Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Toddling on a bit…

It was a bit grey first thing, but by the time we were ready to go the sky had brightened and the drizzly rain had passed on towards Stoke.

Just before Gnosall lies the only tunnel on the main line. Cowley Tunnel is only 81 yards long, but I suspect it was intended to be longer. The cutting leading to the south portal is deep and steep-sided, the rock loose and unstable.

Cowley CuttingSAM_6883 

Several collapses would have forced them to open out the channel into a cutting, even where the rock was more sound a stone arch and short lining was used to support it.SAM_6890 (2)

The condition of the strata must improve, the rest of the tunnel is self supporting.

Cowley Tunnel, north endSAM_6894

There has been a lot of traffic about today, of course, I‘d forgotten it’s half-term. So when we got to Gnosall and saw the water point vacant we pulled in to fill up.

Topping up in Gnosall
There’s full facilities at Norbury Junction, but I thought it might be a bit busy there. I could moor away from the wharf to get rid of rubbish and empty the loo.

End of the season, ploughing stubble in ready for next yearSAM_6897

The high Shelmore Embankment gives odd glimpses of the west, through the trees on it’s flanks. SAM_6905
It must have been a bit grim in a blow before the slopes got so heavily wooded.

The embankment ends at Norbury Junction, where the Newport Branch used to drop through a flight of locks to the town, nearly 4 miles away. This in turn connected to a network of other branches and short canals, primarily built to carry coal and iron ore in the Shrewsbury area. Only the top lock remains today, used as a dry dock.

Busy Norbury Junction
As it turned out we could have filled with water here, the wharf was empty when we arrived.

Leaving the junction the canal dives into Grub Street Cutting, the byway of the same name crossing at the far end. This end is crossed by High Bridge, probably the most photographed bridge on the whole network.

The obligatory shot of High Bridge

I did get another, slightly unusual image, from the other side though.SAM_6914

There’s a small enclave of boats in the cutting, and under a shelter on the bank sits a fine example of British motor engineering. I think it’s a 1930’s Daimler drop head coupe. It looks in good nick.SAM_6917

Leaving the cutting there’s over a mile of offside moorings near High Offley, a tedious section cruising at tick-over with a cold cross-wind.
I’d lost the will to live by the time we got to Shebdon, so pulled in on the embankment above the Wharf Inn. It’s fairly sheltered here.
Probably Goldstone Wharf tomorrow, then Tyrley Locks and down to Market Drayton for the weekend.

Locks 0, miles 7

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