Thursday 27th June
We got to Jannock at about 9pm and were pleased that the rain let up long enough to allow us to move aboard with ease. In the week the knee high vegetation on the towpath had been strimmed and was now stuck all over the outside and trodden inside our boat.
One hour of our 3 hr. journey was spent stationary on the M40 motorway. We could not believe the idiots who thought they would jump the queues by driving up the hard shoulder. That was a very necessary access lane for the 3 police cars, 1 ambulance, 1 para-medic, 4 fire engines , 1 crash rescue truck, 1 D.o.T clean-up truck and the obligatory traffic womble who all required access to the crash scene. We just hoped that the idiots got nicked before they got as far as the incident scene. When we finally got past we observed one full car transporter lorry that had overturned across the central barrier and a solitary white car in the opposite carriageway ditch. Ten brand new cars squished! That’ll be an expensive insurance claim. At least with 11 cars and 1 lorry the casualties would been minimal.
Friday 28th June
I awoke early so at 6:30 I went and moved the car to a better parking location and walked back along the towpath to Jannock. It started raining before breakfast and so we did a few jobs until we got fed up and set off through Marbury lock in the rain. Then I attempted to remove most of the evidence of yesterday’s strimming from the hull sides whilst Brenda steered us towards Willey Moor lock where we met the CaRT grass cutting contractors hard at work who apologised for the state of Jannock’s side. Luckily the rain had stopped by now and the weather was improving rapidly.
At Grindley Brook staircase we had to wait, 2nd in line, for one boat to come down before we were allowed up. Once out of the top lock we pulled over to fill with water and Brenda went down to the lockside cafe/shop to get some postcards. She returned expressing surprise at the kindness of strangers – but more of that next week.
Water tank full and roof washed we set off again – destination Whitchurch. We failed to make the turn into the arm as we were too long so we winded just before the by-pass bridge and returned to enter the arm from the other direction. We then winded in the arm and reversed right up to the end before mooring up and going for a wander around the town – that’s another new bit of canal to add to Jannock’s ‘completed’ map.
Whitchurch is worth a visit as it has everything a boater is likely to need in the way of regular supplies. On our return journey to the canal through the Nature Walk area we were amazed by the boldness of the wild birds here including a couple of baby wrens who were happy to remain perched on branches less than a foot away from where we stood.
We exited the Whitchurch arm and moved on to Whixhall Moss where we moored for the night at one of the abundant Shropshire Union Canal Society 48hr moorings
Saturday 29th June
We set off after a very quiet night into weather much improved. Dry, cloud covered but improving slowly but surely. It was very evident that we were now well into hire-boat country as plenty of crews were returning from or starting out on their holidays. We diverted down the Prees branch in order to tick off another section of ‘new to us’ canal. Jannock was the only artificial noise we could hear – gloriously peaceful. Less than a mile long we were soon at the end, winded and back out onto the mainline.
I was disappointed that the rhododendrons had almost finished blooming as we came through the meres. Beyond Ellesmere we happened upon nb Earnest (Yes – that one) who was mid-car shuffle so had no time to stop and talk. Past Frankton junction we found ourselves behind a very new hirer who took the concept of slowing down to pass moored boats to the point of becoming static as the flow of water in the canal was faster than his engine speed. He was also taking his boat out of gear for bridgeholes – we were sure he was actually moving backwards through the last one. We found ourselves in the middle of a crocodile – a very slow one at that. Just before we were about to call it a day and moor up for the night he stopped to let the dog off so we continued past. He was holding the boat into the side using the back rope which was caught up in the open rear doors because it was tied to a roof mushroom. His centre rope, correctly attached, was just dangling on the towpath.
We stopped at Hindford and had not been moored up long when he appeared again, just as another southbound craft was passing through the bridge there. I warned him of the other boat and he immediately threw his engine into reverse. Another hire boat that had been following him nearly rammed him astern. Mayhem. Once sorted he had to be pulled off of the shallow side by other boater already moored there. Having thrown his rope into the canal and needing that rescued, he was then given hints and tips by his rescuers and we watched as he passed through Hindford bridge with enough speed to maintain forward motion and some control.
As he passed us by I noticed that he actually had both the front and rear ropes attached to roof mushrooms rather than the T studs provided for the purpose. Graham went to fetch the car from Marbury and noticed the very handy pub just the other side of the bridge, only a few steps from the boat. They did real ale too! Result!