Those clever clots out there who know things will probably point out our ‘featured image’ (above) for this here canal is Not of this ‘ere canal. Correct I say !! Well done. It is of Sawley locks, on the Upper Trent, prior to our joining the Trent & Mersey Canal. But, so wot. We like it. Have fun readers….
Wednesday 3rd June 2015 Today we said goodbye to a most Wonderful Waterway. The River Trent. We eventually leave, after passing along Cranfleet Cut, ‘straight through’ the junction with Erewash Canal and River Soar to rejoin the last few miles of the navigable Upper Trent, via Sawley Cut, and finally passing the River Derwent ‘Mouth’ where the waters connect with our new travel companion.
The Waterway known at The Trent & Mersey Canal. Seems very narrow (compared to all those rivers, especially the Trent). More what old Black Bart is use to, but a Fantastic experience has been had by all the crew(s) and their lovely likkle naarrowboat. We ascend the canal’s most Easterly wide lock and progress (through the open flood gate) into the delightful canal side village of Shardlow. A most pleasant scene of ye olde English dwellings & a few delights of the canal’s industrial heritage, of which Shardlow, fortunately still holds onto. People should stop & think how lucky we all are. How all this started, lived, slowly died away to be forgotten, but for a few wonderful people who over past years & decades have strived to restore & revive our fantastic inland canals, rivers, navigations, for soo many of us out there & here, to now enjoy.
Thursday 4th June We enjoy a lazy day while moored in the lovely village of Shardlow. Pleasant towpath walk with our Roxy and relaxing on board during the hot afternoon.
Friday 5th June This morning, we face the difficult task of deciding when to commence our daunting cruise of today. We face many torturous miles of fast flowing waterway and many, many locks as we aim to progress far enough to be in a position to moor near Swarkestone tonight. Five (yes, an unbelievably long five) miles later we finally moor, having successfully ascended our last (Swarkestone) lock of the day.
It has been quite interesting cruising today. Sticky is one word that jumps to mind. Yes, it was sunny and warm, with only a light breeze, But is was Not that Hot. Sticky is what happens when the canal is too shallow and poor old Bart is struggling to move. One particular section between locks was very awkward to say the least, with numerous sticky periods. Stern line also deployed & tied to ‘passing’ hire narrowboat to help unstick them. We all got there/here in the end. Sumwot tiring ‘cruise’ today with all them shenanigans things, going-on. Not sure wot to make of ‘that’ sky. Looks like ta k-nackered crew are probably hallucinating again. What was in those drinks that sumwun from the galley plied us with ?? We may never k-now, until next time, maybe. Mad !! Ya-no !!
Chauffeur drove ‘down’ from Smalley to pick us up for barbeque (I no it’s probablie rong, but I lyk it) at Paul & Sharron’s house, after brief delay at Fantastic local PH. Cask ales & ciders, in plentiful quantity (options to choose from you silly ‘jump to conclusion people’). Splendid meat feast was had by all. Dealish !! Glasses were raised Chink ! Chink !! Chink !!! to Sharron’s recently completed ‘Sea Shed’ (I don’t understand either. Nowhere near the canal, let alone a river. The sea was even further away. Not to be seen or heard across those distant rolling hills & valleys). These country folk can be a little strange !!
Sunday 7th June Yes. We’re still here. Chauffeur let us down last night. Had to sleep in the garden. Couldn’t even get into that ‘lovely’ shed building. Security is far too stringent round ‘ere. Many hours later, full cooked breakfast was gratefully received & munched. We hadn’t eaten for ages. Very Tasty.
Roxy & Bella enjoyed playing ‘Retrieve the floating ball’ game. Roxy was particularly good at Barking her orders to either Bella or That ‘Skip’ bloke to get the ball for her. She wasn’t going to risk getting wet. Until she then accidentally ‘slipped’ into the water. Not sure how that happened.
Chauffeur finally turned up this afternoon. Impressive. Probably making up for lost ground from last night. Took us to Audi to buy a new car. No sorry. Try again. To get some Bart supplies. We even manage to beg a lift back home, to Black Bart.
Bella managed to sneak a ride to Bart to get some rest & relaxation on the ‘bed of pause’.
& some very strange feet seem to have appeared on board during our extended trip away to enjoy the delights of Smalley Towers. Unfortunately (some may say),
Skip get’s a little wet. After we successfully roll that Fabulous cratch cover (look it up if you don’t understand) fully back/up to allow unhindered appreciation of that gorgeous Mr./Mrs. Sun – a slip occurs. ! ! ! SPLASH ! ! ! (is the nearest description we could think of, to try and explain that sound). OH !! Dear !!! Soggy skip has to get in the shower again for a rinse & spin dry. Photographic evidence to not available at this current time. Nobody laughs or sniggers !!! !!! !!! (That’s not true).
Monday 8th June We will be on our way again today. Slipping Bart’s lines for pastures green. Actually, it’s green everywhere we seem to find on our travels. Marvellous. We hope water levels are a little more generous & consistent between all locks today.
Yes, indeed. Better it were today. The Canal was sufficiently wet for our Bart. Only the one, (deep) Stensen lock was ascended today. Made even easier by the wonderful lock keepers on hand.
After a pause for lunch at Willington moorings & acquisition of a lovely Campanula Star of Bethlehem to add colour to one of Bart’s likkle roof gardens, we slip the lines for another hour’s cruise to Clay Mills, short of the well known Brewery town that be Burton-on-Trent. A lovely lone mooring position with room for Roxy to play games on the wide towpath. Dried cut grass, warm & inviting for our pooch to lay on & relax in the sun.
Tuesday 9th June Diesel leak (or is it leek, who knows) from engine mounted (empty) fuel filter casing fuel pipe fittings hopefully sorted. Time will tell. Wood blocks & the big metal thumper thingy (Not an excited Roxy’s tail, that’s a thwacker) are found. Port side centre rope cleat is bent up, deformed from unfortunate overload in recent lock incident. After gentle persuasion has been applied the brass cleat is slightly nearer it’s original shape.
After the likkle jobs are ‘completed’ we decide to move off, making our way West(ish), ascending the narrow Dallow lock. The previous, Stenson lock was the last wide lock on our waterway, at least, for now.
After our first narrow lock since Foxton staircases, the canal makes it’s way through the North outskirts of Burton-on-Trent, transporting Bart to Shobnall marina for a diesel refill & a few bits & bobs from the chandlery.
Sharp left, tight manoeuvre under/through Shobnall bridge No. 1. Entrance to the marina. Short while later, all ready, we reverse back out, repositioning Bart ready to continue, although only a few hundred feet for the mo’. We is staying here for now. Then all the Brasso & associated kit comes out. Enjoy !!
Shobnall marina is all that remains of the Bond End Canal, a short branch canal from the River Trent, to the then 31 breweries town of Burton-on-Trent. The River was at that time still a navigation allowing working boats to travel this far upstream. There was a drawbridge (yes you read correctly) used to carry a railway line across the Bond End Canal. In 1846 a southbound train unfortunately plunged into the canal when the drawbridge was open/up to allow for passage of a boat. Lessons were learnt the hard way here.
Wednesday 10th June We awake & ‘jump to’. No we don’t. Te-He !!! Silly to believe that. ‘wonwol’. That’s what it is all about. We stay here in Burton-on-Trent for the day, just ’round the corner’ from Shobnall’s bridge No. 1. Off into town, just for a few provisions.
Thursday 11th June !!! Happy Birthday Dad !!! (Dave, as known to some)
We are moving on today, making our way towards the Lovely village of Alrewas. We like Alrewas. Been there before, by narrowboat (pre-Bart & with-Bart). Well worth a visit if you are ever near or lucky enough to be passing through on the T&M canal. Blue sky, Hot Sun, a few wispy white clouds. Fantastic all day. A Wonderful cruise through our Beautiful countryside.
Friday 12th June Static today. Weather holding up for the mo, but wind starting to build & heavy rain is on it’s way later. As you all problably know. Nasty rusty bity(s) ony Barty’s roofy. There be. Corrosion. Bad stuff. She is fifteen you know. Not been looking good round the rear bullseye for a fair old while. Surrounding paintwork & metal below looks most unpleasant. That’s a technical term. following several phases of heavy physical preparation works, first coat of aquasteel is applied. This British product should halt that nasty rusty stuffy. Looking much better already. Needs to set/cure. Second coat of aquasteel will follow soon-ish. When Mr/Mrs Sun is out playing again. Which won’t be later, or tomorrow.
Roxy has been enjoying her ‘meet & greet’ duties, with boaters, walkers & other doggies. Walked into the delightful Alrewas (Ol-Ree-Wuss), visiting the fabulous butchers’ & one of the locals. George & Dragon. Fine ale & cider very reasonably priced. Fab. Roxy plays with the very butch Bruno. A ‘huge’ King Charles Spaniel. Walked to Alrewas fryer in ta evening. Just started raining during walk back to Bart with grub. Most Splendid !! Absolutely ‘Top-Notch’ Cod & Chips.
Saturday 13th June !!! Happy Birthay Edward !!! 1985 Wow !!! Fantastic
As expected, we is sitting ‘ere getting quite soggy. Well Bart is. Crew are warm & dry inside our wonderful narrowboat. She is not a boat. She is a Bart. We may be very slightly mad. Probably are/am, but we Love it.
Sunday 14th June Up really early this morning. Almost with the lark, as they say. Richard of Tabitha Twitchit pops over for a Bart tour. They be quite popular things such events. Our fellow live-aboarder is well impressed. We advance to the water point, refill & then we are ready for our long cruise of the day. Slow progress with narrow locks and a few boats heading our way is the name of the game. We is in the queue. Boats ahead really struggling for depth at lock waiting moorings, so we keep Bart centre channel, where possible.
Many locks, Fradley junction, then more locks, and we progress along flat ground works (no ‘ills mate) (no more locks) (four candles) (fork handles), passing Bart’s old haunt Kings Bromley.
We continue along the T&M via Armitage (Shanks), towards our overnight mooring near Spode House & Hawkesyard Priory. You may be aware of historical links the Shanks porcelain artwork have to a certain ‘Mr. Thomas Crapper’ (this one may not require explanation) & ‘Mr. Edward Johns’ (he of ‘going to the John’ fame). One wonders what that aroma floating along on the breeze may be. Mildly pungent I must say, sir !!
Skip notices a strange lady with a likkle doggy, up on very tall bridge, high above the canal. What is she doing all the way up there, with that poor defenceless poochy ?? Hope they are not in any danger !!!
Monday 15th June Narrowboat Black Bart escapes her mooring pins for our last day’s cruise (for now anyway) on recent waterway companion the Trent & Mersey Canal. We is not proceeding to Preston Brook, the North-West reaches of said canal. Only a third (approx.) of her length is experienced on this particular jaunt. The Rest will have to wait for a wee-wee while longer.
We Cruise through Rugeley eventually, ascending (our last T&M) Colwich lock before reaching Great Haywood where we is hanging a Sharp left ‘down’ the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, making our way towards the river Severn & Tewkesbury, hopefully. Bridge No. 109 spanning The start of the S&W Canal at thy Junction with T&M is AB-FAb-ly Splendid.
Black Bart has cruised just 34 miles of the cross-country Trent & Mersey Canal travelling thru the Inland Port of Shardlow’s flood gates + 6 Wide & 15 Narrow locks including waving a passing Hello/Goodbye to the Northern tip/drip of the Coventry Canal at Fradley Junction.