Wrenbury & Bhurtpore

Further on and further up – heading towards the Holy Land! We drove on further into this very rural and quiet canal – up the two Swanley locks, past Swanley marina and then up the Baddiley locks – trying to vector in against the very strong bywash at the foot of each lock. This canal has always been a feeder waterway down to Hurleston reservoir – something that helped preserve it but it does mean there’s often quite a flow. And then it was the approaches to Wrenbury.

All very quiet and scenic
the lunchtime walk to Aston – only 45 minutes!
over the wee river weaver
across fields
and stiles, where could they all be going?
hmm, pretty good guess, there could be a pub involved and well worth the trek – one of the best pubs we’ve ever found! The Bhurtpore Inn – seehttps://www.bhurtpore.co.uk/
A dozen real ales on cask and plenty more on keg – see their website, which unusually lists them all! http://www.bhurtpore.com/draft.php
We tried “It’s Never One” and here Steve tries Salopian “Marches”. They also have a huge menu, including their homemade curries (continuing the Indian connection) – we had a mutton curry and a chicken & spinach balti – excellent . . . time to walk it off
A different route back, longer but with minimal roads – including a ford

Well, we did drag Toby all that way and so a promised swim was on the cards.

Nantwich then the Golli

Seem to have got a bit behind. We left Hack Green on Tuesday and chugged the few miles on to Nantwich, through the Hack Green two locks and moored at pretty much the first spot on the huge embankment. Off shopping, trolley bag in tow plus dog. Clewlows for bacon, cheese (Nantwich Blue!) and pies. Then a stop in the Gin shop and a final pause at the BeerDock for a pint and a chance to eat the pies.

Perfectly clear night at the Coole Pilate moorings, near Hack Green – note the picnic tables & BBQ spots – all moored on rings too.
Gorgeous day and gorgeous sunset
2nd of the two Hack Green locks and some help arrives
Sorry, no pictures of Nantwich, too busy, er, shopping – we sampled No 9 – very good.
RDW had some amazing gins – we’ve tried the Adnam’s First Rate before but it was on offer here and good stuff (48%!). The Henstone was a local gin and was new to us – excellent – unfiltered and very tasty (44.9%).
One of the boat traders from Market Drayton was Wendy B’s floating art gallery and Viv bought one of her hand painted gin glasses (see http://wendybsfloatingartgallery.co.uk/
Friday morning – spots of rain but off by 0830 to the wharf for a pump out – need to be a lighter boat for the shallow Llangollen canal. Excellent service here – no tokens or timers – must have been there for 30 minutes! Elsan green at £10 too.
Viv drives the wee ship for a bit
And then we were there – Hurleston junction and Welcome to the Llangollen Canal or croeso i gamlas Llangollen!
Bit of a problem with the bottom lock – there’s always been a bit of a narrowing of this lock and CRT were going to work on it but have kept it open for this cruising season but only opening it for 0800-1700 and working craft through. The CRT chap on the right is the resident keeper at Saltersford on the Weaver – he told us of the sorry news that this lock is bust. That will limit our foray down the Weaver in July. Shame.See https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices/14822-lock-4-hurleston-locks-llangollen-canal
Meanwhile, Viv snaps this colourful chap – a grey wagtail?
A bit of an ordeal getting through the first 4 locks but we stop to take off rubbish and take on water. That’s our three hours done – let’s find a quiet place to moor up. It does look very serene.
Stopped between bridges 3 & 4 (Burland) – time for lunch and a rest
Dog’s happy too.
We seem to have come a long way, well it is Day 43, I think. There’s plenty of resources about this canal – see
https://www.ukwaterwaysguide.co.uk/map/llangollen-canal/main-canal

Onwards thru Audlem

Up early and off by 0730 – it’s going to get hot and we’ve 13 locks to do, so we choose to finish these before the heat of the day. Unfortunately for us, the last boat down last night was Becky and he left ALL the bottom gates open! This would have been a right pain as we would then have to close both gates and then fill the lock. But serendipitously, a local chap (moored on the permie mooring below) was out for his morning walk and he offered to close em all and prepare each lock for us! Magic!

The night before – lovely spot – time for a G&T
Got this thru the post via Amazon – this is our lounge music!
So, 0730 – no one about and off we go – Viv drives all the way and Steve winds – helped by our local guy, Alan – you can see the next lock is all prepared for us to drive straight in
Here’s Viv “Inside No.9”
No. 10 – only 5 more to go. Although locks can be hard work – this really is a most pleasant flight.
Viv steams off to the next one
There’s Alan – cheers mate!
Ah and here’s “Becky” – I say nothing.
It’s not New Year but here’s an Audlem Sign (groan!)
Good old Telford
Nearly done – just 2 locks to go.
Arty photo?
Hurrah! The last lock and here comes Viv
Bottom lock and it isn’t even 0900 yet! Well done.

Quite a quick descent – helped mainly by Alan. Just a short cruise now, past Overwater marina and on to moor near the Coole Pilate Halt (csd 1963) where there’s nice moorings and even picnic tables.

We moored right at the end, near bridge 84 – a bit quieter as the earlier boats had music playing and later had the bbq going too.
Ah, frequent flyers with us will know from blogs passim that this is the site of the Secret Nuclear Bunker, well, not so secret I guess. Steve went last time and it’s Viv’s turn today.
Being of a certain age, we lived under the threat of nuclear war and can clearly remember the sinking of the Belgrano in 1982 – it put paid to any Argentine ship ever leaving port again. And this is the actual kit used to send the VLF message – all a bit chilling.
I’m sorry but for security reasons we can’t show you any more – you’ll have to visit yourselves. Just don’t press any big red buttons.
Meanwhile back in the sunshine, orange tip butterflies.
Time to sit and enjoy the 20 degree sunshine – tonight it’s gin & fresh limes to go with our strange meal – Venezuela’s national dish Pabellon Criollo – beef, plain rice, black beans (here done in a chipotle sauce) – normally with a fried plantain but we had garlic bread instead – fusion food eh?

Day 38 – things on sticks

It actually looks a bit like Summer. We thought we’d move off before Monday as the floating market traders should be packing and going then. Meanwhile, we had some morning visitors…

Viv now has new solar powered LED lights
Those hungry little cygnets
A brief pause to take on water – it was very slow – took over 20 mins!
And then the 5 locks at Adderley – Viv drives & Steve winds
Blues skies! It’s warming up . . . just after this lock, the bowthruster broke – too big a log going thru! Oh, well, Steve knows what to do . . .
Very tranquil
This lot seemed happy – they were running around and having a good frolic.
We moor up, 2 locks down the 15 lock Audlem flight – a nice quiet spot and time to fix that bowthruster. Luckily, it is designed to break a small sheer pin, rather than the expensive (and boat-out-of-water job) propeller. Just a pain to get at. The horizontal tube is open at each end on the boat. Luckily, the motor can be unscrewed and lifted off without the need to take the boat out of the water.
I’ve done this before!
Meanwhile, another pain was the weather station – it just packed up – didn’t want to receive outdoor data, but I dried it all out and lo, it’s alive again and showing 22 inside and 18 outside.
It really is a nice spot. Steve walked down the locks with the dog – hmm, it does seem lock after lock after lock! Another day.
Time for the steward to bring us “things on sticks” – our thanks and a Hello to Steve & Lucia for teaching us this tapas style canapé – here we have a slice of chilli, followed by silverskin onion, gherkin, preserved lemon and cheese or chorizo plus the gin on the rocks of course! Happy Days.

Market Drayton

Got a bit bored and it was a bit shallow here – the boat bumps and the wee doggie da nae like it! And with the forecast of rain coming we pushed on just a short distance to Goldstone Wharf – managed to get in, just. This would mean our cruising time on the wet day was short.

👋 Big wave to all our readers! New hello to Tim & Heather 👋

The next day saw us chugging through Woodseaves Cutting – again our Mr Telford had got his navvies to cut thru the sandstone – this is an infamous couple of miles, shallow & narrow with the sides sometimes reaching 100 feet.

Looking ahead to the narrow cutting
A bit creepy and jungly – our last visit here, with David, saw us (well, Steve) making monkey & other jungle animal noises!
At the end is Tyrley wharf – this house is still for sale – with its own mooring
These locks area bit fearsome, with nasty by-washes after each lock
Toby is looking his age
At the end of the locks . . .
Moored near the huge aqueduct, as usual. Then off shopping and erm, pubbing!
Market Drayton is home to the Joules brewery – an old brewery that has been revived. Their pub, the Red Lion is a marvellous place – good beer & good food (beef stroganoff & Jambalaya)
And there’s Mr Joule himself
They do 3 or 4 regular beers plus a new stout and this Shropshire hop – very tasty indeed

Well, that was the wet Thursday which lead to an even wetter Friday. Steve cycled to Morrisons to shop – inspired to make his own Jambalaya! Saturday & Sunday sees the Floating Market come to town – a dozen or so trading boats display their bunting and wares . . .

One of the woes of boating is the lack of getting stuff delivered, or is it? Viv’s little set of fairy lights in the cratch finally died and so we ordered a new set, solar powered from Amazon – there’s a locker inside Morrison’s! Next day delivery.
A casualty of the Tyrley locks – a stud was ripped off – luckily it was still inside the top button, so could retrieve it but how to fix it? Another Amazon order – pop rivet gun & rivets . .
Our final stop, had to run the engine today, too many dull days and we did watch a movie (Bluray player on, TV on, sound bar on…..), so we were down 110Ah but the sun did come out later and pushed more amps into the batteries !
Lots of lovely (?) things . .
Including these mirrors – bought one for Gail
Hmm, not a usual thing you get to see in people’s cratch – a wood fired pizza oven
The one (and only) floating bar! It being only 10:30, we didn’t linger.
By 1330 Amazonians had delivered the pop riveter but the blind rivets are all too short! Back to Homebase!!
These seem better – I only want one rivet!!
Job done – added some super glue just to make sure!

The day was rounded off with a swim in the river for Toby and a “wet” for us two, back in the Red Lion – to try their seasonal keg beer IPA! Nice. Off tomorrow . . . heading for Audlem and lots of locks.

Somewhere Quiet – Bridge 47

Rain’s coming Wednesday, so time to move on. There was a big Canal Festival at Norbury over the weekend, so we’ve waited until that was over first.

A Little Stroll

Toby hasn’t had much in the way of walks – not long walks, anyway. So, it being Bank Holiday Monday, we thought we’d avoid the town & crowds and head off down the disused Stafford-Shrewsbury railway. This was a bit boring, well, it was a long and mainly very straight path but we met a local who suggested a detour – a loop around the Windmill hill.

We did walk miles . . .
Pretty much at the top of this loop we came across a footpath that included the edge of someone’s garden – rhododendrons & azaleas
Quite an astonishing find – especially the yellow azaleas – Steve used to grow these and they have a marvellous scent – squirrel gums!
And acres of bluebells
We looked it up and it’s called Broad Hill & it does have an old windmill too.
Native bluebells – such a deep hue of blue

Day 32 – Gnosall

Had our fill of Wheaton Aston – pubs with mediocre beer – one that let dogs in but didn’t open until the afternoon and didn’t do food and t’other that did do food but was dog unfriendly. And it rained and it was cold! Fire back on then. Time to move on. There’s a big canal festival at Norbury, so we’ll avoid that – there’s no moorings as they are all taken up by trading boats. Two hours to Gnosall – a good spot (see blog passim) with a good micro pub and a water point.

Steve often gets into his Victor Meldrew mode when he sees yet another No Name boat! So here’s the CRT official terms & conditions that we boaters all signed up to when licencing our boats – updated April 2019

A short video showing the straight, wide and serene Shropshire Union Canal

Probably off tomorrow, Tuesday – beyond Norbury and to Black Flat bridge – a good spot (see blog 2 years ago – first time we saw Neville on the Bond boat)

Day 28 – Kingfishers

Did we stay at this nice quiet and rural spot? No. There was a bird scarer nearby and it made quite a bang – Toby no like. So we pushed on to Brewood. But this was a bit dark and nowhere nice to moor, so we pushed on again to Wheaton Ashton (2 pubs, shops, Indian and cheap diesel).

Into the Shroppie

We could have stayed put but it looked a bit grey and there was rain forecast, so we fired up the Isuzu and cruised the last bit of the Staff & Worcs canal to Autherley junction and into the Shroppie. On the way we went through the Pendeford Rockin – a weird narrow & shallow bit where James Bridley had to get his navvies to cut the canal through rock. As luck would have it the gas ran out just as Steve was making some tea and so we called in at the boat yard (Napton Boats, Autherley jn) and a very nice chap, James wheeled out a new gas cylinder plus Viv bought a duffel coat! She just needs a red hat to complete the Paddington Bear look.