Meaford to Tixall
14th September 2011
12 miles - 12 locks - 7 hours
Last night's 30 minutes indulgence in sledgehammer engineering paid dividends. Not only is the hatch fixed - its better than before. One of the wheels was bent and jamming and the other three axles were rusted. With the bent one straightened and some engine oil dripped into the bearings it is running as smoothly as silk. Every cloud has its silver lining.
Canal loving Stone
With no pressure to move far today we mooched around, not starting till 11.30am, which is an unheard of hour for us. There were lots of boats moving up and down the locks which made for an easy and sociable descent into Stone, reaching the centre at 2.00pm.
Star Inn - Stone
Just above Star Lock we saw Shropshire Lass 2 moored up at the boatyard making ready for a pump out so, with our tank nearing capacity, we slipped in alongside and were relieved of £15 and a full load.
Crew of Shropshire Lass 2
Ashton Lock presented another rich Damson harvest, a middle sized tree with its upper branches laden with dark red fruit of which we collected 3kg in a matter of minutes. Sloes proved a little more elusive but eventually our persistence paid off and some excellent bushes were found on the offside of the canal. We moored the boat to the boat pole sunk in the mud and gathered a huge bowlful - lots of sloe gin for the winter.
The afternoon cooled and cooled and soon boaters started to sport coats, hats and even gloves. Then the boats started to sprout plumes of smoke from their chimneys, the first of the season and proof that autumn is really upon us. But its not all bad, the chill provided several hours of excellent solitary boating before we turned west at Haywood Junction and onto the Staffs and Worcester for another night moored up in the winding section just below Tixall Lock.