Sunday, 9 July 2017

I've had a roaring in my ears

Oh what an unremittingly tedious stretch of canal these first fifteen miles of the Trent & Mersey make.
Having dispatched the heavy and awkward first five double width locks of the canal we join the railway, briefly, and then the roar of the A38 trunk road which accompanies the canal, sometimes separated by little more than a bit of Armco, for mile after noisy mile. And, having spent too long moored by the A38 in the past, I can tell you that this road is never quiet.
The road is one thing, the dreary long straights through a landscape of gravel pits, old and new, is another. There's little to distract you from the traffic roar.
Despite all this the little town of Willington (above) continues to thrive. Once known only for its power station cooling towers it's become the go-to destination on a sunny weekend for anyone fancying a spot of waterway entertainment. It's puffed its chest out and said 'come on in, tourists'.
The Green Dragon pub, which had just become a decent eaterie when we last visited has expanded dramatically, taking over the adjacent two properties for B&B accommodation and doubling its garden. It was heaving. So was the new tea room round the corner. And even the other two local boozers weren't quiet. Up the road, the already huge Mercia Marina has more shops, waterside cabins and bars under construction too.
And of course there are us boaters as part of the Saturday show.
A rare vertical rainbow or sundog
We visited the (new, improved) Co-op then headed out in search of a mooring with bit more quiet and a decent phone signal. We found the latter but the A38 was now droning past nearby. At least the railway was gone. And we saw a rare vertical rainbow, a sundog, caused apparently by the sun reflecting off ice crystals in high clouds.
A lonely looking black swan in Burton
Today saw us head through Burton upon Trent, with a brief shop stop at the local Lidl, a couple of forlorn looking streets away from our mooring in this every-dowdy town. And then out into the country again - which won't seemingly be country much longer. A new bridge and road next to the Bridge Inn at Branston will lead to a massive new housing development - to be called, wait for it, 'Branston Locks'.
Tatenhill Lock; a pretty spot of calm amid the traffic din
This will add yet more noise to the A38 which now marched beside us more or less unrelentingly for five miles until we reached Wychnor Lock. Here the canal swerves away and, briefly, merges with the River Trent – which makes things tricky in bad weather – before reaching the peaceful sanctuary of pretty Alrewas, where we are now.

A boat name that is exactly what it says on the tin

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