Moving on a little further to Compton, I spend a lazy day there, just touching up some paint and not a lot else, before heading for Autherley Junction and the beginning of The Shroppie. Only one stop lock there and then it was plain sailing on long straight, lock free stretches of water as far as Brewood, pronounced Brood. Moorings were in a cutting, so it was rather dark and depressing under the trees, but I found The Bridge Inn easily and had a pint there, before walking further to the village to find The Lion Hotel, which scored 7.8/10 in #BITE (Beerintheevening web site), which is quite a rare high score. It certainly was worth a visit; there were about five handpumps on the bar and umpteen more beers from various breweries in the cellar. It was quite an Aladdins cave as far as a beer drinker is concerned. I only had one pint there, but was sorely tempted by the Bathams, which went on as I left.
More paint touching up before I left late in the morning. I was on the lookout for Turner’s Garage at Wheaton Aston, which is right beside the canal and sells cheap diesel at 72p/litre. I found it alright, but being Sunday, it was closed! I will have to use my 60 litres that I bought with me, as I am down to ¼ full now and don’t want to be sucking up the sludge from the bottom of the fuel tank.
The famous High Bridge in Grub Street Cutting,
just has to be photographed.
The next port of call was to be The Anchor at High Offley.
This is a pub with a reputation of being one of the old unspoilt originals on the cut and I have read about it many times. The sad thing is that I have passed it two or three times in years past, without even thinking about it. I was not disappointed, as it really is a gem and still run by the Cliff family since 1903. There was no one about when I went in just after 6pm and I thought I was going to be alone, but shortly after people started to drift in and I had a good chat with a couple of boaters. Olive Cliff served me beer from a jug as expected, but there was a working hand pump in the other bar. As she explained, it saved her knees having to go down in the cellar to refill the jug every time. There were only two choices on tap – take it or leave it, as the only beer was Wadworth’s 6X, which suited me admirably. I heard that Olive’s husband is now in hospice, so she runs the pub on her own, along with help from her daughter Elaine.
The main room, with Olive behind the bar.
The two small bars would appear to be the front rooms of the house and are sparsely furnished with settles and stools and small round wooden and Formica topped tables – so, very basic! They also run a small gift shop behind the pub, which is crammed with knick-knacks and Anchor tee shirts. The front garden, all done by Elaine, is a delight and has received many awards in the past.
The award winning front garden.
The web site is worth a visit, as it is a CAMRA Heritage Pub and probably the last original canal side pub left. http://www.heritagepubs.org.uk/pubs/historic-pub-interior-entry.asp?pubid=307
I continued north the following morning crossing the long Shebdon Embankment, which is high above the surrounding countryside and where there are occasional views of The Wrekin, 15 miles away to the south west. Following that was Woodseaves Cutting, where the muddy towpath is permanently muddy and wet from the small springs in the rock sides, yet there are still cycle tracks through there – one slip on your bike and you would be in the very deep and narrow cut. One marvels at the tenacity of the canal builders to blast their way through the rock here with just hand tools and horses.
The Tyrley five locks went well, until I got wedged in the entrance to the last lock by the pull from the by-weir immediately above the top gate. Because there was only one bollard there to moor on, which was just beyond the entrance to the by-weir, I had no choice but to use it. Having filled the lock and opened the top gate with the bows at an angle to the lock, I found it impossible to get away from the pull of the weir and had to wait for another boater to push the bows into the lock entrance, with me pushing from the stern to finally get into the lock. This is the first time that I have been defeated on this trip. Had I known previously about there being only one bollard, I would have remained in the lock above and walked down to set this, so that I could sail straight in.
It was now only a short distance to Market Drayton, where I found good moorings for the night in the town.