Our first week cruising along the canals started at our home mooring on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We said goodbye to many well known neighbours, even we are here just 6 months, something about boating community we all help each other. The first part of the journey was known territory until we came to the flights of locks at Audlem. There are 15 locks in a row to take us up 90 feet.
Audlem flight of locks
We took our electric folding bike which was very handy at the locks as you go backwards and forwards between the locks to set them to open them to close them.
The steering of the boat was a bit of a challenge with the overflows and the wind pushing the boat away. Now many people say it is a contact sport, but it should not be that way in my opinion. A narrowboat steers in the middle so the stern and the bow go in opposite directions. To straighten the boat for the locks with an overflow either pushing the bow or the stern gives a bit frustration. I pushed the bow in the overflow to straight it just before the lock, however the overflow and wind often pushed the stern back out loosing the straight line in the progress giving some big contacts with the lock. After watching a more experience person getting the boat in, i used the reverse to help me steering, it worked. After the locks we had some damage in the cabin from the contact sport.
The next day we went through the Tyrley Locks which are the start of an amazing piece of canal work, called the Woodseavers cutting.
The canal is cut out of rocks by hand so the story goes creating a manmade heaven for nature.
red stone shelter
The boat enters a different world were nature meets culture, it is hard to believe this canal was made to push the industrial revolution.
In the early years hardly any trees would have been there and the mud must have been twice as deep as now. Yet trees grow where trees should not grow altering their behaviour to their environment showing where there is a will there is a way. The trees gave a place for other plants creating a magical environment which no photo really can show not even with the best camera. How to capture that sparkle of the sun on the leaves of the ferns, or even the dark green growing in the dark red, or the falling stems creating a mist of shadows, how can a camera catch that.
The plants made a fern-tale, where all kind of stories just bubbled up out of the red sand stone.
It was here the first stones came onboard for the roof land art. There had been some land slides after the heavy rain of the last months and many trees had to give in to the pressure of the storms.
One making a perfect bridge before the bridge.
The bridges on the cuttings in the Shropshire are tall and one is a very famous, called ‘High Bridge’ the most photographed on the canal.
High Bridge is actually Bridge number 39 and we started the Shropshire by Bridge 100, time to go on land to collect more stones. There in a corner was a special piece of wood that a boater just chucked as no good. It was from a hollow part of the tree filled with composted wood, a perfect planter for one of the trees. First idea was to plant it near Bridge 39, at second thought it came on board to be planted there.
In the brown bags, covering the ugly plastic bottles, are some germinating Oaks and in the back some Willow cuttings waiting to be planted one day in the piece of hollow wood. Wood feeding wood.
Along the way we saw some amazing trees hanging in the canal, over the canal, hugging the canal. In one spot there were several tree huggers all Beeches being very intimate along the canal.
The next time we pass this canal them trees will be in full leave, that must be a true tree hug as they will shelter the canal crating a real tree tunnel.
In the end we came where we wanted to be Brewood to set up for the first time our popUP Gallery.
We became very good at the popUP as we had to take it down and set it up 3 times as the weather turned from sunny to rain and even hail.
We are not quite happy with the setup yet, it needs something to get peoples attention.
Poetry flags thats what it needs, a boat without a flag is missing something.