Monday 21 July 2014

Big Trip Home Day 10 - A great brew in Brewood

We left Gailey at a slightly late time of 9am with the aim of reaching the moorings by the Bridge Inn in Brewood.  This was perhaps asking a bit much but we were happy to stop short if necessary.

The lovely picturesque canal soon turned industrialised with storage depots and a large chemical plant dominating one area we passed through.  For the lads at work, no I'm not missing work one bit but.....
Familiar sight and sound of work.
The canal is less interesting for a while until Calf Health where a really tight turn and sweeping bend brings you to Hatherton Junction.  With Chris as look out in the bows I slowly began the turn.  Suddenly before Chris could warn me another boat came barrelling through the bridge 'ole.  By now AmyJo was right across the turn and in the way of the other boat turning in our direction.  My only option was to apply a little more power and move forward into the junction as he left it but unfortunately my prop wash stopped him completing the turn and he was force to stop and wind round.  The owner scowled fiercely at me as he tried to complete his turn.  Was I in the wrong by turning slowly into the junction or should I have set Chris ashore to check first?  I did think of sounding the horn but simply did not have time to do so before the other boat appeared at a rate of knots through the 'ole.

Hatherton Marina, the junction is to the right out of shot.
We did not get chance to photograph it because of the other boat.
After this the canal returned to its prettier side with some interesting gardens along the way.  Clearly money lives in these parts.

Novel use for a wagon wheel
On through Slade Heath's tight turns and on to Cross Green where the popular former boatman's pub the Fox and Anchor provides excellent overnight mooring if you can find a spot.

Next we pass under the M54.  The bridge here is currently being widened as part of improvements to the slip road and with its multitude of scaffolding and support trusses one cannot help but feel you are entering the bowls of an alien space ship straddling the cut.

Felt like saying take me to your leader at this point

Now more a tunnel than bridge, should we put the tunnel light on?
 A bit further on between bridges 68 and 67 is the narrows.  Pearsons Guide writes.  "Peneford Rockin is the old boatman's name for a shallow, but tellingly narrow cutting hewn by Brindley's navvies through a solid belt of sandstone.  The cutting half a mile long restricts the channel to such a degree that you begin to wonder if you have taken a wrong turn.  There are however, passing places like on a single lane road".

They were not kidding.  At this point I would like to point out after leaving Gailey and travelled 6 miles we only saw one boat coming the other way  After entering the narrows and travelled only 60 yards we were confronted with no less than four boats in succession!

Entering the narrows at bridge 68

boat No.1

boats 2 and 3

No passing at this point

boat no. 4

Safely passed.
Once out of the narrows and further on we passed a long line of huge popular trees standing guard at a large school, presumably to mask the canal from distracting pupils from their classes.  A few moments later we arrived at Autherley Junction.

I have to say I was both relieved and a bit disappointed not to find a throng of boats coming and going.  After putting Chris ashore to scout the junction was clear we only had to wait a few minutes for one boat to clear the stop lock before making the turn onto the Shropshire Union Canal and into the lock.

The arrow pointing towards the camera says "To Chester"

Waiting for the all clear to make the turn
The Junction itself.  Stop lock is just beyond the bridge portal
After the turn and entering the stop lock

Napton Boats and Chris disappeared for an Ice Cream and gifts
  Just after the lock is a water point so we stopped to top up. Whilst doing so AmyJo's latest non paying passenger boarded via the mooring line much like a tourist boarding a cruise liner.  It made itself comfortable on the stem post and did not even move when we untied and got under way.

We travelled at least half a mile before our passenger decided it had arrived where it wanted to be and jumped off.

At Pendeford itself I took the boat out of gear and coasted through the bridge 'oles as on the tow path at each one was a collection of rusting shopping trolleys, bicycles and other unrecognisable objects.  Not wanting to play trolley roulette I took no chances until clear of the neighbourhood.

From this point the canal turns from the familiar Oxtail soup brown of the last week to a very dark bottle green and for the first few miles is incredibly clear.  Since we left Crick we had got used to cruising at a throttle setting of between 12 to 1400 RPM to maintain a comfortable speed, however, since turning onto the Shroppie we have had to throttle back to 900 RPM to keep the speed down to the same level, as there is definitely a flow in our favour.

At one bridge we found a good way to sand and paint your boat in the cool shade under such and a few boats were making good use of this.  The bridge walls resembling the colour swatch of many a good brand of boat paint.

Cool spot to paint your boat out of the sun

For Jo and Keith.  The owner knew of Hadar but we did not have time
to get his name.
Whilst on a particular straight stretch of the canal we were met by a young C&RT lad who looked at our C&RT number, whipped out a tablet and proceeded to stab at it with a stylus.  "Ah AmyJo" he , proclaimed, took a photo of AmyJo's name on her side and added after consulting his tablet "Good, good, have a nice rest of the day" and sauntered off.  I can only assume he was indeed a C&RT official as he was wearing a white C&RT polo shirt and was simply checking we had a valid license.  At least I hope so.

Just after our encounter with the C&RT lad we came across
this beautiful old lady, clearly well looked after.

Ornate high bridges seem to be popular on this reach.

Lovely leafy vista but muddy tow path makes mooring a problem.

Or mooring tonight below the Bridge Inn, Brewood

Looking behind us

Our route today
Considering we moored up at 2:30pm we covered a surprising distance today and are now only 36 miles from Nantwich.  After enjoying a walk round the beautiful village here and acquiring a lovely looking pork pie from the local butchers, it would have been rude not to stop off at the Bridge Inn for a pint of excellent Thatchers Gold.  Now question is do I have another?.......

Total distance:12.60 miles Elapsed time:5h48m1s Locks:1 Bridges:40 

Average speed:2.17 mph (2.35 lock/mph) 

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