"Oh, it's probably broken down again," they smiled. I liked the 'again'!
Finally the next hourly bus arrived at 11.45 – the dirtiest bus I've ever seen. The windows were so filthy we might as well have been travelling in a prison van. And so, half an hour later, we arrived at the edge-of-Wolves Aldi, spent half an hour and just forty quid filling two rucksacks and big big bags with shopping and caught the bus back, which fortunately arrived on time after we'd munched our Aldi sandwiches at the bus stop. Boy, we know how to live!
The bus delays meant we cast off a bit later than planned for the last five miles of the Shroppie. The canal, all long wide straights and impressive cuttings rather fizzles out as it nears its end. It gets narrower, shallow in places and is generally uninspiring.
The sun was already low in the sky as we exited the stop-lock at Autherley junction and turned left onto the 'Staffs & Worcs'. It was Halloween and the grubby edge of greater Wolverhampton didn't seem the best place to stop so we carried on – and on, to a pub-side mooring I knew. And reached it in pitch darkness, mooring by head torch – ironically just a hundred yards from the road we went along on the bus earlier that day.
Those first few miles of the S&W have a couple of startlingly narrow sections cut through rock and with passing places carved into the stone for the inevitable meeting with another boat. But it was only the next that it really got going on its sometimes tortuous passage that's a complete contrast to the Shroppie.
|The old toll-keeper's tower at Gailey Lock|
|The M6 is rarely far away but never close than here at Otherton Lock|
Now we have reached Great Haywood Junction and left the S&W to head south on the Trent & Mersey for a a visit to our old base at Streethay Wharf.