We’re now on the Shropshire Union heading north, having left the southbound Staffs and Worcester at Autherley Junction.
After the dire weather forecast for today we nearly didn’t move on, heavy, thundery showers and gusty winds make cruising less of a joy, more of a chore. But they didn’t materialise. We did have wind and rain overnight, and it was breezy and drizzly this morning when Meg and I went for a walk, but by half-ten the skies had cleared and it’s been a fine, mainly sunny, day.
What a cracking morning
Even the moon was happy to be out and about!
Near Slade Heath there must be some sort of outward bound centre. Last evening we had a group of youngsters in canoes go past, some more were just setting off this morning.
For stability they use pairs of Canadian canoes rafted up. Perhaps as well looking at the way some of the kids perform!
If we’d have carried on yesterday this is where we’d have stopped, near the Fox and Anchor at Coven. There are some really nice places to moor around here.
The outskirts of Wolverhampton soon start to encroach on the canal, with more bridges crossing. The original brick ones are wide but quite low compared to those on the T&M.
Under Cross Green Bridge, sunlight highlighting the brickwork.
Passing under the M54 the urban sprawl becomes apparent, then the canal becomes single track as it cuts through a rocky ridge. There are a couple of passing places, but we’ve not had to use them yet.
Forster Bridge, halfway through the cutting.
The engineers met this very hard rock, and chose the easy option of just cutting a narrow channel. It must have led to some conflicts between boatmen during commercial carrying days, though.
It’s only for half a mile or so, the canal widens again at Marsh Lane, and passes a fine avenue of poplars planted alongside a sports field.
Ducking under Blaydon Road the junction with the Shropshire Union is reached, our route back north.
Junction Bridge at Autherley
There’s a shallow stop-lock just beyond the bridge, built to prevent loss of water from the S&W to the later Shroppie, then a boat hire base, and we’re onto the wide waters of the more modern canal.
Autherley Stop Lock and Napton Narrowboats
It’s a pity the sun had just gone in, the leaves were glowing in the sunlight!
The Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal was conceived as a fast transport route from the Chester area and the Dee to the workshops and resources of the Midlands. Thomas Telford was contracted to survey the route and chose to ignore the earlier James Brindley style of contour canal. This canal would take a direct line from Nantwich to Woverhampton, crossing valleys on embankments and aqueducts, slicing through hills in deep cuttings. When a change in elevation was required, locks were grouped together as much as possible.
It connected with the earlier Chester Canal at Nantwich, and various canals branched from it to the west. Opened in 1835, it received it’s current name when under railway ownership in 1845. The SU now includes the Chester Canal, the Ellesmere Canal, Middlewich Branch, the Llangollen Canal and branches off it, including the Montgomery Canal.
Wide, deep and straight, the Shroppie was the canal equivalent of a motorway
They had a problem when they encountered the same ridge of tough rock that the Staffs and
Worcester engineers had come across 60 years earlier…. and came up with the same solution!
Narrows between Bridges 4 and 5
As we cruised past Calf Heath yesterday, I spotted a building I hadn’t seen before rising above the towpath hedge.
Poor photo, literally a snapshot
It’s a new waste recycling facility, due to start production of electricity later this year. It’s designed to take 300,000 tonnes of domestic waste a year, producing enough power for 38,000 homes, according to the spiel.
The reason I’m mentioning it now is that we can see it again from the other side, now!
We were thinking of stopping at Brewood overnight, but, unless it’s been improved, the towpath there is muddy and the canal is in a cutting. So we decided to pull in on the open moorings between Bridges 7 and 8.
We’ll go into Brewood tomorrow for shopping, then push on out the other side before mooring again.
I’m going to have to dismantle my camera. Notice on today’s pic of the waste facility the hair on the lens? It’s inside the lens body, I reckon. I hope I’ll be able to get it together again…
Just been chatting to Roly and Bev off NB Klara, moored just up from us. They told me about this super storm that’s likely to hit us on Sunday night. I’d missed that completely! I guess we’d better be looking for somewhere sheltered, but not under trees. Although there might be a lot of firewood available afterwards…
Locks 1, miles 8