quite surprised to see as we approached the Lock Landing at Compton Lock.This young Fox just stood watching us after calmly walking along the towpath in broad daylight.I barely had time to get the camera and take a pic’ before it walked through a gap in the hedge and disappeared.6 bridges all in a row,these are between the two junctions at Oxley and between the arches of the railway bridges are these paintings.After a great night at Oxley we moved on the next day to Cross Green and the Fox & Anchor,where Lisa and I have also stopped a couple of times before.This time we were expecting visitors for the weekend and,though the food in the pub was not as good as we had experienced before,we still had an enjoyable time.I had the additional pleasure of meeting Andrew Denny,the Helmsman of NB Granny Buttons who’s blog I used to read and also one of the people I follow on Twitter.Sadly he’s a worse blogger than me,not having posted for quite a while now and I did happen to mention this too him as we chatted.

Leaving the Fox & Anchor last Monday,with some of our guests,we made our way the five lock free miles to Gailey where we stopped for just one night before moving on to Penkridge.Some of the guests who joined us at Cross Green were leaving us there and we also wanted to get some fishing gear and visit the Wednesday Market.

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Our Granddaughter Evelyn and Grandson Jack with the first fish they had ever caught,they both caught one within a very short time at their first attempt.A big thank you to Pete off Tadpole 2 who is a keen fisherman and who gave us all instruction on what to do.

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My first catch,not much to write home about is it?,and Evelyn with another of hers.Not quite the biggest fish of the day,that honour went to Pete who you see here holding Evelyn’s catch.

We left Penkridge last Thursday morning and gently cruised to our next port of call which turned out to be Stafford Boat Club.We had heard from other boaters that they are a friendly lot at this club and so it turned out.They have a lovely set up at the side of the S&W just South of Stafford at Hazelstrine and the whole place is beautifully looked after by the members.If you ever want to stay for the night it’s free as long as you partake of a little refreshment in the bar.This we did and had a very enjoyable time,in fact we stayed for two nights,getting out our trusty Bus Passes on Friday for the short journey into Stafford to have a look round.

We left there on Saturday morning to make our way here at Tixall Wide.we stopped off at Radford Bank on our way because there’s a handy pub just off the canal at bridge 98 that does an all you can eat breakfast for £3.99.

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The view from Chyandour over Tixall Wide after our arrival on Saturday.A swan being weighed at Great Haywood Junction of the S&W with the T&M.The Warden was checking it over and ringing it as we walked past on our way to the nearby Farm Shop yesterday.

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The 16th Century Gatehouse that overlooks where we are moored at Tixall Wide and Val.Pete and I enjoying the fishing yesterday.

Well,that’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done 22 Locks and 27 Miles,that gives us a Grand Total of 954 Locks and 1,538 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014



Our blog this week comes to you from James Brindleys 1771 Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal in the Staffordshire village of Wombourne.According to Wikipedia,Wombourne is sometimes referred to as the largest village in England,I thought you’d like to know that little snippet of useless information.We left Wolverley last Wednesday and steadily cruised to the end of the Stourbridge Town Arm,getting there on Friday.Stopping overnight at Kinver on Wednesday and Stewpony on Thursday.

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The approaches to the Two Locks at Kinver,Kinver Lock first which is just past the visitor moorings and Hyde lock second.

Kinver is a lovely little village in Staffordshire where they used to make nails,as can be seen from some of the Street Furniture that looks like the old flat nails,and is well worth a stopover.Stewpony doesn’t have much going for it,other than being where the Stourbridge Canal begins at the junction just past the Visitor Moorings,and there isn’t a lot for a visitor to see and do.The Stourbridge Canal is a bit like our “home“ canal,the Erewash,in that the water is so clear you can see the bottom and all the weed growing in it.

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Stourton Junction just past Stewpony Wharf where the Stourbridge Canal leaves the Staffs & Worcs,the finger post pointing to the places you can get to from here.

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Approaching the third of the four Stourton Locks while going under Four Locks Bridge.Chyandour with a moustache of foam in the top lock.

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The bridge just before Wordsley Junction where the Town Arm leaves the Main Line,and yes,we did meet a boat coming the other way.We heard his Horn and pulled over in time just after I took this.

The Stourbridge Arm leaves the Stourbridge Canal Main Line at Wordsley Junction and goes for about a mile and a quarter into Stourbridge where it used to be a Railway Interchange.At the end of the Arm is the home of the Stourbridge Navigation Trust and there are good moorings you can moor safely to explore the surrounding area.We wanted to stay for a couple of days to get a train from the local station to get to see our Family who were having a BBQ for the housewarming of our youngest Daughter’s new house and the Birthday of herself and her Sister.We had a great day out but sadly the BBQ was a non starter because of Sundays torrential rain.

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Heading down the arm with some of the old Glassworks on the offside that Stourbridge is famous for.Heading back out on Monday and this was where the old canal entrances to the former Ironworks of John Bradley & Co. are now bricked up but the bridges over them remain.

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The Bonded Warehouse at the end of the arm,it was built in 1779 and extended in 1849.It is now part of Stourbridge Navigation Trust and is used for leisure activities.The Trust has an office behind and to the left of the moored boats on the left is a Drydock that used to be part of the canal that went through a low tunnel to the Great Western Railway Transhipment Basin.There were Foundries,Rolling Mills and Steelworks  to the right of the warehouse.The large amount of weed and Water Lilies along the arm,all of which you can see in the relatively clear water.The bridge on the left is the bricked up entrance to a former Drydock where boats were built and repaired.

We left Stourbridge on Monday morning in the company of Pete and Val off NB.Tadpole 2 who came into the basin on Saturday to surprise us.We hadn’t seen them for exactly a year when we left Pete at Trent Lock on August the 9th last year,after he helped us through the locks on the Erewash when we were heading for the Shackerstone Festival on the Ashby Canal.The four of us have already consumed a good few beers since meeting up again,we went to the Navigation at Greensforge Lock for a few last night and that’s the reason the Blog is a day late again.

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Back at Stourton Bottom Lock ready to drop back down off the Stourbridge and onto the Staffs & Worcs.tadpole 2 in Rocky Lock with boats waiting at either end.The Staffs & Worcs has been busy with quite a few hire boats as well as private ones.

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Botterham Staircase Locks,I’ve just brought Chyandour into the bottom chamber ready for Lisa and the crew of another boat to empty the top chamber into the bottom one as we climb up 20 feet or so.Tadpole 2 coming into where we are moored for the night near Wombourne.

Well that’s all again for this week folks.Since our last Blog we have done 22 Locks and 19 Miles,that gives us a Grand Total of 932 Locks and 1511 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014



Our blog this week comes to you from the Visitor Moorings at Wolverley,which is about 2 miles North of Kidderminster on The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.We got here yesterday afternoon,having left Stourport Basin earlier in the day,on our way to our next port of call,Stourbridge.We spent all of last week in the basin at Stourport having a great time visiting parts of the local area and getting a visit,on Thursday,from our eldest Daughter and our lovely Grandchildren.

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Last Wednesday Lisa and I took a walk along the Severn Way footpath from Stourport to Bewdley and here’s a pic’ of the end of the navigable River Severn.It doesn’t look any different from other stretches of the river but this is as far as you can get in a narrowboat I believe.I shan’t be trying it.Bewdley bridge over the Severn,designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1798.We had a good day in Bewdley,it’s a beautiful place and the Town Museum is a must see for any visitor.

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The day our visitors arrived was spent enjoying the Playland Fun Park and Treasure island in Stourport.There’s loads of things for kids to do and they’re not too expensive either.

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Friday was the highlight of our stay in Southport when we went on the Severn Valley Railway from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.

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Arriving in Highley and some of the exhibits in the Engine House Visitor Centre there.

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The inside of the Royal Mail carriage that was robbed in August 1963 in The Great Train Robbery.Me on the footplate of the ex GWR 7325,built at Swindon in 1932.

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Bridgnorth Station on the SVR.It was chucking it down but shortly afterwards the rain stopped and we were able to walk into Bridgnorth itself.

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Looking up to the top of the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway.It’s the oldest and steepest inland Funicular Railway,opened in 1892 to carry people up the 111 foot incline from Low Town to High Town in Bridgnorth.The view from the top over looking Low Town and the River Severn.

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A couple of locomotives that were running on the SVR on Friday.

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Falling Sands Bridge and the Viaduct that carries the SVR over the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal as we cruised yesterday.We saw the train crossing the viaduct but as we searched for the camera it passed.The beautiful setting of Cadwell Lock on the S&W.It was quite busy on the journey up here yesterday with boats going up as well as down and we had a bit of a hold up at Falling Sands Lock when something was jammed under the top gate.There was almost as much water coming into the lock,under the gate,as was leaving through the bottom paddles as we tried to empty the lock.We got it sorted once the lock was refilled,a quick poke around with a boat pole shifted whatever the obstruction was and all was well again.

Well,that’s all again for this week folks.We haven’t done a lot since last week,just 5 Locks and 6 Miles,all of which we did yesterday.That gives us a Grand Total of 910 Locks and 1492 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.