#25 Trent & Mersey Canal – West. May 2016

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Wednesday 4th May 2016      After a rare slow start to a Bart World day Lister finally got us moving effortlessly through the last mile (if even that) of the Coventry Canal’s slippery waters. Bart Meets & greets the famous Fradley Junction,

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manoeuvring to face in a Westerly direction ready to negotiate the two locks that slowly appear in front of us. Slick efficient teamwork see Bart almost fly up both Middle & Shadehouse locks. Bart’s very long & tiring cruise of today is soon at an end. The Crew are very tired so Bart secures the lines & Lister is chilling again. Skippet’s advice aboat this fine mooring on the cut were very sound.

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Thursday 5th May      Bart World is bathed in the most glorious sunshine again. Mr & Mrs Sun are frolicking aroand. The coats remain hung on their most splendid of brass hooks. Skippet is proficient in the magic art that be brass rubbing. Those starboard side portholes are coming up a treat. Moving onto udder tings, Bart’s new stainless steel chimneys (fore & aft we boast) are looking Super. Super Chimneys sum people cry. Sing, even, almost like an enchanted choir. The previously installed heavy gauge stainless steel liners are sum-wot dirty & brow-beaten, mayhaps, so fore chimney is carefully removed & moor gritty paper stuff is brought out of storage to ‘tart’ up the upper ‘zone’. This bit sits proudly above the top of the chimney when all is together, so requires a refresh. Not looking too bad. No need to put oneself vertically through any big(ish) holes for this job folks.

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The aft chimney is to await such treatment. Something to look forward too. Skippet attaches the decorative brass ‘chains’ are buffed up & added to both fore & aft chimney ensemble & crew are agreed. Very Happy with the look. Bart is, as you might possibly k-no-w, a brass loving narrowboat. It’s quite amazing how good those Stainless steel chimneys look. It Works !!!  We like Brass. We also like stainless steel. All Wonderful stuff. The roof garden is next. Gardens in fact. Unfortunately the Tulips has all been beheaded by the aggressive weather of days gone by. Bulbs are carefully, lovingly, tenderly excavated from the soil. This is NOT chocolate soil my friends. It is real soil. A as late lunch is being prepared Skippet is calling Diesel boat ahoy !!   Narrowboat ‘Auriga’ of Gravenor Boating Company pulls alongside and following  muchly eager battering a deal is done, diesel cap opened & 158 litres of diesel fuel is being pumped (Yes, pumped I say) into Bart’s stern tank. Has to be the stern tank you fool, as the fore tank is four the water. Dummy !!  Actually there’s only one not four of them. Anyway, Auriga remains tied to Bart while our neighbours behind also take advantage of the passing trade. First time we have ever used such a Fab service. Absolutely Fantastic. Great idea Skippet. Last time Bart filled up with diesel was mid October on route to base camp for the winter. Quite amazing.

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Bart, Lister, Herbie, Francis, all the others & the crew are sleepy now. Good Night. Sleep Tight Pips.

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Friday 6th May      Morning folks. Up sharpish, (wiffy) washed, dried, dressed. Summery(ish) attire. Lister warmed up. Lines slipped. Narrowboat (nb) Black Bart is gently motoring past moored craft, through the trees of Fradley wood,

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rounding the bend & rising a few feet through Wood end lock

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before making relaxed steady progress through the waters of the Trent & Mersey Canal.

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Bart continues on to/through Armitage (of the Shanks type) negotiating some cosy narrows a couple of times before gliding to a stop just past Spode House for a water top up.

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Very awkward mooring for the water. Tap in worst position possible & crew struggled to reach with the hose. One of the most difficult ever. Don’t really know how we managed it, but we Did. Result !!  Such a great feeling when one struggles & wins. Even if it is just one tiny tittle battle. Yeh !!    Fool.   Difficult job completed successfully, we slip lines & cruise gently towards Rugeley. We didn’t moor in Rugeley during our travels this way last year so decide to moor for the night & take advantage of the facilities available in town & some of the sights to behold. Enjoy…..

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A very talented chap created a sand sculpture of a dog & pup.

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Hope this old canal side building will be saved by whoever buys the property/land.

Saturday 7th May      Rugeley. Well worth a visit. a Pleasant town very well positioned for boaters passing through this area. Today we are moving on towards Great Haywood. A few bits & bobs sorted this morning & we are making headway along the waters of the T&M. A fair number of moored craft as we make out way through the outer reaches of yesterday’s port. A sharp turn as we make our way back out into the countryside proper, which feeds us over the river Trent passing below our ‘current’ aqueduct. Our chosen canal for now is tracking the river(s) & the train tracks are shadowing our waterway. You may already know this is a common situation during swimmings of our inland waterway canal network. Par for the (golf) coarse. There are number of those being passed by (even passed through) on our travels along these manmade wonders that our Bart is propelled by olde’ Lister. After less than four miles we arise Colwich lock. Suddenly !!  There is a very unpleasant bang below & the tiller jolts badly. Revs are dropped to tick-over & we’re in neutral briefly. Summit in the water down there. Hope no-ting bad has happened with Bart’s bits. Back in gear. All sounds & feels OK. Will check down the weed hatch tomorrow if nothing happens from now till we moor for the night. See if the edge of a blade of the propeller has taken a thwack. On we go. Within a mile Haywood chamber lifts Bart yet further.

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Very soon after, Haywood Junction opens out in front of Bart.

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Approach with caution, swinging that sharp left turn through that wonderful stone & brick feature of a/an (up, over & down again) tow path.

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Black Bart has cruised from Fradley Junction to Haywood Junction at the Northern end of the ‘Staffie’, swimming only 12 miles (for now) of the Wet Trent & Mersey Canal ascending 5 narrow locks, swimming over the River Trent in the aptly named Trent aqueduct & passing under 32 bridges. We will find this waterway again in the not too dim & distant future if Bart has the final word, as can indeed happen.

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