After an easy drive up on Thursday night followed by a wander round Market Drayton which ended up with all soaked to the skin in a rather unexpected and sudden rainstorm we made a relatively early start, eased out of the moorings and headed north under rather gray skies.
Our plan was to reach Church Minshull and The Badger for the night, stopping for the odd beer along the way. We’d decided to try an experiment with the new inverter and had brought along a cheapish slow cooker – Nick threw all the ingredients into it and turned it on and it started warming up. As the power still hasn’t been hooked up on the moorings the batteries needed a lot of juice putting back into them and we were charging at about 40 amps for a couple of hours before it started to drop.
We stopped just before Adderley Top Lock No 8 for breakfast and, after buying some bacon from Adderley Farm Shop, we headed down the locks. We met a couple of boats coming up but things went smoothly and we made quite good progress.
It’s a pity that that didn’t continue…
We were waiting above Audlem Lock 3 No 15 as there were a couple of boats ahead of us including a single hander who was waiting in locks for the next one to get ready before moving out and an Alvechurch hire boat came steaming down the pound and wanted to know if we were “waiting for the lock” …I said yes and they pulled in behind us. We waited for a boat to come up and then I moved into the lock and immediately they were asking if I was “working alone”. I said I wasn’t and that my crew were helping move other boats through and would be there in a minute.
We went through the lock and into Audlem Lock 4 No 16 and someone from the Alvechurch boat was there again asking me if I wanted to to close me in. I told them no – that my crew would be back in a minute!. The lock emptied and we opened the bottom gates and waited for a boat coming up the next lock. Time for another visit from the Alvechurch boat who wanted to know why we weren’t moving out of the lock. We explained to them that we were waiting for a boat to come out of the next lock … that way boats weren’t floating round in the pound. We were told that “But we want to come through the lock and pull in behind you”. It was made quite clear to them that that was not going to happen, and that all they’d do is waste water and not actually gain any time at all. We tried to explain about the size of the pounds in the flight but it probably fell on deaf ears (or the ears they didn’t have their headsets in.. which they made very pointed use of)
We had to wait for a bit at Audlem Lock 9 No 21 as a boat coming through lock 10 had lost its chimney and was looking for it.
We moored on the offside at Audlem Wharf and went to The Lord Combermere for a pint which was in very good form. When we came back the Alvechurch boat was moored on the water point but noticably wasn’t watering. They saw we were going back to our boat so immediately cast off so they could stay in front of us…. Which was quite handy as we wanted to water up anyway so moved over to the water point, filled up with water, emptied the portapotti and had a pint at The Shroppie Fly whilst the tank filled up
We made good progress through the rest of the locks and down past Coole Pilate Leisure Moorings which were pretty much deserted. It was late afternoon when we got to Nantwich Junction Bridge No 92 and it seemed to take forever to go past all the moored boats.
We stopped at The Olde Barbridge Inn for a pint – there were a lot of boats already moored for the night and we did consider stopping but we weren’t on the best of moorings so decided we’d stick with the original plan and went on our way
As we were passing Nanneys Bridge No 8 Peter Stockdale leapt out and waved at us. By now the canal was quiet and as we passed Aqueduct Marina it became obvious that everyone else had given up for the night.
The pork which had been cooking in the slow cooker all day was very good and we washed it down with a bottle of Pinot Noir.
It was raining a little as we made our way across the farm yard and down onto the track that comes out right opposite The Badger Inn – it’s a much nicer walk than using the main road. The Badger lived up to expectations with some very good beers and when we came to walk back to the boat it had stopped raining