Saturday 27 April 2024


Today's Canal - Shropshire Union

Just after 10 when we set off -  very over cast and chilly, not good for a day of mostly level cruising. At least the rain kept away whilst we were on the move - tomorrow iex not expected to even be dry!

Shortly after leaving we passed under the M54 - the picture shows just how dull it was.

Along section of towpath was closed between Hattons and Brewood (although it was clear that the fencing has been 'bypassed' quite a few times!)

The 'blockage' did not seem to be that difficult to clear and the larger stump, just to the left of this picture, is already quite well weathered. However, the CaRT Stoppage Notice indicates that there are concerns about a crack in the towpath that may take some time to fix.

Just a photo to show the scenic nature of long stretches of the Shroppie but which are also responsible for frequent closures and restorations.

The southern part of the Shroppie does not have many hire boats based here (although as part of several popular rings, many from elsewhere on the network often pass through) Countrywide Cruisers is based at Brewood. It was founded over 35 years and remains a family business. As is reported from most places,. the hire fleet is currently far from busy and some of this still moored did  not look as if they have yet been prepared for hirers. The fleet is looking a little tired. We did pass one of heir boats a little later in the day.

One of the oldest long distance transport system in the country is Watling Street. Now that faster alternatives via motorways are available, this road today was not too busy - in the past it could often be nose-to-tail.

We began to meet a number of walking groups, largely army and air cadets. Some were just a handful but this one was around a hundred!. Over an hour and half, perhaps a little longer, we must have seen several hundred - we were told later that up to 700 from all over the country take part, but the two day event, starting from RAF  Cosford, offers a choice of lengths and routes. By the time they passed us they had already done 15 miles (joining the towpath at Wheaton Aston) and aimed to complete 25 today and more to follow tomorrow. They looked well organised - obviously dispatched are regular intervals - and very keen.

The lonely lock at Wheaton Aston arrived around midday - we passed a boat that had just come up only a short distance away so it was full for us. 

Below the lock is a set of services - unusually a line of water points. Hence we had no threat of having to queue, as has happened to us in the past.  Mike chatted to a boater that had just moved across from a permanent mooring just opposite. Formerly a dedicated continuous cruiser, he now has a partner and small girl, just starting school in the nearby village. Hence they have found it important to be able to be nearby and so have taken this mooring. They are still very committed to a life on water!

After filling and emptying, we pulled forward a couple of boat lengths onto the 48 hr moorings for lunch. When we set off again we immediately passed this short, stumpy boat. We think that they trade in arts and crafts  but we have found only a little about them.

A long line of empty offside moorings between Little and High Onn seems to be under renovation (it was needed!) but we were surprised to see the new section with mooring points on the inside of the pontoon. Would this not make it difficult with ropes across the access?

Bridge 26 is a splendid turnover bridge. Although this design, with the long and roomy slopes, was an improvement on some early bridges that required a towrope to be detached whilst the boat went underneath, even later designs such as several on the Macclesfield, made the route for the horse even easier.

The very short Cowley Tunnel, hewn out of solid rock, signalled the imminent arrival in to Gnosall with its extensive Visitor Moorings. We passed on the first section as it was still in a cutting and phone signals likely to be poor, but pulled in at the next, just far enough away from the pub.

The tunnel was originally going to be much longer but, solid though it may seem, the rock proved not strong enough for tunnelling and had to be opened out into a cutting.

11.7 Miles - 1 Lock

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