Saturday 30 August 2008


Saturday 30th August 2008
Day trip through Autherley

Staffs & Worcester and Shropshire Union Canals

14 Miles
2 Locks

6 Hours

Mud, Moorings and Minds

Festivals are funny things. I have attended all sorts of gatherings in all sorts of locations and I am always struck by the transformation when the event is over. How something that seemed so significant can disappear like the morning dew, leaving so few traces behind

On this occasion I am thinking of the IWA National Festival which took place last weekend at Pendeford Park. I had another unexpected day to myself and rather than spend it doing the sensible thing (painting the front of the house), I decided to take a solitary trip through Autherley to the winding point beyond Wolverhampton Boat Club, have lunch and then return.

It was odd to pass the site of the festival and see so little evidence of its passing. It has all seemed to busy, so permanent at the time and all that was left were some muddy patches on the grass and a line of new mooring rings along the newly trimmed offside. It got me thinking (being alone I had plenty of time to ponder). What is the legacy of the festival, or any other gathering of that sort? It has to be more that the muddy footprint in the park, which will fade within a month, and also more than a trimmed bank, which nature will reclaim within a year or so.

No, I guess that the legacy will be in the minds and hearts of the attendees. Relationships which have been built and minds which have been broadened will have a far more profound impact than the insubstantial marks left on the ground. There are little or no physical remains of Jesus, but look at the impact he worked through the minds of his twelve disciples. The jamboree may have come to an end but the work of this group of waterways enthusiasts rolls on, gathering momentum with each passing year.

On a more mundane level, the day was warm and dry but not very sunny. There were very few boats moving and Autherley was back to its normal quiet self. Napton Narrowboats being cleaned ready for new holidaymakers and Viking Afloat crews making a last dash to get back to Gailey on time.

Whilst the legacy of a trimmed bank may be a transient thing, it was lovely to see Pendeford Park reconnected to the canal, with its areas of grass sweeping down to the water. It was also good to see the moorings so recently vacated by festival boats being used by local boaters.

Although it is only the end of August, summer has nearly gone. The leaves on the trees lining the canal are starting to turn and some craft are already being mothballed for the winter. For Wand'ring Bark there is still quite a bit of season left with a couple of weekend fishing trips on the calendar, as well as the end of season solo run, which will probably be a return to market Drayton.

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