The early June weather was magnificent and after a few locks we stopped for lunch at Stone, this had been a major canal centre and a boat yard and three dry docks completed the picture. The pretty Star Inn at the bottom lock was very busy and I sure has added fame as being the local for Terry Darlington, the author of Narrow Dog to Carcassone.
As we cruised on late in the afternoon, I slowed right down as we passed this gentleman sign writing a boat from a floating pontoon, he was very grateful, saying that we were the only boat that had taken the trouble to slow sufficiently so as not to send him bobbing up and down. We moored for the night a little way before the Great Haywood Junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal. We hadn’t travelled any of this canal as yet, but tomorrow we would turn onto it, just for a mile or so to see what Tixall Wide was all about
As planned, on Saturday morning we turned onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal, passed the Anglo Welsh hire boats and few minutes later entered the wide expanse of water at Tixall, I don’t know why it was dug, but it is navigable right to the edges, so plenty of room to turn round. The imposing Tixall Gatehouse overlooks the water and maybe the owner wanted to look out onto a lake rather than just a canal, maybe that was the reason.
We retraced our route back onto the Trent and Mersey and briefly the facade of Shugborough Hall was visible. We kept going passed Rugeley and its power station, when another stately pile came into view, this time it was Spode House, home to another famous pottery family. The canal suddenly narrowed and was bounded by sheer rock walls with a short tunnel at the far end, this had been a much longer tunnel, but in 1971 it was opened to the air, as again subsidence caused by coal mining was causing a major problem.
A few more miles and Fradley Junction wasn’t far ahead, we tucked ourselves in behind a long line of moored boats, I couldn’t get the stern it tight and had to use the gang plank, but we would be fine for the night.