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Archive for May 3rd, 2017

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2016 – Day 57 – Shropshire Union

Posted by indigodream on 3 May, 2017

Rewind to Saturday 27th August

Goldstone Wharf to Market Drayton

The hounds inspecting the state of the towpath – it’s pretty mucky hereabouts.

My notes from this day are rather cryptic, but it seems that we did some car shuffling! This is often a feature of long lock-free pounds, where I can move the boat by myself while Richard moves the car and cycles back to meet me. However, some of the towpaths on this section, particularly through the Woodseaves Cutting, are simply too muddy for anything, especially cycling, so our timing was a bit more critical than usual.

As I moved off from Goldstone Wharf, I noted that the Wharf pub, where we ate last night, does not have moorings of its own; well, it has ample space but it’s signed “no mooring”!

I enjoy a solo bimble along the canal and I was looking forward to the magic of the Woodseaves Cutting. Mysterious and cool, even on the warmest day, it has a unique microclimate which is obviously perfect for ferns, which are abundant. However it is shallow and narrow, with tall bridges carrying roads and footpaths far above the unseen world below. As I found out later, it also has some rocky shallows on the offside. It is obvious that CRT have been working hard to improve the towpath with gravel and gabions – it was positively soupy the last time we cruised this way.

The Woodseaves Cutting is wonderfully atmospheric…

We I cruised along, I could see a boat coming towards me some distance away. I uhhmed and ahhhed but decided to be courteous and pulled over to wait for her to pass – ooh what a mistake! Either I’d misjudged their speed or their distance (or both!) but it took an age for them to pass. When you hover a boat you become subject to the vagaries of wind and current, so it’s hard to hold steady for an extended period. I was gratified that, despite the wait, Indigo Dream held very steady on the offside. Ah well, she would, I was firmly grounded on a rocky shelf! Luckily, the helmsman’s course that we did so many years ago, offered comprehensive guidance on how to get your boat off a shelf, but Indigo Dream was not budging! Luckily for me, soon after the oncoming boat had passed, a boat came up behind me – although they offered a snatch, what I really needed was for them to go past at speed in order to shunt some water my way. They obliged and Indigo Dream popped off the shelf with ease – phew! So, top tip, DO be courteous but in the Woodseaves Cutting wait on the towpath side!

I met up with Richard just as I was coming out of the cutting – it was good timing, he’d was just wondering how to get his bike past a fallen tree when I turned up!

The Shroppie has some picture perfect places ๐Ÿ™‚

The next adventure was the Tyrley Locks – another big favourite of mine and much anticipated as I believe the two bottom locks to be among the most lovely on the system. There was a bit of a queue at top lock but the wait was no hardship – it’s such a picturesque spot with a lock cottage straight from the lid of a vintage chocolate box. Once we got through top lock there was a great opportunity for the Beanz to have a rummage, though this late into the Odyssey they were more keen to stay on board and watch the world from the back deck. Much as I love Tyrley bottom lock, my experience in the Woodseaves Cutting minded me to listen to local advice about waiting in the penultimate lock until the bottom lock is ready; the cut is shallow and hovering is tricky as the fierce bywash is likely to push you onto the offside rocky shelf if you try to hover.

Once I was out of the Tyrley locks, Richard cycled back for the car and I cruised the short distance to Market Drayton. I actually arrived before him and found abundant mooring rings. I played mooring roulette – there was a long stretch of mooring rings, increasingly occupied as the canal moved towards the town centre. So, take a guaranteed mooring further from the road bridge or move on and risk there not being a space? Tricky! I’m notย  gambler so I moored in an easy space within a short walk of the nearest road bridge (for car access). As it happens, I could have moved a lot nearer to town but I wasn’t too far out!

Tyrley bottom lock – it’s one of the prettiest flights on the system ๐Ÿ™‚

We hadn’t moved far, so we had an afternoon free to have a wander round Market Drayton and have lunch in a very nice tea shop. We then headed off to Tesco in Shrewsbury to buy some cheap clothes in their sale – we’d run short because the variable weather meant that we’d gone through the clothes we’d packed and our backups! On our way back we picked up some cheap DVDs in Morrisons and popped into Homebase to see if I could get a few boaty items that I’ve been meaning to buy for a while. I carry a little notebook everywhere, so I had the dimensions of the boat sink on me – it’s small and shallow compared to a proper domestic sink so I was very excited to get a washing up bowl of the precise dimensions that I needed – result! I also bought a sturdy hinge-lidded tin box which will now be our cruising poo-bag store. We always pick up after the hounds, but if there’s not a bin handy the bags end up on the boat roof until we find one – it’s irked me for a while that so many photos of the boat feature a poo bag on the roof – but that is now a thing of the past!

On our way back to the boat we picked up a decent chinese takeaway and settled in for a brainless evening with a DVD. I noticed that by now the moorings were jam-packed. We got the dogs walked then settled down for the evening just as the heavens opened – rain on the canals is a fine thing but only when you’re snug indoors!


The Woodseaves Cutting has its own ecosystem – it feels like the land that time forgot…

Archie and Henry are now the longest-standing Indigo Dreamers – they are wonderful companions…



Cruising with hounds is quite magical…

A jolly end to the day ๐Ÿ™‚


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