Algae stops my lab swimming, I pass Willington & Burton on Narrowboat

Good morning. I’ve left Lowes Lane. Lovely
mooring there, I’ve spent many a week there and I’m still heading west along
the Trent & Mersey today. The next lock is Stenson Lock and personally I think
that’s the worst lock that I’ve ever experienced. It is horrible. The ground
paddles work the opposite way around, when you’re coming down the lock there
is bits of the gate don’t work, I don’t know if that’s Canal & River Trust or
other boaters, I’m not quite sure. There’s a bit of a debate about that and going
up the lock, which I will be going today, it’s just a nightmare because it’s so
powerful and because it’s such a deep lock, the rope is really long up to the
the bank and if there’s any movement of the boat the the rope stretches and it
swings the boat across the wide lock and bashes into the wall, and just to make
things worse there’s a cafe there and I’m sure they’ve got some sort of
scoreboard on like a chalk board on their wall going, yep there’s another one,
yeah there’s another one. So hopefully, I won’t do that today. I’ll take it nice
and easy. [Music] Once I ascend the lock at Stenson I
sweep down past Mercia Marina. It’s the largest inland marina in Europe
and many wooden cabins surround the various lakes within the 24 acre site.
The village of Willington is positioned further along my route and is the last
place wide-beam boats can navigate. The Trent & Mersey Canal then turns south
neighbouring the A38 highway down to Burton upon Trent. In 1880 there were
over 30 breweries based here producing a quarter of all beer sold in Britain. Then
as the canal turns towards the southwest it joins the River Trent passing a
strong Weir and up into the village of Alrewas, where I was due to moor up for
the night. Willington is a great place to stay for
a few days. There’s a winding hole, water, bins and elsan here and in the village
itself, there’s a post office, train station, fish and chip shop, and a general
store. Right next to the canal are a number of pubs and restaurants and a
large free car park, where I left my car. I’ve just untied and pushed the boat out
into the canal and just as I was walking back to the stern to untie that end,
another boat had also pushed out and had already been out into the canal. Now,
there’s nothing worse (because it’s all single locks from here on) you untying to
drive off and someone else sees it and unties and tries to get in front of
you. It’s not fair. It’s not the way to do things. So I bet his his heart sunk when
he saw my nose go out, but I’ve been nice and polite and I’ve pulled the boat back
in and allowing him to go first and I will help him through the locks. [Music] Just arrived at Dallow Lock. It’s just
north of the town of Burton and it’s a narrow lock which is brilliant because
the last couple of months I’ve been on wide locks. This is a very shallow narrow
lock as well so it’s extremely fast to fill up, and empty
especially when it’s got a boat in. I must say Molly is extremely good,
even at locks, even when other people and dogs go past she will always stay on the
boat and she always sort of looks out either side to keep an eye on where I am
but she’s very good, she’ll never get off unless I say so. When there’s split gates like this lock
because the the jump is only sort of three and a bit foot, a lot of
people will just jump it and I don’t like doing that because all it takes is
for me to slip and bang my head and in the water I fall. Because there is a
bit of a fall here I would say it sort of four, five foot, four foot and that
could be dangerous especially when you’re on your own so I always go round. Just as you come around the corner there,
there’s a real sense of hops in the air. There’s a couple of breweries based in
the town of Burton. It’s famous for it because in historic times the water was
very, very pure here but there’s a real smell in the air. It sort of smells a bit
like warm Weetabix. Now some people will say that’s a nice smell and some people
say it’s not but it’s always here. It’s always really difficult when you
get to a bridge at equal distances and there’s someone coming in the opposite
direction. Normally it’s classed as whoever goes through the bridge first
obviously has it. In my case, I’ve got lots of boats either side it’s a little
bit more tricky, so the guy ahead has really nicely given way so that I can
get through. If you were traveling north towards Burton and didn’t want to
moor up in the actual town itself, say for example you didn’t want the
noise on a Friday or Saturday night, I would suggest you more
just after Branston Lock. It’s beautiful surroundings and don’t be fooled by the
how close the A38 is, because it’s really, really quiet. [Music] Just walking through the centre of
Branston Water Park. It’s a series of different lakes here with lots and lots
of wildlife. A lot of different types of bird and lots of vegetation. Now one
thing to note it’s OK for Molly to drink out of the cut or her water bowl, which
is always on the stern of Alice, but don’t let dogs drink out of the
lakes here. Molly is dying too, especially as the the banks are quite shallow and
she can walk straight down there but there’s some sort of algae in the water
that can be dangerous for dogs. So I’ve got to really keep an eye on her today. You can’t swim in this one I’m afraid. This is the sort of location that Molly
would have absolutely loved to swim in. Nice shallow banks, lots of clear water,
lots of sticks around – not today! Bridge number 36 ahead of me looks so
narrow you can’t fit through, but obviously you can. I’m just going to go
nice and slow and see if I can squeeze Alice through the arch. It’s always interesting this bit ahead
because there’s this great big bridge and you’ve got to squeeze down the
right-hand side of it. Sometimes I bash the sides sometimes I don’t so let’s see
what happens today. Well just as I was saying about the
tight fit underneath the bridge, boom there was another boat coming in the
opposite direction. As normal, when you get to bridges whoever is at the bridge
first goes through and he did realise that I was there first but, and he sort
of waited in the background but it’s just typical, I’ve not seen a boat all day
and then suddenly one a the really tight point. Just around the next corner there is
quite strong weir. Now when this river is in flood it’s extremely dangerous,
today it’s perfectly calm but I still need to keep on the towpath side. [Music] {Molly, other side} {Other side} That’s my latest training. She goes round
the back of me on to the other side of me. This is just typical, it’s been bone-dry
all day and now that I’ve come out for an evening walk with Molly and it starts
to rain. I haven’t got my rain jacket on, so I’m just going to head back to the
boat. Oh dear, really nice village though. Which is where I moored up for the night.
Until next time, see you later.


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