Sunday, 9 August 2015

Back on the toe-path at last

Crossing the Edstone Aqueduct
At last! We are back on the move. After five days enforced rest, the dislocated digit is recovered enough for me to limp about and certainly to steer the boat.
We've both been going stir crazy sitting in Wooton Wawen, even if listening to England whup the Aussies in under three days to win the Ashes did relieve my immediate boredom. All the same, I've never read so much, nor done so many Sudokus, codewords and crosswords. Harrywoman kept herself more than busy; repainting the pole and plank as well as the stove chimney and re-varnishing the dogbox too but I was confined to foot-up listening to Blowers and company on Test Match Special.
`A fish-eye view of the boat from the low towpath
But today we finally decided to get moving towards Stratford. The run to Wilmcote was a good 'sharpener' with just one lock, though several of the narrow bridge holes were so gummed up with silt and sludge that we ground to a halt and had to force our way through.
And a view of the skyline for Seadog Brian
The route took us across the celebrated Edstone Aqueduct. By Poncysyllte standards the Edstone is small beer but it is still nearly 200 yards long and crosses a deep valley in which run a road and railway on its brick piers. Like the others on the canal it is a cast iron trough, built up in sections, and just wide enough for a boat, with the towpath down at trough-base level. That makes for some unusual photo opportunities as you can see.
You can't get back on there
There were no other boats around so we were happy to linger on the aqueduct - the Shakespeare Express steam train runs on this line on Sundays and that would have been a photo opportunity. Sadly it didn't turn up.
We moored for lunch at a curious spot on the edge of Wilmcote where the remains of a bridge, scattered bits of brickwork and a haunted looking copse of stunted trees and dead vines marked the likely site of an old lime burning wharf.

A worm's eye view of the crew and the repainted chimney
We found a footpath through the wood which led to the railway line (and crossed to the field beyond). A steam train was due so we settled down to wait for it – only to be told off by a diesel train driver who slowed to say we should be behind the fence as we might be mistaken for suicides! Didn't happen when I was a lad – train drivers used to wave and toot when we stood by the lineside.
Rood Ashton Hall going backwards very quickly
As did today's steam train driver when he passed – going at quite a clip, though pulling his coaches in reverse, if that's the correct parlance, which didn't make for such a glamorous photo. For steam buffs the engine was ' Rood Ashton Hall' an ex-GWR loco.
Halfway down the Wilmcote flight we see Stratford ahead
Lunch done and train spotted, we pressed on down the Wilmcote flight of eleven locks. I was happy to steer for a change and let Harrywoman do the lockwheeling. There were some volunteer lockies on duty at the top lock but even my limping around didn't persuade them to leave their post and see us down the flight. Not to worry, though; we soon had a slick operation going and we moored up at the bottom of the locks just outside the Stratford by-pass.

No comments:

Post a Comment