Apologies for the recent radio silence, EE having decided we had used our monthly allowance (I don’t think so!) and our back up, tethering on GiffGaff, was impossible due to the poor signal, so no internet to upload our blog… Prepare for a catch-up edition.
After waiting at Penkridge until Saturday morning for our post to arrive, the rain arrived with it and so we just moved up through Filance Lock to the 5 day moorings overnight, as we had already been on the 48hr moorings too long. Incidentally, Penkridge market is great and was worth braving the drizzle.
Sunday morning was a great improvement and off we went, but no sooner than we had set off another boater hailed us and asked if we could oblige him with a jump start which we duly achieved. Our good deed for the day done it was off towards Gailey, there were about five locks on our way, all pretty easy and the M6 closed in again for a while as the map shows.
Our Pearson’s guide tells us that after the motorway was built, the lockkeeper at Rodbaston Lock couldn’t stand the noise and moved out of his cottage which was subsequently demolished. The two picture are taken just yards apart and in the second one you wouldn’t guess there was a motorway behind the trees.
As we approached Gailey with it’s distinctive round lock house we noticed that the lock gates were open and we realised that a kind soul had spotted us coming and opened them for us. Whilst in the lock we ascertained that we could get a pump out at the adjacent J.D. Boat services and fill up with water just opposite. Having done all that we decided we would stop for lunch, but in the event we stayed there for the night and let Catty have a roam in the nearby woods. Meanwhile I dealt with a slight diesel leak which I had discovered whilst jump starting that boat and fitted the warning panel for my new Fuel Guard water separator.
It turned out that it was Cosford Air Show and we were treated to some flying displays including a Vulcan roaring overhead, needless to say I wasn’t quick enough to get any photos, but the Shropshire Star reports on it here, and here is a YouTube video. A reminder of when I was a lad living near Boscombe Down and saw them on an almost daily basis.
We have had some lazy days lately but on Monday we covered about 15 miles, we first headed south to Autherley Junction then turned north, through the stop lock (just about 6 inches difference in water level!) and we were on the Shropshire Union canal.
The Shroppie is a broad (but not enough for wide beam boats) straight waterway characterised by cuttings and embankments being the last trunk narrow canal route to be built in England. It was not completed until 1835 and was the last major civil engineering accomplishment of Thomas Telford.
We stopped for a cuppa at Brewood (most appropriate as it’s pronounced Brewed) but the mooring was in one of Mr Telford’s cuttings and a bit lacking in sunlight so we decided to cruise a further hour to Wheaton Aston. We passed Dave on Free Spirit Rising, another ex-employee from Heyford Wharf and nb Timewarp again on the way. Then it was through the only lock in 25 miles (apparently) and soon after we found ourselves a berth.
So a long day, for us… seven hours! After that we thought we deserved to treat ourselves to dinner at The Hartley Arms, it obviously has a good reputation as it was packed with diners but we didn’t have to wait too long for our meal and very good it was too. After we had a short walk to the village shop and an early night.
After yesterday’s exertions today started around 10 am, first we reversed to Turner’s Garage where, reputedly, the cheapest diesel on the canal system is to be purchased at 58.9p/litre. We met nb Timewarp there (yet again) regrettably we couldn’t squeeze in more than 45 litres, but every little helps!
We stopped for lunch after the short Cowley Tunnel outside the Boat Inn at Gnosall it seemed a nice place and we were debating whether to move on or not, when Catty decided it was a nice place too and escaped through the kitchen window and went exploring. She returned large as life about half hour later by which time we had decided to stay. We walked into the village and patronised the village stores, later we might patronise the village pub too!