Saturday 14 April.
We are now moored up in the popular village of Shardlow; home to many large-scale canal architectural buildings it is a dream to walk around here for an oldbrickandbuildings lover like me.
Arriving here on Monday, we had no idea we’d be here for almost a week, resulting in us all feeling like locals.
Shardlow is a bit of a puzzle. On arrival, it felt like a village without a heart, possibly because the village hall isn’t terribly visible and the only shop is way-away, about a mile and a half up the main road.
The village is nicely set out, with many interesting houses and buildings to see but…where is the centre? I have since discovered a small village green in front of the village hall and some very, very, pretty double-fronted cottages.
A big plus is the people who live here – they are exceptionally welcoming. Unlike some villages, where you rarely see anyone walking, let alone to talk to, whenever you go for a walk here you seem to encounter someone who greets you with ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’, ‘Good evening’, or ‘She’s cute’ (meaning me, not Leigh!). Yelp!
We’ve also met a few boaters who, like us, are stuck here due to the rivers being in flood – which I’ll expand on in a minute. So, with friendly villagers, chatty boaters and the fact that I now know the layout of the village like the back of my paw, you can see why we all feel quite settled here; my humans have even immersed themselves in the community by frequenting local pubs and pootling along to a fundraising event in the village hall – a live music night which they thoroughly enjoyed.
Back to the reason we have spent such a long time here…the floods. Due to the amount of rainfall both the river Soar and Trent have been on red alert since Monday. It’s a section of the Trent that we need to travel to get to our next designation of Nottingham. In fact, this trip takes in a few sections of the Trent (you may remember we hit a problem in Alrewas and had to rest up there until that section of the Trent had gone down). I have my paws crossed that we can set off on Monday as Leigh has a train to catch on Tuesday – she has to be in London for work on Wednesday but may leave us on Tuesday to pay a surprise visit to someone. Yelp!
I hadn’t realised before we arrived here that Shardlow – and Stourport, which is fairly close to our hometown of Redditch – are the only two 18th century inland ports in England. By 1975 Shardlow was showing signs of neglect and becoming derelict, and was given conservation area status which led to improvements, making it the heritage-rich village it is today.
Originally a river port, Shardlow was developed for trade when the Trent and Mersey canal opened in 1770 – the opening of which meant goods could be transferred between wide river boats and narrow barges, resulting in the growth of new business to support the carriers. Boat builders, stables, workshops, rope-works, offices and cottages for the workers emerged and it is these buildings that remain.
Many of the warehouses have been renovated and are now super-interesting homes – Leigh would love to look inside so many of them. There is a small Heritage Centre, set inside the original salt warehouse, which is open on weekends so the public can take advantage of the volunteer’s research and knowledge, discovering how life was, back in the days when canals were king.
Leigh, Tom and I have walked everywhichway around this village and took a stroll today (oh, what a lovely day it was too – warm and sunny) to the tiny hamlet of Great Wilne. This little place is a delight; just a few unusual residences, farms, fields and peace. The road to the village goes to the village…and nowhere else! It’s a dead-end, meaning traffic is minimal. You reach the village by a daffodil edged lane.
I really do recommend a visit to this area in South Derbyshire; it was never on my radar but I am so glad we stopped by!