At 5am this morning sleep evaded us and having tried for an hour to fall back to sleep we relented and had a cuppa in bed before getting up.
We needed to fill up our water tank and so pulled the boat forward to the tap long before anyone else was about. The pressure was poor and after 3/4 hr we gave up and decided we would manage with whatever water we had. In the intervening time we’d had a bowl of porridge and another cuppa and were ready for the off.
We also need diesel. Bretton Wharf didn’t open until 9.30am and we didn’t really want to wait around that long. Having dipped the tank we reckoned that we had enough fuel to get to Norbury Junction but that we would be pushing it to get to the cheaper diesel at Wheaton Ashton. We decided that if the diesel at Norbury was extortionate, we would just get a few litres there and then fill up later with cheaper fuel. Norbury however were quite reasonable and so we filled up there and also treated ourselves to a new ash boat pole as our old pine pole broke recently, thankfully not causing any damage to man as it collapsed.
21 miles and 6 locks to Brewood was our target destination today where we planned to catch up with friends, Andy and Mandy, who left our mooring last week and who’d been enjoying a leisurely cruise towards Birmingham. Had our car not let us down last week we’d been planning to travel in tandem with them for two weeks but now we’re going to spend the rest of this week with them before we each go our separate ways.
At Tyrley Locks we saw our first CRT volunteers of this trip and they helped us up through the flight of five locks in record time. A couple of locks here have very strong by-washes that make entering the lock without making contact with the lock walls almost impossible, because they force the boat off course just as you’ve lined it up perfectly for the lock. Added to that there is a ledge under the water close to the tow path edge that you need to avoid getting caught on. A bit of a nightmare for the inexperienced.
After the locks we entered the very narrow and overgrown Woodeaves Cutting; this time we had an uneventful trip through as last time we had to cut our way out after a tree fell across the canal.
From here we had a 17 mile lock free pound to travel along, interrupted only by several miles of moored boats that we had to pass at tickover.
The Shroppie is a very picturesque canal with views over Shropshire to the Wrekin and some beautiful canal bridges, wharfs, towns and villages along the way.
We reached Brewood at 6pm and after a bite to eat we joined Andy and Mandy in the Bridge Inn and had a lovely evening hearing about their foraging exploits and admiring the fascinating photographs of the insects and beetles they’d discovered among the grasses of the towpath.