This week we are moored at the little Staffordshire village of Wheaton Aston,on the Shropshire Union canal,about half hours drive North of Wolverhampton.There are boating services here so we have been able to fill with water and get rid of all our rubbish and opposite us there’s a great pub called The Hartley Arms with free WiFi.There is also internet and ‘phone reception where we are moored,south of Tavern Bridge 19,the tavern being the Hartley Arms I guess,so sadly we don’t have to go for a pint just to get our emails.We got here on Saturday afternoon after paying a final visit to the Post Office in Brewood and picking up our mail.One of the difficulties when you live on a boat is getting mail,so earlier in the week we asked at the Post Office in Brewood if they operated what is called “Poste-restante” where they accept and hold mail for anyone,not just boaters.They confirmed that they did and were very helpful,we had the mail sent,it arrived Saturday and there’s no charge other than the postage.An excellent facility that we will use again.
We left the SUCS moorings on Wednesday and moved up the Shroppie,a couple of miles or so to just beyond Brewood Wharf,the base of Countrywide Cruisers,a company I haven’t hired from but have been told is good.This mooring wasn’t the best as far as internet goes,the signal being a bit weak,but the mooring was open and not too far from the village,handy for a beer in the Swan,after doing the shopping.The Swan is a proper pub with a selection of real ales and unusually,they don’t do food.There are some good shops in Brewood too,in particular the butchers,W.Maiden & Sons,who are very helpful and have a nice selection of produce.Amongst other things we bought some Venison for Sunday lunch and it was delicious.
There’s me admiring the Stonemasons handiwork on Avenue Bridge No.10.This bridge was built by Thomas Telford around 1830 and the track across it goes to Chillington Hall.On the right is the ornate cast iron Stretton Aqueduct that crosses the A5 Watling Street and this was also built by Telford in 1832.
On the left is Speedwell Castle in Brewood.It is claimed that it was built in the middle of the 18th Century using the proceeds from a successful bet on a horse called Speedwell.On the right is a view along the Shroppie as we cruised up to our current mooring.
On Thursday we took the opportunity to go over to Stafford again,this time on the bus,just for a day out and to brows the shops looking for bits and pieces for the decor on Chyandour.To find out about bus or train services from wherever we are moored,I use Traveline and so far it’s been pretty good,giving us most of the details we need to get out and about.The Internet is a real bonus for us,it makes life a lot easier being able to Google our questions.We can find out what’s near to us as well as what is reasonably accessible and there’s a mountain of information about the local area wherever we are.
Yesterday,Sunday,we walked up the towpath from here to have a look at something I had spotted,while researching the surrounding area,for what is becoming a bit of a hobby,local history.There was an airfield here during the second world war that was used to train United States and RAF pilots.It was built in 1941 and closed in 1947,and there are a couple of interesting snippets of information about it.In 1944 a Republic Aviation P47 Thunderbolt fighter plane overshot the runway after engine failure and it crashed into the canal just north of Shushions Bridge 21.Fortunately the pilot was uninjured but it’s still possible to see the hole the crash made in the canal bank on the offside.There is also the story of what is said to be one of the only recorded incidents of a narrowboat being attacked by enemy aircraft.A hundred metres or so behind us,at Wheaton Aston Lock,a German Dornier bomber,on a moonlit night,is said to have dropped a couple of bombs,after seeing the glint from the uncovered load,on a narrowboat as it went through the lock,the bombs missed.
The place where the Thunderbolt crash landed in 1944,surprising how the vegetation hasn’t regrown.All that remains of the former Wheaton Aston airfield on the right,just agricultural land now,but you can make out the old Control Tower in the distance,in the centre of the picture.
Well,that’s all for this week.We are moving on again tomorrow and hopefully the weather will be a bit better than today.Since our last blog we have done 1 Lock and 5 Miles,giving a grand total of 168 Locks and 196 Miles.Take care everyone.