At ten o’clock yesterday morning ‘Futurest’ and ‘Roots and Wings’ were underway after their few days delay at Shobnall. The weather was fine but with a fresh to strong north easterly breeze blowing up their sterns, navigation along the Trent and Mersey Canal, which can be narrow at times, was on occasions quite difficult.
It was so satisfying however to be on the move again, especially with an alternator that was charging so efficiently at my usual tick over speed.
Nothing had changed in the country once we were clear of the suburbs of Burton upon Trent. Brown and white Hereford Cattle grazed contentedly on the low wet grasslands and the wild fowl were busy and prolific, not deterred in the slightest as we chugged gently by.
A large family
Early on in the passage to Alrewas we were passed by a large family of Canada Geese travelling happily in the opposite direction. Twenty six little goslings in total, herded close together by mum and dad at each end, were paddling furiously to keep up with their parents’ leisurely strides, while for a spell, along the straight that leads through Barton Turns Lock and on to Wychnor, ‘Futurest’ and I were buzzed consistently by a very elegant Arctic Tern, who was unperturbed by the unceasingly noisy A38 road that runs parallel to and next to the towpath. He seemed to enjoy hovering so easily just a few feet above us before power diving into our disturbed wake for some tasty morsel. It was amazing and luckily I managed to take one or two reasonable photos of him with my small digital.
Buzzed by an Arctic Tern
The passage all the way to Alrewas was leisurely for our little squadron and anyway it had to be that way since there were so many hire boats on the canal ensuring that we had to wait patiently in a queue for some time at all of the five locks. We took on water at the Barton Turns Landing, which helped to pass the waiting time there. However the situation was not at all stressful and everybody was happy, talkative, and helpful.
Back at Newark, prior to the voyage, Janis and I had worked out a lock working plan which we decided would work equally for both double and single locks.
Whichever ship was leading at the arrival of a lock would prepare it for the follower to navigate straight in and then work the lock completely for the follower first and then his own ship. In this way the follower would then become the leader at the next lock and perform the same tasks.
It was a little tricky to work the idea yesterday since having to wait in a queue tended to interfere with the expected smoothness of the idea, but somehow we managed to share the workload satisfactorily.
We passed pleasingly through the narrow and unlikely side arch of the bridge at Wychnor, past the church in its pastoral setting on the hill and the wide weir, onto the short and quiet river section of the canal just to the north of Alrewas.
The Church on the hill at Wychnor
We were then through the last lock and very soon tied up along the visitor moorings at this very pretty and ancient Staffordshire village.