Before leaving Wheaton Aston this morning, and working the lock there, we filled up with water. After that we travelled through more of the woodland cuttings that Telford created when he carved out this canal. The cast iron Stretton Aquaduct took us over the A5 and towards Brewood where we moored for lunch before continuing on under the balustraded Avenue Bridge which leads to Chillington Hall and out into open countryside where we moored for the night, where we can just make out the sound of traffic from the M54 motorway.
Training day. I passed my RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate. I discovered you are never too old to learn new tricks and had a thoroughly enjoyable day playing about on the cut.
We ended the day at Wheaton Aston and took Max for a walk to explore the village, as we’d never stopped here before. The village was an extraordinary mix of old and new buildings and the church marked the heart of the village being just off the main road. The staff in the Spar shop, opposite the church, were particularly welcoming.
Spring cleaned the boat throughout as the muddy towpaths and wet dog have left their mark!
The pub was closed! Our Nicholson’s canal guide makes mention that the pub amazes the traveller by its very survival situated as it is on a quiet road and hidden from view from the canal. C’est la vie!
We headed off after breakfast for Norbury Junction, a distance of only three and half miles. A telephone call from dear friends inviting us to join them for a pie and a pint in the Junction Inn there at lunch-time was a lovely surprise.
We got to the junction in good time and filled up with diesel and bought more coal before moving onto the visitor moorings. After a quick wash and a change we went off to meet our friends and enjoy their company and the amazing home-made pies that the pub provides.
A large meal at lunch-time ensured we did little else afterwards.
Having secured a day’s IWA Helmsman Training for next Monday morning at Norbury Junction I nipped back into town to get a passport photo which I hope I will need for my certificate, before we cast off and headed towards Tyrley Locks (five locks).
Someone had had some fun providing a canal side sculpture.
Tyrley Wharf comprises a delightful group of buildings and we got a cheery wave from the retired couple who live in the left end cottage who watched us come into the top lock.
We then headed off towards Woodseaves Cutting. This is an amazingly atmospheric place, made even eerier by the shrill cry of the circling buzzards flying above us. We wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d been attacked by trolls.
This deep cutting was hewn from sandstone by man without any powered machinery, and over years has become tree lined with everything covered in a bright green woolly layer of lichen.
Following last week’s high winds the canal had been closed here due to a couple of felled trees but the CRT guys have been down and made the canal passable again but we still needed to pick our way carefully between all the floating vegetation at two miles an hour.
The Wrekin became clearly visible about 15 miles in the distance. Just before we got to Shebdon Embankment we ground to a halt mid-canal with a loud grinding noise coming from under the boat. We cut the power and by applying our weight to one side of the boat, and using the boating pole, we managed to get ourselves afloat again and although there was nothing evident we assumed we’d run over a large submerged log.
Being out in the open, the temperature had plummeted and we decided to moor up at the end of the Shebdon Embankment next to the aqueduct, where surprise surprise, there is a pub!
After a bit of a lie in we went off into Market Drayton to shop and stock up with food. We previously visited Market Drayton in 2010 and it was nice to wander around reacquainting ourselves with the town. It is the home of the Joules Brewery and at one time the town had more than its share of hostelries but quite a number of these have now closed. The town has some interesting buildings suggesting that the town has enjoyed better times in the past.
We returned to the boat with laden bags and as the skies suggested an afternoon of showers, we decided to stay another night. Storm continued to work on his locker tops, which are now nearing completion and I did some baking, followed by some knitting.
A glorious sunny morning and we moved off up the remaining 13 locks comprising the Audlum flight. Storm opted to steer today and I went off to set the first lock. It was so warm I soon ditched my hat, gloves and coat.
At the top of the flight we saw our first sight of snow on the Welsh hilltops. Amazing considering today was the warmest day this year so far.
We’d cleared the flight by 12.30pm and continued on to a mooring site at Adderley for lunch. After letting this settle we continued on through the next five locks and headed for Market Drayton before calling it a day.