We had a real treat last night. At 7.30, we were picked up from the bridge just behind our mooring by Bill and Sheila Saner from the Nantwich Canal Centre, and taken to a newly reopened pub where we had a great meal. Excellent company and very good food -- all four of us had something different and we each enjoyed it, and the sharing dessert platter was something else. We can heartily recommend The Boar's Head, even if we don't know exactly where it is (somewhere near Nantwich!)
This morning was very misty, but it didn't stop anyone boating -- three went past before we'd even had breakfast. We set off just after eight, to complete the last two locks of the Audlem flight.
The cottage by the top lock is having a big extension built, which ruins the symetry of the building. How it got planning I have no idea. We carried on through the gloom, with our tunnel light on in case any boats came the other way. Very soon after the top lock we crossed into Shropshire (ten miles later we were through the other side, into Staffordshire; not much of the Shroppie is in Shropshire). It was still very gloomy as we did the five locks of the Adderley flight. At the top lock there's a farm shop stall, from which we bought a pork pie, an apple pie, and some chocolate flapjack. They also sell useful stuff such as milk.
Markey Drayton came next, and the little mooring basin has been greatly improved, with new jetties and power columns. Soon after is the flight of five Tyrley Locks. The by-washes here are aways fierce, but today they seemed particularly bad. A boat coming out of the bottom lock was pushed up against the rock on the offside, and our bow was shoved over there too.
It was a similar story at the second lock, where a downhill boat was pushed straight into the trees. It had been murky when we went into the cutting containing the two bottom locks, but the third lock is in the open and the weather had changed dramatically.
We'd met several boats coming the other way at this flight and the top lock should have been with us too. However, a boat had turned the lock by the time I got up there -- but even when the lock was open and ready for them, the boat was still on the water point with the hose attached. I suggested that as they'd set the lock and we were waiting below, they'd better get on and use it. At least the cottages at the top look better now they're not defaced by anti-EU slogans.
We stopped on the water point and got the washing machine going. The water pressure is terrible, and we got bored before the tank was full, so we set off through the dramatic Woodseaves Cutting, with its high bridges and rock sides.
The Shropshire Union is very familiar because Debdale was based here for a few years, and the long lines of boats moored on the offside haven't changed. But there are fantastic views in the open sections, particularly towards The Wrekin. We stopped at Norbury Wharf for diesel, and put in 114 litres at 59p basic; Norbury Wharf was very good to the Debdale syndicate when OwnerShips collapsed, so we don't mind spending money with them. We also got some engine oil, a bag of coal, and a couple of ice creams. There's no internet or phone at Norbury Junction (still) so we carried on to Gnosal.
19 miles, 12 locks. (308 miles, 172 locks)