Sun 3rd Jun Gnosall to High Offley
Another warm day.
We started with a walk to the Methodist Church. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the place was full. The music was provided by a lady on an organ, and there were no modern worship songs, the most recent being I, the Lord of sea and sky, and One more step along the world I go. The talk was all about families, led by the senior steward.
During coffee afterwards, many people came up for a chat, so the welcome was good.
We then made our way to the Boat Inn, where we had booked a table for 1pm. We had drinks first outside overlooking the canal. The restaurant was full so we are pleased we had booked. The food was very good.
We had decided to move on as the rooks above our boat were very noisy. After the wooded Shelmore Embankment, we came to Norbury Junction, where a branch of the canal used to go down through locks to Newport. There was a very busy pub on the left and a cafe on the right. We paused to empty cassettes and rubbish. We didn’t need water.
Moving on, we came to High Bridge, which has a telegraph pole in the middle, requiring a photo each time we pass. This marked the beginning of Grub Street Cutting, where we were pleased to see a kingfisher flashing past.
We stopped for the day at High Offley, to visit the quaint unspoilt pub there. We found Peter and Chris moored on Solace. We have been following them since Fradley. The pub had Rosie’s Pig cider. The device for stubbing out cigarettes had a notice: do not use – nesting birds. Sure enough, blue tits were flying in and out feeding their chicks. Building the nest in there must have been a bit of a fag!
Later we sat out on the towpath as there was a breeze there and some shade.
0 locks, 5 miles
Mon 4th Jun High Offley to Tyrley Top Lock
As we set off we said farewell to Peter and Chris on Solace, as they have turned round, and are going back down the Shroppie.
We noticed several boats around here with artistic paintwork on them.
We also met up again with Lynne and Mick on Ramble On
We passed along the Shebdon Embankment, where there are stop gates at each end to preserve the water in case of a breach. At the end of the embankment was the wharf once used by Cadbury’s to send milk products to their factory at Bournville.
In contrast to the embankment, we passed through Woodseaves cutting, a dramatic piece of engineering, considering that hand held tools were used to cut through the rock and create the navigation here. There is a very high bridge, with the strange name of High Bridge, not to be confused with the bridge with a telegraph pole in, which is called High Bridge.
We moored finally at the top of the Tyrley Locks, where there is a cluster of historic buildings.
Tue 5th Jun Tyrley Top Lock to Market Drayton
We decided to have a cooked breakfast this morning, which was bad planning, as at least four boats went past, causing a lock queue.
By the time we were ready to leave there was a single lady on a boat in the top lock, so James locked her down to save time for everyone. She was followed by a couple on a narrowboat called Chaffinch. The lady of the couple was sister to the guy on the next boat, a white cruiser, and as he was on his own, she was helping him quite a bit. Then came Gabriel, and we were followed by another single hander in a narrowboat.
There was guy standing on the bridge, watching everything and it transpired that he has just bought a boat on the Kennet and Avon, but he hasn’t been through a lock yet. We gave him a “How do locks work?” leaflet.
The final two locks are more complicated as the channel is cut through rock, and two boats can’t pass, and boats cannot get to the edge to let off crew. You have to ensure that lock 5 is set for you before you depart from lock 4.
It took us just over two hours to do the five locks and the half mile. It should have taken just over an hour.
We arrived in Market Drayton and found that the moorings were almost full, but there was just one space where we could squeeze in, with a little rope adjustment by the boat in front. This was a lady called Debbie, on a boat called Betty, and she has been talking to Malcolm Greysmart, a BCF friend of ours who is also a Waterways Chaplain.
We had lots of conversations in a short space of time. Tony and Judy, from a boat called Freedom walked past with their shopping. We met them last year on the Thames and gave them a BCF leaflet.
Then Debbie left on her boat, and Roger arrived on Ragged Robin to take her mooring place. He came for tea on Gabriel and we had a good long chat. He knows some our team on the Kennet and Avon, particularly John Froggatt.
Tim and Hilary arrived on Willowbrook, and we had been expecting them, following a series of text messages. As we walked into town with them heading for a curry, we met Jane from Rowan, friends of ours from our days on the River Wey.
We had a meal at Pickles, one of several Indian restaurants in Market Drayton. The food and service was very good. They didn’t have an alcohol licence, so we went for a drink afterwards to the Red Lion, a microbrewery. Sadly, none of us tried out their products.
Wed 6th Jun Market Drayton
We said our farewells to David and Jane. They are going to Ellesmere Port for the Russell Newbery Rally. It is a shame we haven’t been able to spend more time with them, but we may see them on their way back.
We walked into town, and managed to find some of the locally made gingerbread, before having breakfast at the Buttercross, a cafe overlooking the market.
James went to have his haircut while Hazel went shopping in the market. We met at the parish church of St Mary, where Malcolm and Stephanie Greysmart were running the bookshop, and greeting visitors. They kindly invited us for a meal at their house in the evening.
We explored the Indoor market (tiny) and the rest of the outdoor market, before going to Lidl and then Morrisons. We ended up in the cafe in Morrisons while we waited for a 164 bus to take us back down to the canal with our trolley full of provisions.
We had a snooze in the afternoon, but there were boat engines running, dogs barking and lawns being mown, so it was interrupted at times.
We then went to find Malcolm and Stephanie’s house, which overlooks the canal. They have their boat Elisha moored close by. We had a delightful meal and conversation with them.
No boating today
Next: Leaving Market Drayton tomorrow, and aiming for Nantwich by Saturday evening.