Thursday, 6 August 2015

Why does the Shroppie give us so much wind!

We have never completed this canal without being blown all over the place.  In fact, crabbing along the more open sections is the norm for us. This trip was no exception. As July faded and August began, there was no change in the somewhat disappointing weather, but we have ploughed on regardless.

Today was supposed to have been the start of a warmer spell. Well not here! As we approached Penkridge, the heavens opened and we both got a soaking. I suppose the rain was warmer than of late.  Ali is off on the train tomorrow, (Friday) to meet her sister in Birmingham.  Penkridge has a station, so became the obvious destination for today.

Back to the Shroppie. We always enjoy this canal. The more open areas giving way to flights of locks, then tremendous cuttings and embankments. The sheer engineering and work involved in its construction is somewhat understated, but impressive all the same. And it has been quiet! No queues at the locks and easy mooring on the Shropshire union canal society moorings. So all should be plain sailing. Er, no...

This happy chappie now has a fishing rod!

Gabions of stones that have been placed along the cutting where it had collapsed

For some reason the miserable bar stewards of the network seem to have a convention here. All was going swimmingly on the day we left Nantwich. Watered up at the services and purchased a gas bottle all in one go and then bimbled out and towards Audlem. Two locks, then moored just outside of town and below the locks, overlooking the ponds and river. A walk into Audlem for Sunday lunch and then back to the boat for a chill. Perfect.

Monday we tackled the flight. Once again, no queue and we watered and emptied outside the Shroppie Fly, before making our way up. Not much descending by the latter half, so a tad slow, but these are well maintained easy locks and sheltered by the trees, so out of the inevitable wind. We ended the day on the moorings below the Adderley flight. As we approached, a small hire boat was sitting in the middle of a mooring, obviously not tied to the bank and possibly waiting for the lock. It was windy. We asked if he was staying put, and he said not, and agreed to pull back a few yards so that we could get in and moor up. The wind took us in and pinned us to the bank. Ali realised that the hirer was going to have difficulty getting off the bank and so walked back to assist. By this time he had reversed into the channel, but the bow was pinned to the bank. As Ali tried to assist, a gust pushed him in and his stern glanced the rubbing strake of a boat moored behind. And I do mean glanced, this was no violent impact.

With that, the cratch cover was thrown back and a small rotund "lady" of antipodean origins, subjected the poor hirer to a torrent of abuse, swearing like a trooper. It was all so unnecessary. Ali apologised to the gentleman on her behalf and told the "lady" that it was our fault for asking him to move back and that her reaction was disgraceful. The poor hirer did not want to put on the power in fear of being shouted at for going too fast past moored boats, but we explained that in the wind, he had no choice.

Anyway, off he eventually got and we settled in for the day, somewhat bemused by the reaction.

He wouldn't come out of hiding not the best picture

On Tuesday we completed the Adderley flight with ease. Then we bimbled on to Market Drayton and stopped at the services. Upon completion, we made our way out past the moored boats on, as usual, Tickover. I had just commented to Ali on the speed of an approaching boat and as it passed us, a head appeared at a moored boats window, shouting at ME to slow down! I pointed out the offender, who now hove into his view and he skulked back from the window. An apology would have been nice, but hey ho.

Cowley Tunnel, demonstrates the rock that had to be
 cut out to enable the canal construction

and has to be one of the scenic on the system

Surely this was the end of the surleyness and bad temper. But no... At Tyrley locks there was a small queue. Ali went ahead to assist, whilst I moved the boat forward as each ahead of us ascended. There were at this time no boats descending.

Our turn came and up we went. At this stage the chap ahead of us indicated another boat would be coming down after he left the lock. As this is a pound containing rocks and shallow without the water from the next lock, I waited in the lock, whilst Ali walked up to assist, we had seen the boat enter the lock, but after ten minutes, there was not a sign of it as the gates opened and so I made my way to the lock, entered and ascended. The boat I had seen enter, had reversed out and moored up, because he had been told by someone that you could not pass in the pound!!! By the time Ali arrived, he had reversed out of the lock, closed the gate and the lock had nearly emptied as it leaks so much. At this point, Ali finished emptying it and I arrived.

A chap arriving to descend was under the impression that we had stolen the lock and muttered this to Ali as she walked past him. No matter what Ali said to explain the sequence of events, he would have none of it and continued to mutter even as he entered the lock. To say we were both annoyed is an understatement.

Anyway, we cracked on and consumed the lock free miles, mooring for the night at Norbury Junction. Somewhat exasperated by the attitudes we had come across for sure!

Stretton Aqueduct in desperate need of a lick of paint, but apparently there is a H&S issue as it is over the A5 and paint may drip on the cars below!

We were running low on fuel, but knew that Wheaton Aston was a good, cheap source and so this proved. 59ppl saw us t

opping up the tank and our jerry cans. It was only lunch time, so onward. One lock and then the stop lock at Autherley junction, saw us off the Shroppie and left onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. With no locks ahead, we made our way through the narrows and out towards Gailey, where we moored prior to the lock for the night. Chatting to our neighbours and sharing a beer meant it was rather late before we settled in and only then when the heavens opened!

So an eventful few days...

As said, a day in Penkridge awaits me tomorrow and time to get to those must do little jobs, maybe! (Ali - or get the fishing rod out!)

Never seen so may cows in a field (not good news for them I fear as I suspect they were off to market)

49.5 miles
35 locks
81 yds of Tunnels.


  1. I sympathise with you guys! Considering canal life is supposed to be "the quickest way to slow down", I've never come across so many self-entitled, bad tempered, and rude people as I have since I started travelling the canal network, so your experience doesn't surprise me. I even had abuse hurled at me recently for going too slow past moorings in Nantwich (it was normal tickover speed for our 70 footer), which was a new one on me! I think a lot of people on the canals need to admit to themselves that they find it impossible to slow down and chill out, and should probably find an alternative past time that they can actually enjoy. Neil. p.s. Love the blog!

  2. Hi Neil. It is the sheer rudeness of some that gets my goat. We are in no rush and would much rather help than hinder anybody. But why are some so determined to be both rude and obnoxious. They must hate life on the cut!


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