Saturday, 27 November 2010

Winter Cruise - Day Eight

I looked out the window when I got up to go to the loo at 5am, to find it snowing, and the canal both frozen and covered in white.  By the time we got up properly, there was a good covering of snow everywhere.

We set off at 8.20am, and took quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to get away from the mooring.  I swung the bridge, and Adrian made the left turn onto the Trent and Mersey -- not easy with the ice.  The noise going through the ice is incredible.

 People were just emerging from their boats, and the snow seemed to have made everyone cheerful.  The first two locks were for us (a first on this trip).

Above Shade House Lock was a magical scene of snowy trees and a frozen canal.

At Kings Bromley, we passed a small basin filled with former OwnerShips boats.  The other side of the bridge, at the Wharf, I'd been looking out for Chertsey.  Sarah was on board, and said they were busy trying to get the engine started.  I didn't dare stop for a longer chat, as getting going again through the ice is difficult.

We were breaking ice for the best part of three hours.  I'd been worried that the narrows at Armitage might have been well frozen, but in fact they were clear.  The whole way, the ice was very variable: at some points, the canal was clear; a few yards away, the ice could be nearly half an inch thick.  We finally met another boat coming the other way by the Ash Tree boat club.  They said they'd come from Great Haywood, so we knew things would be a lot easier for the rest of the day.

We stopped at Rugeley and went to the nearby Morrisons for shopping.  It was packed; the whole of the town appeared to have seen the snow and thought it necessary to stock up.  Then we had lunch, and set off again at 1.30pm.  Boats arrived at Rugeley while we were there, and we passed several more during the afternoon.  In fact, I think we've seen more moving boats today than any other day so far -- not difficult as some days we haven't seen any.

There was excitement at Colwich Lock.  I went to set the lock, and a group of walkers arrived at the lock.  A cow in the neighbouring field jumped over the stile onto the bridge, apparently wanting to say hello to all the people.  One of the walkers went to make sure it didn't get through the gate onto the towpath, and the cow headed back -- but rather than recrossing the stile, it went over the corner of the bridge parapet into a bit of scrub land, then into the canal.  Adrian wondered if the cow was going to land on the bow.  A couple of minutes later, the cow swam across the canal, got out, and was last seen heading off down the towpath followed by the farmer.

There was much more snow at Colwich Lock and northwards than we'd had at Fradley.  At Great Haywood, we should really have stopped below the lock where there were plenty of excellent moorings.  But we decided to carry on through the lock, onto to find no space at all.  It meant we had no choice but to turn onto the Staffs and Worcs, and head for Tixall Wide.

We've never seen the wide so deserted -- there appears to be just one other boat hear (apart for a sunken one).  Getting in to the side was quite tricky: we had to crash through the ice to get to the bank.  Whether we'll get out again in the morning remains to be seen.  It was 4pm by the time we moored up.

13 miles, 5 locks.  (73 miles, 69 locks)


Captain Ahab said...

I like the snowy one too!
Had my hands down the weed hatch today, pushing the propshaft in to reconnect the Centreflex coupling -freezing.
An interesting trip - good progress given the conditions.

Captain Ahab said...

Frustratingly, I have to make an unexpected trip to east anglia tomorrow and wont be back till the middle of next week - by which time you will out of reach. One of these days we will finally get together.


Anonymous said...

The sound of ice breaking under the hull is amazing - it's such a novelty (at first!).

Hope the dry clear days continue for you - the photos look fab.

Sue, Indigo Dream