Farewell 2021, part four, the final furlong.

We kept our colour well into November.

The time had come to study the planned winter closures list and, whilst also keeping an eye on any unwelcome restrictions that might hamper our cruising plans, decide where we wanted to be for Christmas. At the end of October we were all still optimistically planning our parties and big family gatherings. We knew we had to be off the Llangollen by 8th November but it was noticeable how much quieter the canal was becoming with fewer and fewer hire boats so we took our time wandering around some of the gorgeous villages.

The parish churchyard at Marbury

Nantwich is only a short cruise off the Llangollen. And the Shropshire Union towers over the town on an embankment, via an aqueduct, making it a popular mooring spot.

Nantwich aqueduct over the Weaver

We could only get onto the 48 hour, and I regret not spending longer here because its a fascinating town with a lot of history. Although a lot of the black and white “tudor” buildings are relative victorian youngsters, after many originals were destroyed by fire.

Just a little bit of Nantwich

We continued down the Shroppie at pace, stopping at some lovely places on our way, Audlem Mill, on the wharf is now a museum and craft shop,

I could have spent all day in Audlem mill

We gave thanks for some lovely rainbows, after some torrential rains

Rainbow at Audlem

We ploughed through some pretty hairy overflows on the locks

Overflows like this seemed to be the norm along this stretch

We wondered at the amount of boats that must have used this canal over the years, looking at the depth of wear on the metal bridge protectors

We marvelled at the feats of engineering, building bridges like this which contained the telegraph pole

But although there were some lovely moorings

We found this part of our journey frustrating, had the canal been built for speed, with long straight cuttings? I guess so, although we were mightily glad we weren’t cruising at the height of summer having to negotiate narrow stretches with on coming boats.

Along the straight and narrow

We had also fallen victim to some poor planning, albeit partly our own fault, needing to pick up fuel meant we hadn’t stopped to enjoy the nice places for longer. We were in the midst of the fuel supply crisis, and had declined paying £1:10 per litre, in favour of getting to Wheaton Aston who were still only asking 79p, saving ourselves over £100. And although autumnal leaves are beautiful in the sunshine, they are anything but once they are in the canal. Leaf soup made progress hard going.

Leaf soup

But we made it to the end of the Shroppie