Staff from the Canal & River Trust kept me company as I continued my journey along the Shroppie. And the local boatyard at Market Drayton helped me when I ran into trouble!
Monday was another good weather day and we woke to mist over the canal. The sun had come through by the time we started, shining on the red hawthorn berries - lots of them: does this mean a hard winter ahead or just a good summer?
My son Richard had joined me the previous night for a week (we'd eaten at The Wharf Tavern) and we were joined this morning by Edd Moss, the Canal & River Trust's national volunteering manager. He came with us to the bottom of Adderly locks and then cycled back. He was adept at both steering and lock working and was keen to set the next lock down before we emptied the first, so saving water. He'd had his first boating experience on holiday as a child. We discussed the scope for volunteers to do more.
Woodseaves Cutting was intriguing with many types of trees towering over us. Most of the towpath was in poor condition and wet. We heard later that repairs are due to be be scheduled.
Through our own carelessness, we got the tiller stuck on the wall of one of the Tyrley locks and unshipped the rudder. We limped into Market Drayton where the boatyard at bridge 65 spent about half an hour before they got it back in the cup - and then refused our offer to pay!
In the afternoon Ian Easby joined us at Adderley Top and came with us to Audlem lock 12. He's the waterway manager for the area and wanted to see things for himself. All the paddles worked ok and the gates moved ok but Ian took notes of leaky gates etc. We discussed the Montgomery (Ian had been at the Maesbury Festival on the Sunday). I was also able to tell Ian that all the towpath I had seen from Autherley had been well cut - apart from some bits in cuttings where it was too wet.
After an evening meal in The Shroppie Fly, we were joined on Tuesday morning by Rebecca Wilkin, Rachel Bramham and Nicola Lees from Canal & River Trust's property team in Leeds. Their job involves increasing property income so there is more to spend on maintaining the waterways and I wanted them to see just what their work meant. All three buckled down to working the locks and steering 'Helen'. They left us at Nantwich. Before leaving Audlem we'd chatted to Ivor and Mel Batchelor who used to operate a coal and diesel business on 'Mountbatten' and 'Jellicoe'. Now they have a boat selling canal ware which Mel has painted.
There were many boats on the move and we queued at Hack Green. One boater told us we wouldn't find a mooring at Nantwich Embankment as they were taken by over staying continous cruisers but we found plenty of space. It irritates me when people assume full moorings are because of overstayers. I've known some to be almost empty at lunchtime but full by the evening. That's not overstaying - just a lot of boats.
John Dodwell is one of our 10 volunteer trustees, who carry responsibility for the charity’s policies and strategies. 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