John Dodwell continues his boat holiday.
Ian Rogers, the Trust's new head of customer services, joined me today. His job relates to all waterway users with boating obviously being a major part. He had left his car in Market Drayton and had then cycled along the towpath to meet me at the bottom of Adderley Locks.
After Ian had worked the five locks with me steering HELEN, Ian took over the steering. This was something fairly new for him, although he did mention a trip on the Mon & Brec earlier this year as well as memories of Broads holidays. He soon got the hang of steering the boat and coping with the separate gear rod and throttle wheel.
So, after a stop in Market Drayton for a pub lunch, Ian steered the boat up the Tyrley 5 locks with me working the locks. When we got to the start of Woodseaves Cutting, Ian began his ride back to his car. Just as well, as the towpath in the northern part of the Cutting is in a bad state. Improvement works were carried out on the southern part last winter and I understand more repairs are due this winter.
I tied for the night at Shebdon. The Wharf Inn is no more - which is a shame.
One of the joys of the Shroppie is the massive cuttings and massive cuttings which Telford designed. And the bridges. One of the best known is High Bridge in Grub Street Cutting before I got to Norbury. The cuttings provide a cathedral like aura with the massive tree trunks being the pillars. These features help to overcome having to be on tick over for long stretches where there are offside moorings.
At Norbury I found HALSALL, one of the historic boats which sells fuel so I filled up my diesel tank and replenished a gas bottle. I admire the people who operate the fuel boats, providing a useful service to boaters and those who live beside the waterways. I also know they are a weather bell of the condition of the canal. If they can get through, then so can the rest of us.
It was just after Norbury when I saw coming towards me a Trust tug pushing a well loaded hopper northwards. When I got to Gnosall, I could see that the load was of scrapings from clearing the towpath.
I saw at least two kingfishers today - there seem to be more about. Also a lot more moorhens - but no coots. As usual, there were stately herons, mallards, swans - and squirrels searching in the leaves.
I arrived at Autherley to tie for the night as it approached dark. HALSALL caught me up much laterand I heard them pass at 8.45pm.
John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!See more blogs from John Dodwell