It was bright and sunny when we cast off but by the time we reached Brindley Bank Corner – the site of another murder (and one used by Colin Dexter as the basis for one of his Morse stories) – it was starting to cloud over and look rather uninspiring again and I’m not sure if the people in the hot air balloon were having much fun.
Once again at Great Haywood Junction it looks like horn signals just aren’t used by anyone any more. I sounded our horn and went under the bridge and found a boat who might have been hanging back because they’d heard my horn (although they’d not responded) or they might just have been there anyway. The boat, which had pulled out right behind me, just steamed through the junction as he carried straight on up the canal for Stone. I told the boat on the S&W about the boat behind me but they seemed unconcerned as they moved towards the junction bridge. Boats have horns for very good reasons – I just wish people would use them.
There was a boat waiting to go up at Tixall Lock No 43 and we actually followed them all the way up the canal to Filance Lock No 37. On the stretch between River Sow Aqueduct and Stoneford Bridge No 103 the reeds on the offside have grown out of control to the point that the canal is in places only wide enough for one boat – hopefully C&RT will do something about it soon although I suspect that they’ll be stopped from doing anything by Natural England.
At Staffordshire and Worcestershire – Stafford Branch Junction where the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal (Stafford Riverway Link) joins you can almost see what it would be like with the towpath bridge re-instated and the canal re-opened allowing you to boat up to Stafford rather than walking in from Radford Bridge Visitor Moorings. The scattered locks slow lift you up towards the canal summit but its only at Penkridge Lock No 38 that it starts to feel like you’re actually in a lock flight. The lower lock gates were leaking a lot and so the pound above the lock was low – although I do suspect that someone might have made a bit of a mistake somewhere because Filance Lock is much deeper and there was water running rounds its by-wash.
There had been a few boats on the move but as we continued on up to Gailey Wharf the canal became quieter and there was no-one moving at all when we stopped at the top lock to get rid of rubbish, empty the loo and fill up the water tanks.
Just by Calf Heath Bridge there is an odd building on the towpath. It seems to have some switch gear attached to it and fenced off, but would seem to also be fenced off from the factory next door.
Once you’ve passed through the factory complex there is a big new Power From Waste facility run for Staffordshire County Council which apparently produces over 23MW of power and although the canal looks suitable for moorings, and indeed there seems to be a small collection of “derelicts” starting to collect on the canal near here, we decided to push on towards Hatherton Junction for the night.