Armitage to Swarkestone
31st July 2011
Another hot summers day leaving us searching for the sun cream and hats.
Laplander - steam powered ice breaker
The Trent and Mersey was busy, with a steady stream of craft heading north including two bloggers : Bobcat and Lola which we passed before we reached Shade House Lock. Fradley was its usual bustling self, but strangely devoid of boats. Maybe they were all aware of the IWA mayhem in Burton on Trent and giving the area a wide berth. We made rapid progress down the locks, losing Belle to her foraging which resulted in Jeff huffing and puffing his way back up the hill to persuade her back to the boat, and just after she had found the worlds greatest Blackberry bush, or so we are led to believe.
Boat jam at Alrewas river section
By the time we reached the end of the Alrewas river section the IWA festival was making itself felt. A clutch of refugees all had the same idea to make an early exit, and 13 boats had backed up below the lock which was being managed by a slightly intimidating lady. It was one of those situations where its easiest just to comply!
At Barton Turns Lock we passed Laplander, a unique 90 year old steam powered ice breaker. Managing this short craft was certainly a two man job with a young guy steering whilst plugged into the obligatory i-pod and the stoker who popped in and out of his hole like a sooty vision from Hades. Because its a round bottomed ice breaker, the boat lurches like crazy - I bet they get that odd swaying sensation when they get off the water.
The festival site was complete mayhem - but it justifies its own post which I will run in a couple of days.
We followed nb Kinver out of Burton, passing them as they stopped in Willington. The skipper gave me a knowing smile and said, somewhat shyly "aye aye Captain". My notoriety spreads.
We progressed through Stenson Lock finally mooring up just before Swarkestone with only the low rumble of the occasional goods train for company.
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