Our mooring in Penkridge allowed us to take advantage of the fact that it has a railway station as much as anything else. Our first journey took us in to Birmingham, a city that we have visited many times before. We had no particular reason to go, it was just a day out for us. We didn’t do much, a short walk from the station took us to The Mailbox where we walked through to the canal – as if we haven’t seen enough of the cut! A wander along past Gas Street basin and back again in time for lunch overlooking the water. After lunch we took a stroll around the Bullring before heading back to New Street station where we caught the train back to Penkridge.
The next day we spent in and around the village doing no more than just mooching about. En-route to Penkridge we had contemplated taking a diversion into Wolverhampton but with 21 locks in less than two miles to negotiate, we didn’t ponder the question too long! Instead, we used the train again and went to visit Wolverhampton on our final day in Penkridge. If I had to sum up my impression of Wolverhampton in one word, it would be “scruffy”. It’s a pity really because there is building work going on and its clear that money has been spent on improving parts of the City centre. The railway station is close to the bus station and a tram station is being built in between the two so there will be a good integrated transport system in place soon enough. Unfortunately, the streets are scruffy with litter – even the newer ones. It doesn’t help that the area nearest to the bus station is populated with fast food outlets of the kebab and fried chicken type and they are interspersed with phone repair shops and those selling supplies to the vaping community. We had an uninspiring walk around the central area before catching the train back just before two o’clock. So we weren’t impressed by Wolverhampton but it could have worse, we could have travelled there by boat!
Thursday morning dawned bright and blue again so we got up and set off early again, dropping down through Filance lock and on to the service point. With the chores complete, we moved on and arrived at Midland Chandlers just as they opened at 9am. Our destination was hopefully going to be Radford Bank, the nearest point that the canal gets to Stafford. We had a few locks to do but there was plenty of traffic heading in the opposite direction and that made life easier for us. Most of the moorings at Radford bank can be quite busy so we took the first available space that we saw before the bridge and the start of the stretch that can get crowded. My priority was to collect a phone from Argos that I had bought on eBay a few days earlier so after getting showered and changed we set off on the half mile walk to the retail park on the way into town. Back at the boat, I spent my time setting up the new phone or as Sue described it, messing about with it. In any case, it works well and I am happy with it.
Friday morning saw us catching the bus to Stafford railway station, this time to catch a train to Nuneaton. After ten weeks away from home, we thought that we should go and check that all was well and to pick up the post that had accumulated. The train journey only takes 40 minutes and everything went to plan and we were back at Radford bank at half past three. We hadn’t eaten all day so we decided to make use of the Radford Bank pub / restaurant which is adjacent to the canal bridge.
On Saturday, we walked into Stafford itself and spent a few hours in the town centre. In common with the previous times that we have visited, we found Stafford to be very pleasant. There were a few food stalls in the market place and we had a wander around the shopping streets for a while. In the middle of the town centre is the Ancient High House , the largest Elizabethan timber framed house left in England.
The building is now a museum and each of the rooms on the three floors is set out to reflect how they might have looked through the ages. The house dates back to 1595 so that’s over four hundred years of history.
Once back at the boat, we decided that rather than wait until the morning to set off, we would break with tradition and have an early evening cruise. It was a nice change too, we only encountered a slack handful of boats on the move, we didn’t have any locks to do and after an hour we reached Milford wharf where we tied up for the night.