Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Slowly to Stourport - part 1

This year, with my birthday falling at the weekend, I got the chance to spend it aboard Starcross. Its not a "significant" birthday by the way - its next year that I get my bus pass! We drove up from Hereford on Saturday morning arriving at Norbury Junction at 11.45, but by the time we'd filled up with diesel and water and had lunch it was two hours later before we got away, heading south on the Shropshire Union - destination Stourport.
It was a slow journey. There are moorings either side of the cut at Norbury and when the moored boats ended, the fishermen began. It took nearly an hour to cover the two miles to Gnosall (more moorings) and then the fishermen began again! I'm very conscientious about slowing down for boats and anglers, but sometimes its very tempting to ignore them!

Large parts of the Shroppie are either on embankments or in cuttings. It was a still day, so crosswinds on the banks weren't a problem for once but in the heavily wooded cuttings the seasonal phenomenon of fallen leaves certainly was. The leaves drop off the trees into the canal and collect around the prop as the boat goes through them causing a gradual loss of power and forward momentum. Its easy enough to get rid of them with a quick blast in reverse but this slows you down as well and journey times become greatly extended. Its not just the railways that suffer from "leaves on the line".

Although we'd originally planned to go further it was after five o' clock by the time we got to Brewood so we called it a day. After a birthday pint in the Bridge Inn we returned to Starcross where Hil coked me a superb birthday meal. We lit the fire for the first time this year (some years its been as early as August Bank Holiday!) and made ourselves at home.

As we had stopped early we had further to go on Sunday and made a prompt start, eating breakfast on the move. It was another gloriously sunny Autumn day as we emerged from the gloomy cutting at Brewood and I also got this shot of one of my favourite Shroppie views - across the valley to Brewood village and church.

We were at Autherley Junction by mid-morning and turned right onto the Staffs & Worcs. Canal, passing under these magnificent railway viaducts

which show that the industrial side of the canals can be every bit as attractive and sometimes more interesting than the rural bits.
Our destination for the day was Compton, but first we had to drop down three locks to wind as our route to Stourport was via Stourbridge, which meant retracing our steps to Aldersley Jc and going up the "21" (locks) to Wolverhampton. British Waterways don't recommend mooring around Autherely Junction, which would have been the obvious spot, and although I've stayed there overnight before now I tend to agree with them when it comes to leaving a boat unattended - which is what we had to do whilst I went back to work for a few days before continuing the trip south.

1 comment:

Adam said...

One of my possible plans for our week on Debdale in May was to go to Stourport. I thought we'd go straight there on the Staffs and Worcs, and return via Merry Hill and Windmill End. It adds about 35 locks, which in my book is a good thing! However, as you appear to have done this (albeit the other way around), everyone will think we're copying!