Clocking up the miles on a clockwise route
Tixall Wide (Staffs and Worcs Canal) to Norbury Junction (Shropshire Union)
Up! Up! Up!
The Staffs and Worcs climbs steadily by 12 locks from Tixall Lock (east of Stafford) along about 11 miles to the summit at Gailey. Initially it is the railway line that shadows the canal – and then the railway crosses the canal and swings north. ….
A pretty place is Acton Trussell – and it was at a bridge hole just south of the village that a surprise third Monkton Moment * occurred.
”Cleddau, that river goes through my home town – ‘Av’fud’west,” called the young man from the back deck. Like ships that pass in the night the boats drew apart and no more conversation could be had!
With holiday options severely limited this year by the Covid -19 crisis canals are particularly popular – and queues at locks a regular feature of the day.
Houses are always interesting to look at, houses for humans that is,
The hedges are ablaze with red berries and beware mooring under an acorn-laden tree. (Acorn and oak tree lovers see references to ‘a mast year’ here:)
On this attractive canal weaves, past a couple of marinas, through farm land, past a chemical works, through more farm land, under the M54, eventually, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, to The Narrows. Passing along this way feels as if you need to take a deep breath – and to hold it for a long time until you reach air and space again some half mile later. Luck was out though – Cleddau ran out of air and space half way along. Road travellers in the wilder parts of Scotland will know about backing up to a passing place – this occasion involved not only backing up a boat but the Captain scrambling up onto a high bit of towpath to enable an approaching boater to squeeze on forwards…
On a route less frequently travelled boat names have provided plenty of passing interest:
An overnight mooring at Wheaton Aston was to put Cleddau within a morning’s distance of Norbury Junction, this after filling up with “the cheapest diesel on the system” at Turner’s garage. There was an 8am start down Wheaton Aston Lock but the well formulated plan was sabotaged by a queue of three boats to get fuel – and the loss of the garage owner’s keys to open the gate between canal and garage…
Northwards, then. The canal threads from south to north, on embankments above fields, through tree-lined cuttings hewn through hard rock. There’s a tunnel treat at Cowley: it’s high, wide and short, the canal then emerging into the pretty village of Gnosall..
Onwards to Norbury Junction, for a liaison, a planned Towpath Encounter. From the south by canal came Cleddau and crew; from further south by car came the Tentatrice crew – accompanied of course by the Tentatrice boat dog. Monty’s owners harbour the notion that the boat dog has spent all their cruising summer on the look out for Cleddau… and he was as watchful as ever…
Wow! Did this make The Airhead Society formed back in January 2015 at Cowroast quorate?! Thoughts and fervent best wishes of course are with dear Jaq, formerly of nb Valerie , now living in the US amid difficult wildfire conditions in Oregon.
Next time – locks, locks, locks…
Tixall Wide (Staffs and Worcs) to Norbury Junction (Shropshire Union): 35 miles, 14 locks, 1 tunnel
Since leaving Higher Poynton on 2nd September: 84½ miles , 45 locks
Monkton Moments*- 3 (Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)
- “Aargh, Cleddau – Pembrokeshire – Haverfordwest”
- “Oh, Cleddau, know where that is, have rowed longboats at Aberaeron…”
- ”Cleddau, that river goes through my home town – ‘Av’fud’west”
Bow deck Pimm’s: 1