On Tuesday morning after our weekend at Stone, I took ‘Futurest’ into Great Haywood Marina to have a bow fender fitted, which has been missing since the Claydon Flight on the South Oxford Canal back in early April. I hadn’t seriously missed the fender, managing to avoid mostly close quarter situations, including lock gates. But it certainly didn’t look right without a fender on the bow.
The old tip cat fender that had been there from the start had lost its top chains at Claydon and was of no further use and it had always seemed to be slung too far down the stem to be of any use anyway. It was ideal for lower damage against lock cills but was no use in keeping the nose protected and it was forever getting caught under the plate at the bottom of the lock gate in an empty lock, putting the chains under continuous stress.
So John at Marine Services welded a new lug on top of the nose and we now have a button fender in a much better position to prevent damage.
The new fender
The job was completed within a couple of hours and having re-acquainted ourselves with the staff and other friends that we had made during the course of our stay three years ago when we had a full outside paint job, we moved to moorings back out on the canal and moved off at about eight the following morning (Wednesday).
The weather was beautiful still as the two little ships entered the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and progressed at a leisurely pace through Tixall Wide and onto the lock. It was good to be clear of the continuous Great Haywood traffic and jostling for the busy water point and moorings. We had been there for long enough.
We were in the country again and it was beautiful.
‘Roots and Wings’ exiting Tixall Wide
Herons high in the tree
We passed through Tixall Lock but the traffic in both directions meant that we had to wait our turn. ‘Futurest’ went through first which meant that ‘Roots and Wings’ next in line travelling westwards had to wait until the boat waiting at the top of the lock had passed through in the opposite direction. But with me tootling along at tick over revs, Janis was able to catch up with me by the time we arrived at Bridge 101, called St Thomas Bridge.
Moored at St Thomas’ Bridge, the nearest point to Stafford
We had covered all of four miles since leaving Great Haywood but we decided to moor up here with our chains on the steel and spend the afternoon visiting Stafford.
On this north westerly point of the the Staffs & Worcs Canal, the old Stafford Coal Canal, which ran right into the town, had been connected. There were still traces of the filled in lock at the blocked up entrance and it was encouraging to note that there had been recent activity to clear the site for excavation.
It’s a mile and a half into the centre of Stafford so Janis and I followed the footpath and spent the afternoon there.
The Dog Rose
As well as shopping we witnessed the arrival of the Olympic Torch through the town. The weather was superb for such a day and the deep crowds collected early along the route. Because of this we couldn’t see too much of the actual torch though other entertainment was well received and cheered by the crowd.
The arrival of the Olympic Flame
However the event was a unique occasion which had been a very pleasant surprise for us and all part of our continuing adventure.