This has to be the best bit of the northern section of the Staffs and Worcs, a typical Brindley summit pound, winding and winding about. It keeps the steerer awake, certainly, especially in a 70 footer. After over an hour of this, I looked across the fields to my right and there was the final stack of the Four Ashes chemical works we'd passed as soon as we left Gailey, still just about half a mile away.
There were just a few boats about, much to Sheila's relief as she felt I was cutting a few corners in my exuberant steering, especially passing the Calf Heath marina at Hatherton Junction. It still wasn't clear to me whether the club house/restaurant there was open for general trade, but since there's no easy visitor mooring there now, it probably doesn't matter.
When we got to the Fox and Hounds visitor moorings there was one boat tied just off the near end and a couple on the VMs themselves. These latter left within the hour so that we were in solitary splendour all day. As I type this a couple of boats have arrived and tied up. Like us, they probably see this as the best overnight mooring before heading past Wolverhampton.
We've had a walk into Coven village to do a bit of shopping, including buying some meat from the butcher there. This afternoon, Sheila found a website describing a garden centre/nursery a short walk away down the towpath. She's still looking for plants for the other two troughs so we took a stroll down there, only to find that it was shut and looking pretty derelict.
Finally, and thinking ahead, a thread on Canal World warns that there are to be a couple of major fishing competitions on the Shroppie, one in August and the other in September. The first one, at least, looks likely to occupy 17 miles of towpath from Shebdon to Coole Pilate. Previous experience of these major comps is that no space will be left for mooring in that distance, not even the lock landings. Since we are vaguely planning to head for Chester via the Shroppie after Crick, this is vital info.
The discussion on CWDF is getting pretty heated, not surprisingly. I don't myself understand the pleasure of catching inedible fish in order to weigh them and throw them back, so I'd better not say much more here, but it does seem a bit daft to take up such a length of the most popular cruising route in the country, at the height of the holiday season. You'd think the anglers themselves wouldn't want a constant procession of boats passing under the circumstances.