Not ice this time, although there was a bit about. No, it was lack of water that gave us problems today.
We were away from Prestwood Bridge just before 11, with just about a mile to go to Stewponey. George and Carol were ready before us, so led the way.
Devil’s Den, with it’s wooden door, can be seen on the right. Nicholson’s reckon it was built (carved?) as a boat house, but I have my doubts. There doesn’t seem to be any water over the threshold.
A little way on the canal crosses the River Stour. This will be our constant companion all the way to Stourport.
Then the sharp right-hander of the Devil’s Elbow takes the canal down to Stourton Junction.
Heading South, this is the second opportunity to go up into Birmingham, and the one we’ll probably take after visiting Stourport.
Shortly after the junction is Stewponey Lock and wharf, and we were pleasantly surprised to see Scooby and Rita on NB Festina Lente coming up the lock. They’d spent 8 weeks frozen in at Penkridge before getting away. We were moored near them for the first phase of the Ice Age, before escaping to Gailey. They’d been down to Stourport and are on their way back up to the Shroppie.
They told us the pound below Stewponey, down to Hyde Lock, was low. BW were doing a repair to the by-wash at Hyde and had lowered the pound this morning to reduce the water flow.
We followed R’n’R down the lock and had problems with organic debris pretty well straight away. With the levels 5 or 6 inches below normal, both boats were kicking up the bottom muck, waterlogged leaves, twigs and branches fouling the props. R’n’R fared worse than us, sitting 3 or so inches deeper.
With gentle use of the throttle and frequent bursts of reverse we slowly made our way along, often scraping the bottom.
We made it round the corner to Dunsley Tunnel (at 25 yards maybe the shortest on the network) but R’n’R had trouble again just after clearing the portal.
The pause while George cleared his prop gave me the chance to take some pics of the rock interior of the tunnel.
The canal cuts through a spur of that sandstone ridge that sqeezes the canal against the River Stour along here.
The rock is so friable that it’s been supported on brick pillars a little further on.
We came around the next corner and moored there was NB Poppy. It looked a good spot, so we pulled over, ostensibly for lunch, but we’ve finished up stopping here for the night. We’ll move on to Kinver tomorrow. The moorings there are unusually empty. But then, we’ve only seen 3 boats on the move since joining the Staffs and Worcs last Thursday.
Locks 1, miles 2.
At this rate it’ll take us another week to reach Stourport!