Friday, 17 August 2012

Shroppie Lock Flights - And A Pub Frozen In Time.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Attractive barrel roof building at Audlem flight.
Audlem is a nice place to stop overnight, and by carrying on a lock past the Shroppie Flym we had both solved problems with no Internet signal, (which David had a particular reason for needing last night), but also placed ourselves in rather more attractive surroundings than the slight gloom of some of the tree lined cuttings.

Adderley locks
We are now back on track, with some kind of plan, (well sort of!), about roughly where we want to be when, so although we knew we had most of the Audlem flight still to tackle, followed fairly quickly by the flights at Adderley and then Tyrley, we really still didn't have any need to travel large milages too.  So, yet again, a fairly relaxed start.

We met various Canal World Forum members up the flight, including "Cloggy", who was on his way to help another boat through, but assisted me through a couple of locks.  The Audlem flight was completed fairly efficiently, but at all these locks, whilst not immensely busy right now, there is enough other traffic that this largely determines your overall rate of progress.

Cutting approaching Tyrley locks.
We had almost no queing at either Adderley or Tyrley, although there was what seemed a couple of inordinately long waits at one lock before an oncoming boat finally cleared the next.  Each time I asked Cath, (who was lock wheeling ahead), what the hold up had been, she said she hadn't particularly noted one.  I've come to the conclusion that waits for locks seem far longer if you are with your boat, and can't see what is going on ahead, and much less so, if you can see the wheels continuing to turn, even if it is only quite slowly!

Typical strong bywash - "riding the rapids" into the locks!
Tyrley locks, particularly the approach through a narrow rock cutting at the bottom, are some of the most instantly recognised that we pass through, in my view.  All these flights are fairly varied, (most starting in cuttings and ending in open fields), and have not only some very attractive properties beside, but also a variety of stalls and farm shops selling a wide selection of "home produced" produce.  Although very much meat oriented, the stall at the top of Tyrley produced an excellent looking (and large) lemon cake, and the shop there some vegetarian pies for a meal tomorrow.

Another worrying land-slip - Woodseaves cutting.
We had heard about how unusual the Anchor pub at High Offley is, but never yet visited it, so we planned this as our overnight stop.  I can honestly say I have not visited anything vaguely like it in perhaps te past thirty years.  Very much in the mould country pubs you used to get occasionally many years ago, yo really do almost get the impression of walking into someone's house - which of course it also is, having been in the same family for many generations, and run by a landlady, Olive, now apparently in her seventies.  The beer (6X) went down well, and cath had a choice of ciders.  Another couple in there proved to be boaters too, and had overheard a conversation I was having with about pubs many years ago  in Suffolk on the River Orwell - which is what the Anchor really reminded me of.   This chap knew all these pubs in their modern guise, and proved quite entertaining.

He had been in the Thames River Pageant, but not in a narrow boat, but in some kind of canvas covered coracle he had built - an Irish Curragh, we think it was. He and his fellow rowers had been many hours in the rain, with near hypothermia, unable to take a pee, and when they couldn't keep up, had been taken into a tow in a most unsatisfactory way, where he had really feared for the safety of those on board.  His wife, meanwhile had been involved with family, and young children, trying to spectate from the bank, and she told tales of how reserved areas for families of those involved were not accessible, how they could see nothing, and then got involved in a terrifying melee of people fearing they would get separated or crushed.  Additionally there was apparently only Sunday services on transport, and people were left stranded to walk many miles, or be the victims of unscrupulous mini cab drivers.  Not quite the public image that was given of this event, and where I hope I have correctly reflected the views of this couple. 

Feature in ladies toilets at the Anchor, High Offley
When locals started appearing with guitar cases, one handed our chap a guitar, and he proved to also be quite a competent player.  He went and performed for those in the other bar, before making his way back to his boat.  Other locals continued to play, and sing, and the atmosphere was very different from most cana-lside pubs.  Eventually Cath even got brave enough to use the toilets, which, like everything else about the place, were rather more of the 1970s than the 2010s.  Only the prices were really of the modern age.  If you have not been, then try it.  I know it is not to everybody's taste, but we loved the Anchor.

Below Audlem Lock 11 to High Offley
Miles: 14.7, Locks: 21
Total Miles: 347.6, Locks: 183 (Worked)


  1. The Anchor at High offley always reminds me of the Ramsholt Inn on the River Deben in Suffolk, is that the pub you meant?

  2. No, I don't remember that one, I'm afraid, although my ex did take me to a number of places near the Deben as well as the Orwell back in the 1970s, so I could have been there!

    I was thinking particularly of the Ship Inn, Levington, near the Orwell. I've not been there in nearly 40 years, although I know it still exists. I doubt though that the beer is still served from what was the landlords sitting room!