The character of the cruise has changed from the meandering of the Trent and Mersey and the Staffordshire and Worcester canals to the Straight and Narrow of the Birmingham and Liverpool (Shropshire Union) Main Line. The character is so contrasting. The cuttings give directness and speed and the embankments may give a better view over the surrounding countryside but we are not in a hurry this time!
We loved the little town of Penkridge with its marvelous Co-op supermatket and its charity shop. Unfortunately that was closed but it did support Katherine House, our local hospice in Banbury. I heard, however that the rioting on nearby Wolverhampton so upset the locals here that they closed the garage and supermarket early in case there was a repeat in sleepy little Penkridge.
The change came at Autherley Junction. Still a 'narrow canal' but this was built for speed. One of the straights on today's criuise was over a mile long and I didn't share it with any other craft, coming or going! A wonderful example of where to find peace in today's world: at the tiller of a narrowboat at 3 mph.
We are travelling slowly which gives time to observe the herons smd kingfishers along the way. A bit of additional birding was thwarted however because the Belvine Reservoir ios managed locally and limited to members and permot holders only. Permits have to be applied for in advance amd cannot be done over the internet. Pre-arrangements like this are difficult when on a boating holiday! My request fro permission by text was refused. Hopefully we will get another chance later in the cruise.
The final leg from Gnosall to Market Drayton takes us through hewn rock cuttings 25 feet deep and across embankments about 40 feet high. The passing is difficukt in the cutting when the oncoming boat slows to almost a stop for no apparent reason and the views are breathtaking from the embankment.
The last flight of locks down into Market Drayton (Tyley Locks) proved interesting only as a ahead amgaged to get itself onto the weir at the entrance to the first lock. The prop stopped as it was drawn in. We helped them rope back onto the lock mooring to inspect the damage through the weed hatch. Fortunately there was no damage and we had the lock set for us!
Into Market Drayton we encountered the 'leave a ring between boats' phenomenon. However as we progressed further on we found a beautiful almost empty mooring on the other side of town. We are no further from the centre but much more pleasantly siuated! We may stay here for the full 48 hoirs. We have time.
2 days ago