Goodbye Staffs & Worcs, hello Trent & Mersey
Our overnight mooring at Milford Wharf was quiet despite the proximity of the West Coast Mainline. We set off reasonably early, working through the final lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire before passing Tixall wide on the way to the junction with the Trent and Mersey canal at Great Haywood.
We made use of the services at the Anglo Welsh hire base before finding a mooring just above Haywood lock. We’ve passed through these parts a few times before and even stopped overnight but never had the time to explore but this year we have plenty of time. It was another warm sunny day and being a Sunday there were lots of people out and about. The confluence of the rivers Sow and Trent are nearby and we could hear the sounds of people playing in the shallow water.
In fact, later in the day when we took an evening walk near Shugborough Hall, there were still families sitting on the river banks and youngsters splashing about near Essex bridge. Earlier in the day, we had crossed the canal, walked under the railway bridge and into Great Haywood. There’s not a lot to see there, just a pub and a Spar shop but it is still a nice looking village. Our walk took us back to the canal junction where we made a diversion into the Canalside Farm Shop. The shop carries a fabulous selection of fresh produce, much of which is local and some of it is grown on the farm. There is a butcher and a fishmonger on site and they also sell home made pies and pastries. All in all a great range of produce. The adjacent café was quite busy so we didn’t partake of anything but we did look at the menu and that seemed to cater for most tastes. We bought a few bits to take back to the boat and have for lunch which we did while sitting on the front deck. In terms of boat traffic, it turned out to be one of the busiest days that we have experienced for a while so there was plenty of entertainment to keep us amused throughout the afternoon.
We were uncertain as to what we might do but it all hinged on whether we would visit Shugborough Hall the following day. After giving it a bit of consideration we decided that we would give it a miss and just carry on the following morning, Monday.
Another peaceful night on a mooring close to the railway! It was just before eight when we untied and moved the few yards on to the lock landing. As we worked down, two boats arrived below, effectively halving the work involved. Twenty minutes later at Colwich lock, the same thing happened and after that it was an easy lock free cruise to Rugeley.
Rugeley is another town that we have never taken the time to look around when we have stopped in the past for some supermarket shopping. As we approached the visitor moorings we could see that a boat was stuck on the offside so before attempting to moor up, we attached a rope and pulled him back into the middle of the channel. The canal was shallow on the towpath side too and it took us about ten minutes or so before we managed to get Caxton secured with a gap between the boat and the bank which varied between 18″ and 24″. Once done, we set off to explore the town centre.
It was alright, nothing too exciting but enough in the way of shops to keep the locals satisfied. After a good wander around, we toddled back to the Tesco superstore which is sited next to the canal. After carrying the shopping back to the boat, we had a sandwich and then carried on our merry way again. Another couple of lock free hours saw us passing by Armitage and Handsacre before finding a mooring near Kings Bromley marina, itself just a couple of miles and three locks from Fradley junction where we will have to decide which way to go next.