Monday 12 August 2019

Summer Cruise Day 6 Market Drayton to Gnosall Heath

Once again I woke early and got up.  Peering through the Houdini hatch I could see the morning was another dull Grey one.  I took Smudge for his usual morning walk in the damp air and then prepped AmyJo for cruising.  After 3 wash loads our water reserves were low and so we wanted to top up.  The water point was just a few yards ahead through a bridge 'ole opposite Drayton wharf.  

No sooner had we got underway the evens opened up.  I pulled onto the water tap and was grateful to sit out the rain under the pram hood whilst the tank filled.

The view from the cratch window.  This was when the rain eased!

Water tank full we pressed on in the torrential rain.  It continued as we ascended Tyrely locks ( pronounced Tirley).  Mercifully boats were descending at each lock so Chris had help lockwheeling.  She had her boaters coat on and discovered it is not that waterproof.  In fact she got soaked through so had to change once we cleared the locks.  Reckon we're going to replace the coat pretty soon.

A rather wet looking Chris discovering her coat is not fully waterproof

The heavy rain adds to the gloom at Tyrell locks 2 and 3.
As fast as it started the rain thankfully stopped as AmyJo edged into the top lock.  You may notice a slight blur in to centre of the photos.  Unfortunately Chris's camera is starting to show signs of wear and the lens may be clouding up.

Manicured Lock cottages at Tyrely top lock
I had to answer the call of nature so went below.  As I walked through the boat I could hear water running.  At one of the locks the bywash was so strong I could not avoid hitting the lock wall.  The collision had caused the drying rack on the drainer to fall over turning on the tap.  A check on the gauge showed we had wasted half a tank!

Just before Woodeaves Cutting we spotted this tiny boat.  I'm sure we've seen it elsewhere before 

Lovely little boat looks top heavy.
 On into Woodeaves cutting by now looking quite tropical with a hint of sun and everything dripping from the rain.  Not one boat was met as we crept through at 2 mph as advised by the notice boards.  When Woodeaves was dug out through solid rock and there were frequent avalanches during its construction, its easy to see why.  Even today occasional slips still occur hence the advice to slow to 2mph.

The rock at the canal sides barely visible now, hidden by lichens and ferns

One of two 80 foot high bridges that cross the cutting.
 At Goldstone wharf we found a boat had just filled with water and its owner packing away the hose.  Good fortune we thought as we now needed to top up again.  As I pulled up the gent disappeared down below.  Noting he had a full set of mooring warps out I was unsure if he intended to move.  I shouted forward to Chris that we would be needing two hoses.  A few minutes later he re emerged to ask if we wanted water which I confirmed I did.  By the look of the frown on his face was clear he did not want to move but begrudgingly got under way.  As they passed he asked his wife if she still wanted to stop.  "No not now we've had to move off" she retorted sternly.  Clearly they were not happy they had to move off the water point.

Goldstone Wharf.  The food here is excellent, or it was last time we were here.

The Shropshire union canal is quite a young canal compared to most and as such is straighter.  The result of this is the journey is interspersed with cuttings which are covered by woods or high embankments.  The latter give stunning views of the countryside like this one.

View like this abound from the high embankments
 Shortly after Goldstone we came across a fishing competition.  We passed 4 miles of fishermen!  There seemed no end of them.  I kept our speed to just above tickover and stayed in the middle of the channel.  This seems to have gone down well with the fishermen as many thanked us as we passed.

Fishermen as far as the eye could see in either direction
At Knighton we passed the Cadburys Chocolate factory wharf where the well known Chocolate Charle delivered the last cargo in 1961.  Today the factory even makes birds Custard.

Approach to the Cadburys factory

The wharf now houses a large polytunnel for painting boats complete with extractor fan and trunking
At Shebdon wharf this motor and butty look like they could be holiday boats but need some TLC

Think this boat is a bit off piste
 At bridge 42 there is a bend in the canal so one cannot see anything coming from the other way.  I edged forward slowly to the bridge but had to reverse hard as a hire boat coming the other way came in sight at a pace.  The helm apologising profusely as he passed.  Before I could get underway another boat appeared so I waved him through.  All this took place under the gaze of the patrons of the delightful little Anchor Inn.  Its still open and very popular with the boaters.

Open for business the Anchor is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
From an embankment we cruised into the next cutting, Grub Street cutting.  This is another 80 foot deep cutting.  At one point in the middle of the woods we came across this Land Rover in the trees.  Not unusual you might say except there are no roads for miles at this level of the cutting.

Blink and you'll miss it
 Grub street cutting is most notable for its double arched bridge carrying the A519.  Its top arch housing the remains of a telegraph pole, the last remaining one of many that would have lined to canal.  Nowadays the communications is via fibre optics buried deep below the towpath

The much photographed double arched bridge and telephone pole.  Sadly now its use is a glorified bird perch
Just after Grub street we came upon Norbury junction.  Busy as ever with throngs of gongoozlers enjoying the coffee and gift shops. Here the diesel is only 76p a litre, the cheapest on the network the notice board declares, that's if you can get near the fuel pump for moored hire boats!

Busy Norbury wharf
 Norbury junction is no longer a Junction.  It connection to the Newport Branch canal blocked barely a dozen meters back.  It is now home to several historic boats on long term moorings

Norbury junction now moorings line it's few meters of water.

Unusual stern on this beautifully painted boat.
 A half hour run over the Shelmore Embankment saw us cruising into today's destination, Gnosall Heath (pronounced No zull).  By now it was 4pm and I held little hope of getting a mooring, but to my surprise a good mooring was had not far from "The Boat" pub. so we moored up for the night.  We'll be sampling the pub after dinner :-)

America has Sesame Street.  Here in England we have Bourbon Street
Sadly no map on this post, for some reason Waterways map of our route will not display correctly, something about a missing API.

Total distance:13.56 miles Elapsed time:6h48m27s Locks:5 Bridges:34 
Average speed:1.99 mph (2.73 lock/mph) 

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