Sunday, 15 April 2018

Up to Fradley

We took our time getting going this morning. If we were only going on to Fradley, we didn't want to set off too early, planning to arrive around half ten so as to be reasonably sure of getting a space on the visitor moorings. We wanted to fill the water tank before leaving Alrewas – it's the last water point with decent pressure before Penkridge, not counting Great Haywood where the water is awkwardly just past the junction.

Even Penkridge is not brilliant and is inconveniently situated just above the lock. The tank was half empty, so we reckoned it would take about half an hour to fill. Having eaten breakfast and drunk a leisurely coffee (me)/hot chocolate (Sheila), we moved Sanity Again along to the water point and connected up by 8.45. It was indeed around 9.15 when we set off again, Sheila steering and your correspondent walking ahead to set Bagnall Lock.

It's had a serious makeover during the winter and looks very smart, though the bottom gates are now very heavy to close and still prone to swing open if not held closed, in our case by the steerer applying a short shaft to them, one of the advantages of boating in a 70 footer.

We had a pleasant run to Fradley. The towpath was busy with Sunday morning dog walkers and the like. A boat emerged from Common Lock as we approached – it proved to be Strebor out of Mercia and they kindly left the gates open for us.

Common Lock badly needs the treatment Bagnall has had. The top gate in particular has water gushing through it. I'd thought that CRT were going to board it this winter, but obviously not. With luck it might survive the summer without giving way altogether.

Hunts Lock was against us and Keepers was emptying, so I warned Sheila by radio and opened the top gates of Hunts for what proved to be the ex-OwnerShips boat Solace. After crossing with them, we were seen up Keepers by a volocky and found plenty of room to tie above, just after 10.30.

We've been relaxing since, mostly, though some tasks have been completed. Rubbish and recycling has been disposed of, some IT stuff got done and we've had a walk round the Nature Reserve, which is a pleasant place but is really too small and too visited to attract a wide range of wildlife. In fact, it's all the usual suspects, mallard, mute swan, a couple of pairs of tufties and some gulls. We did once see a terrapin in there, but that's hardly a native species...

It's also a fishing lake which always seems to me to be an odd thing in a reserve.

We'd had some thoughts about the delicious ice cream sold in the Canalside Cafe, but it was really too chilly for such an indulgence. The forecast is much better for tomorrow so, heigh ho, we'll just have to hang on here another day.

It's a hard life on the cut.

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