Thursday, 5 November 2009

Autumn Cruise on Shropshire Union Canal, Calf Heath to Little Onn

Autumn 09, Calf Heath to Little Onn
Staffs and Worcester and Shropshire Union
Friday 9th October 2009

Index of posts in this series:
1. - Calf Heath to Little Onn - this post
2. - Little Onn to High Offley
3. - High Offley to Wheaton Aston
4. - Wheaton Aston to Calf Heath

14 Miles, 2 Locks, 5 Hours

This four day solo pilgrimage up the Shroppie has become something of a regular feature in my boating calendar, effectively marking the end of the cruising season. Where has the year gone? The last time I ventured up the Shropshire Union it was late March, en route to Manchester and then the South Pennine Ring, but that feels like only yesterday.

I slept on WB last night but even reaching her wasn't without incident. The padlock on the marina gate, always tricky, decided to completely defeat me and as a result I had to scale the 10 foot barricade and seek help from another boater with a better key. In truth, I was pretty impressed that I was still capable of such gymnastics without hurting myself!

The morning was spent on DIY and maintenance, mainly servicing the engine and  also fitting a few catches and bolts, plus sealing the stove flue which was leaking slightly. Whilst I hate shopping, a visit to the chandlery at Penkridge is an exception and a rummage in their showroom is always a delight. So, 10 litres of antifreeze, 5 litres of engine oil, 2 pts of distilled water and sundry filters later, I was ready for the off. What little traffic there was on the Staffs and Worcester tailed off after Autherley Junction, allowing me to stop and start, picking up photos of the two aqueducts at Pendeford. The first was a poor little example beside Wolverhampton Boat Club but the second, Moat Brook Aqueduct, was a much grander affair, just beyond Pendeford Bridge.

Stretton Aqueduct was also worth a photo, but by this time the rain was quite heavy and I had little inclination to disembark and negotiate the steep path down to the road.

With autumn in full swing the cuttings above Wheaton Aston were a riot of colour. I paused briefly at the Wheaton Aston service point, but only long enough to jog down the lane and photograph the aqueduct which carries a brook under the canal.

I was making for Little Onn but at 6.30pm, with the light failing, I settled for a secluded mooring in the Ryehill Cutting, near bridge 22. This proved to be a good sheltered spot with deep moorings and a cushion of grass over the armco piling. Time for a beer, a curry and bed whilst the predicted storm passed overhead.

The rain brought some bad news : I now have two windows which leak and the hatch runners also let in water. In spite of the weather at the end of the day, a good start to the trip.

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