Monday, 25 March 2013



For this weeks blog we are moored just a few minutes walk from the little village of Adderley,in Shropshire,near to Bridge No.72,on the Shroppie.There isn’t a lot here but we’ve got some nice views from our windows and we’re stocked up with everything we need,so it’s a good place to be for a couple of days.I’ve also chopped up some more logs so we have plenty of wood for the fire and we’ll be nice and cosy,even though,like everywhere else,it’s pretty Baltic out there.

Market Drayton 022 Adderley 001

A couple of views of where we are moored below another flight of five locks near the village of Adderley.

Since our last blog we have moved closer to where we hope to be for Easter,which is the canal side village of Audlem.It’s a couple of miles and thirteen locks from here,where there are a few shops and a couple of pubs.I’ve been told the one pub that we were hoping to visit,The Shroppie Fly,is closed at the moment so that means we will have to somehow manage and make do with the others.Life can be so cruel.

We left Norbury Junction on Tuesday and cruised the nine miles or so to Tyrely Locks where we spent a couple of days pottering about,tidying Chyandour and things.There isn’t a lot at Tyrely,but mooring in the middle of nowhere is part of the pleasure of narrowboating.A few minutes walk from the Top lock is a pub called the Four Alls,but we didn’t fancy the walk back so we stayed at home.I don’t know how true it is but the name Four Alls is said to be based on a medieval concept.The King, “ I rule for all”, The Priest, “ I pray for all ”, The Knight “ I fight for all “ and finally,The Peasant, “ I pay for all “. Nothing much appears to have changed over the last few hundred years does it?

Market Drayton 002 Market Drayton 005

On the left is the milk processing factory at Knighton.This factory was part of the Cadbury Chocolate production process,it was built in 1911 to manufacture chocolate “crumb” which was taken by narrowboat from here to the Cadbury factory at Bourneville,South of Birmingham.It now produces milk products that we are all familiar with,like Marvel,Angel Delight and Birds Custard powder.On a good day you can smell the aroma of custard as you cruise by.On the right we have some of C&RT workers trimming the trees and hedges at the side of the canal.

Market Drayton 011 Market Drayton 015

A couple of the bridges that span Woodseaves Cutting.This is a grim,damp place at the best of times and Lisa is always glad to get through it.Not bad bits of construction though when you think they were built in the 1830’s and this whole cutting was dug through the rock by hand.

On Thursday we went down the Tyrely flight of five locks and then on a bit to the town of Market Drayton where we could stock up on supplies and be safe from the severe weather that was being forecast.Conditions didn’t turn out as bad as some have experienced but we stayed for three days and then,on Sunday,moved here to Adderley.We will probably move on again tomorrow and get to where we can walk down to Audlem to have a look what moorings are vacant.

Market Drayton 017 Market Drayton 018

There’s Lisa getting to work on one of the Tyrely Locks and on the right is a view down the flight towards Market Drayton.It doesn’t look too bad weatherwise.It was sunny and not too cold so I had a bet with Lisa that we wouldn’t have the severe weather that was being forecast.I now owe her a Chinese Meal.

Market Drayton 019 Market Drayton 021

Market Drayton on Friday morning after the snow,not a lot,but we don’t need anymore do we?On the right is inside the chamber of one of the Adderley Locks as we went down the flight on Sunday afternoon.I was waiting for Lisa as she prepared the next lock down the flight

Well,that’s all for this week I’m afraid.Since our last blog we have done 10 Locks and 15 Miles,giving a grand total of 178 Locks and 218 Miles.Take care everyone.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Newport Canal ???


This weeks title is a tad misleading because we’re not really on the Newport Canal,that was abandoned in 1944,but we have been on the little bit of the Eastern end that still remains.Ok,its only a hundred and fifty metres or so but it’s still got enough water in it to float a boat.To tell the truth,we are really moored just around the corner from this canal,on the Shropshire Union Canal at Norbury Junction.Yesterday we had the opportunity to cruise along the short stretch of the Newport Branch Canal that goes from the junction to what was once,Lock No.1.

Norbury Junction 027 Norbury Junction 010

The view down the Newport Branch from the dry dock that was Lock No.1 on the left and on the right we’ve reached the other end of the branch at its junction with the Shroppie,which is just to the other side of the Towpath Bridge No.1 ahead.There are moored boats on both sides so you have to take things slowly.

Over the last few days we have been doing our usual thing of exploring the local area and,what you might find surprising,the canal history of this remote spot in Shropshire.There isn’t a great deal here but what there is has turned out to be quite interesting for me.As well as the trip down the arm,just a short walk from here has taken us to some more of the remains of the old Newport Branch canal,where it’s possible to see some of the old lock chambers and bridges of this former navigation that was opened in 1835.There are a number of buildings here that date back to the time of the canal opening too,as well as some that were built as the canals evolved.

Norbury Junction 023 Norbury Junction 014

A couple of pic’s of what’s at the rear of the dry dock,showing what remains of the tail end of Lock No.1

Norbury Wharf 017 Norbury Wharf 007

On the left is a view of Lock No.5 towards Maltshovel Bridge No.3 at Oulton,also referred to as Parton’s Bridge.On the right are the remains of the lock,viewed from the bridge,and in the distance,the filled in Lock No.4.

Norbury Wharf 012 Norbury Wharf 010

Lock No.7 on the left looking towards Oulton Bridge No.4 and the remains of the bottom gates of Lock No.6.Sad to see a canal in this state but there are plans to restore it.

To the south of our mooring here,is Shelmore Embankment,which took over five years to build with only hand tools and wheelbarrows,it would be a massive undertaking today,even with all the earthmoving machinery we have at our disposal.At each end of the embankment is a stop lock that was closed each night of the second world war to conserve water in the event of it being breached in a bombing raid.

Lisa's Norbury 007 Norbury Junction 043

One of the stop locks on one end of the mile long Shelmore Embankment on the left and on the right,one of the two road tunnels that go under it,giving a rough idea of its height.The spoil from the cuttings built North and South of Norbury was used to build the embankment,it took over five years and was plagued with landslips.

Away from canals a short distance there are the remains of Norbury Manor,a moated building that was built in the 14th Century and demolished in the early 19th.All that’s left is the moat but it’s worth the walk,which can take you back to the canal further North at Bridge no.39.

Norbury Junction 002 Norbury Junction 003

A brief history of Norbury Manor on the left and some of the moat on the right.

We left Wheaton Aston on Tuesday and made our way the five miles to Gnosall,a village we have stayed at previously on our hire boat days.There are a few shops there as well as three good pubs,our favourite being the Navigation at Gnosall Bridge No.35.Many times we spent the last night of our holiday having a meal there.On Thursday we replenished our supplies at the Co-op and the butchers before setting off to navigate the whole of two and a half miles to Norbury Junction,it was here that we often hired a boat from Norbury Wharf Ltd.We gained a lot of experience from them as their boats are closer to what we felt it would be like when we got our own boat.Among other things,they had solid fuel stoves which are vital in wintertime,which was when we hired the most,and their prices were good too,with no diesel surcharge.It is possible to get two weeks boating in winter,between the end of October and the beginning of March,for less money than one week in the summer months.The canals are also much quieter too,with fewer boats about,you can make your mistakes with fewer people watching.All you have to do is just check out the winter stoppage programme from C&RT.There are always some canals open and some hire firms,like Norbury Wharf,hire out all year round.

Norbury Wharf 006  Norbury Wharf 005

Lisa's Norbury 017  Norbury Junction 008

Three pictures of the canal at Norbury Junction and one of the unusual,but most photographed bridges on the Shroppie,High Bridge No.39.It was erected between 1832 and 1833 to carry the road from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Newport. Shortly after its construction, the pressure being exerted onto the bridge from the walls of Grubb Street Cutting that it spans,required the insertion of a strainer arch. In 1861 the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company installed telegraph cables along the entire length of the canal and the strainer arch was used for the siting of a telegraph pole. The wires were removed around 1870.

Well that’s all again for this week,we are moving again tomorrow,after we fill our water and fuel tanks,and heading a few more miles up the Shroppie.Since our last blog we have done 0 Locks and 7 Miles,giving us a grand total of 168 Locks and 203 Miles.Thankyou for reading and take care.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Wheaton Aston.


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.

lisa's Shropshire Union 04.03.12 002 Wheaton Aston 004

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.

Lisa's Wheaton Aston 004 Lisa's Wheaton Aston 006

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.

Wheaton Aston 016 Wheaton Aston 019

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.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Shropshire Union


Well,this week we are on the Shropshire Union canal,or,as it is more commonly known,The Shroppie.Three separate canals,The Ellesmere,The Chester and the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction canals were merged,in the middle of the 19th Century,to form,what is now,the Shropshire Union Canal.It is just over 66 miles long and has 47 Locks between Autherley Junction,where it joins the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal,and Ellesmere Port,where it joins the Manchester Ship Canal.Though I love all our canals,the Shroppie is one of my favourites,having cruised its entire length,and various other parts of it at different times,when we hired boats.There are some great places on here and we are moored at one of them as I write.We are in the middle of nowhere,a mile or two south of the village of Brewood,pronounced Brood,on one of the Shropshire Union Canal Society moorings.This Society takes a lot of pride in the Shroppie,which is evident wherever you go,but non more so than at the moorings they maintain.Just outside our lounge window someone has hung some bird feeders and there are many different varieties of birds feeding here all day long.

Last Tuesday,while we were still in Penkridge,out came our Senior Railcards and we got the train for the six minute journey to Stafford,the County Town,and we were pleasantly surprised.From the station we walked across the very nice Victoria Park into the town where we found a variety of shops that the villages we visit,and even a town like Penkridge,don’t have.We were able to get some of the things we need to enhance our life on Chyandour.I don’t want to screw anything to the walls on our boat so we use those Command hooks that stick on and can be removed without damage.Thanks to Google I’ve discovered there are a number of different types and there are some that enable us to fix pictures to non vertical walls like we have on a narrowboat.On Wednesday morning we visited the Market in Penkridge,filling up the refrigerator with meat and replenishing our stock of fresh veg so we wouldn’t need to shop again for a few days.Not having a freezer on Chyandour hasn’t proven to be a handicap,in fact,we have access to a lot more fresh food being on the canal as there are still the more traditional Butchers,Bakers and veg shops in some of the villages.We left Penkridge on Wednesday afternoon and cruised about six miles till we found a nice place to moor in the middle of nowhere again,somewhere nice and peaceful,just above Deptmore Lock.

Staffs & Worcs 001 Staffs & Worcs 003

On the left is part of Victoria Park in Stafford,this was taken from the bridge over the River Sow which flows through the park.On the right is Penkridge Goal and Stocks.The building was converted to a goal in 1785 but the stocks have been there for 500 years.

Thursday,Friday and Saturday we spoilt ourselves a bit and moored next to a pub,one that we have visited on our travels before,the Fox & Anchor at Cross Green.The first thing I noticed was that they had installed WiFi since our last visit and that’s a bonus.A good pub with good beer,good food and free WiFi is as good as you can get,it also saves my data allowance.We have two sources of Internet access on Chyandour,we have tethering with my iPhone with Orange and a MiFi with 3 and so far we haven’t been without Internet anywhere we’ve moored,one or the other has worked,though the MiFi is top so far. While at Cross Green we went into the nearby village of Coven,I wasn’t allowed to be in the pub all the time you know,and there we found a pretty good chip shop and a number of other shops and,surprisingly,it wasn’t far to walk.I also managed to get some of my chores on our boat done,as I’ve said before,I do like to keep her tidy and it’s easy when the weather is as good as it’s been for the last few weeks.

Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 005 Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 008

That’s me walking alongside one of the locks on the Staffs & Worcs.The M6 Motorway is in the background,only a hundred yards or so from the canal.Lisa sets the lock and opens the gates,I bring Chyandour in,then we both do the rest.On the right is the Fox & Anchor at Cross Green.Now with WiFi it has everything.

On Sunday morning we left Cross Green and made our way along the Staffs & Worcs,a couple of miles or so,to Autherley Junction,where we disposed of our rubbish and filled our water tank,and then three more miles to where we are now.

Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 012 Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 020 Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 015 Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 028

The top row is of a narrow bit of the S&W,just wide enough for one boat with passing places.Bottom left is what I can see as I steer Chyandour through the narrows.On the right is a view of Wolverhampton Boat Club,on the Shroppie, with the footbridge and the crane that was used to lower Stop Planks into the canal so sections of it could be dewatered.

Today,Monday,we had a lazy morning,just pottering around the boat,before taking a very steady stroll along the towpath in the warm sunshine,to Brewood for a pint in the Bridge Inn at bridge 14.Now that’s the life we’ve signed up for.

Lisa's Staffs & Worcs 030 lisa's Shropshire Union 04.03.12 001

Shropshire Union 04.03.13 005 Shropshire Union 04.03.13 002

Top left is the view from our lounge window,birdfeeders have been hung in the hedge and birds are feeding all day.Top right is a view along the canal about a mile or so beyond our mooring,Bottom left is Brewood village from the canal and bottom right is one of the cast iron bridge protectors on one of the Shroppie bridges.The tow ropes for the horse drawn boats got wet and picked up fine particles of grit,this made them like files which would have made very short work of the brickwork.As you can see even the cast iron shows a lot of wear.

Well.that’s all again for this week.Since our last blog we have done 7 Locks and 14 Miles,giving us a grand total of 168 Locks and 193 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.