The moorings below Gailey Lock are surprisingly quiet, given the proximity of the A5, the M6, and the railway line. We set off just before 8.30 this morning, but not before the boat of retired Guides which had been moored behind us. It meant we had to turn the first lock, and indeed every lock, during the day. The field next to the first lock housed an inquisitive cow.
We travelled through Penkridge, and while the boat dropped down the lock I went to the little shop alongside for some milk. This end of the Staffs and Worcs isn't nearly as pretty as the other end (through Kinver and down to Stourport), but the countryside is pleasant enough.
The prettiest lock of the day was undoubtedly Tixall Lock, with both a cottage and a bridge.
We arrived at Tixall Wide looking for a place to moor. We went past the first space, wondering if there was another a bit further along. There wasn't so we used the width of the water and did a u-turn, then another to get into the first space we'd seen.
We were tied up by 2.30pm, so walked into Great Haywood. First stop was the little tea rooms by the lock, where we had tea and flapjack. Then we went to the shop in the village, and the Canalside Farm Shop, which has changed beyond all recognition since we were last here. It now looks very professional. As we walked back across the junction bridge, a former working boat, Lindsay, made the turn from the T&M into the Staffs and Worcs. It had a sign on the side saying Etruria Boat Volunteers (although I thought the museum itself was now closed).
It's been really warm and sunny this afternoon. We've shuffled the boat along a bit so another could fit in, and we've talked to people on the towpath whom we met two weeks ago or so when we were both heading north. Across the wide is the Tixall Gatehouse, whose main house was demolished long ago, and which can now be rented for a holiday.
12 miles, 11 locks. (308 miles, 178 locks)