A bright sunny morning with a cold NW breeze but we were sheltered as we motored behind the coal boat through Fazeley and Ravenshaw woods. The sun was twinkling through the trees and made a beautiful spectacle.
We soon passed Kings Bromley Marina from where we had hired Nb. Privateer and which lead us into meeting up with the crew of Nb. Autumn Years who became very expensive friends as it was only after seeing their lovely boat that we wanted one ourselves.
Once through Handsacre and Armitage home of the infamous Loo maker we encountered the narrow stretch of canal which used to be the Armitage Tunnel but is now opened up. However, those travelling north cannot see through so the crew must walk up ahead to see if it is safe to travel. June went ahead and signalled that a boat was coming. We then proceeded through whilst June ensured no other boats entered. Spode House with its golf club came up next, a very impressive building in nice surroundings on the hillside.
At Rugeley we found plenty of moorings and so stopped to do yet more shopping. A new 24hr Tesco has been built adjacent to bridge 66 since we were here last in 2012. The town has a lovely old Market Hall and outside market. We also found the new indoor market where we met a lady and a blind gentleman who had just lost his Guide Dog 3 weeks ago and wanted to make a big fuss of Ecco.We chatted to them for some while and then headed back to the boat.
The town, historically known as Rudgeley or Ridgeley, is listed in the Domesday Book. This name is thought to be derived from 'Ridge lee', or 'the hill over the field'. In the mediaeval period, it thrived on iron workings and was also a site of glass manufacturing. During the Industrial Revolution the economy of Rugeley benefited from the construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal and then from it becoming a junction on the railway network.Although smaller pits had existed beforehand, the town became a centre of industrial scale deep shaft coal mining from the 1950s, taking advantage of the geological faults that cause coal seams under Cannock Chase
Approaching Wolseley bridge Bishton House, formerly the home of the Northcote family comes into view, a very impressive building. Bishton was first cited in the Domesday Book, a review of the properties of England created for William I back in 1096. The current house was built around 1750, with its East wing added in Victorian times. It is now a popular wedding venue.
We moored up just before the bridge and when I took Ecco a walk I came across this unusual sub-terranian building. It seems to be built partly under the towpath with its main opening onto the river but does not seem to have an obvious function.