Our Turn on YouTube!

Great Haywood, Gary Captain Phillips, Holly The Cafe Boat, The Deepest Lock, Westport Lake, Harecastle Tunnel and the Return of the Rains…

Where to begin…with an apology for starters.  We had meant to get this email update to you before now, but we hadn’t banked on O2 being the worst network for data at Westport Lake and Harecastle – but enough excuses, let’s fill you in on what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks, and the rough plan for the next few!

Well, what can be said about Great Haywood in the sunshine…it’s an amazing location for The Oatcake Boat and we certainly found out that Staffordians LOVE their oatcakes.  Not only are there lots of walkers, cyclists and campers but the location is a hive of activity on the canal network. Being at the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffs & Worcester canals and with lots of boater facilities, and Anglo-Welsh hire boats, plus the close proximity of Great Haywood Marina and moorings means there are many boaters too – all looking for their cost-effective and gorgeous grub 😉

It’s a popular spot for narrowboat traders of all types – from plants to jacket potatoes to arts and crafts that bring even more people out to enjoy the towpath. We also had a flying visit from Bargus – the legendary fuel boat – with whom a rather unusual deal was struck – oatcakes for … erm, there’s no nice way to put this – oatcakes for poo.  Yes, as well as fuel, coal, kindling and gas, the awesome Jay and Kat (and their lovely dog Lulu) also provide a toilet pumpout service, so they take our – waste – and we feed them oatcakes…not the sort of deal I’ve ever made before!

It all happened in Great Haywood that’s for sure. We had a surprise visit from a popular BoatTuber – Gary Captain Phillips and his lovely family who were moored nearby, and we were chuffed to be included in Gary’s latest vlog where he says some very nice things about us – cheers Gary, and hopefully, see you again soon.

If that wasn’t enough, arguably the most popular BoatTubers right now – the awesome Vic, Jo and baby William of Holly The Cafe Boat also paid us a visit – and although the heavens opened while they were filming, they seemed to enjoy their first taste of Staffordshire Oatcakes.  Keep an eye out on their YouTube channel, we can’t wait to see if we make the cut (excuse the pun!).

So finally after a couple of weekends at both Great Haywood and Stone, we finally had the incredible news that the recent rain had been just enough to persuade the Canal and River Trust (CRT) to open the locks from Stone to Stoke. Yes, at last – this meant we could get to Westport Lake – and also take in a visit to the CRTs activities day at Harecastle Tunnel.  The journey to Westport lake was fairly uneventful, except for tackling the HUGE lock number 40 at Etruria (the sunken boat near Middleport Pottery having finally been removed!). This lock has to be the deepest we’ve done, there’s no way I (Toby) could do it solo – I’d get vertigo climbing that ladder.  I think if I’m ever without crew (thanks Tommo for this stint!) I’ll be calling on Rob the Lock to help me out.

What can we say about Westport Lake?  So peaceful and idyllic, the Friday was busy (for a Friday) which is great – we found our feet (and the trick of moving the boat away from the towpath, so we could open the hatch doors as the bank is so high!) and had a really warm welcome from Westport Lake B’Oatcakers.

The Saturday was brilliant, as we traded next to the Makers Market – which pops up every last Saturday of the month and gives a real vibe to the corner of Westport Lake we moored up at.  We’ve said we will try and time our visits to coincide with the market, but that really will depend on when the Stoke games are I guess.  We shall check the fixtures!  

Westport Lake really did live up to expectations, and we can’t wait to be back – the plan being this Friday (30th Sept) to be precise. We would have stayed for the Saturday too but with the Stoke home game on Sunday being an early kickoff, we won’t have time to move and make enough oatcakes we don’t think – however we will be back again with the current plan being Sunday 8th October following the Stoke game on Saturday, and then for the following full weekend (Friday 14th to Sunday 16th October).

Last but not least – we loved being invited (well, we kinda invited ourselves in truth, but they loved the idea!) to the CRTs Activities Day on Sunday 25th September which was a roaring success, although sadly we were too busy to jump in one of the canoes for a paddle…maybe next time! We will be back soon though – for Scarecastle – the CRTs annual Halloween event which is always fun – this year from Thursday 27th to Monday 31st. See you there spooky B’Oatcakers!

See you soon, take care, and lots of love 🙂

Toby, Gina, Tommo and Alice
The Oatcake Boat xxx