The rain, which had started before we’d left the pub last night had continued throughout the night but by the time we cast off, having been to the local supermarket to pick up a few things, it had reduced to an annoying, and continuous, drizzle.
Maybe it’s just our luck but a lot of our trips along this section of canal seem to have been damp and miserable, or maybe it just feels that way – it’s not the most interesting stretch of canal at the best of times.
We didn’t meet another boat until we were approaching Tixall Lock No 43 where we found a day boat on the lock moorings (we think they were just having problems picking up their crew) and another boat emptying the lock. Once the day boat had moved out of the way we pulled over onto the loc mooring much to the puzzlement of the person who was working the second boat through the lock. They seemed slightly confused about what to do – which was worrying as they were in a boat from Stone, but I guess this was their first “up” lock so it could possibly explain it.
We reached Great Haywood Junction and it was totally and utterly deserted so our turn left was one of the easiest passages through the junction we’ve made recently. The rain had eased off a little bit by now and there were brief periods of it actually not raining which try to trick you into taking your waterproofs off.
We met a bunch of Canadians at Hoo Mill Lock No 23 who. despite the weather, seemed to be enjoying themselves but they were one of the few boats we met moving all day.
We’d decided that we’d stop at Stone for the night so we decided to stop at Salt for a quick lunchtime drink. There are some good moorings south of Salt Bridge No 82 and the pub (The Holly Bush) is a few minutes walk up the road into the village. They do food and don’t reserve tables so its worth knowing about if you are around there and really don’t feel like cooking on board.
The clouds were lifting as we walked back from the pub and it pretty much stayed dry for the rest of the day, but it stayed rather cool and overcast. Like the top end of the S&W this part of the T&M just seems to wobble it’s way through the Staffordshire countryside with very little sign of the industry that provided so much business for the canal – even the bridges don’t reflect it, apart from Brassworks Bridge No 91 and Andre Mills Bridge No 92 which now stand in the middle of modern housing developments.
The housing continues into Stone where we stopped just before the winding hole below the bottom lock.
After mooring up we walked around town for a bit and did some shopping at the Morrisons Supermarket. There is now an M&S food hall right by the canal at the bottom lock if you want to splash out a bit.
We had another good Indian, just up the road from the Royal Exchange which is where we ended up for the rest of the evening. Walking back through Stone at 11pm was like walking through a ghost town – most of the pubs were already locked up and dark and the streets were empty.