I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday 22 May 2023

May 2023 - Branston Water Park, Alrewas and Fradley

Branston Water Park (Trent & Mersey) – Friday 19th May

After yesterday’s debacle at Willington when we couldn’t get moored up, we decided that we need to start earlier in the mornings and stop earlier if the canals are going to be so busy.  We were moving by 8.40am.

The weather forecast was for rain and thunderstorms so we thought we would get as far as we could without getting drenched.

The May blossom really is wonderful this year.

We crossed the River Dove on an aqueduct that was refurbished in 2003. 

Dallow Lock in Burton-on-Trent is the start of the narrow locks. 

Through Burton-on-Trent which is really nice by the canal.  Richard’s favourite beer, Doombar, is now brewed under licence in Burton.  Doombar is Sharp's Brewery flagship ale. Founded in 1994 in St Minver Lowlands, Rock, Cornwall, by Bill Sharp but since 2011, the brewery has been owned by Molson Coors.  The bottled version only has been brewed in Burton - 267 miles away from Rock, since 2013.

There were a couple of goose families hanging around at the bottom of the lock.  

Branston Lock was very slow in filling, so I had a while to ponder on things.  I could see a large housing estate being built and I wondered where all the people who buy these houses had lived before and what has happened to their old houses.  I thought there was a housing shortage.  Maybe I am just being stupid! 

I was joined by a goose family while I was in the lock.  They were just wandering along the lock side, right next to me.  I took a number of photos and whittled them down to three.  I can’t decide which one to put in here so I will put in all three!

We pulled over at Branston Water Park which was our goal for today.  The clouds were getting blacker, so we battened down the hatches and waited!

The rain wasn’t nearly as bad as forecast, but it gave me time to do some holiday planning and a couple of jobs around the boat.  Richard more or less cleared his list.

We were moored near the Bridge Inn at Branston so had to give it a try.  It’s basically Italian food with the usual main dishes in there too.  It was a very good meal, and they were very busy, however eating out is becoming expensive   We sat out in a marquee as we had Muffin.  It was quiet when we arrived, but the tables soon filled up. 

5.5 miles
2 locks

Above Alrewas Lock (Trent & Mersey) – Saturday 20th May

It was 8.15am when we left this morning.  We really needed to get fresh food in Alrewas but I was worried that we would get there before people had even left for the day!  A boat had already gone passed us and there was one hot on our heels.

It was a glorious morning, not a cloud in the sky and some lovely warm sunshine, even at 9am. 

Out first lock was Tatenhill where there is one of my favourite lock cottages, it looked even nicer in the morning sunlight. 

Wychnor Lock is pretty. 

It has an unusual shed on the lock side along with a wooden crane with a pulley on the top, that would have been used to load or unload boats in the lock.     

There is also a house called OK Ouse, I’m sure it would make more sense to call it Lock House!

After the lock the canal uses the River Trent.  

As we came out of Alrewas Lock and a boat was just leaving it’s mooring and going into the lock, so we swapped.  He had the lock, and we had his place!  It’s a lovely spot and the nearest to the Co-op which is an added bonus.

We walked to the Co-op which was only a 7 minute walk away.  Back at the boat it was such a lovely afternoon that we put our chairs out on the towpath and chilled out for the rest of the day. 

I wondered about the name Alrewas and looked it up.  The name is derived from the alder trees growing locally which were used in basket making.  It made me think of Alresford, where we used to live and looking that up saw that they had alder trees too.  If you are interested in reading about the alder tree, look here. 

½ miles

Tuppenhurst Bridge (Trent & Mersey) – Sunday 21st May

Today was Richard’s birthday.  He isn’t one for really celebrating, which is, perhaps, just as well with us being away on the boat.  We did have a nice meal out on Friday though.

We were away by 8.45am.  There are quite a few single locks to do and we decided that if all the boats that were moored at Alrewas were to get there before us then we would be waiting for ever!  When we got to the lock there were still 2 boats in front us at 9am!

Alrewas is a very pretty town and the houses by the canal are lovely.  I just didn’t get my phone out in time to take a photo of a beautiful, thatched cottage, so this one will have to do. 

We had 8 locks to do, split very nicely in half by a bacon and sausage sandwich at the Laughing Duck Café in Fradley.  We needed to get water and empty the elsan which Richard did while I ordered the food from the café at the water point.  We ate the sandwich on board and then continued on our way up to Fradley Junction.

These three photos are all of Fradley. 


It was at Fradley that we started to find more boats moving and had to wait at every lock.  At the last lock, Wood End, there were three boats going our way and four coming down.  Apparently, the lock is the 4th busiest on the system.  In 2021 the busiest locks were

1.       Hillmorton Locks on the Oxford Canal, which saw 8,147 lockages.
2.       New Marton on the Llangollen Canal with 7,457 lockages.
3.       Cholmondeston on the Shropshire Union with 7,103 lockages.
4.       Wood End on the Trent & Mersey had 6,279 lockages.
5.       Bradford-on-Avon on the Kennet & Avon with 5,994 lockages.

We could see HS2 being carved out of the countryside.  Sadly, I didn’t take any photos, mainly, I think, that I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There is a lovely lock cottage at Wood End, and it is going to be slap bang on the railway.  I found this online.

Phase One of HS2 connects to Phase 2a about 250 metres north-west of Fradley Wood. This 13.5km section of the Phase 2a route passes through the parishes of Fradley and Streethay, Alrewas, Kings Bromley, Armitage with Handsacre, Mavesyn Ridware, Hamstall Ridware and Colton within the local authority area of Staffordshire County Council.  From north west of Fradley HS2 continues towards Kings Bromley, passing over the Bourne Brook and River Trent and associated floodplains on viaducts. The track will then pass through Tomlinson’s Spinney Local Wildlife Site, will cross over Trentside Meadows on a viaduct and will run adjacent to Pipe Ridware. The route will continue north and will pass approximately 500m west of Blithbury before running between Colton and Stockwell Heath.

It will pass over a brook, through a spinney, a wildlife site and a meadow.  I’m sure everyone was up in arms when to motorways were built, well I know they were for the M3, but I just can’t understand the reasoning behind a railway line.  We are a small island and this abhorrent blot on the landscape is not needed – just my thoughts of course!

This map taken from Waterway Routes shows how close to the canal HS goes.

I just love this short stretch of the canal after the Fradley top lock, especially in the sunshine.  However, it is just before the spot where HS2 will get the closest to the canal.

We pulled over in the middle of nowhere but it had a nice wide towpath and some trees as it was really quite hot and I don’t like sitting in the sun. 

6 miles
8 locks

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