There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet..

From Cowley Tunnel No 33 (northern entrance) to Tom's Moorings, a distance of 14 miles, 2¼ flg and 5 locks.

After the rain and wind that had made Sunday one of those days that make you wonder why you go boating Monday had to be better, and in some ways it was, but in many ways it wasn’t. Yes it wasn’t raining (which can only be described as a good thing) but the wind that had made the rain so nasty had doubled in intensity and, somehow, seemed to be several degrees colder.

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

Now the Shroppie is a beautiful canal and it has some amazing views out over Wales – but those views come at a price : there is no hiding place. Luckily the major embankments at Shebdon Embankment and Shelmore have quite a lot of trees so they are pretty sheltered but even on those there were times at which Mintball was crabbing as she moved along.

At times it reminded me of the time we were taking Mintball down the Leeds and Liverpool towards Maghull in what turned out later to be the tail end of a hurricane and we had to use ropes to pull the boat off the bank to get through the swing bridges

The Title comes from “His Last Bow” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

“Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared”

And it shall rain for ever and ever….

From Penkridge Visitor Moorings (above lock) to Cowley Tunnel No 33 (northern entrance), a distance of 22 miles, 7½ flg and 8 locks.

Well what can be said about Sunday 27th of May 2007 that doesn’t involve lots of descriptions of rain

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

We got up early and turned at Penkridge Winding Hole and started to head back towards Gailey Wharf and at the same time it started raining. From then on I guess it was a challenge – who would give up first: me or the rain. Kathy worked us up through the locks and stated, quite correctly, that you’ve really got to love boating to do this sort of thing. We got to Gailey and moored up for about 30 minutes – to have some breakfast but, more importantly, to warm up. The air temperature was low enough that mist was rising off the canal – a situation that continued until well into the afternoon.

For some strange reason not many other people were on the move, and those that were agreed that we were all quite mad.

The original plan for the day was to have lunch on the move and then have a hot cooked meal in the evening but by about 11am we’d decided that this plan was just not going to work, mainly because the rain had now been joined by a rather nasty wind which just leeched body heat out of you. So we stopped at about 2pm on the new moorings on the Shroppie (between Lower Hattons Bridge No 6 and Hunting Bridge No 7 ) which are about 3 miles up from Autherley Junction

After a hot lunch of slow braised pork with potatoes and carrots it was time to wrap up warm again and, fuelled by a never ending stream of freshly brewed coffee from the galley, we pushed on.

Wheaton Aston Lock No 2 was actually totally deserted, with no signs of any life : a stark contrast to when we’d come through on the Easter Weekend when we’d had to queue for nearly 90 minutes to get through.

We eventually gave up when we reached Gnosall and moored in the cutting just past Cowley Tunnel No 33 (North end)

We were the only boat on that block of moorings so it was very quiet – and very, very dark. Seriously dark, to the point that I couldn’t see to get out of bed to go to the loo – a task made even harder in that I had to be careful not to step on Kathy, or Smokey, or step off the edge of the bed 😉

As for who gave up first: us or the rain. Well the title of this post comes from when I woke up in the middle of the night. The radio was on and Classic FM were playing part of Handel’s Messiah. Just as the choir sang “And he shall reign for ever and ever” a lot more rain landed on the roof of the boat….

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