This morning it was grey but dry when I took Meg for a walk, but it was not to last. Drizzly rain had moved in by the time we were ready to get going, and it’s steadily got heavier throughout the day. Luckily we were moored on the edge of Market Drayton before it got really bad.
Just around the corner we entered the gloom of Woodseaves Cutting.
We’ve been through here in bright sunshine, and it’s quite magical with the light breaking through the leaves above and highlighting the lush greens on the mosses and ferns clinging to the rock. But not today, everything was dripping and the colours subdued.
The first couple of hundred yards are through sheer rock, but then the slopes become less steep as the ground becomes more unstable.
Hand-cut rock walls.
Shallower slopes, though still steep, of loose rock and shale.
The bridges that span the artificial gorge look out of proportion, tall and spindly
It was a formidable achievement, shifting this amount of material by barrow and horse and cart. At least there was somewhere to put it, where do you think the embankments came from?
The slopes are still on the move, eroded by rain and the passage of boats.
Coming back out into the open there’s no time to enjoy the scenery, Tyrley Wharf and locks are at the end of the cutting.
There’s a 4 week stoppage here, starting on Monday, for repairs to the top lock. C&RT have already moved plant and equipment in ready to start.
Tyrley Lock 1
The flight of 5 locks starts in the open, but locks 4, and 5 plunge the canal back into another short cutting before an embankment that leads to the Market Drayton moorings.
We were lucky with the locks, a boat had just left the top one as we arrived and another was met part-way down, so all of the chambers were full, or close to. Top to bottom took half an hour.
This vindicates the way the canal was surveyed; it’s quicker to do groups of locks in a flight with long pounds either side, rather than the same number spread throughout the distance. And I think the topography lends itself to this approach. The three flights all occur within 8 miles as the navigation drops off the north–eastern edge of the Birmingham Plateau and into the Cheshire Gap.
Looking back towards the bottom lock
It’s less than a mile from the locks to the moorings, and we were tied up by midday. We’ll be staying here for the weekend, now. Got to top up the cupboards and have a mooch around the market tomorrow.
Locks 5, miles 3½