Monday, 17 September 2012

Diversion to Autherley Junction


After our last posting we’ve spent several days leaving the Trent and Mersey to travel up the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Autherley Junction where the Shropshire Union starts.  We’ve done this partly to complete what is referred to as the Four Counties Ring (Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and West Midlands) and partly we had the time and wanted to explore somewhere new.

Leaving behind Tixall Wide mentioned in our last post we came through the very picturesque Tixall Lock:
Tixall Lock
From here the canal leaves the Trent Valley and follows the valley first of the River Sow and then of its tributary the River Penk.
River Sow seen from the Canal aqueduct that crosses the Sow
A few locks are well spaced out and then we came through Acton Trussell passing Acton Church which stands on its own in the fields to the south of the village.
Acton Church
We moored at Park Gate Lock on both our outward and our return journeys.  This lock has the advantage of having a branch of Midland Chandlers right beside the canal.
Park Gate Lock and Boatyard
Gailey Lock, a few miles further, has an unusual round tower beside it which once functioned as a lookout for the wharfinger who made sure that passing boats paid their proper dues to use the canal.  This is now a canal shop and we bought some nice prints to frame for Leo’s saloon.
Gailey Lock
At Gailey Lucy joined us for the weekend and on Saturday we pressed on southwards to Hatherton Junction where a branch once left the canal to cut across north of Wolverhampton to join the Birmingham Canal network.  You can see from the picture below that the branch is used by the adjoining marina and the first two locks remain to access other basins for mooring.
Hatherton Canal Arm

A very canal relevant coat of arms
















































Heading southwards from Hatherton one section of the canal has been cut through solid rock.  This is referred to as Pendeford Rockin’ and is too narrow for two boats to pass except in the few passing bays.
Pendeford Rockin'
Once through the narrows and a couple more bridges and Autherley Junction appears.  Here the Shropshire Union leaves to the right.  We were here in late May on our outward trip so this completes the Four Counties Ring round the Shropshire Union, including the Middlewich Branch, the Trent and Mersey and the northern part of the Staffs and Worcester.
Autherley Junction - Shropshire Union Canal turns right under the bridge
We turned Leo at Autherley but then took the opportunity to walk the mile or so further to Aldersley Junction where the canal comes down the 21 locks from Wolverhampton.

From Autherley we’ve retraced our steps down the Staffs and Worcs Canal saying goodbye to Lucy on Sunday evening at Park Gate Lock.  Today we’ve returned to the Trent and Mersey at Great Haywood and are once more heading south to our final destination this year at Mercia Marina near Derby in a few days time.  This evening we again passed Shugborough Hall which can be seen across the fields from the Trent and Mersey:
Shugborough Hall seen across the fields from the Trent and Mersey Canal
And finally here is a strange craft we passed this evening which looked more like a car coming towards us.
Unusual Canal Craft

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