Sunday, 20 July 2008

Mon 21st - Armitage to Stone

The annrow stretch of 'Armitage Tunnel' - was a tunnel, now a glorified road bridge.

I woke up early, so left early, shortly after seven, so passed through & beyond Rugeley to the accompaniment of the Today programme and a John Shuttleworth show found on BBC7.

Swans that know their place (you might need to click for the big pic for this to make sense):

At Great Heywood I forsook the turning to Wolverhampton and a shorter trip home... For the rest of the day there were occasional locks, but when I got to Stone itself there were four deep locks, all requiring driving the boat in and climbing up the ladder - more of a trial due to mud on clothes than anything else. I avoid this in double locks as the boat tends to wander off from under you, so it at least feels safer in single locks. I couldn't pull the baot in after hopping off on the way in due to bridge across the mouth, and one one instance there wasn't anyhwere to get off. The other boaters were the usual mixture of very helpful people and people who didn't know what they're doing... the former included two women on the boat behind who kept on catching up with me, and would finish off the lock for me (then working another boat down or emptying it s they could use it), which was lovely of them.

I've moored at the top of the locks, in what hopefully are two week moorings, as that's what I'll need... heading back to London tomorrow to finish off a PA system, amongst other things. It's going to be a shock, after more than a week continously on the canal, and two weeks travelling in total. August should see at least three weeks on the water, if not more.

Stone's an interesting place, with a fiendish one way system and a station that trains don't stop at (frustratingly). They take their football (Stoke City, of course), seriously around here, though, even in the violin makers:

Once back, I'll head up to Stoke on Trent and branch off up the Caldon canal to Froghall, then back down, and on up to Harecastle tunnel (followed by a shedload of locks, according to the guide) and Middlewich, where I start heading south again on a section of the Shropshire Union. Then of course the Llangollen there & back, back on to the Shropshire, then Wolverhampton & Birmingham. After that back to Braunston, where I can choose to do the South Oxford & thames again - the upper Thames is tempting too, but I do need to see how time goes - I will be almost certainly be back at work by then, and whilst I'm happy to canal sections on long weekends, I'd rather do the Thames in one stint (cost of extra licence, and overnight mooring being significant). We'll see...

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