Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for April, 2017

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2016 – Day 56 – Shropshire Union

Posted by indigodream on 4 April, 2017

Rewind to Friday 26th August

Autherley Junction to Goldstone Wharf

Kingfisher 🙂

One of the great joys of boating is the sheer variety that England’s canals, and climate, has to offer. After yesterday’s excess of locks and rain, today we had a day of blue skies, sunshine and one of the longest lock-free pounds on the system. We hardly took any photos yesterday, but today a kingfisher obligingly sat on top of a hawthorn tree for long enough for me to get several photos – such a difference!

We’d had a mercifully quiet night on the mooring and enjoyed a relaxed start, casting off at around 9.30am. However we didn’t get very far – as soon as we’d turned onto the Shroppie via the silly stop lock, we stopped at the hire base to get a pump out. We then moved a boat length onto the waterpoint and filled the tank. Archie and Henry were weary, once they’d had a good rummage at the junction, they were happy to settle as we set off along the Shroppie.

I’ve never known one pose so nicely 🙂

It was a day for services – we stopped at Wheaton Aston, well, it would be rude not to given that it has the reputation for being the cheapest on the system – today it was 51.9p per litre base price. We also got a new gas cylinder.

With various tanks properly full, or empty, we set off for a long afternoon on the lock-free pound. It’s easy to see why the Shroppie is so popular – it’s so pretty and there is a great contract between the cool, deep cuttings and the sudden embankments with breathtaking views across to the far Wrekin.

I dropped Richard off at Gnosall so that he could catch a bus to Stafford then a train back to Birmingham to retrieve his car and collect his new bike from Wolverhampton. The hounds and I carried on cruising, the late afternoon is my favourite time of day on the water and it was a welcome respite after a vexatious couple of days.

As we near the end of a long odyssey, the crew are getting very weary…

There were good moorings at Shebdon Wharf with the 5-day rings totally unoccupied; the long stretched of long-term online moorings made for slow progress but they were leavened by long stretches of unoccupied country canal. I envied nb Gorgeous George, that had bagged itself a prime mooring spot with a magnificent view of the Wrekin. I’ve always fancied mooring there, but it is very isolated so nigh on impossible for Richard to get back to the boat. As I cruised past I was very glad I hadn’t moored – nb Gorgeous George had a cat running loose around the towpath and adjacent field – could have been a close call with the hounds!

I arrived at Goldstone Wharf at 7.15pm – I’d just moored up and fed the hounds when Richard turned up on his shiny new bike. We went to the nearby Wharf Inn for supper – sadly dogs are only allowed in the garden but it was a bit chilly for sitting outside so we left them on the boat, but they didn’t seem to mind 🙂

Photoblog:

Autherley Junction – useful services, including ice-cream!

 

Drama! This poor hire boat had a window broken by a ballistic rock thrown out by the strimmers….

Deep cuttings and dappled sunshine…

 

Classic Canal scenes around Brewood…

 

Aqueduct…

 

Rummaging…..

 

A fine place to stop for lunch…

 

A fine canal for photography…

 

Tempting…

 

Breathtaking views – with the Wrekin in the distance..

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2016 – Day 55 – Wolverhampton

Posted by indigodream on 1 April, 2017

Rewind to Thursday 25th August

Dudley Canal Centre to Autherley Junction

We’ll try these moorings next time 🙂

After the shennanigans overnight, we weren’t off to a great start – although there was little chance of recovering Richard’s bike, we reported it to the police, which took a bit of time. We also reported it to some local “quick cash” outlets, who were surprisingly helpful; but there we ran into a problem – although we knew the make and size of the bike, we couldn’t find any photos or a record of any serial numbers – all essential if you want to track a stolen item being offered for sale. We reluctantly accepted that the bike was probably gone forever and started the search for a new one.

Well, that was a revelation – it is impossible to just buy a bike! Every single bike shop in the area seemed to need a minimum of 24 hours to assemble a bike; some needed a whole week! Now I was starting to understand why you might steal one – if you need a bike in a hurry it’s the only way! We now also had to accept that we’d have to work our way down the Wolverhampton 21 without a bike.

Coseley – a side of Dudley/Wolverhampton only seen from the canal…

The only advantage to being awake for most of the night was that we were up early (or late, depending on your perspective) and were able to set off around 9am. The weather was overcast but dry, giving us good conditions for inspecting the moorings round the corner, under the CCTV cameras, and for regretting not moving last night – ah well, now we know.

We had a good cruise to the top of the Wolverhampton 21 – the canal has an interesting mix of development and dereliction, and then there’s the welcome incongruity of Coseley’s richly wooded cutting – fascinating…..

Interestingly, there are some short -term moorings at the top of the Wolverhampton flight – I wonder whether you’d dare moor there – the area has a fearsome reputation.

As we started down the flight, we came across many boats coming up – this meant that the locks were set our way, which was a great advantage on a dreary day, especially when we were sorely missing the bike for lock-wheeling.

As we got to Lock 5, it started to rain; by lock 6 it was torrential; by lock 7 it was a deluge; then it rained on a biblical scale for the rest of the flight. We gritted our teeth – although it was very tempting to stop and sit it out for a few hours, most of the pounds are short and water levels erratic so we pressed on – we simply had to get to the bottom of the flight.

There’s obviously a story here…

Luckily, the hounds needed little persuasion to stay dry and warm inside, which was a shame as there is good rummaging potential on the flight – especially towards the bottom. Sadly, by the time I reached my favourite stretch between locks 17 and 21, I was so wet and cold that I couldn’t enjoy it. Conditions were so miserable we didn’t stop for lunch – I had a feeling that if I went indoors and peeled off my waterproofs I would not motivate myself to put them back on again. We snacked our way soggily down the flight, and by the end I found myself rushing just out of the sheer desperation to moor up for the day.

When we got to the bottom of the flight, we had a debate about whether to moor at the junction, we’ve moored quietly there before, or whether to press on to Autherley Junction. In the end, we moored up just shy of Autherley Junction on a stretch of mooring rings with convenient access to the nearby road bridge. Although it had felt like an immensely long day we actually moored up at 3.30pm. We peeled off our waterproofs, had lunch, and that settled it for me – no way was I going out in that rain again!

Smart mooring offside at the top of the Wolverhampton flight – would you dare to moor overnight there??

With that decided, we relaxed for a bit while Richard continued his search for a bike. Sod’s law dictated that by 4pm the rain cleared and fragments of washed and faded blue sky started to emerge. Richard set off first to a local bike shop then by bus to Wolverhampton to find a bike, while I had an amble with the hounds and relaxed. Bike shopping was quite hard, Richard bought nothing but came back to the boat to have a think about the logistics of a plan B, his knee was playing up badly so a bike just had to be bought!

I don’t have notes for what we did in the evening – I’m sure we ate on board because I couldn’t be naffed to go out, and I recall that Richard ordered a bike via the internet from Halfords that would be ready for him to collect the following evening – hurrah!

Life before the deluge 🙂

 

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