We were ready and waiting for the lock keeper to open the locks at 8 am and by 8.30 we were at the top. The goal was Breewood on the Shropshire Union.........Geoff has a touch of pressonitis at the moment as we would like to be on and off the Llangollen before the school holidays.
Going up Bratch Locks with Lock keepers shop at the top
Three locks further on at Dimmingsdale Lock this was the sight that greeted me as I rose in the lock. Apparently it was a purebred Arab but it did seem a strange place to take it to graze. Maybe the owner had a contract with British Waterways to keep the grass cut round the lock!!
We had a planned stop at Compton on the western outskirts of Wolverhampton to buy the paper. They have an excellent local store called Daisy which is highly recommended. We noticed a boat yard also which was advertising fuel at 59p a litre and having ascertained that we could declare our own split we decided to fill up. We had intended filling up at the garage at Wheaton Aston on the Shroppie as he is normally the cheapest around, but since we couldn't find a phone number for him to ascertain that we could declare our own split, we decided to go ahead. (Read Friday's blog!)
A very pleasant run up to Autherley Junction where we turned left onto the Shropshire Union.
Our memories of this canal are not good. We came here two years ago and did the trip up to Brewood in torrential rain. We pressed on that time because we had arranged to meet Perentis with Dick & Jill and Geoff vowed than that he would never do that sort of trip again! It was also the time of the earlier heavy rains in 2007 and it made the many narrow tree-lined cuttings on the Shroppie even more dismal....we were hoping to revise our opinion this time.
We eventually stopped just short of Breewood about 2pm. There were 48hr moorings in the open which were not shown in our guide book. There were a couple of other boats there and since they were officially designated a moorings the edge did not have the dreaded shelf which seems to be all along this canal. We both retired below for a siesta and were surprised when we emerged a couple of hours later to see we were surrounded by boats. Geoff learned later, whilst out walking and chatting as he is wont to do, that a lot of them were Stephen Goldsborough boats on their way to an owners rally in Chester at the beginning of July. We had in fact today met more boats than we have done all summer.
Friday 26th JuneWe wanted to be in Audlem for the weekend (We know there is a church and also a pub for Sunday Lunch!) so we had a very early start.......6am.......it was a grey chilly morning, is it really late June? This section of the Shroppie has only one lock but what seems like thousands of bridges. All the bridge holes are only wide enough for one boat to pass and it seemed that at almost every one there was a boat coming the other way who was just that bit closer to the bridge so had right of way. As yesterday there seems to be many more boats on the move.
Unusual bridge with surviving telegraph pole
Going through Wheaton Aston we checked the price of Fuel at the garage we had been going to fill up at.................just under 50p a litre!!!!!! As far as we know(from a resident boat) you could declare your own split. C'est la Vie!
We passed through the many dingy cuttings where the phrase "Stygian gloom" springs to mind. Admittedly they were not as bad as when we went through 2 years ago in heavy rain with fallen tree branches littering our way. Luckily when we went through Woodseaves Cutting which is the worst of all as passing can be difficult, we did not meet anyone coming the other way.
Weather eventually perked up and we even had a little sunshine. Moored just before 2pm, which is a very long day for us and not to be repeated too often!!! We are moored just above Tyrley Locks ready for yet another early start. Lots of locks tomorrow.........