Great Haywood to Rugeley : 7 miles, 2 locks
To date : 149 miles, 110 locks, 20 lift bridges, 7 tunnels, 6 aqueducts
We woke to another very windy day. The canal was choppy from the first moment we looked out.
Today the plan was to get a load of washing done and dried. We decided we'd turn down the Staffs & Worcester to check out Tixall Wide. We'd turn there and come back by which time the wash cycle should be finished. This went according to plan and Tixall Wide was interesting to see. It's strange turning the boat in such a huge expanse of water. The wind helped the situation and we almost turned on the spot.
On the stretch of canal between the junction and Tixall there was a sunken boat. It had obviously been there a long time by the algae growth at the waterline. It's a shame they leave such an eyesore sitting there like that.
The water point and diesel at the AngloWelsh hire base are right by the bridge at the junction. We figured it would be easy just to turn left out of the junction, moor up and fill up, then reverse slightly back under the bridge to turn facing the other way and head off. The first part of the plan went well... as we turned out of from under the bridge the wind just shoved the boat against the canal edge. Ok, so it wasn't a very controlled approach but we were in the right place.
We were very happy with the price we got on our 178 litres of diesel. In fact, we received a 2p per litre discount because it was a large quantity. Meanwhile a boat pulled in behind us. Hmmm.. this would cause a bit of a problem with part B of the plan. The wind was pushing the boat against the bank so trying to get away from the bank while between 2 other boats and then reverse back past one to get our stern under the bridge? Not likely. The owner of the boat was helpful when he heard our dilemma. He suggested we put fenders down and just scrape along the side of his boat to get back to the bridge. As it turned out we were able to keep off his boat to get past but once we were past and without his protection the wind contradicted our plan. Engine and bow thruster together barely made a difference and not only our neighbouring boat, but boaters from one that had pulled over to give us space for our manoeuvre came to try and help. One fellow stood with his boat pole to try and push us off but a burst of engine power eventually did the job and we were thankfully turning to point the right way. Gee I hate strong winds like that.
On our way again we saw a lady walking on the towpath waving at us. It was Lynn from nb Stanley - our Aston Marina neighbour across the marina entrance. They were on their way back towards Stone. Lynn said they'd walked along the canal last night looking for us but alas they hadn't crossed the bridge at the farm shop and we were moored immediately beyond. What a shame. It was nice to have the opportunity to say farewell and a passing last photo of nb Stanley.
Two boats at the locks we went through had warned of extreme winds "by the pig farm". They weren't wrong. The area is very flat and the wind was howling across the water. One of the boats at the locks had told us they'd taken 45 minutes to actually get their boat away from the bank. As we passed the area we saw another boat with the same problem. We couldn't stop to help or we'd have joined them in their battle. I've never seen wind like it before.
We wanted to stop at Walsley because the canal guide said there was a garden centre and an antique barn. We couldn't miss that. We were very glad we stopped. The antique barn had some great things... only a shame we can't buy anything... and we had a play with a very friendly little spaniel who brought us his toy. Then we checked out the garden centre and decided to buy another planter to put herbs in. I miss my garden back home!
There were some lovely buildings along the way. It was also nice to see the swans are starting to build nests. It was a relief to reach Rugeley. We moored up and got in out of the wind. I still have a cold and I'm sure being out in that weather can't help. We'll stay in Rugeley a couple of nights as I have work to do. It's a good place to moor for access to shops.
We lost a fender today. The wooden fender hook broke under the pressure of the wind grinding the boat along the canal bank.
1. A swan showing off
2. Sunken boat
3.- 5. Interesting buildings
6. Tixall Wide - with the canal heading off at top right
7. Bye nb Stanley!
8. Canalside cottages
9. - 11. The antique barn and friendly spaniel
12. A daring pheasant dodging cars
13. One more worth photographing
In the drink to date : Elly - phone charger (retrieved - it floated!), Mick - sunglasses, Mick - hearth brush, Mick - mooring hook (retrieved with sea searcher), Mick - reading glasses, Mick - drill bit (retrieved with sea searcher), Mick - ash bucket, Mick - dishbrush, Mick - colander (retrieved - it floated), Mick - reading glasses (another pair)