There are 29 locks on the Shroppie between Hurleston and Autherley Junction. The first two we met were at Hack Green, just about 45 minutes after setting off this morning.
A bit overcast this morning as we got away from Nantwich.
At Bridge 91 there’s a stop gate fitted in the narrows, to be used in the event of a breach on the embankment.
There’s one at the other end too, next to Bridge 92.
This section of the Shropshire Union was opened in 1835, originally the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal. Thomas Telford was appointed Principal Engineer, and he incorporated the latest techniques in the construction. The 18th century canals tended to follow the contours of the land to avoid expensive earthworks and civil engineering, but things had moved on and the B&LJC was built to be as efficient as possible.
Gone were the meandering bends of the Oxford and Trent and Mersey Canals, now the canal made a bold line across the country, with embankments and cuttings going over and through the ridges and valleys encountered on it’s route. Where elevation changes were necessary as the landscape slowly climbed up towards the Black Country, locks were grouped together to make passage quicker.
Long straights are part of the character of the Shroppie
Heading up Hack Green Locks, just two to break us in gently…
We met boats heading down both of the locks, so passage was easy.
Another 40 minutes saw us arrive at the bottom of the Audlem Locks, after passing the large Overwater Marina on the offside.
This oyster catcher seemed a little out of place, sat on top of a pile of gravel and screeching at the flock of Canada geese foraging below.
An embankment just south of Audlem is pierced by a tunnel carrying the River Weaver.
At this point it’s turned north after reaching it’s southern limit just west of the village. It’s now wiggling it’s way towards Winsford where it becomes navigable, before finally emptying into the Mersey near Runcorn.
Arriving at Audlem
There was a boat going up Lock 15 as we arrived, so we pulled onto the lock landing. During the season there’s a water-bus service from here to Overwater Marina and back.
We had a fairly slow trip up the first four locks, but pulled in on the moorings below Lock 11 at soon after 1 o’clock.
Lock 15, Audlem Bottom Lock
Lock 13, with the lock cottage, the Shroppie Fly and Audlem Mill on the far side.
We intended to take a day out here tomorrow, but the weather is turning a bit and there’s thundery showers forecast later. They may linger on into Sunday, so we decided to go up the rest of the locks tomorrow, aiming to be done before getting wet. Then we’ll hang about on Sunday instead.
Locks 6, miles 6