Queues, Leaks and a Sun Dog

After our night at Wolseley Bridge, and we did enjoy our meal at the Wolesley Arms, we travelled south to wind near Bridge 68 which is just north of Rugeley. There had been a number of crews going north before we cast off, and some passed us as we travelled south, so it was not surprising that there was a queue at Colwich Lock.  We have passed through Colwich on many occasions and many times we have met queues. This time the queue was long. Some anglers south of the lock got fed up with the boats waiting in their water and left with all their considerable equipment.

David & Rosemary waiting at Colwich Lock

A small girl holding a large boat
Picturesque barns by Colwich Lock

As often happens there was no obvious cause for the delay except for the volume of traffic. It was an opportunity to meet fellow boaters, most were patient, others were not, some displayed their skills at boat handling and others unfortunately did not. At least the weather was kind - it didn't rain.

NB Ling moored near Shugborough
Immaculate paintwork on NB Ling

We eventually got to Great Haywood about midday and Ginette took on water. We met some boats branching off down the Staffs and Worcestershire and the queue at Hoo Mill was short, but more boats appeared in the queue at Western lock because they had moored up for lunch and had just set off. 

We reached Sandon and found another queue, but this time the boats in the lock (two short boats sharing) appeared to be a taking a long time. The queue of boats going north was growing. From our perspective the lock appeared to be emptying whilst filling - as if a paddle was open. Unfortunately the paddles were down. A lot of water was gushing under the gates and also through the mitre between the gates. 

Gates leaking badly at Sandon Lock

The leak was so bad it was not possible to fill the lock. A growing cluster of boaters offered their opinions about the cause and possible solutions. This was the lock where we were held up on our way south after CRT had been carrying out repairs.The best we could do was to get the water within three bricks of the top before the outflow equalled the inflow. Opening and closing the gates and trying adjust how they sat did nothing to improve the situation. One boater called up CRT who indicated that it would take some time to get to the site and that they would probably have to use stop planks! This spurred the steeerer of one of the short boats to investigate the cill using a pole. Eventually he felt a loose brick sitting on top of the cill. He managed to dislodge it and that made the gates sit better when closed reducing the leak through the mitre to a trickle. It didn't change the leak under the gates but it did allow the lock to be filled.

Gates still leaking but no leak through the mitre

Both Ginette and Albert carried on northwards. The pound between Aston and Sandon Locks was definitely down because of the cill leak but at least the lock was operational. It will be interesting to see what CRT do about the leak in the next few days(?).

At Aston Lock Albert turned into the marina and Ginette, having to be back in Stone in the morning, continued up the lock and moored up for the night. We all met up in the Bistro at Aston Marina for a meal. As always it was busy, the meal was of the usual high standard and it was a most enjoyable evening.

Whilst at Aston I managed to photograph a meteorological phenomenon that I have seen a few times but not captured.  
A sun dog at Aston, Staffs
 7:38 PM, August 8, 2014

The phenomenon is a form of parahelia called a sun dog that occurs because of ice crystals in the upper atmosphere becoming aligned. It is to the right of the sun in the above photo, just above the tree line and looks like a very short rainbow. It isn't a rainbow because you can't see rainbows looking towards the sun. The sun dog lasted only a few minutes. 

Wandering to Wolseley Bridge

Today we decided to travel up the Staffs & Worcester to Stafford and also down the Trent & Mersey towards Rugeley.

Tixall Gatehouse from across the Wide

Classic cruiser on Tixall Wide

Compared with recent days the weather was colder and less sunny. We also got a few showers. Going towards Stafford we only had one lock to negotiate. There was little traffic and boating was quite straightforward.
Tixall Lock, Staffs & Worcester

Just after the aqueduct over the River Sow at Milford we came across CRT recovering the wreck of a fibre-glass cruiser. With the personnel and equipment involved it appeared to be an expensive operation. 

Recovering a sunk cruiser

The countryside along the Sow and Penk valleys is pleasant and it was an enjoyable trip. We winded at the Stafford Boat Club and returned through Tixall to Great Haywood. Turning south through Great Haywood and Colwich locks we finally moored up at Wolseley Bridge. We intend to walk across the bridge across to Trent and visit The Wolseley Arms for a meal later this evening. Tomorrow we turn around near Rugeley and head back to Aston since Ginette is due back at Stone first thing on Friday.

In Tandem to Tixall

Yesterday the weather was still blustery but it was bright and we only got the odd, very light, shower. The pair of boats, Albert & Ginette, left our mooring at Burston about 9:00 and we ran into a queue at our first lock - Sandon. It appears that there had been a stoppage with CRT working on the Babby that protects the lock cill (at least that's what they call the device on the Oxford Canal). The stoppage wasn't lifted until 8 o'clock and 6 boats were in a queue by the time we arrived.

David, Ginette and the new Babby

We got through Sandon lock by 11 o'clock but found a short queue at Weston lock and a shorter one at Hoo Mill lock. David & Rosemary were getting more confident with Ginette although some aspects of locking "needed further work". We took lunch on the move (from supplies purchased at Aston Marina). Another chance to add a boatman's lunch photo.

A Boatman's Lunch

We turned at Great Haywood junction, crossed the River Trent and moored up at Tixall around 2:30. Thanks to NB Lowen who moved along the moorings, Albert &amp Ginette managed to moor up next to each other at one of the broadest part of the wide. 

We walked into Shugborough Estate in the afternoon. Although the house and museum were closed, the tea room and gardens were open.  We explored the Great Yew. It has a 30 metre span!

David at the Great Yew, Shugborough (just part!)

Inside the Giant Yew

As we left Shugborough and crossed the wonderful Essex Pack-horse Bridge we watched dogs swimming in the River Trent. They were having a great time chasing plastic water bottles.

Dogs in the River Trent
Heron fishing at the weir, River Trent, Great Haywood

We popped into Great Haywood at ate at the Clifford Arms. Again good value food. Later, on board Albert, we introduced Rosemary and David to the delights of the epic domino game Chicken Scratch. 

In Convoy on the Trent & Mersey

Monday's weather was bright but it but windy. The Marks arrived for lunch at Aston Marina, sourced from the farm shop, and then drove up to Stone to pick up their boat. We left Aston to travel to Stone by boat, winding just below Star Lock and moored up on the half-hour mooring waiting for David & Rosemary to make their way down the flight. They didn't appear for some time so we walked up to find them just taking over NB Ginette and receiving instruction.

Locking Instructions at Stone

We both made our way south, passed through Aston Lock where there was a small queue and moored up near Burston. We walked into the village and had dinner at The Greyhound - good value food. 

A Summer Trip

We are about to spend most of the week boating with our friends David & Rosemary Marks. They are hiring from Canal Cruising at Stone and we are going in convoy. However, nothing is straightforward we are currently experiencing the tail-end of hurricane Bertha. Just what you want for a short summer trip.

Choppy Waters in Aston Marina

Before we left we bought some sunflowers to brighten up the fore-deck. They were not fully in bloom when we bought them but now they are just magnificent.

Large Sunflowers!
Tomorrow we meet up and start our mini-adventure - going South.

Want to buy Lydney Harbour?

It appears that the Environment Agency wishes to dispose of Lydney Harbour and Docks. We visited this fascinating and historic site last autumn. From the sale details it appears they want an organisation to exploit the the commercial opportunities of the harbour whilst ensuring that the historic features are preserved (the harbour is a scheduled ancient monument). As the sale details state: "The docks are an important part of the Forest of Dean’s rich heritage and they are also significant to both the River Severn’s and Britain’s maritime tradition."

Lydney Harbour at low tide

It will be interesting to see how the sale progresses. There can't be many organisations capable of taking on the site and making a go of it particularly with the limited tidal conditions for boat access to the harbour from the Severn.