Sunday, 23 May 2010

Stone to Acton Trussell

Stone to Acton Trussell
Friday 16th April 2010
Trent and Mersey & Staffs and Worcester

17 miles - 7 locks - 6 hours

I'm no more keen on the end of canal trips than I am of last days of any other holiday. The best has been and gone, little novelty remains and I am keen to get home.

Strange bird at Aston Lock - what is it?

This was the last full day of the 2010 Easter trip and the section down the Upper Trent valley from Stone to Great Haywood always seems a bit tedious. The valley is shallow and open, with only the passing trains to break the monotony. One interesting development is the opening of the big new marina just below Aston Lock, another huge boat park nearing completion. We have seen a number of these new marina's over the last two weeks, most of which must have been started before the current recession. I find the economics of these Marina's a bit of a mystery. By my rough calculation there must have been nearly 3000 new berths introduced over the last five years - or put another way a 10% increase in supply. A few years ago when we bought WB you couldn't find a mooring for love nor money, and the adverts sections of the waterways press were empty. Now there are huge adverts promoting spaces all over the country, big exponsive holes in the ground chasing a very finite number of boats, which are not expanding at anything like the rate they once were.

 New marina at Aston Lock

The good news it that if there are too few boats to fill all those costly berths (£6,000 each on average) at least that means that boaters are in the driving seat for once, and that mooring fees are unlikely to rise much in the forseeable future.

New development south of Stone

We had planned a stop at Anglo Welsh in Great Haywood for a re-fuel but all their boats were in and there was no way we could approach the pumps. Never mind, there is always Viking Afloat at Gailey.

Tixall Wide

We paused at Tixall Wide for lunch, mooring just behind nb Lady Godiva which was the subject of a particularly good "Me and my Boat" article in the May edition of Canal Boat. We said our hello's learned off their plans to do the northern canal this summer and bade them farewell. Our passage past the tumbledown cottage at Deptmore Lock brought a surprise - the old lady seems to be back, but how she could live there is a mystery. There are no stairs and the insides seems to have been gutted - maybe she was just on a visit. Whatever her circumstances, the place is sad and in need of lots of TLC.

 Lock Cottage at Deptmore

The pull up the Staffs and Worcester was under clear blue skies, unusually not criss crossed with the usual exhaust marks of jets on account of the continuing eruptions of the volcano on Iceland. We eventually moored just short of Acton Trussell with the lights of Stafford behind us and the orange glow of the West Midlands conurbation growing brighter in front. We must be nearly home.

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