Derbyshire Calling

And so, on Tuesday morning we bid our last farewell to the Captain, locked Song & Dance down through Wood End Lock with lumps in our throats, and shortly thereafter turned the 90 degree bend that marks the Southern-most point of the Trent & Mersey Canal before making a mile-long beeline for Fradley Junction.

We managed to transit all the locks at Fradley without drama; for the first time in many years and for the first time in Song & Dance we went straight ahead at the Mucky Duck and stayed on the Trent & Mersey, rather than turning back South on the Coventry Canal. It was busy enough that we didn’t stop to take any (more) photos. We’ve loads from years ago and it hasn’t changed much!

Stopping for lunch at Alrewas – a nice village – we paid the obligatory visit to Coates the Butcher, a renowned emporium. Haven’t been there for far too long! Unfortunately the fridge and freezer were stuffed already, and all we had room for was a few rashers of their splendid bacon.

We carried on through the lovely Alrewas river section before getting to one of our least favourite parts of the Trent & Mersey: there’s a long section past Barton Turns where you are effectively the hard shoulder for the very busy and noisy A38. Pushing on, we finally tied up at Branston Water Park 20 minutes after the skies opened. A long day for us – 9.1 miles and 12 locks. Wet and knackered!

Branston Water ParkBranston Water Park

The weather in the morning was much better, so we went for a walk around the Branston Water Park lake before setting off. Didn’t see anything terribly noteworthy, not even a pickle jar, but it was a pleasant stroll.

Branston Water Park

This convolvulus looked kind of lonely…

Branston Water Park

… and the council had thought of everything, even installing a goose park.

Pushing off late on Wednesday morning, we were soon in the middle of Burton-on-Trent’s Shobnall Fields for lunch before ending up on Willington’s Visitor Moorings for the night. They’ve moved the co-op to the other side of the railway since we were last here, doubling the walk. Progress, I suppose.

And so it came to pass on Thursday morning that with Bromyard Festival calling SWMBO walked across the road the the station, and caught several trains back to Stone and Aston Marina to retrieve the car, while someone else – single-handed – took Song & Dance a mile or so down the canal and into the boat megalopolis and warren known as Mercia Marina – Europe’s largest inland marina, apparently.

There was only one taxi at Stone station, and two people got off the train. The were both going to Aston Marina to retrieve cars! Result. Madam was soon back in Derbyshire, and we began the serious task of packing for a weekend away.

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