View along the social area of Audlem much visited by gongoozlers and boozers!

Shroppie Fly and Audlem Mill beyond

We were promised reasonably warm and sunny weather during the week beginning Monday 23 September. The Tuesday seemed the pick of the forecast so I  set out and drove the 60 odd miles from my Birmingham home to Audlem, Cheshire. The sun shone through largely blue skies during the drive, but as often happens in this wonderful country someone sent in the clouds around lunchtime – Oh well!

Audlem has a flight of 15 locks spread over 2 miles, but it’s also a favourite stop for cruisers who sample the excellent canalside pub, the Shroppie Fly, and the characterful Audlem Mill canal shop and craft centre (including needlework courses!).

There’s nowhere to park your car by the towpath, but I spotted a sign to toilets when driving through the small town and headed for that. What a joy, the car park was free and just 50 yards across a sports field to the towpath and the aforesaid attractions. What was even more of a joy was that here were the cleanest public toilets I have ever seen – in excellent decorative order and spotlessly clean. A notice inside stated that the facilities were funded by the tax payers of Audlem and invited a donation into a wall box – my hand had no difficulty finding my pocket for this.

Having renewed aquaintances with the proprietor of the mill, I set off to walk south from lock 12 to lock 1. The locks rise in this direction and soon the attractive town houses are left behind, giving way to farmland – very rural and picturesque.

I soon met Ken Morgan who was single handing the locks and he was only too pleased to grant my request to photograph his progress through the locks. Ken, originally from Somerset, is now retired. He has been a Constant Cruiser in his nb Willow for 12 months and very accomplished he is too, having a well practised technique and not really needing my help in working the locks. He was accompanied by his small dog -what a character he was! He played energetically at what can only be described as boxing when he encountered other small dogs, all in good fun and no skin and hair flying!

It took just over two hours to cover the 11 locks stretched over 1 mile, which is pretty good going.

I offered to do a Met on the Cut article for him to show his friend and relatives to which he agreed – see selected photos below.