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Archive for May 17th, 2017

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2016 – Day 58 – Shropshire Union

Posted by indigodream on 17 May, 2017

Rewind to Sunday 28th August

Market Drayton to Audlem (Shroppie Fly)

Lovely morning…

We’d had a quiet night on the moorings. Market Drayton is a nice place to stay, but we resisted the urge to linger a bit longer – there are a lot of hire boats on the Shroppie and when we noticed that they’d started to move we thought we should too. We had a big day of locking ahead and it would pay us to get to the top of Audlem before any queues had time to build. We set off at 9am but didn’t get very far as we stopped at the water point just beyond the bridge – sadly the water pressure was very low and even taking on the minimum took time. Demand for the services, including the handy rubbish point, was brisk and there was soon some boaty congestion.

We moved on, but at Bridge 65 I dropped Richard off to get the car, which was parked nearby, and he did a short car shuffle to Adderley Locks. These were the first locks of the day and are so lovely and rural that the hounds could come out and rummage to their hearts’ content, which didn’t take long as they just wanted to get back to their beds!

One of many informal lockside shops along the Shroppie…

There was curious lockside shop next to one of the locks – a local farm has set up an “honesty box” and had a little lean-to with local produce including cakes and eggs, and, remarkably, an insulated box with sausages and other barbecue meats. I just bought some scones, but the (rather pricey) meat looked very good, despite my misgivings about the integity of the cold chain! Further down there were two more canalside “honesty shops”, though they weren’t quite as swanky as the first. There must be some very honest boaters around!

We did another car shuffle at the bottom of the Adderley locks. Unusually, I actually got to the top of Audlem before Richard – he’d been hampered by unexpected local road closures and some torturous diversions. But there are excellent 48-hour mooring rings at Audlem top – they were deserted so it was an easy job for me to moor up and make lunch just in time for Richard’s arrival.

It was a fortuitous stop – it’s good to have some fuel on board before tackling a long flight, though we were lucky to have lots of upcoming traffic which meant that the locks were mostly set our way and open. We had a super-efficient passage down the flight – such a contrast to our last visit when we got behind a painfully slow boat and were plagued with low water levels which made for a tedious passage.

A gathering of greyhounds – Audlem is a great place to mor up and watch the world go by…

We were astonished to reach the moorings outside the Shroppie Fly, between locks 12 and 13, by 2.45pm, and even more astonished to find a vacant mooring spot – things were going our way 🙂

It’s rare for us to stop so early and we did contemplate going a little further, but a mooring between two pubs was such a gift that we decided to stay. The Audlem canal scene was very busy, with people visiting by car and by boat. The lovely canalside mill shop, with its extensive craft centre was an obvious draw, but we also discovered that there was a beer festival and live music at the  Lord Combermere pub, a short walk “inland” from the canal.

It was lovely to sit on the back deck and watch the world go by and chat to passersby. One delightful visitor was a gentleman called Roger Wickson, a great canal enthusiast and author of “Britain’s Inland Waterways” who also has a delightful, but shy, greyhound called Heidi. We offered him a cruise the following day, but sadly the timing didn’t work for him.

With three pubs to choose from – the canalsiders, Shroppie Fly & Bridge Inn and the inlander, Lord Combermere – we decided to undertake some research and quizzed passing locals about which we should choose for supper. We were sad to find that the Shroppie Fly’s reputation has sunk very low; we had very few recommendations for the Bridge Inn. That decided it, so we headed off for an early supper at the Lord Combermere. It’s a dog-friendly pub and although the beer festival was in full swing, most of the punters were outside, leaving us a neat little snug inside for the hounds. We had some very good pub grub and enjoyed the interesting selection of beers and ciders on offer.

Tired puppies – they never pace themseles so by the end of the Odyssey they do more snoozing than looking…

After eating, we went outside to listen to the bands – the one that was on when we visited were excellent and there was a great atmosphere. However, the hounds were beyond of tired and showed some signs of stress so we headed back to the boat. Although it’s not a long walk, it took us a while to get back because a lot of people wanted to talk to the hounds! We spent some time chatting to a young couple from nb The Owl and the Pussycat, who had inherited their boat and were making the best of the unexpected opportunity to live aboard.

We got back to the boat quite early and just chilled out for the evening. Sadly there were some fireworks later on. I had though it was an organised display but it was a few youths lighting bangers and chucking them around. I was out on the towpath with the dogs when I spotted them on the road immediately above the canal; I was carrying a torch so they would have seen me. I was incensed when they lit a banger and threw it onto the towpath just behind me. Henry is freaked by fireworks so the bang frightened the life out of him and he ran back to the boat at speed. Luckily there was no harm done, but I was so angry, all the more so because my focus was on making sure that Henry was safe and by that time the youths had vanished, though I could hear their inane activities round the village for some time afterwards.






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