Sunday, 3 December 2017

Overwinter Cruise Week 8

Sunday 26th  November  - Great Haywood to Fradley Junction
We made an early start this morning as we were hoping to get to Fradley Junction before the daylight faded.

Colwich Lock has a lovely cottage which has been done up over the years we have been passing through this lock.

 I am fascinated by the different bird life you can see along the canal.  This bird of prey – I think it maybe a sparrowhawk was flying along the side of the canal and perching on telegraph wires until we approached and took off ahead of the boat again.

Bromley Wharf was where our share boat nbMinuet used to be moored.  We began our boat ownership with nbMinuet and spent many trips cruising from here.

We arrived at Fradley Junction and made our way down through the locks, past the junction and on to moor opposite the Visitor Centre and Fradley Nature Reserve.  Toby and I went for a walk around the reserve whilst Dave set up the boat, usually these moorings are full, but we were the only ones tonight.

Monday 27th November – Fradley Junction to Branston
Another early start this morning to get to Branston again before the light faded.  As we left our mooring, the next lock had a team from Canal and River Trust assessing the lock which was very leaky.  They will probably do a temporary fix on it as the gates are going to be replaced next year.

In Alrewas a team of volunteers were working to improve the lock landing at this lock, always pleased to see work being carried out for improvements.

As you leave Alrewas, the River Trent merges with the canal and you travel for about a ¼ mile on the river section.  The information boards said the river section was open but to proceed with caution, so on a yellow board.  We certainly felt the boat pick up speed as we headed towards the weir bollards and turned away from the river back on to the canal.

The canal bridges here are tall and narrow with no towpath going through them.  They are quite daunting as they never look wide enough for the boat to fit through!
We moored up at Branston Water Park for the night and went for a walk around the lake with Toby.

Tuesday 28th November – Branston to Mercia Marina

We then cruised through Burton-on-Trent, home to the Marston’s Brewery.  They began brewing beer in Burton in 1834 and moved down the road to the Albion Brewery in 1898 and have been there ever since.

Dallow Lock has lovely murals on both sides of the lock depicting the history of the canal in the town.

At last!  A decent photograph of a kingfisher, the fellow flew along the canal ahead of us and we actually saw it dive into the water to catch fish.  The colours are vibrant, iridescent blue feathers on the back and orange-red underparts, very striking in flight as they skim across the surface of the water.

Then as we were heading out of Burton we found a stunning black swan with a red beak, quite beautiful!

We continued on through Willington and on towards Mercia Marina where we are going to leave the boat for a couple of nights. We moored up at the Visitor Moorings and collected a hire car from Practical for two days so we could drive across to Wisbech to visit our eldest daughter, Lizzie.  She broke her wrist 6 weeks ago and she was due to have the cast off and wanted support from Mum and Dad.  All went well and as an added bonus we also saw our granddaughter, Bea, as well!

Wednesday 29th November – Wisbech
Spent the morning doing some shopping and the afternoon at the hospital with Lizzie.  

Thursday 30th November – Mercia Marina to Stenson Lock
Made an early start and drove the 2 hour journey back to Mercia Marina, paid our overnight mooring fees, filled up with diesel and then set off back along the canal to Stenson Lock. 

The looming towers of the disused Willington Power Station are quite majestic in a strange kind of way!
We moored up above Stenson Lock as it was bitterly cold and windy, we shall tackle the lock tomorrow morning!  It is the first of the wide locks on the Trent and Mersey Canal and is also one of the deepest! 

Friday 1st December – Stenson Lock
Today we planned to move on to Shardlow down the wide locks and Dave was preparing the boat when a boat passed us heading in our direction.  Excellent, we can share the wide lock… but no, there was a boat following on which had stopped at the Marina and would be along in about 20 minutes and they were sharing with them.  This meant another hour before we could use the lock, so we abandoned our plans and decided to stay where we were and decorate the boat for Christmas!

Christmas lights inside, on the roof and a diddy Christmas tree on the dinette! Feeling very Christmassy!

Saturday 2nd December – Stenson to Shardlow

We set off today to tackle the 5 wide locks on the way to Shardlow.  The lock at Stenson is 12’ 4”, very deep and wide, and very kindly a fellow boater helped Dave set the lock.

There is a section of the canal where the road runs parallel and very close.

Love the warning sign for motorists!

Damage to Barrow Bridge, looks a fairly recent repair with a very new crack in it!

We stopped at Swarkstone Lock to empty rubbish and put on water and found this restored crane outside the toll house cottage.  Just above the lock is the junction with the Derby Canal which is now closed, but would have been a busy area when the canals were used for transporting goods.

Swarkestone Hall Pavillion dates back to the 1500’s and has been restored as a holiday cottage for 2 people.

A field of cows with access to the canal for water – just so long as they don’t get stuck in the water!

We arrived in Shardlow and moored up just past the Heritage Centre.  We need to turn round here as Derwent Mouth Lock is closed for winter works at the moment. 
We have now completed the whole of the Trent and Mersey Canal from Preston Brook to Shardlow in nbElla, another canal we can mark off!  Next week we will return the way we have come and head back towards Great Haywood. 

Map Key   Week 1 - Brown   Week 2 -  Purple   Week 3 - Dark Blue   Week 4 - Light Blue
                   Week 5 - Green    Week 6 Olive Green   Week 7 - Yellow  Week 8 - Orange

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