The weekend's cruising brought enjoyment in many forms as I cruised along the Shropshire Union Canal.
The Shroppie strides across the country with cuttings here and embankments there.
On Saturday I took the train to Wolverhampton and then a bus to Oxley Marine where I had left 'Helen'. I went through the stop lock before going to the rather useful Morrisons 10 minutes away.
We eventually set off at about 3.30 along the Telford-designed Shroppie. Now here's a canal that knows where it is going - none of Brindley's following the contours of the landscape. The Shroppie strides across the country with cuttings here and embankments there. It's uncluttered countryside as my 1999 Pearsons Guide puts it. He says he would descibe it as a lost part of the Midlands - save it's never been found.
I tied up just past High Onn on a small embankment which gave me good views.
Sunday was a gorgeous day and the sun brought out the crowds - and boats - at Norbury with quite a turnaround of boats on the visitor moorings. I'd arrived there at about 9.30, having on the way seen a kingfisher try to catch breakfast.
I had arranged to meet Bernie and Ann Jones of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal Trust as I wanted to see how their restoration plans were getting on. Formed in 2000, they now have the canal line protected on county plans. We looked at Wrapenshall Junction and the Telford designed warehouse where they are getting an Heritage Lottery Fund grant; Telford's prototype aqueduct at Longdon; the canal in water as a feature in Newport; the recent volunteers' work at Meretown Lock, aided by the council; and an unusual structure which combines a road and canal aqueduct over a river at Forton.
Bernie's enthusiasm is great and the Trust already has over 1,200 members and the support of many landowners.
After lunch at the Junction Inn, I left at 3.30 and tied up that night at Goldstone. On the way there were great views over to the Wrekin hill, the deep Grub Street cutting and the old Cadbury factory at Knighton to remind me of the canal's commercial past.
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