After our last posting we’ve spent several days leaving the
Trent and Mersey to travel up the Staffordshire and 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, Worcestershire Canal 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:
|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.
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.
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
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. Birmingham Canal
|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.
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
|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
From Autherley we’ve retraced our steps down the Staffs and
saying goodbye to Lucy on Sunday evening at Park Gate Lock. Today we’ve returned to the Worcs Canal 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
|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|