We had a lovely evening last night, because we met up with Sharon and John whom we met in 2015 when we did the Hatton flight together with three boats in each lock. They now live in Gnosall, so we met in The Boat pub and had a really good couple of hours chatting about boating and other things. The Boat is quite small but was really busy when we got there, which was nice to see.
This morning there was very little incentive to get up when there was rain hammering on the roof. We waited for a bit of a lull, and as we were about to set off, Sharon and John came past with their dog so we were able to have a proper goodbye. Soon after setting off we were at the very short tunnel, blasted out of the rock.
It rained on and off all the way to Wheaton Aston, where we stopped at Turner’s Garage for diesel. Then Adrian walked up to the lock so we could go up. They were dredging and back-filling some piling below the lock. Above it, the gusty wind was at its worst, blowing us onto the lock landing and making it hard to get off. The Shroppie alternates between cuttings and embankments, and the wind and rain were generally less noticeable in the cuttings. Stretton Aqueduct always looks as it it needs a bit of TLC, because it could look really attractive.
The low point was probably the approach to Brewood, with a long line of boats moored on the offside, on an embankment, with the rain blowing horizontally across. In the cutting that follows was the mossiest boat I think I’ve ever seen.
After this, the rain came down in stair rods. Even the cuttings provided very little protection. Adrian provided me with soup and bread on the move, with the plate having a little tin foil cover to keep the worst of the rain off. But there were still wildlife highlights. I reckon I’ve seen more than a dozen kingfishers today, including one near Bridge 10 which sat on a branch as I passed. Not the best photo as my phone was at full zoom, it was raining, and the boat was moving.
Then after Bridge 5 I saw a heron catch a big fish. It was then slightly put off my our approach so flew off with it, before find a spot to stand with its catch. Same excuses for the quality of the photo.
A mile or two before Autherley Junction the rain stopped. At the junction we followed a boat up the stop lock, and then turned right out of the junction onto the Staffs and Worcs. We moored up with a couple of other boats just down from the junction.
This afternoon, I did an oil change which was slightly overdue.
13 miles, 2 locks. (293 miles, 182 locks)