Friday, 13 April 2012

Back on the canal System's "Roman Road" - Adderley to Wheaton Aston

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

same location as last picture, but a very different look.
I awoke early, and found a heavy frost outside - beautiful, but not necessarily welcome when the unheated engine room is what doubles as a loo!  By mooring at the top of the Adderley flight we had left urselves few locks, but quite a lot of miles still to cover.

Very distinctive approach to Tyrley Bottom lock.
In fact there isn't any great separation between the Audlem and the Adderley flights that we locked though yesterday, and the five lock Tyrley flight that we reached quite quickly.  This is a very distinctive flight, as the bottom of it is approached through a narrow cutting, with muddy tow-paths.  If, you pass someone when approaching the lock you need to be careful about where this manoeuvre is carried out, particularly on a deep draughted boat like "Sickle".  Fortunately a boat that had just exited the bottom lock pulled over in to one of the slightly wider bits, and waited - probably easiest and fastest for both boats, but not everybody thinks things like this through logically.  The approaches to this lock are shallow at the edges, and sometimes very strong outflows from the bye washes that enter just below the locks can catch you out too.

Waiting in bottom lock for friend's boat coming down in next.
With Sickle, which is at least the full 7 feet wide, rather than the typical 6 ft 10 ins beam of modern leisure boats, the angle of approach also becomes critical, if if is not to bump violently between the two lock walls - people seemed genuinely surprised how tightly Sickle fits some of the locks, with almost no margin either side.

Tyrley top lock has very attractive buildings.
As Cath went to set locks ahead, she found a boat coming down, which proved to be a friend that had attended the banter, single-handing back north.  A quick pause to chat, but setting off again before we held anyone up.

Probaly the most photographed bridge on the Shroppie
Once clear of Tyrley there is only one full lock on the Shropshire Union, (with a further shallow stop lock where it ends at Autherley Junction), so you then get into lots of largely lock-less miles, often on long straight stretches, sometimes on impressive high embankments, but at others in dank rock lined cuttings.  I do like my boating to be broken iup by locks, so, however impressive it is, I do get slightly numbed by this bit of the Shroppie, (but note that some love it, simply because of the lock free miles!).

Cowley Tunnel - Short, but hewn through solid rock.
We had planned to stop at Norbury Wharf.  We have only ever put one fill of diesel into Sickle's ample tanks, and it was time for another, as Norbury's price is usually quite keen, (though seldom fully matching the prices at Turner's, further on at Wheaton Aston).  I was quite surprised how much diesel we still had, but also as to how much we put in.  Suffice it to say we didn't fill it, but the bill was big enough.  We had looked forward to showers in the BW facilities block at Norbury, and they proved to be adequate, but not brilliant.  The mess that welled up as I tried to flush the Gents toilet was a different story, however - all rather disgusting, frankly.

We received an invite to stop at Norbury, as other historic boaters were planning a pub session later, but Cath was, (quite rightly), starting to panic about all that was required to get us home, and her ready to be back to her job, so we had to refuse.

Instead we pressed on to Wheaton Aston - mooring on the Shropshire Union is often difficult, due to the construction of the canal near the banks, (the presence of the so called "Shroppie Shelf").  By mooring in the recognised mooring spots in the town, you are more likely to be against the bank, and often rings are provided, avoiding the need to hammer stakes into sometimes unsuitable ground.

Adderley Top Lock to Wheaton Aston
Miles: 21.8, Locks:5

Totals for extended trip....
Miles: 219.8, Locks: 147

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