Tixall to Hem Heath
9th September 2011
16 miles - 13 locks - 8 hours
By the time we set off Tixall was strangely under populated, with a mere half dozen boats moored along its length.
Belle wasn't feeling too well today so I settled into solo boating mode, a state of affairs I am getting quite used to. Whilst I miss her manning the tiller at locks it has forced me to perfect my technique - it's not fast but it is sure.
Great Haywood Marina seems to have come of age recently - most of the berths are taken and there is a real buzz about it. Boats coming and going and a clutch lie stranded on the quayside having their bottoms blacked. Just beyond Hoo Mill Lock we found a Cherry Plum tree with much of its crop clinging tenuously to its branches, plenty of fruit for a plum pie - and plenty on the ground which clung to our shoes like a form of high tac dog poo - all the colour, all the texture but thankfully, none of the smell!
Joules Brewery - Stone
The section up to Stone isnt the most interesting bit of canal, the rail to the east and the river to the west with precious else to break the view. But today the sun was out, the air was warm and we were making good progress to Etruria and the start of the Caldon Canal.
We stopped at Stone's visitor moorings to do some shopping in the town centre - some food and a new light bulb for over the bed. Stone is a vibrant and bustling little town with its pavement cafe's, book shops and the full spectrum of stores. All in all pleasant place to spend an afternoon.
We set off again passing through the eight locks of Stone followed by nb Bear Necessities out of Lapworth. The mild weather got hotter and hotter as we progressed, tee shirts sticking to backs with the cooling breeze dying away. At the second lock of the Bosely flight we found a damson tree - again loaded down with fruit. Several kilo's were collected by Belle with yours truly hauling the higher branches down with the boat hook.
There were lots of boats at Burslem but the pub wasn't very attractive so we carried on to Hem Heath and the dubious delights of the Toby Carvery. We are no great fans of carveries, they may be good value but the food always seems overcooked and bland - but beggars can't be choosers.