Tuesday 6th October
Little Onn to near Autherley Junction
A bright start after rain overnight, but it clouded over as soon as we started off, soon moving on to light drizzle, though it stopped when we paused for the necessaries at Wheaton Aston services, and we even got up the lock before it started again. The contractors doing the final towpath cut of the year were having a break as the previous boat rose up the lock – well, you can’t operate a strimmer while a boat is passing, can you? They had actually finished doing the lock surroundings and soon set off again, one having helped me with the bottom gates. We left them behind soon after we left the lock – there were four with strimmers and two on ride-on mowers.
At least there should be no more grass cuttings getting walked into the boat. It rained on and off as we made for Brewood. Industry Narrowboats at Stretton Aqueduct is very active; someone was sandblasting or shotblasting the hull of a boat as we approached and crawled out as we passed, wearing the full spaceman gear. I messed up the photo though. NB ‘Unspoilt by Progress’ was in the slings ready to go back in the water. It has ‘The longest narrowboat journey in the world’ painted on one side and ‘Black Country to the Black Sea’ on the other.
It had just had its bottom blacked. How do I know this? (apart from the look of it, that is). I googled for a while trying to find info about the boat and its journey ‘From the Black Country to the Black Sea’. After a very few references, including one by Geoff on Seyella saying how little info there is, I found the Facebook page of the Nick Sanders Expedition Centre, which says ‘Unspoilt by Progress’ and its butty ‘Tewkesbury’ are going up the Llangollen this winter. A film is coming out at Christmas which will include footage of the trip. The yard is close to the Stretton Aqueduct, and here is the obligatory photo of Watling Street. Those railings could do with a coat of paint.
Once over the aqueduct we started the run into Brewood. We tied up on the visitor moorings just in time to avoid a heavy shower, and when the rain stopped we went into the village for a few things. In the bakery everyone was laughing over a couple of (genuine) small ads, sadly mismatched …….
I have never taken a photo of the fabulous Speedwell Castle in the village before. It was built around 1740, reputedly with the winnings from betting on a horse named Speedwell. I wonder who cleans their windows?
We were ready to leave after lunch. If I hadn’t wanted to take some bottles up to the bottle bank in the pub car park we would have been on our way five minutes earlier and got drenched. I ran back to the boat just in time to avoid a soaking. Brewood visitor moorings are quite shady and we needed the lights on inside the boat as the rain hammered down for an hour. This is NOT what the BBC weather map predicted last night!
As soon as it stopped we moved on, soon followed by the boat moored behind us, passing under the pretty Avenue Bridge which we always look out for -
to the 48-hour moorings at Pendeford Bridge (no 4) for the night, poised for the Wolverhampton 21 in the morning. The noise from the road was not too intrusive and the rain had more or less stopped. Once the traffic had lessened it was a very quiet evening.
9 miles, 1 lock