A cruise on the Wide side

WM Tixall Wide
Whiskey Mac moored at Tixall Wide, Staffs & Worcester Canal, just west of Haywood Junction.

I have had a break from the hurly burly of the online world, so here is a short piece to introduce what I have been up to in the last year that I have been a continuous cruiser.  There will be some images of places, boats, technical stuff, some stats and costs, mishaps, replacements and the anxiety of my first go at the Boat Safety Scheme.

For now, though, this is just about a short cruise from Acton Trussell to Tixall Wide, on the Staffs & Worcester Canal in Staffordshire.  I decided to have my compact camera, Canon PowerShot A700, with all of its 6.0 mega pixels, to hand, though I don’t like using it when going along.  At least if it meets a watery end it won’t be a complete disaster.  One day I will get a web cam.

The date was Sunday 10 June 2019, for which the forecast was a fair start, with rain arriving around 14:00 and continuing, so I wanted to get going reasonably early, but not too soon for Aldi opening at 10:00, about an hour away.  The previous evening a hire boat crew had moored astern, opposite the winding hole (naughty!), but they were away before me.


Winding, turning the boat through 180 degrees, can be tricky, but it was calm and a nice big space in which to manoeuvre, so, once I had managed to reverse into position (reversing is probably the most difficult thing to do in a narrowboat), I got round quite smoothly.  I am not sure the occupants of the Boat House Hotel were the sort to jeer and goad, but they would have had no cause.  Spectators at canalside hostelries are often vocal, liquorously loquacious, especially those who wouldn’t know a tiller from a boathook if it hit them you know where.  (That such folk would be deficient in anatomical knowledge is taken for granted.)

Deptmore Lock

On Friday, I had reached Deptmore Lock from the down-side in dreadful weather (more another time), but today the 10 foot 3 inch drop seemed much less forbidding.  Nonetheless, this lock can be quite vicious and I was quite glad there were no novice “helpers” around.  This also gave me time to take a few pictures as I progressed through the lock.

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It is a real help when boats come the other way, so that I don’t have to stop to open or close gates.  In some ways single-handed operation is more relaxed as I can just go at my own pace, but locks are good places to meet other boaters, some from distant lands.

On my way again I overtook a man walking the towpath with two dogs. A younger one was off leash and well-behaved, the other, on a long leash, but scrabbling along in the water, which he made no attempt to pull out.. I put the engine on idle, down from about 1500 revs, and told the man: “Not very clever with a boat going by. I don’t want a mangled dog in my weed hatch.” The mumbled response was rather sheepish. Once I had drifted past I throttled up again.

I stopped just past Radford Bridge (98, A34) to visit the nearby Aldi.  This is busy spot with boats arriving and departing all the time.  Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures.  Some other images from this stretch of canal can be found on Geograph.

Tixall Lock

The quickest way to get through locks is slowly.”  [Trad.]


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