Friday, 2 August 2013

Shugborough sojourn.

Yesterday’s journey didn’t start until midday and, by that time, there were quite a few people around as we left Fradley Junction.
We went back through the lock which we reversed down the day before and collected three more passengers on the way – a charming little boy was interested in us taking on water a few minutes earlier, and he and his grandparents were at the lock when we arrived there, so we offered them a ride up through the next lock.  They didn’t need to be asked twice!
About an hour after Fradley we were at the centre of the lavatory universe as we passed the giant factory of Armitage Shanks (at Armitage strangely) with its giant machinery thumping and grinding away inside this very ugly building.
Just round the bend we had a prettier sight – Spode Cottage which is now a pub.
A few yards further on and we negotiate “Plum Pudding” tunnel.  Once bored through solid rock subsidence, caused by coal mining, meant it had to be opened up and lined with concrete.  The original rock can still be seen inside this very narrow obstacle where one way traffic is essential.
The power station dominates the skyline at Rugeley where Doug quickly nipped off to get shopping at Morrisons.
We decided to call it a day at 4 o’ clock and plumped for a “soft” mooring about a mile outside Rugeley.  ‘Chance’ settled into the reeds like a little coot on her nest.
Wonderful views from our mooring spot…….
…….. even the neighbours came over for a drink.
This morning was an early start at 7:00 and, after yesterdays heat, today promised to be somewhat cooler.  Travelling during the early part of the day is very relaxing.
Smiles from the man steering the boat as Cannock Chase begins to show it’s brooding mass in the background.
Colwich Lock (no 21) lies in an attractive setting next to the village of Little Haywood.
Old notices attached to the wall of the old lock cottage remind us of how simple life was a hundred or so years ago.  Fancy these days, the  Channel Tunnel displaying a notice saying that it’s insufficient to take something of “extraordinary” size!
A lovely setting at Colwich Lock.
At 9:30 am we moored up at Tixall Wide where, as with Fradley the other day, we had the choice of where we wanted to stop.  Just as we roped up an unusual craft came past. The plaque on the side said it was converted in the 1930’s.  
The very elaborate Elizabethan gatehouse of Tixall Hall looks across the water at us.  The Hall, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1586, was demolished a long while ago but it must have been a fabulous building if this is its gatehouse.   
This is us this morning (almost) on our own in this beautiful spot just outside the village of Great Haywood.
After some maintenance work on the boat (carpet cleaning, battery water top up, stern gland adjustment, baking and so on) we made a visit to Shugborough Hall, the family home of the Ansons (Lord Litchfield’s home until his death in 2005).  On the way past Anglo Welsh hire centre we couldn’t believe how many boast they still had in.  This is peak season and most of the fleet should be out.
Now that Patrick Litchfield’s apartments are now open, and the very interesting displays of his work are on show, the house is certainly worth a visit.  The £15 entrance fee is a bit steep, especially when you’re then charged another £7 odd to go round the servants quarters and museum. (as we are National Trust members we got in free after 1 pm)
Nostalgia outside the front portico.
Fantastic gardens.
Larking about in the Doric Temple!……..
…….. and resting in The Ruin.
It’s not a particularly beautiful house on the outside (our opinion)
One of the finest pack horse bridges in existence leads you across the River Trent from Shugborough to the village of Great Haywood.  The river just here was one of Oscar’s favourite paddling spots.
Having enjoyed the display of Patrick Litchfield’s photographic portraits of the rich and famous, James had a go at it himself!
Tonight we are going to enjoy a BBQ with a glass of wine in the lovely surroundings at Tixall Wide.


  1. We moored up in the pound between the locks at Stoke Bruerne and almost have the place to ourselves! Where have all the boaters gone?

  2. Surprising in this good weather there are not more boaters out and about. We have passed only 1 boat on the move in the past 4 days! But then the Chesterfield is bound to be quieter than the T&M. Take care, K