We left our Fradley mooring at around 10:30, and turned left at the junction. We were now in waters previously unexplored. There were two locks to ascend, with a vollie at each. The first was having issues with clouds of midges and his hi-vis jacket. They must have thought he was a flower! He quickly ripped off the yellow garment, dropped it, and ran away from it.The next vollie had the midges, too, but wasn't doing the flower impersonation. He thought they just liked the way he smelt. He recommended that we take some time to go up the Caldon Canal on our way to Liverpool. Really beautiful, he said. Unfortunately, we probably won't have the time, since we have a day and time to keep at Liverpool Docks, but it sounds as though we ought to cruise it some time.
It was from this vollie that I learned the story of The Swan pub at Fradley. Back in 2011, the powers that be (whoever they were) told the proprietor to clean the place up. The vollie spoke of the place smelling of stale, sour beer all the time, and the food being dreadful. I read on the web customers reporting extreme rudeness from the staff - and the smell, and the lousy food. Well, it seems they never did get their act together. The pub closed, but was under new management from last December. The vollie says the new people are making a go of it, and things have improved. I hope so. Fradley and its visitors need a really good pub.
On up the Trent and Mersey now. One more lock, Wood End, and off into gorgeous countryside again.
The canal was busy, not with boats, but with swans, ducks, coots, moorhens and geese, all with their young. It was a lovely sight.
Now, Grace and I have been on Kantara for nearly five years. Before that, we'd done numerous holiday weeks on the canals. And never in any of that time did we see so many women at the tiller of their boats. It's a new phenomenon to us, new since we started out last week. And I'm not talking just one or two women a day, it's several. Very strange. But very welcome!
When we needed lunch, we didn't really get the choice of beautiful spots, but Armitage village served the purpose.
Armitage Tunnel is odd. The original roof of the 150 year-old, 130-yard long tunnel was removed in 1971 because of the dangers of subsidence due to coal mining. It now has road bridges over much of its length. The cut is only wide enough for one narrowboat, so boaters are warned that a member of crew needs to go down to the far end of the tunnel, to make sure no-one tries to enter while their boat is coming through.
Approaching Rugeley, the scene became more and more urban.
|Bishton Hall - now a school|
|Does anyone know who this is?|
We finished the day in Rugeley, just before bridge 56, and very close to a large and useful Tesco store. Time for more shopping!
|Crazy garden shed!|
This is where we spent the night.