The lower parts of this canal nearer to Stourport are often cut out of the soft sandstone rocks in the valley of the Stour and later the Smestow Brook that the canal follows. This photo is of Caldwall Lock.
Kidderminster has a deep lock (nearly 12 feet) and waiting below the lock is virtually in the dark, underneath the road shown here looking back from the lock. Kidderminster used to be famous for carpet making and the tall chimney was on one carpet factory which is now a Debenhams store.
On Tuesday we moored above Wolverley Lock and went for a walk to Cookley. The bridleway we followed came through this gateway.
And soon after the gatehouse we came across a field of strange looking sheep and a few pygmy goats. The sheep seemed very interested in us and this one even stood on a pile of wood to get a better view of us.
We walked over the canal tunnel at Cookley and returned to Leo along tracks and field paths. We passed this sign along a cart track. I think "the Owners" need to go back to school. The best interpretation I can put on this sign is that it probably means exactly the opposite of what the writer intended!
Not only the canal is cut through the rock. This road goes down into Wolverley, a very pretty village ....
.... and this is the path up to the Church at Wolverley which sits on top of a high mound of rock with fine views of the valley.
The church is unusual in having a gallery on both sides of the nave.
After a slow day on Tuesday with boaters ahead of us making a five star mess of boating through the locks, we had an easier time on Wednesday coming up a succession of locks to moor at Gothersley.
This is Debdale Lock. On the offside where Helen is standing is the entrance to a large cave cut in the rock. We have read that this was used as a stables for canal horses but this begs the question of how the horses managed to cross the lock gates!
At Austcliff a short section of canal is too narrow to pass and the reason is pretty obvious in this view looking back to the narrows. A huge rock outcrop hangs over the canal.
Coming into Kinver the Whittington Horse Bridge is a delight.
We didn't stop in Kinver this time but carried on and soon passed through Dunsley Tunnel which is only 25 yards long but cut through solid rock. It even has a towpath.
Above Stewpony Lock is the junction with the Stourbridge Canal and here to one side of the Staffs and Worcs you can see the first lock of four to Stourbridge and many more leading to Dudley and Birmingham. But our way this time lies straight on.
On a cycle ride on Wednesday afternoon we passed Ashwood Marina. This used to be a coal wharf where coal could be loaded from canal to railway. It is of particular interest to us as Orion used to be based here and Leo has an Orion shell so was probably made here.
We cut short our bike ride as rain was threatening and got back to Leo before it started. In the event we only had a few drops but we've heard from others today that it was torrential in places very close to us. Today (Thursday) we've come up another 11 locks in only 5 miles and we've moored above the Bratch Locks.
This is below a lock called 'Rocky Lock'. Well named as you can see.
A distinctive feature of the Staffs and Worcs is the circular weir beside most locks. This one at Greensforge Lock was a fine example.
Between Swindon (a tiny village, not the more famous one) and Wombourne is Botterham Staircase Locks. This is a pair of locks where the top gates of the bottom lock form the bottom gates of the top lock. In other words there is no gap between one lock at the next.
And further on we came up the three locks of the Bratch. These look like a staircase but in fact there is a small gap between one lock and the next.
Near the Bratch is this splendid building hiding behind the trees. It looks like a French chateau but is in fact a pumping station for Severn Trent Water Company! Didn't the Victorians build some splendid utility buildings?
The evening light as we came back to Leo after a walk round the area was wonderful.
Tomorrow we will probably get to the summit of the canal (about 340 feet above sea level) and skirt Wolverhampton, aiming to stay in open country for a mooring. We will be cruising the whole of this canal to Great Haywood to meet the Trent and Mersey Canal there. We are really enjoying ourselves along here. It is a lovely canal.