The Shropshire Union Canal, known by boaters as ‘The Shroppie’, runs for 66.5 miles from Ellesmere Port in the north to Autherley Junction, near Wolverhampton, in the south. The original name of this part of the canal was the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal. The Llangollen Canal and the Montgomery Canal are technically branches of the Shropshire Union Canal.
The construction of the canal began in 1830, the Brewood section was opened in 1835, and the whole of the canal was completed in 1843.
Much of the canal passes through beautiful countryside, which contributes to the Shroppie’s status as one of Britain’s favourite canals. There are 47 locks along the canal, but none at all in Brewood, where the terrain is more level. The canal also forms part of the popular Four Counties Ring which extends for 110 miles in total and would take a good two weeks to cruise around. The towpath is a lovely place to walk, although it can get a bit muddy when weather is bad. Thankfully plans are afoot to improve the towpath between Countrywide Cruisers and Avenue Bridge.
This list of things to see along the Brewood stretch of the canal begins to the north of the village.
Stretton Boatyard (originally known as Aqueduct Wharf) is a small wharf with a winding hole north of Stretton Aquaduct, one of several places along the canal where boats can turn around. Each winding hole is designed for a different boat length. You could easily be grounded if you tried to turn a longer boat there! The maximum boat length along the Shropshire Union Canal is 72 feet.
Stretton Aquaduct carries the canal over Watling Street (the A5). It was built by Thomas Telford in 1832.
Stretton Aquaduct South
Stretton Aquaduct South is almost imperceptible – it carries the canal over a culvert for a brook.
Belvide Reservoir is owned by the Canal and River Trust and doing the job it was built for. The feeder for Belvide Reservoir enters the canal to provide water to the canal.
Broom Hall Bridge
Broom Hall Bridge (Bridge 16) is at the northern end of Oakland Holiday Park. This was originally an entrance to Broom Hall. The lane runs from Shutt Green Lane to the west, to Broom Hall Farm to the east.
Skew Bridge (Bridge 15), formerly known as Eskew Bridge, is on Shutt Green Lane at the southern end of Oakland Holiday Park. To the west beyond the caravan site is Lea Fields Farm.
Skew Bridge Moorings
To the south of Skew Bridge there is a row of official line moorings on the offside.
Look out for the Christmas tree by the towpath which is decorated every year by the local residents.
Brewood Wharf is now the base for Countrywide Cruisers. Boats can wind (turn) here but of course it is a busy hire base, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to get in the way! To the right of the wharf where the caravans are parked there used to be old lime kilns. To the left was a Victorian gas works.
Brewood Bridge (Bridge 14) is a road bridge, set high above the canal where Kiddermore Green Road to the west joins High Green to the east, then continues along Bargate Street to the Market Place. There is an additional footbridge immediately to the north. Beside this bridge is the Bridge Inn.
Brewood Bridge Visitor Moorings
To the south of Brewood Bridge there is a row of official Visitor Moorings which are line moorings with mooring rings on the towpath side.
School Bridge (Bridge 13) has been known by that name since Victorian times. Dirty Lane is to the east continuing on to the playing fields to the west. The footpath from the towpath up to Dirty Lane has been planted with wildflowers by local schoolchildren.
Deans Hall Aquaduct
Deans Hall Aquaduct is almost imperceptible – it carries the canal over a culvert for Chillington Brook.
Deans Hall Moorings
To the south of Deans Hall Aquaduct there is a row of official line moorings on the towpath side.
Deans Hall Bridge (Bridge 12)
Deans Hall Bridge (Bridge 12) has been known by that name since Victorian times. It is the crossing point for Hyde Mill Lane, and leads to Hyde Farm, Hyde Mill (a corn mill), and The Woolley, to the west.
Brewood from Deans Hall Bridge
Deans Hall Bridge Visitor Moorings
To the south of Deans Hall Bridge there is a row of official Visitor Moorings which are line moorings on the towpath side.
Gifford Cross Bridge (Bridge 11)
Gifford (or Gifford’s) Cross Bridge (Bridge 11) has been known by that name since Victorian times. It is the crossing point for Port Lane. There used to be an old brick yard to the north east.
Avenue Bridge (Bridge 10)
Avenue Bridge (Bridge 10) has been known by that name since Victorian times. It is a rather elegant bridge on Lower Avenue, part of the old carriage entrance of Chillington Hall. The carriage drive continues west and connects with the Upper Avenue.
Chillington Bridge (Bridge 9)
Chillington Bridge (Bridge 9) was known as Chillington Wharf Bridge in Victorian times. The bridge is now a footbridge.
Chillington Wharf is a small wharf to the south of Chillington Bridge on the offside (to the west). It is not to be confused with the much larger Chillington Wharf on the Birmingham Canal Network! There used to be a crane on the waterside in Victorian times. Park Lodge is to the east, so this is also known as Park Lodge Winding Hole, however it is no longer listed as a winding hole by the CRT. There used to be an old gravel pit just to the north of Park Lodge.
Park Bridge (Bridge 8)
Park Bridge (Bridge 8) is a farm track bridge between Brewood Park Farm and Upper Cottage.
Hunting Bridge (Bridge 7)
Hunting Bridge (Bridge 7) is a farm track bridge
Lower Hattons Bridge (Bridge 6)
Lower Hattons Bridge (Bridge 6) is a farm track bridge leading to Lower Hattons.