Monday, December 12, 2011

Going nowhere fast… or slow!

We’ve had a steady few days since I last posted. On Friday we all took a bus into Stafford, to get a few last minute Christmas gifts and to have a look around.

St Mary’s, StaffordDSC00116
It was a bright but cold day, so Mags and I wimped out and took a taxi back to Gnossal rather than wait for the bus when we’d got what we wanted.

Saturday we just chilled, that being an accurate description of Friday night/Saturday morning. Meg and I had a fine walk over the frosty fields then returned via the canal towpath.

Quarry Lane leads to…..SAM_0002 Quarry Lane
…..a quarry at the top of Cowley Tunnel.SAM_0001 Gnosall Quarry
I guess that’s where a lot of the stone for the bridges in the village came from.

Frosty fields just starting to return to green as the sun clears the trees…SAM_0006 Frosty Fields
SAM_0009 Frosty Fields

Meg loves rolling in the frost… or snow… or wet grass… In fact she just loves rolling!SAM_0008 Frosty Fields
Luckily for both of us she generally avoids the cow pats!

Back onto the towpath, under Bridge 32, the way the builders laid the stone blocks to compensate for the bridge being askew over the canal always fascinates me…

Bridge 32SAM_0016 Bridge 34

We followed the long cutting to Cowley Tunnel, and I managed to get some shots inside.

Looking north at where the stone lining gives way to rough-cut rock
SAM_0018 Cowley Tunnel

Faults in the rock structure led to the tunnel being shorter than intended.SAM_0024 Cowley Tunnel
Out in daylight, straight cut walls to the cutting….SAM_0027 Cowley Tunnel

….And more evidence of quarrying on the offside.SAM_0028 Cowley Tunnel
A splash of colour near Boat Inn BridgeSAM_0030

Yesterday I dipped the water tank in the morning and found we were well down, so we moved from our spot near the Boat Inn, filled the tank then pulled in again just before the disused railway bridge. Then we had Chas and Ann round for lunch, and very convivial it was too. Roast beef and Yorkshires, with apple crumble to follow. Thanks Mags! George and Carol missed out; they’d gone to son Mark’s for the day.

Today dawned bright and sunny after another sharp frost, but grey clouds rolled in soon after we set off for Norbury Junction, and we even had a short shower.

Leaving Gnosall, under the railway bridge.SAM_0034 Bridge 35a

Here come those clouds…SAM_0035 Clouds gather

Just before Norbury the canal passes over Shelmore Embankment, just over a mile in length and up to 60 feet high.

Onto Shelmore Embankment.SAM_0037 Stop Gate
The stop gate protects the navigation in case of a breach. There’s one at either end of the embankment.

This structure and others like it enabled the canal to maintain a straight and level course, improving traffic speed considerably over the old contour canal. An incredible achievement, they were also a big problem as the sides often slipped during construction. Shelmore was the last to be completed and indeed the final stretch of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal. It took 5½ years to build.

Cruising over ShelmoreSAM_0038 Shebdon Embankment
SAM_0039 Shebdon Embankment

At the other end of the embankment is Norbury Junction, very busy with boats at any time of the year.

Norbury Junction and Norbury WharfSAM_0041 Norbury

We pulled in to empty the loos and dispose of the rubbish, then waited while another boat was filling with diesel on the wharf. Meanwhile NB Rock’n’Roll came past and pulled across to have the loo tank pumped out, so we had to wait for them to get out of the way as well before we could fill the fuel tank. At 77.9p per litre it’s worth waiting, though.

Rock’n’Roll being depooped.SAM_0042 Poo Pumping

Early in the afternoon the clouds mostly cleared, so it’s been quite pleasant. A bit of a breeze has blown up now, though.

We’d turned around in the basin before filling with diesel and reversing to moor just past Norbury Bridge. We’ve got to go back to Gnosall to pick up some more mail from the Post Office, but that won’t be till Wednesday.

We took the pooches for a circular walk, getting back at around 4 o’clock before it got dark.

Ann, George and Carol, me, two Mollys and Meg set off towards Manor Farm.SAM_0003
Hi-ho, Hi-ho. 

The moated platform which used to support the 14c Norbury ManorSAM_0005
The Manor was demolished in the 19c.

We rejoined the canal at High Bridge, the much photographed structure with a telegraph pole on web in the middle.

High BridgeSAM_0008
Sorry, slightly out of focus. Every so often I get the settings wrong on the new camera...

Locks 0, miles 2¼

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