Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Four Counties Ring

In my last blog, I know Bob it was over two weeks ago, we were just turning on to the Staffs and Worcester Canal to do the Four Counties Ring. And, here I sit, just outside Stoke-on-Trent having effectively completed the Ring with no blogs in between.

Even after four years of canal boating it's still difficult to slow right down, I think we still did the circuit too fast, even with most of our stops at least 48 hours and shortening our travel days. We collected a few pics along the way, trying not to duplicate too many from our 2014 circuit. We had stopped at Penkridge over night and Gailey is just down the canal, it is hard to pass the roundhouse at Gailey without a picture.

By lunch time we had turned off the Staffs and Worcester and on to the Shropshire Union Canal (SUC). Lots of long straight stretches on the SUC and high arched bridges.

Coming into our mooring at Gnosall Heath we passed through Cowley Tunnel. Cowley Tunnel was interesting as it was carved out of solid rock with do brick lining required.

Our mooring at Gnossal Heath.

Another of the high arched bridges on the 'Shroppie', this one with an old, unused telegraph pole in the centre.

We passed the old warehouse of Premier Foods, old but relatively new in canal terms, opened in 1911 for the loading and unloading of  grain and stores, you can see the verandah projecting well into the canal.

There were several lock gates along the SUC to stop the progress of boats, I would assume for some sort of tolling.

Saturday morning and we were cruising at tick-over for quite a distance, fisherman every ten metres for what estimate to be two kilometres, there were a lot of them!

Just like the tunnel above there were several stretches along the SUC that were cut out of solid rock. It was a little tricky at times, these stretches weren't terribly wide so oncoming boats had to wait for passing points.

We were looking forward to getting to Audlem, last time we were here there were several farm shops and Audlem didn't disappoint. As we waited at the top lock for our turn we came across the first of two farm shops where we picked up a blackberry pie and some cornish pasties. This farm shop was at lock three of the fifteen lock Audlem Flight where we picked up some ice cream and shortbread biscuits, both home made.

Another nice mooring on the Shropshire Union, this time at Audlem.

And The Shroppie Fly pub at Audlem; headed here for a pint after a long locking day.

After a night in Audlem we moored in Nantwich, locked up the boat and headed off to Liverpool for a few days to see friends who were moored at Salthouse Dock for a week. Our highlight, after spending time with our friends, was taking the Magical Mystery Tour. We didn't get a chance to do this last year when we spent a week in Liverpool.

After Nantwich our next major stop was Middlewich, it was a four day stop. We spent two days on the visitor moorings before moving down to Kings Lock Chandlery to have a 12 volt line installed for a new refrigerator. Despite the fridge being 12 metres from the batteries Mick had the line in without too much difficulty and Friday our new fridge was delivered.

Today (Sunday) we cruised from Wheelock, after a two day stay, to Rode Heath, a fourteen lock day. Many of the locks today were duplicated, speeding up the locking process.

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