Four Counties Ring
- 1st June 2004
9 Days, 117 Miles, 100 Locks
||Stone Boat Chandlery
||Festival Park, Eturia
||Festival Park, Eturia
Sunt's Bridge, Hassall Green
||Sunt's Bridge, Hassall Green
||Minshullhill Bridge (14)
Minshullhill Bridge (14)
After Lock 14, Audlem
After Lock 14, Audlem
Cross Keys Bridge, Penkridge
Cross Keys Bridge, Penkridge
Barton Turns Marina
Monday 24th May 2004
For our second cruise of the 2004 season we decided to do the
Four Counties ring, a 9-day 100-lock 117-mile journey through Staffordshire,
Cheshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire. Our boat was moored in
Stone alongside the Joules brewery, and we started our journey from
We departed at 10-35 a.m. after watering up, and headed for Stoke.
having a well earned rest!
By 12-45 p.m. we had done 6 locks and were moored up near the
Plume of Feathers pub for lunch.
Kilns at Stoke
Temporary tunnel for roadworks at Stoke
By 4-45 p.m. we had reached Festival Park Marina, Etruria , where
we had a drink in the Toby pub and chatted with Jackie and Clive
(nb "Cleo"). They come from near Warwick and live on their
boat all year, mooring near Warwick for the winter. They rent out
their house to pay for their boating activities, and have been doing
it for 5 years.
Park Marina, Etruria
Tuesday 25th May 2004
Departing Eturia at 9:10 a.m. we arrived at the entrance of the
Harecastle Tunnel at 10:20 a.m.
to the Harecastle Tunnel
With very few boats about we went straight in to the tunnel and
emerged at the other end at 10:50 a.m., a 30 minute journey. It
was quite difficult as we emerged as there was a British Waterways
boat and another boat moored on the right hand side, making it very
difficult to exit the tunnel and make the right hand turn required. Our passage was further hampered by a boat coming under bridge 131,
meaning that we had to reverse up. We were glad to get away from
the tunnel and in to open water. By late afternoon we had passed
under the M6 motorway and were moored up before lock 59, at the
bottom of the Wheelock flight, near Hassall Green.
"Black Bess" at Red Bull Basin
Wednesday 26th May 2004
Kings Lock Pub
Departed 09:10 a.m. and did the 8 locks of the Wheelock flight arriving
at Wheelock Wharf at 10-50 a.m. Elsan/Water/Rubbish point with shops
5pm arrived Bridge 14 near Church Minshull and had dinner in “’The
over the canal, end of another glorious day
Thursday 27th May 2004
We left Church Minshull at 9 a.m. and completed the link between
Middlewich and Barbridge Junction, ascending Minshull Lock ( 11’0’’)
and Cholmondeston Lock (11’3’’). Cholmondeston
Lock is rather strange as the lock house adjacent to it appears
to be trying to dissociate itself from the canal! There are no windows
or doors facing the canal, and a high fence screens off the rear
garden, given a “forbidden" feel to the place. A far
cry from the friendly lock houses we had passed so far.
Middlewich and Barbridge
We were soon past Barbridge Junction and on our way down “the
Shroppie”. Hurleston Reservoir, fed by the Llangollen Canal
appears on the right hand side, high above and protected by a substantial
grass embankment. Then, suddenly, the entrance to the Llangollen
Canal itself at Hurleston Junction. We moored up for a few minutes
to look at the 4 Hurleston Locks producing a 34’ rise at the
entrance to the Llangollen Canal, and then continued our way down
Just prior to Nantwich we encountered a very old couple struggling
to get their boat out of the mud, with the boat just about blocking
the canal. They declined our help, and we slipped past them and
out of the way. We looked back a few minutes later to see them in
a head on collision with another boat, much to the disgust of the
boat owner. When I spoke to him later to see if he suffered any
damage, he commented that he thought that they were beginners and
were both shortsighted! A fearful combination on the canal!
We stopped at Nantwich chandlery for a few minutes at 12 noon,
had lunch, and were then on our way again. Just as we were leaving
Nantwich we spotted “Kentish Maid” at the side of the
canal. This is owned by a lady named Carol who we got friendly with
when we passed through Whitchurch last year. We pulled over and
said hello, and she had a guided tour of our boat. We bade her farewell
and continued on our way.
Hack Green locks 1 and 2 (12’0’’) took us close
to the “Secret Bunker” tourist attraction and past the
very nice moorings and barbecue area at Coole Pilate. Where did
that name come from? The Genuki website tells us that "Coole
Pilate is a township in Acton Parish, Nantwich Hundred which had
a population of 39 in 1801 and 70 in 1951, and a Methodist Chapel
built in 1850". The lack of population or the decline of religious
fervour (or both) led to a planning application in August 2004 to
convert the Methodist Chapel in to residential use.
Then we approached the Audlem Flight of 15 locks, and decided
to rest up for the night after doing locks 15 and 14 at 4-30 p.m..
Dinner and a pint in the nearby Shroppie Fly pub completed the evening,
after a brief walk around Audlem.
Shroppie Fly, Audlem
Friday 28th May 2004
Leaving our mooring just above lock 14 we ascended lock 13 and
entered the pond right in front of the Shroppie Fly. That left another
12 locks to do in the flight and this took us nearly two and a half
hours, with the rain getting steadily worse.
After this came the 5 locks of the Adderley Flight. We moored
for a while, and with an apparent break in the rain we decided to
continue to Market Drayton. I say “apparent”, because
it did not last long and was soon bucketing it down. With rain gear
and an umbrella, we glided into Market Drayton and decided to moor
up for the night, hoping for better weather the next day.
Saturday 29th May 2004
Leaving our mooring in Market Drayton we moved to the watering
point to fill the tank and get rid of rubbish. By the time we had
finished it was 10-30 a.m. and then we were on our way towards Norbury
We met up with Ann & Rog at Norbury, and went over to the
Hand & Cleaver, Ranton, for dinner.
at Norbury Junction
time for the first mate, after a hard day's windLASSing
Sunday 30th May 2004
This was a long day of cruising with not so many locks. Leaving
Norbury Junction we passed through a series of straight cuttings
almost covered by trees.
At Autherly Junction we made a left hand turn on the Staffordshire
and Worcestershire Canal through a very narrow cutting in the sandstone,
heading towards Coven Heath. What was Autherly Junction like? With
three shopping trolleys and a burned out motorbike in the canal,
what more is there to say?
We approached Gailey 5 locks just as the rain clouds gathered
overhead, and we then had intermittent rain. We moored up in Penkridge
near the Cross Keys pub, at bridge 83a.
Monday 31st May 2004
Departed Penkridge 9 a.m. and headed for Stafford, with the canal
getting busier and busier with the Bank Holdiday weekend traffic.
Through Acton Trussel and on to Wildwood and Baswich. Through Tixall
and on to Tixall Wides, where we moored for lunch.
Bridge, Great Haywood
Then into Great Haywood, where we re-joined the Trent and Mersey
canal. Quite busy at Great Haywood locks, with plenty of gongoozellers
on hand to witness the narroboats moving like pieces in a Rubic
cube near the lock entrance. Then through Colwich lock and on to
Wolseley Bridges where we moored for the night
Tuesday 1st June 2004
We retraced our way from Wolseley Bridges back to Barton Turns,
staying overnight on the boat at the Marina.