Monday, 22 June 2009

To Middlewich

Tuesday, 16 June: Norbury Junction to Knighton
In the end, Hugh and I arrived within 10 minutes of each other and it would have been even closer had his bus not been delayed by the excessive number of cars on the roads of Stafford.
As it was, we topped up the drinking water, had a quick cup of tea and were away by 19.45 on a lovely sunny summer's evening. The run to Knighton usually takes about an hour-and-a-half from Norbury as although its only three miles it seems as if two of them are through linear moorings! (I can't complain, I moor on line myself). Tonight was no exception and we arrived at the visitor moorings near bridge 47 at 21.20.

This part of Staffordshire seems to have more than its fair share of unspoilt village pubs and the Haberdasher's Arms is no exception. At some stage it has, admittedly, been ruthlessly modernised by the installation of a television set in one of the four rooms but that's about as far as that particular project went. It may not be quite as unspoilt as the more famous "Anchor" at High Offley, but the absence of boaters, campers and beer spotters seems to give the Haberdashers the edge as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday 17th June: Knighton to Audlem
Little did we know it, but yesterday was the last we were going to see of the sun for some time. We made a reasonably early start at 07.45 and then, ninety minutes later, Starcross encountered her first flight of locks since Wolverhampton back in December. Such are the joys of living on the seventeen-mile pound.

We met three uphill boats on this five-lock flight, which speeded things up a bit, although I still had time to attend to the brasses on the way down. It took us 35 minutes to descend and then we headed off for Market Drayton. I had intended to take water here, but both water points were in use and there was a boat waiting, so we pressed on to Adderley. By now it had started to rain heavily, which might have been why it took us five minutes longer to get down the five Adderley locks than it had those at Tyrley. Hugh had been doing most of the lock work as, unfortunately, his eyesight is too poor to steer through the locks and by the bottom of the flight he was somewhat bedraggled, but looked happy enough.

Hugh had to be at Audlem by 18.30 to catch the bus to Nantwich station so we pushed on through the rain, making such good progress that at one stage we considered the possibility of pushing on to Nantwich itself. However, by the time we had got down the fifteen Audlem locks we agreed that we had had enough and tied up on the Weaver Aqueduct. We walked back into the village for a pint at the Lord Combermere and later congratulated ourselves for correctly predicting down which road the Nantwich bus would come and at which unmarked point it would stop. The fact that the parish council notice board on a shop wall looked remarkably like a 1950's Crosville bus timetable case and was still painted Crosville green was a bit of a giveaway to the initiated.

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