After travelling up on Thursday afternoon and eating in The Talbot we made an early start. That seems to becoming standard practice for us since we moved the boat here. We used to do the same sort of thing when we were moored at Braunston where if you didn’t get out of the marina at the break of day it could take until after lunch to get to the top of the Braunston locks.
We edged the boat of out the mooring and pushed the bow round so we could head north. It’s a bit of a pain that the mooring pontoons are all angled slightly southwards so heading north either means nudging the nose round when the mooring next to us is empty or we have to go to to Betton Mill and turn there which can be a bit of a pain if there are lots of boats on the water point.
On the drive up on Thursday night I’d missed a phone call from a recruitment agency and so when we reached Adderley Bottom Lock No 12 I hopped onto the bank and tried to find a spot where I could get enough signal to make a call. Given the number of mobile phone masts the country seems to be full of it’s often remarkably hard to get a good signal, especially with T-Mobile. So I stood still halfway into a ditch for about 5 minutes to take the call and then I ran down the towpath to catch up with the boat.
I’m not sure what is going on by Hawkesmoor Bridge No 72 but we basically ran aground about a foot and half out from the bank just after passing through the bridge. It wasn’t just a simple lump, it was almost as it BW had simply filled the canal in with clay. So if you have to do any manoeuvres or passing another boat here you might want to have your boat pole ready.
Audlem Top Lock No 13 had a very small queue but it didn’t take long for us to get in and start our journey down. We had a few little hold ups here and there but nothing major. Then at Audlem Lock 12 No 24 a boat just pulled out in front of us but they did seem to be able to work locks and we didn’t really get held up much more and we moored on the moorings by Moss Hall Winding Hole for lunch and it started raining.
Reaching the bottom of Audlem really meant that most of the locks for the trip, until we had to go back up Audlem, were done, and it was only lunchtime on the first day, which was the main reason for the early start.
We spent a pleasant afternoon pottering along the canal and once again the lack of boats astounded me. The Shroppie can be a very busy canal but once again there didn’t seem to be a lot on the move.
There was the usual chaos at Barbridge Junction with boats all over the place but we navigated through with no incident and chugged slowly past all the moored boats.
As we approached Benyon's Bridge No 4 we had to hold back for a boat which had crew on the bank who were trying to re-moor a working boat which seemed to be full of tree cuttings and had pulled its pins, which given the speed some of the boats go along here is not a surprise. So once they had got it all tied up we followed them towards Cholmondeston Lock No 1 where the Shropshire Union Canal Society were doing a fund raising event and working boats through the lock.
In the cutting by Cholmondeston Hall Winding Hole the canal society have provided another good set of moorings with BBQ stands and tables and benches. We did think about mooring there but decided to push on just a little bit further and so we stopped for the night just before Jacksons Bridge No 7