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

Thursday 25 May 2023

May 2023 - Tixall Wide and Otherton

Tixall Wide (Trent & Mersey/Staff & Worcs Canal) – Monday 22nd May

We were more or less back to our bad ways of a late start!  It was, however, 9.30am which I guess isn’t too bad.

We caught up with a real slowcoach who then broke down completely!  Richard offered to tow him to a decent mooring place which he did.  Quite a queue had formed behind us with all the goings on!  I’m glad there aren’t any locks for a while.

By the time we got to the Armitage Tunnel another boat had joined our cavalcade!  When is a tunnel not a tunnel?  When it is the Armitage Tunnel!!!  The tunnel was built unlined through rock.  Subsidence due to coal mining left to the tunnel with opened up and the banks concreted.  The only bit that is still a “tunnel” is under the A513. 

We stopped in Rugeley to get some fresh food from Tescos.  I did notice that the salad part of the store was pretty bare.  I managed to get the last cucumber.  Almeria, in Spain, has been having dreadful weather with lots of flooding.  I wonder if this will make salad stuff even rarer.

Up through Colwich Lock and on to Haywood Lock. 

We were really surprised at how much mooring there was in Great Haywood.  In the past we have managed to squeeze into the last place, but we would have had our choice of moorings today.

At Haywood Junction we made a left turn onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire (Staffs & Worcs) Canal. 

Between Haywood Junction and the first bridge, Milford Turnover Bridge, there are works being carried out.  CR&T says it is to repair and resurface the towpath for the benefits of users.

We hoped to moor at Tixall Wide, but were worried that there wouldn’t be any space.  There was very little, but we managed to squeeze into a space.  As I had used Squeeze in the last sentence I looked at synonyms and came up with cuddle!  I like that – we managed to cuddle into a space!!

There is a wonderful landmark above Tixall Wide.  A beautiful gatehouse now owned by the Landmark Trust and rented out.  The Landmark Trust says this about the building on their website.  “When Tixall Gatehouse was acquired in 1968 by the Landmark Trust, it was definitely a building at risk. Following the demolition of Tixall Hall in 1927 it had stood abandoned. Its roof, floors and windows had gone, and there was a danger that the walls too would soon begin to fall.  The Gatehouse had been little more than a picturesque ruin since the 18th century. Repairs to the stonework were carried out by a local mason, Richard Trubshaw of Great Haywood, in 1721. Sir Thomas Clifford may have given it a new roof a century later, but by then it had long been uninhabitable. This roof, in turn, fell in during the 1950s.”  I have also borrowed a photo from their website as my photo was rubbish!  If you want to see more about the Gatehouse you can find it here.  

We had a video call booked with our British friends in Florida.  Maggie is finally retiring, I wont say how old she is but she is the same age as me!!  Instead of their usual 2 weeks in the UK they will be here for 3 weeks in July, and will be staying with us for 3 nights.  I am so looking forward to it.  The call went on for 2 hours, time really does fly when you are enjoying yourself 😊 

9.5 miles
2 locks

Outside Otherton Boat Haven (Staffs & Worcs) – Tuesday 23rd May

We were away by 9.15 this morning.  Our destination was Otherton Marina where we will be leaving Mary H until the end of June when we join a BCN Explorer Cruise.

At Tixall Lock there is obviously going to be some major works done as there was lots of mats down for temporary vehicle parking.  There is nothing on the C&RT stoppages page, so I wonder what it going on.

The cottage at Tixall Lock looks as if it might be a holiday home.  They are two PIR outside lights which come on every time someone moves and stay on for quite a while.  Bearing in mind that it was broad daylight, I think something might be wrong there and I only hope they don’t receive a big electricity bill. 

This sign over the cottage door very kindly told us how far it is to Deptmore Lock. 4 miles and 6 furlongs is 4¾ miles. 

We passed the Stafford Boat Club which was opened in 1990 after a lot of hard work and membership that dwindled until a radio call out was made.  There is a brief history of the club here.  

Deptmore Lock looked a deep one, and it was at 10ft 3ins and it leaked badly.  I had to keep the bow away from the fountain!


Apparently, Shutt Hill Lock is here somewhere.

Ah yes, here it is, and not much headroom. 

This photo is of the canal as it runs through Teddersley Park.  In fact, that is what the bridge is called.  Teddersley Hall was built in 1754 by Sir Edward Littleton, the first Baron Hatherton.  The fifth Lord Hatherton sold most of the Littletons' remaining estates in the area in 1953, including the Hall. Being no longer required, it was demolished by the new owner in 1954, as were many such large houses at this time. 

The canal goes under the M6.  There is very nice house with a beautiful garden just before the bridge and the noise was awful.  I really don’t think I could live there however lovely the garden is.

Strangely enough once on the other side of the motorway the noise wasn’t nearly so bad.

By now the locks were coming every mile or so.  Penkridge Lock is another lock approached by a low bridge.  As I entered the lock, I discovered that we had found a lock wheeler 😊  Our friends, Steve and Diane from NB Clarence, are moored in Otherton Boat Haven, where we were leaving Mary H while we go home for a few weeks.  Steve had been asking me where we were about every 15 minutes, so I wasn’t too surprised to see him there.  It always makes life easier when there is another person on the ground at locks. 

We had one more lock to do before mooring up opposite the marina, ready to go in the next morning.

10 miles
7 locks

Otherton Boat Haven (Staffs and Worcs) – Wednesday 24th May

Fuelled up and into the marina.  I had been told that we would be bow in and would overhang the pontoon at the stern. As a reverse layout we don’t usually use the front to get off, but it didn’t matter as our pontoon was plenty long enough.

Richard walked to Penkridge Station and caught a train to Birmingham, then one to Rugby and finally a taxi to Dunchurch Pools.  That all went well, and his journey back was good until the very last bit.  The postcode of the marina is also for a housing estate, but there is no road between the estate and the marina.  We use Life 360 where we can see where each other is.  I could see that he had gone wrong and tried to phone him, but his phone hadn’t bluetoothed to the car, so no hands free.  Eventually he stopped and picked up.  I was able to tell him where to go but he missed a turning and took the next one.  I rang him again, but he was out of the car asking someone for directions.  He got himself on the right road but missed the lane to the marina.  I rang him once more and told him where he had gone wrong, and he eventually managed to get here.  Not only was the Bluetooth thing a nuisance, but my phone had no signal in the boat.  Hey ho, he got here in the end. 

My day was cleaning and sorting.  I had made myself a list which I duly got on with.  I even cleaned out the bathroom cabinet – there is a bag of lots of out of date things.

The following photos are all ones that didn’t quite make it to the blog earlier.

I asked this swan if she and her family would pose for a photo, this was their idea of posing, turning their backs on me! 

I don’t know about you but our bath at home is inside not in the garden!

 Everyone in a line now! 

St Leonard’s Church at Wychnor

 And finally, how on earth did Muffin get himself in this mess!!

So that is us done for a few weeks.  We have commitments at home now, but will be back towards the end of June ready to do the BCN Explorer cruise.

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