We were in two minds whether to move or not today. The forecast predicted strong winds and rain, but although windy it was dry this morning so we decided to go on.
We got away a little earlier than normal, and arrived at Autherley Junction at just after 11:00. The last leg of the Shroppie is pretty much like the rest, only moving from a rural to a suburban area.
It was busy with moored boats at the junction, Water Travel have a hire base here, and there were a few Napton Narrowboats craft about, too. I wonder if they have a reciprocal agreement (like Silsden Boats and Black Prince at Acton Bridge) or if they’re the same company.
It must be interesting on change-over days in the summer, with everyone queuing for the stop lock!
We turned sharp left onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, heading almost due north, now.
This canal is rather different in character to the Shropshire Union. It is an earlier construction, completed in 1772 and linking the River Severn at Stourport with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Great Haywood, and thus giving access to the Potteries and finally to Manchester and Liverpool. As was the practice at that time, it follows the local contours as much as possible, and therefore meanders around the various hills and valleys it’s course encounters. This is in contrast to Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (the southern section of the Shropshire Union), which strikes boldly northwards, with cuttings through the ridges and high embankments over the valleys, barely deviating from it’s course.
This later approach to canal construction, although not as aesthetically pleasing as the contour canal, made for far more efficient transport, and enabled the canal to remain economically viable well into the 20C.
Nicholson’s guide warns that the bridges, although wide, can be low. They’re not wrong!
Just past this bridge, the navvies encountered a hard ridge of rock, and only cut the channel for one boat width, leaving the odd passing place. This must have led to some disputes during commercial carrying days! In fact, it probably still does!
Narrows near Bridge 68
We passed under the M54 for the second time today, then moored about ½ an hour later, opposite the village of Coven. Pity it’s not Hallowe’en…..
Just got tied up as the rain started in earnest.
Locks 1 miles 7