Friday 2nd October; Coole Pilate to Audlem
We woke to thick fog, and set off towards Audlem with only 50 yards visibility. Just one other boat on the move this early, his headlight gradually appearing out of the murk. By the time we reached the bottom lock the sun had broken through, and though it was getting warmer the cobwebs still had their beads of dew.
A few years ago there was a small farm shop at the bottom lock – the chap was selling local meat and his own veg, and told us he was trying to get planning permission. Today, a passing boater walking his dog helped us through the lock and told us that some of the veg had turned out to be from Mr Tesco … then the chap had a break-in and lost the contents of his freezer, and gave up. But our friendly boater extolled the virtues of the Adderley farm shop, so we will look out for that tomorrow.
We moored at the Shroppie Fly to empty a cassette, then did a bit of shopping in the village. We stopped to have a look round the mill, which had some lovely (and expensive) paintings, loads of canal and rail-related books, and a huge variety of craft kits and other sewing supplies. We bought a bandana for Meg, as her original one (previously Tess’s) got lost some time ago. The ones at Grindley Brook cost nearly twice as much – glad I didn’t get one there!
The mill also stocked the 2016 IWA calendar, which we didn’t think much of this year; but they also had the Shrewsbury District and North Wales Branch calendar, which has larger pictures and is generally much better, so we bought one of those.
We had a quick cuppa and some flapjack before continuing up the flight. We were behind someone, and only met three boats coming down, so had to turn most of the locks. The bywash at no 12 was very lively;
And we wondered how often the telegraph pole buffer at the entrance has to be replaced!
The Audlem flight is one of the prettiest on the system, and one of our favourites. There were a few walkers but boatwise it was very quiet.
We pulled in at Coxbank for a late lunch and stayed put. Dave put a second coat of paint on the cratch front, and fitted some new interlocking floor mat tile things in the well deck. I got out our large folding map of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) to work out a route into the city to take in some of the less frequented canals. Last year we cruised the Soho and Icknield Port loops. This time we might try part of the Wyrley and Essington, then the Walsall, before heading into the city.
We made the most of the evening sun with a stroll down to the dog-friendly Shroppie Fly for a pint, expecting the place to be heaving as it’s Friday. It was practically deserted! Just two groups of locals and another pair of boaters apart from us, so we ordered some fish and chips. After half an hour – plenty of time to heat up the fryer and cook some chips – Dave went to see what was going on. They were very apologetic; ‘the till hadn’t sent the order through’, we were told; so it was a free pint for us while we waited. Quite good food – Meg thought so, too.
13 locks, 3 miles