Compton visitor mooringsToday was a much better day for weather, warm and sunny and ideal for polishing the brasses, which i did for an hour or so before setting off from Compton to wind at Wightwick and begin the return run to Norbury. The Staffs & Worcester is one of the earlier canals and it shows - particularly in the style of the diminutive bridges at the lock-tails, which add enormously to the charm of this waterway.
I was surprised on arrival at Wightwick lock to see the top gate paddle up and the lock full. I was busy speculating on whether it had been drawn for me by the boat in front who had realised I was single-handed or whether it had just been forgotten by the uphill boat I'd just passed. Perhaps it was becuase my mind was thus occupied that I managed to misjudge the distance between the bank and the bow when stepping back on to Starcross to adjust the cratch cover. Its a manoeuvre I've completed hundreds, if not thousands, of times before but I still managed to end up with one leg in the cut and a very wet foot! Still, it could have been worse and just goes to show how careful one has to be at all times, particularly when single-handed.
After all this excitement it was not until I'd got through the lock and well on my way south that I realsied I'd intended to turn at the winding hole above the lock.
There was no alternative but to carry on to Dimmingsdale lock to wind, which eventually added about three hours to the journey!
Dimmingsdale lockIronically, last time I was at Dimmingsdale my visiting steerer missed the winding hole there and we had to carry on down the Bratch and back up and were very late back!
After this I had an uneventful trip back as far as Stretton, where I tied up just across the aqueduct.
Stretton aqueduct from the towpath........This is the view that most boaters have of the structure, but from the road it is even more impressive, marking the spot where Thomas Telford's superb canal crosses his other masterpiece - the Holyhead coach road, built for the Irish Mail Coaches and nowadays known as the A5.
...and from the roadCloser inspection of the plaque on the trough wall reveals the name of the canal as the "Birmingham and Liverpool"
I've always thought that the original name of what later became the Shropshire Union Main Line was the "Birmingham & Liverpool Junction" but perhaps that wouldn't fit in the available space or no one told the signwriter! Whatever its called, I followed the canal back to Norbury in the morning.