This morning I had a bit of shopping to do before we moved on. Bread, paper, and a visit to the butcher just up the lane provided a lump of pork for lunch tomorrow. I also bought a sausage roll for lunch, very tasty but pretty explosive. It’s a good job I ate it outside while steering; the flaky pastry was extremely flaky!
Apart from the moored boats we also had an angling match to contend with as we cruised through Gnosall.
We missed the opportunity to have a chat with Scooby and Rita, NB Maple Knot. They were moored just the other side of Boat Inn Bridge, and I hadn’t realised. We passed this morning, Rita waving through the window. It looks like they’re heading the other way. Shame.
Heading out of Gnosall, leaving the moorings and anglers behind, the country to the south and west opens up, giving fine views over to The Wrekin, 14 miles away.
Rising to 1335 feet it looms over the Shropshire plain. Mainly formed of volcanic rock around 680 million years ago, the hardness of the formations has resisted erosion that has weathered away the flanks of sedimentary shales and mudstones, leaving the prominent ridge exposed.
The higher ground to the west, in Staffordshire, drained into what was then a vast, shallow sea, leaving a series of ridges and valleys running east to west. It’s these geological features that dominated the construction of the canal along here, requiring the cuttings and embankments that were such a trial to the engineers. The sides of the cuttings slipped in; the flanks of the embankments slid out.
One of the largest embankments is just south of Norbury Junction. Shelmore Embankment is around 50 feet high and a mile long, and was the last section on the canal to be completed.
As the terrain rises again to the level of the canal, the entrance to the Newport Branch Canal is passed at Norbury Junction.
This canal was built to link the 18th century network of canals around Shrewsbury to the “Main Line” and ran for around 10 miles, dropping down 17 locks to Wappenshall Junction. The Shrewsbury Canals were built to move iron ore and coal around the local vicinity but were isolated, having access to the main canal network was an obvious advantage.
Around the junction a small community grew up, with wharfs, workshops and of course a pub being rapidly established. The Newport Branch has been derelict for a number of years, only the first section to the top lock, now used as a dry dock, is in water. Lots more info here.
Out of Norbury and we’re back into a cutting, the delightfully named Grub Street, with the much-photographed High Bridge crossing. Let’s add another one…
The Anchor at High Offley, at the other end of the cutting is a popular stop in the summer, but quiet this time of year.
From here it gets a bit tedious. There’s nearly a mile of linear moorings to crawl slowly past.
Shebdon moorings, High Offley on the hill beyond
The hamlet of Shebdon also lends it’s name to the next high embankment. There’s good moorings at the south end, rings to tie to and a dry towpath. A luxury at this time of year. And this is where we pulled in.
Moored at Shebdon Embankment
After a couple of showers while we moved, the sun has made an appearance this afternoon. We’ll stay here tomorrow, then move down to Market Drayton on Monday.
Locks 0, miles 6