Thursday, 1 May 2014

Four Counties Ring Day 13, Market Drayton to Norbury Junction

Over night Koki sleeps inside the cabin, but whenever he starts feeling the chill (and it does still get pretty chilly at times, especially in the mornings), he appreciates being wrapped in a blanket, bless him.

Pretty dismal morning - in fact the rain got increasingly heavy on the short journey from our mooring place to Market Drayton. Unusually, the tillerman even got the umbrella out (no pic, I'm afraid).

The town centre of Market Drayton is a pleasant short walk from the canal. It is a splendid place, with numerous 'photogenic' historic buildings. The Civic Society plaque at the buttercross reminded us to try and crank up a 'plaque campaign' for Leicester Civic Society.

The delicatessen shop at the buttercross is superb. Had a pasty for lunch and bought a nice selection of local cheeses. They had flavoured oil and vinegar in large glass jars on display, for dispensing into reusable bottles.

Even the pillboxes have nice friendly faces!

Onwards towards Norbury Junction, through some 'rock cuts' and the five locks at Tyrley.

Once again, the current from the outlets at the bottom of some of the locks was so strong that crashing into the rocks or vegetation on the other side was unavoidable. Not good really.

Lunch break in pleasant surroundings after Tyrley Top Lock

Some interesting bridges on the way

Quote from Pearson guide:
It comes as something of a surprise to encounter a factory in the midst of otherwise empty countryside. It was opened by Cadbury in 1911 as a centre for processing milk from the dairy farming hinterland of the Shropshire Union Canal. ... Cadbury owned a distinctive fleet of narrowboats, being one of the first operators to experiment with motorised craft. Cocoa and sugar crumb were also brought to Knighton [i.e. here] and blended with milk to make raw chocolate, itself returned to Bournville, again by boat, to be transformed into the finished delicacy. The last boatman to trade to Knighton was Charlie Atkins senior; eponymously  nicknamed 'Chocolate Charlie'. He carried the final cargo from Knighton to Bournville in 1961, but some fine exampled of historic craft are often seen moored here. Recent rationalisation of Premier Foods (who now own the works) has seen extra product lines centred at Knighton - now the even make Birds Custard!

Final approach to Norbury Junction

Norbury Junction is a surprisingly busy place (probably partly due to the festival scheduled to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend). We were very lucky to find a superb mooring spot in a prime position, and right outside the pub, where we had a somewhat unusual but quite edible (apart from the small piece of plastic Sue found in hers!) 'home-made' lasagne. For Norbury pics see tomorrow's blog entry.