Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Going North on the Shropshire Union Canal

Our last posting was from the Cannock Extension Canal which is a branch off the Wyrley and Essington Canal.  We decided that it would not be wise to moor on a Saturday evening in the centre of Wolverhampton and so did a short day stopping at Sneyd Junction. 

There is a short arm here which used to go up through several locks to form two more branches of the canal.  You can see the remains of the first lock in the picture.

It was a very calm evening at Sneyd Junction as you can see from this view out of the window on Leo.

On Sunday we carried on to Wolverhampton

We passed this splendid Duck Castle.  You can see the weed in the canal which is very pretty but gives slow progress as the tendrils continually get wrapped round the prop.

We had lunch at the top of the 21 locks of the Wolverhampton flight.  The first lock is by the cottage.  We debated whether to go down, and in the end we did because it was quieter and safer lower down.

And here is where we spent Sunday night between locks 17 and 18 of the flight.  There are a couple of long pounds down here which are fine for mooring.  It is quiet and peaceful compared to the centre.

So what did we really think of the Wyrley and Essington?  It is a most underused canal. In six days we saw only half a dozen boats moving.  Sitting at the top of the flight in Wolverhampton we saw four boats in an hour!  The canal is fairly urban but as often forms a green corridor among houses.  Sometimes there are good views and occasionally you are in open country.  We especially enjoyed mooring by Chasewater Reservoir.  So in summary it is not a canal we will hurry back to visit, but it was certainly interesting and provides a different route through the West Midlands.  Once the restorations are complete of the link to Hatherton on the Staffs and Worcs and the link to Huddlestone near Lichfield on the Coventry Canal, we are sure the Wyrley will get a lot more use.

By Monday morning we were heading North on the Shropshire Union which we have not cruised for a couple of years.
But first we had to contend with navigating this.  We strongly suspect that it was a hire boat we saw coming up the Wolverhampton flight who left the bottom paddles partly open and the top gates wide open on lock 21, the last in the flight.  It took us a while to refill the pound and complete our descent from Wolverhampton on Monday.

Once through the last lock you are on the Staffs and Worcs Canal again for just half a mile turning right and then turning left (where the boat ahead is going) onto the Shropshire Union.  This starts with a stop lock with a fall of about 4 inches.  It was put in originally so that the Shropshire Union did not take water from the S&W.

The Wyrley and Essington is nicknamed the 'Curly Whirly' for good reasons but look how straight the Shroppie is.  This is a late canal built by Thomas Telford and has all his hallmarks of deep cuttings and high embankments.

This fine balustraded bridge was required by the local landowner to fit in with the estate.

Last night we moored in Brewood but out on the embankment in the sunshine not down in this cutting where we had moored before.  In this hot weather it is always a question whether to have the sun for the solar panel or the shade to keep us cool.

Brewood has some lovely old buildings including this strange house called Speedwell House after a horse.  A bet on the horse provided the funds to build the house.

Today we've cruised on to Gnosall where we are moored tonight.

Soon after leaving Brewood you come over Stretton Aqueduct which crosses the A5.  Interesting that Telford was responsible also for the road.

Now we are on a much more popular canal.  We had to queue for the one lock today at Wheaton Aston.  Still we were able to have a coffee and chat to the others in line waiting their turn.

This is Cowley Tunnel cut, as you can see, through solid rock.  It is short and before it is a long narrow rock cut section of canal which was intended to be part of the tunnel but the top was taken off because the rock was unstable.

And finally a few novelty photos to finish off this posting:
These are our flowers on the roof of Leo.  The Fuschia on the left was a disaster earlier in the year after an attack of greenfly.  The Petunias  were half price in Pershore and have come on a treat.  We left the flowers in the care of David and Victoria when we went home for a few days and we are grateful for their tender care of them.

We are always on the lookout for the smallest narrowboat (not sure why) and reckon this might win the prize.  It looked like a model but there was a chap onboard whose head was bent because of the restricted headroom.

Here is an example of the mileposts along the Shroppie.  We are heading from Autherley Junction to Nantwich via Norbury Junction.

The Shroppie is lovely; quiet and peaceful with fine views from the embankments. There are few villages close by but those that are, seem to be interesting and full of old buildings.  The pubs are good too.

We shall be carrying on Northwards over the next few days.


  1. It is really interesting and the pictures are great highlighter!!Keep up the good work.

  2. It's impossible to tell whether this is a PM blog or Leo blog.... David's writing is so similar to Ian's it has had me laughing out loud! Vxx