It was cool and very overcast when we cast off and as we chugged along to Aldersley Junction it didn’t seem to be getting any better, and we sort of resigned ourselves to another dullish day.. We stopped at Napton Boats atAutherley Junction for a pump out – we had to wait a little while as they had a few boats coming and and apparently their last hire is the first week in November and we had seen quite a few of their boats out and about during the week.
As we headed North away from Wolverhampton the weather slowly got better and by the time we reached Brewood Wharf the sky was clear and the sun was out – this just adding further proof to our weather theory… maybe we should apply for funding from a university somewhere!
The Shroppie really looks good in the late September sunshine – enough of the canopy has thinned out to let more sun into the normally shady cuttings and you get little dappled spots of sunshine adding patches of brightness to the green
The good weather continued and it was late morning when we arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock No 2 where we only had to wait a couple of minutes for a boat to clear the lock before we could fill it. We stopped at Turner’s to get some fuel and then moved over to the visitor moorings so we could go and have a lunch time drink in the Hartley Arms.
The clouds started to gather after lunch so maybe our weather theory needs some minor adjustments, and there seemed to be more boats on the move and but soon after lunch the traffic seemed to stop and we were able to enjoy the countryside views without being stuck in a queue of boats.
We passed Mikron‘s boat Tyseley moored up on the offside just north of Gnosall Bridge No 35 – So I guess they’re keeping it there and had taken road transport over to Burslem for their show this evening. Gnosall was our nominally planned last night but as the weather was still pretty good and we had several hours of light left we decided to push on and stop at The Wharf at Wharf Inn (Shebdon) Winding Hole but it has apparently closed – or so we were told by the person on the other end of the phone when we tried to book a table for the evening, and the sign at the winding hole was all taped over so I guess they were right. It seems an odd thing to do to retire and close the pub but keep the pub’s phone number as your own personal one. Lets hope that the closure is only temporary as the pub usually seemed to be quite busy whenever we had visited it in the past.
The phone call with the other Wharf Inn at Goldstone Wharf was almost as surreal – they wouldn’t allow us to book a table because although they take bookings and had tables free they had taken as many booking as they wanted and told us that if we turned up and found a table then we can eat. All of us on the boat thought this seemed to be a very odd business plan as you risk losing business unless you are 100% confident that you will fill all your unbooked tables with casual traffic. We decided to risk it but we could quite easily have said “Stuff It” and eaten on board and drunk somewhere else. However when we got there we realised that their business model is to get people through the ordering and eating process as quickly as possible and thus reserved tables block that process. The food was very good though and extremely good value.
After eating we walked up the road into Cheswardine and tried both The Fox and Hounds and The Red Lion which is the home of the Lion’s Tail Brewery. If you want to visit these two pubs then you’re better off mooring at Hallemans Bridge No 53 and walking up Westcott Lane as the village is nearer and it doesn’t involve you walking along busy roads with no street lights.