Saturday 28th March
We set off around 9.30, hoping to get to Shugborough and finish some jobs during the forecast rainy spell. The wind assisted us off our mooring but we were soon in the shelter of the hills, and though we had miscalculated on the rain at least we weren't bothered by the wind for most of the trip. I wonder if the hills are part of the Shugborough estate – this lonely urn sits in its field apparently randomly. We heard frequent gunshots from the woods, and a dog walker told us there is a shooting range up there and each pop costs the punter £1. I can think of better ways to waste money.
At Colwich Lock we had a bit of a wait behind another boat ‘running for shelter at Great Haywood’. As I turned the lock the farmer brought his cattle over the bridge. I love the soft sound of their feet as they walk. They didn’t oblige me by looking at the camera though.
These are being reared for beef. Did you know that the little Jersey cow is known for easy calving so can give birth to a large beef breed cross without trouble? I didn’t. He said that they have crossed them with Limousin or Charolais for a good beef animal and then milk the Jerseys. I’m not sure what these ones are though.
As we approached the moorings at Shugborough where the hills are further away we were again exposed to the strong winds and had a deal of trouble getting the boat secured. Even during lulls in the wind we couldn’t get the ropes tight enough to stop us moving when a boat passed and ended up going out again a couple of times to adjust them. We could of course have gone up to the more sheltered wooded area below Haywood Lock but we didn’t want to risk there being no room. Anyway we prefer this open section and soon got cracking with some jobs. Dave cleaned out the shower pump which yet again had clumps of dog hair in it. Meg won’t go in the bathroom so it must float in on the
The pump is in the bottom of my wardrobe so all my shoes (mostly trainers, nothing fancy) must come out along with everything on the bottom shelf. Then I have to tie one of the doors open as otherwise the slight tilt on the boat causes it to keep closing. After that Dave checked the radiator leak he had repaired earlier and replaced the woodwork.
Unfortunately the leak has stained the carpet slightly, so we’ll have a go at removing that next time. Meanwhile, I was playing with our latest acquisition, an excellent cordless Dyson Animal, as recommended by friends who sadly had to sell their boat last year – thanks Jo!
It is much more efficient than our old cleaner and ten times easier to use, so cleaning was quick and easy. So quick and easy that it might actually get done more often! Perhaps that will solve the dog hair in the shower pump problem too … The rain had stopped so we took Meg over Essex Bridge for a walk along the other side of the river. She couldn’t quite see over the parapet and ran into all the passing places to see where they went. Eventually she looked over to the river.
In her mouth is a piece of tennis ball. She has a knack of finding other dogs’ lost balls and we have a huge collection at home. The path goes through the woods, which are fenced because they contain yew trees, which are poisonous to stock. They have some striking patterns in the trunks.
It was still blustery out by the river. We could see Chuffed across the way.
As we came back through the wood we saw this glowing in the gloom; the bark is very thick and soft so it may be a giant redwood (aka Wellingtonia or sequoia). Many were planted in the second half of the 19th century after William Lobb brought the seed back from California.
After lunch we set off for Salt, the wind making leaving the mooring easy. The bottom gates of Haywood lock were remarkably heavy for such a shallow lock. The canalside shop at Haywood Junction has been greatly changed since we were last this way – 2012 - when we bought Chuffed from the marina.
This is where we first saw her – out on the hard standing having her bottom blacked before sale.
In the exposed sections of canal we were still battling with the wind, though the rain largely held off. Weston Lock has a handy lowered section for operating the towpath side bottom gate.
Weston church was caught by a brief gleam of sun. Shame I can’t seem to hold the camera level. I blame the wind.
We slid gently in to moor at Salt bridge, one of our favourite spots, where the canal is in a shallow cutting and was delightfully protected from the wind. I took Meg off for a quick run, meeting a couple of first-time hirers on their way to the Hollybush. We walked up there at 7, not expecting to be able to get a table, and met them on their way back. They had thoroughly enjoyed their meal, but even though they arrived well before 6 had had to wait for an hour to be served. We enjoyed our pints and resolved to go much earlier next time we are here! and went back to the boat to eat.
7 and a half miles 4 locks