Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Brewood Aqueducts
Shropshire Union Canal

An outing on the boat wouldn’t be complete without adding at least one new aqueduct to the collection. The southern end of the Shropshire union strikes off across the top end of the River Penk catchment basin, crossing numerous small tributaries, which trickle under the embankments via an assortment of tunnels and culverts. It’s this sort of terrain that causes trouble for ardent aqueduct hunters. Which of these passageways does one class as an aqueduct and which are mere culverts and therefore to be disregarded? My rule of thumb is that of the passageway is too small to be theoretically shuffled or canoed through, it isn’t a real aqueduct.

Horses Brook Aqueduct, north Brewood
The passage of Horses Brook under the embankment just north of Countrywide Cruisers is right on the cusp of acceptability onto this site, with its diminutive archway being a mere 4 ft high. I think that this tunnel could be negotiated if one had a will to do so, a point to which generations of Brewood youth could probably attest. However, with its sagging centre section and the sonorous drip, drip, drip of water leaking from the canal above ensured that my investigation remained completely external.

Not that an external investigation was easy. First there were the stinging nettles and then a very slippery bank with my descent only slowed by desperate grabs at the overhanging trees. Getting back up wasn’t a whole lot better! The archway is therefore included as proof of my perseverance, even if it could be argued that “it is only a culvert”.

South Brewood Aqueduct, tributory of the Penk

Not content with the northerly aqueduct we also took a walk past the more southerly stream, an unnamed but more substantial watercourse. This stream is accommodated by a substantial brick arch, similar in proportions to a typical canal bridge and probably created around the same former. The growth of seasonal vegetation prevented a descent photograph, with its outline more apparent to the naked eye. I will try and get a better shot of this structure during the winter months.

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