Wolesley Bridge and Ingestre

Yesterday we left Tixall Wide in the morning and reversed onto the water point at Great Haywood Junction. Sounds simple, of course, but it was "fun". It was even more "fun" when the hotel boat pair, Duke & Duchess, negotiated the turn into the Staffs & Worcester as another boat exited the junction to turn south. Lots of opportunities for gongoozling entertainment.

After watering, we moored up and visited the Shugborough Hall again, this time to see the Patrick Litchfield Nudes exhibition. It isn't a large exhibition but it was well worth the visit if only to see the iconic portrait of Marsha Hunt. There are some startling and wonderfully composed images from the sixties and the complete 1993 Unipart Calender.

Waiting at Colwich Lock

We moved off south after lunch and joined a queue of boats that had formed at Great Haywood Lock. There were around five, most of them from the Lymm Cruising Club on the Bridgewater Canal. At the Colwich, the next lock south, the queue was only three boats. Eventually we moored up for the night at Wolseley Bridge and had dinner in the Wolseley Arms.

This morning saw us travelling south towards Rugeley to turn in the winding hole near Bridge 68, shades of last year. The weather was better than yesterday with no rain.There was only a short queue for Colwich Lock and no queues at the other locks going north. We stopped for a late lunch, and the day, near Shirleywich where there is a 48 h mooring complete with interpretation board and bench.

Albert and T&M Interpretation Board

Late in the afternoon we took a stroll up the lane to Ingestre. Well worth the visit, this little village, the former seat of the Earls of Shrewsbury, boasts an amazing stables complex, a large hall which is now a residential arts centre and the only Christopher Wren Church outside London.

St Mary the Virgin, Ingestre

The church is quite amazing having been restored in 2004. It has Burne-Jones stain glass made in the William Morris factory and is full of monuments to the Chetwynd-Talbot family who owned the estate until 1960.
Magnificent Burne-Jones stain glass

Interior of Ingestre Parish Church

The wood interior is in Flanders Oak and the restored plaster work is very intricate.

Dead tree near Ingestre

The valley of the Trent is wide and flat along here and the river meanders. Just south of us is a stretch called the swans neck - very picturesque. Tomorrow we head for Aston and then home.

Shugborough and our Significant Day

So we are moored up on Tixall Wide, and therefore we must visit the Shugborough Estate, but why is today significant? Forty five years ago today we were married in Solihull Parish Church. 

A day of just relaxing and enjoying ourselves was called for. As Maggie put it "today we are doing retirement".

Our Anniversary Selfie

We visited the Shugborough Estate. Although the house and farm were closed, it being a Tuesday, we enjoyed the gardens, the tea room (for lunch), and the National Trust Shop. This was followed by a stroll around Great Haywood visiting Haywood Cliffs  and a visit to the Lockhouse Tea Rooms for afternoon tea.

A mighty Spanish chestnut

Fresh new yellow growth on the Yew trees contrasting with the lavender

A bee forages on lavender

Rare breeds on the island

Cornflowers with marigolds

Chinese Pavilion

A lovely day! 

Alternator System Modifications

Over the last year or so, our domestic alternator system has not been causing problems but it has been irksome. In the mornings after the three “leisure” batteries have spent the night supplying power to the fridge, TV and the rest of our modern paraphernalia, the engine sensing battery management system, the Adverc, makes sure the batteries get charged up rapidly and uses high current. The drive system is similar to that found on many classic-engine boats. It consists of a large drive wheel (330 mm diameter) mounted on the main crankshaft driving a 60 mm diameter pulley mounted on the alternator driven through two V-belts. This used not to cause difficulties but recently, despite new drive belts, we have become aware of “early morning drive belt squeal”. Looking at the system we operate a couple of points came to mind.

Original Domestic Alternator System

The first point that occurred to me was that looking at drive pulley the gap between the two belts on the drive pulley was closer than on the alternator (3 mm and 6.5 mm respectively) so the alternator belts were misaligned. Secondly, the contact area on the alternator pulley was small, particularly since the centres of the two pulleys were quite close together (200 mm). This contact area is, I gather this is known as wrap around. The drive ratio of the pulleys was 5.5 so at modest canal cruising speed (say 550 rpm) the alternator should have been working at around 3,000 rpm which is considered optimum.

I decided to contact the helpful people at Adverc about the issue. When I described the system the size of the alternator mounted pulley caused a sharp intake of breath at the other end of the phone with the comment that it is small pulley and your wrap around (or lack of it) may the problem. The upshot was I arranged through Adverc to get a new alternator pulley manufactured. It has a larger (75 mm diameter) and with the appropriate gap between the belts (3 mm). Adverc were able to ensure it was manufactured with the correct profile for the belts and shaft specification to fit the 90 A Bosch alternator. The new pulley design was intended to increase wrap, remove the belt alignment problem, and reduce the drive ratio of the system. This would of course reduce the speed of the alternator (to around 2,500 rpm) and that would marginally decrease alternator performance although within the acceptable range. The changes would also reduce the load on the system and the engine, again reducing the chance of belt slip. I must point out in all these considerations I did not want to make a new large pulley or to change the position of the alternator.

Putting the theory into practice meant removing the old pulley and replacing it with the new. This meant removing the alternator from its mounting because it was not possible to remove the pulley with the alternator in place. The nut holding on the pulley was set back in a tight recess and, although there was a helpful Allen key slot to restrain the shaft, it was impossible to put an Allen key on the shaft and use a ring spanner on the nut. There was only sufficient clearance in the pulley for a simple socket and meant an Allen key couldn't be used. I called in at by favourite garage in Milton Keynes (Arden Park Garage) with the alternator and they took one look at said “we use a special tool”. Half-an-hour later, they fitted me in between jobs, I had the new pulley mounted on the alternator.

New Domestic Alternator System

On Sunday, I fitted the new system and over the last couple of days I have been testing it out. So far there has been no evidence of the “early morning” belt squeal and the charging rate after the overnight battery drain is a very reasonable 45 – 50 A. The wrap angle is a respectable 120 degress - I understand that 100 degrees is considered the minimum. Unfortunately I didn't measure the original wrap angle but I doubt if it approached 100 degrees.

I am pleased how the job went. Let’s hope the new arrangement remains reliable. I am also pleased with the personal touch I got from both Adverc and Arden Park Garages.


We left Aston Marina on Sunday afternoon and went but a short distance south to Burston for the night. The weather was warm and sunny.

Today, Monday, we continued on our slow journey south (otherwise known as pootling) and stopped at our favourite mooring spot at Tixwall Wide. Although it started sunny it poured down as we got to Weston lock (not forecast!) and rained for about an hour.

Mooring at Tixall Wide

Our neighbours lined up to greet us

In the afternoon we visited the Canal Farm Shop and then walked through the village and along the "off side" of the canal through the woods that lie between the canal and the railway. The woods are mature and a mixture of oak, redwood, beech, and alder. Owned by the National Trust, there are a lot of fallen trees, on which we discovered a lot of splendid fungi.
Great Haywood junction from across the fields

Shugborough Estate from across the Trent & Mersey

Tree based fungi at Great Haywood

Tonight it blew up and the water on The Wide was distinctly choppy.

A windy sunset on Tixall Wide


Not been boating for a little while but I have carried out a few jobs on Albert (alternator changes and new radio) - but more about that later. On Saturday we came up to Aston and worked on the boat. That evening we went out to Salt to eat at the delightful Holly Bush Inn. The landlord not only runs a great pub with good food (we had excellent curries), but he puts on a fabulous show in the garden. Most of the display is based on hanging baskets and pots so he must spend hours watering and feeding, not to mention time in the greenhouse.

Holly Bush Inn, Salt

Although we travelled to the Holly Bush via car from Aston Marina, it can be accessed from the Trent & Mersey from Bridge 82. After dinner we strolled down to the T&M across the Trent meadows to reconnoiter. 

River Trent at Salt

Ornate Bridge 82, Trent & Mersey 
We can certainly recommend mooring up to investigate to investigate the Holly Bush, particularly in summer when the hostas are at their best.