Saturday, 22 November 2014

Friday 22 November 2014 Whittington

Last night we defiantly got the rain and from about 5 pm it chucked it down. For dinner we had the pies bought at Alrewas. Diana heated them in the oven but on reflection we think the game pie should have  been eaten cold as it was solid meat inside and half a Stake and Ale pie with half a Game pie was a little bit greedy.

We woke this morning to a fine morning and as we only have about 4 miles to go were not in much of a hurry to get away, needles to say when we were ready to set of at 10 30 it started raining again, so we stayed put for a bit.  Just after 1130 am the rain stopped and the sun came out so we set off, the timing worked well because we had just moored by Whittington Bridge and it started raining again. We actually went passed Whittington down as far as Tamhorn Farm Bridge because that is where the winding hole is and came back to Whittington Bridge where we moored for the night at 2 15 pm. This meant our 4 mile journey was actually 6.5 miles, so only a very short day, not enough to fully recharge the batteries, but I expect they will get a good run tomorrow.

We passed a pair of swans taking a brunch on someone’s front lawn, in exchange I am sure they left a bit of fertiliser.DSCF7656 Although we have not gone through any junctions we started on the Coventry Canal and we are now on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal moored about 100 yard from the boundary where they change name. Down at Fazeley Junction the canal becomes the Coventry Canal again all the way to Coventry. The reason the short 5 mile stretch canal is known as the B&F Canal is because the Coventry Canal Co. ran out of cash so the B&F built the missing bit. The Coventry Canal Co. had markers on theDSCF7688 offside bank showing the limit of their land ownership and a few still remain, the houses by the canal do not own up to the waters edge as can be seen by this marker against the house owners fence.

There were some glorious reflections with the water like glass as we made our way south. This one at Huddlesford Junction,DSCF7683 the home of the Lichfield Cruising Club caught my eye, also approaching Streethay Wharf with all the moored boats.DSCF7675


map 22 Today’s Journey 6.6 miles with no locks in 2.5 hrs.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday 21 November 2014 Fradley bridge 90

Bit of an early start for us as the Metcheck weather forecast said heavy rain today, so as it was fine at 7 30 we set off and managed to get to Fradley, our target for the day before it started to drizzle very lightly for a short time. It tuned out the Weather Forecast for Birmingham was not the same as for Fradley and I set off early for nothing.

Marley Tiles have a huge yard beside the canal and not only do they have acres of tiles stacked up ready to dispatch around theDSCF7629 country they also have a building which they are constantly re-tiling with different designs of tiles, I don’t know it its a show thing or for evaluating new designs.  DSCF7633   

We were soon back on the river section of the T&M where this boat has sunk on its moorings at Wychnor, a sad sight as its bound to be someone's pride and joy.DSCF7596

At the top end of the section the River Trent continues on its way over the weir behind us, we came from the left of the photo.DSCF7594 The Trent has only been with us flowing for about a hundred yards coming in just ahead under this bridge.DSCF7595 Although the flowing section is short, the full length of the navigation between locks 11 and 12 are effectively a river and water will flow on the full length in flood conditions.  We have to turn sharp left across the flow just before the bridge, you can just make out the channel on the left.

Off the river and back on the canals we made our way back to Fradley Junction with no holdups this time. At the junction we turned left through the swing bridge and stopped to top the water up and delve down the weed hatch, the water is definitely getting colder. Once sorted we pushed on to moor for the night just through bridge 90 in Fradley.

For those that have followed for a while will know that I use Waterway Routes from on my I Pad that use to sit in a converted cereal box to keep the sun off. Now the summer is over I have upgraded to one of these housings from Aldi.DSCF7599 I don’t think I would trust it in heavy rain but it could well save it from the odd splash.  As you can see this shot was taken while we were in Barton Turn Lock. It shows the facilities in the Mariana and also the company that sells diesel on the towpath side 3p cheaper.

map 21

Today’s journey 4.5 Hrs, 8.25 Miles, 8 Locks 1 Swing Bridge, 1 Junction, 1 River and 2 Canals.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday 20 November 2014 Branston Water Park

We set off a little after ten, one boat had already passed in both directions. There was not a breath of wind and the sun was having problems breaking through with mist hanging over the cut. DSCF7579 It was surprising how in the still of the night we were able to hear the traffic on the A38, it must be a very busy road.

Passing under the A513 road bridge the local graffiti artists workDSCF7582 DSCF7581 is relatively pleasing to the eye when compared to what gets painted on some structures.
As we approached Bagnell lock a sign told us we were nowDSCF7585DSCF7587 entering the National Forest and there is a large living willow sculpture along side the canal.
This is another lock where CRT have installed stays on the balance beams to hold the gates closed just like those on Junction Lock.DSCF7568DSCF7567
The bridge below the lock shows signs of boats rubbing along the brickwork over the years, I wonder how much of it has happened in the last 50 years compared to the previous 150 years?DSCF7589

We moored on the 48 hr. moorings and took a wonder round Alrewas with its many pubs, shop, chemists/post office and butchers. We called at the butchers to buy some bread and got tempted by his game pies. I will tell you what they were like tomorrow.

We locked down on the the short bit of the Trent, the water levels were fine, and made good progress to rejoin the canal at Wychnor Lock. From here we were travelling alongside the A38 with waves and hoots from passing lorry drivers. The afternoon was quite drab, I don’t know if it was just mist or this dust cloud that people have been reporting. You can read about it here on the Metcheck web page. We carried on down the canal passed Barton Turns marina, directly opposite their entrance someone is selling diesel on the towpath side for 3p less than them. On into the gloom down Tatenhill lock where an ex working boat has just received a new cabin. The engine hole is riveted but this has imitation planks at the back and no rivets. would the cabin have once been wood?DSCF7606DSCF7608

We made our way to Shobnall Marina where we winded and made our way back, by now the sun was going down and although the sky didn’t go bright red it still looked good.DSCF7616We only did one more lock, Branston Lock before mooring for the night at Branston Water Park.

map 20Today’s Journey 9.5 miles, 7 lock and one river section. in 6hr 15min.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wednesday 19 November 2014 Common Lock T&M

We arrived at the boat just after lunch yesterday, Tuesday. We had a good drive over with no holdups.
Once the car was unloaded and things packed away the first job was changing the Antifreeze in the engine. This job was a bit overdue as it is now recommended that it is done every two years. I drained as much of the old coolant as I could and replaced it with a little over 12 lts of fresh 50/50 mix. By the time I had got the air out and got it circulating it was to late to go anywhere, so it was off in the car to The Plumb Pudding for dinner, I didn’t realise that this was now an Italian restaurant as our 2009 Nicholson guide says Brasserie with real ales.

This morning we set off at 11 am. for some reason Diana took the helm and took us out or the marina, it was like a millpond.DSCF7537
One of the features of this marina is a bridge joining the two sections that we have to pass through.DSCF7543 People say its a problem when windy as there is not much room to turn between leaving the bridge and the island directly ahead of you.

Out on the main line and we turned right towards Woodend Lock, we met 3 boats on the way, the last still coming up the lock, even so the rest of the locks were against us. A short way from the marina entrance Diana spotted a deer in the field, although he was very cooperative and stayed still it was a job to get a shot through the trees.DSCF7553

At Fradley Junction a volunteer was painting the railings outside the Swan pub, he told Diana that Keepers lock was drained as the inspection was running a week late, so after a bit of shuffling I turned down the Coventry where we stopped for water. Talking with Diana it seems that the stoppage should be lifted sometime this afternoon, so once we were full of water I reversed back through the swing bridge. This is the one that should have had aDSCF7569 locking mechanism fitted some time back and turned to drop through Junction Lock.

You may recall in an earlier blog
I mentioned the Narrowboat on a post at the junction. Well here is a photo of it from the other side but needless to say it didn’t work.DSCF7562

The nearside paddle gear on Junction lock is faulty. The shaft that drives the paddle winding gears has moved through by a couple of inches so the pawl no longer engages to hold it up, at the other end the key is almost out of the gearwheel so will soon lose drive and probably bits.DSCF7565 DSCF7566

We moored for lunch opposite the CaRT Tea Rooms and an hour later the chaps (and girl) on Keepers Lock had finished, pulled the stop planks and the lock was again open. They had removed this base from the bottom of the lock and left it lock side, I hope they take it away before it finds its way back into the lock.DSCF7572

There is a lot of work going on beside Hunts lock, both sides of the canal there are large heaps of soil and on one side a digger and a crane as well as other plant. Does anyone know what is going on there?DSCF7578 We continued on in the low afternoon sun mooring up for the night just passed the lock moorings below Common lock at around 3 pm.Map 19 Today’s journey just 4 miles and 7 locks in 4 hours. One Junction twice, once backwards and one swing bridge twice, once backwards. The star shape on the lock is when we stopped for lunch and lost the GPS signal inside the boat.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

kings Bromley Marina Tuesday 4 November

Yet again we had rain overnight but woke to a sunny morning, It was the coldest night this autumn with the minimum temperature dropping to 2° but was to to 5° when we set off at 9-30 am.

You may recall I posted about this canal being part funded by the Coventry Canal company and a bit by the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company to between bridge 78 of the Coventry and Whittington Bridge of the B&F. There is actually a stone to mark the spot.
DSCF7517 DSCF7514

We met quite a few boats today, more than we have seen for some time, but there were very few moored at Hopwas, only one other outside the pub and 3 by the woods, likewise at Fradley Junction only a couple of boats just before the water point.

Just before Streethay there was an interesting push butty moored up, as you can see the stern of the butty is shaped to fit the bows of the motor.
DSCF7521 DSCF7520

We stopped for a quick bit of lunch at Fradley before continuing on through the swing bridge which is still waiting for CaRT to fit a locking mechanism to it. Out into the deserted junction in a steady sweep to the left and then up the three lock, all with us to our KB Today’s Journey 3 locks, 1 Junction, 3 canals 11 miles

Monday, 3 November 2014

Hopwas Monday 3 November 2014

Last night we ate at Oodles n’Oodles again before heading back for another peaceful night at the Star City Moorings.

Again we had rain overnight but woke to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. We set off at 9 am and although bright it was quite chilly, I made a real pigs ear of coming out of the Grand UnionDSCF7501 and turning right on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal and had to reverse back into the Grand Union for a second attempt. I don’t think anyone was watch but it still went wrong.

At Minworth Top Lock we had to drag a plastic road barrier out from in front of the lock gate, we had just got it out, they are made of Polypropylene and designed to be filled with water to weight them down, floating in the canal this one was full and we had to drain it as we pulled it out. We had just managed this when three chaps turned up clearing the rubbish from around the lock, if only they had been five minutes earlier. The next 2 locks went without incident but were unfortunately empty.

By the time we reached the Curdworth it was warming up and the afternoon was spent with no coat on. Curdworth tunnel roof is just one mass of cobwebs all inter joining.

Curdworth top lock was full, maybe our luck was in, but no, whoever went down last failed to fully close the top paddle so it had filled over night. Lock 3 the bottom paddles were up and Di walked to the bend above lock for to make sure some one hadn’t set ahead and could see the lock below all had the bottom gate open. Once through lock 3 we could see a boat coming up 5, he seemed very slow and then I realised he had a butty. He walked up and explained he was towing so would be a little while and I suggested that maybe he shouldn’t set so far ahead and round a bent, MISTAKE. It turned out that a hire boat going down had left all the bottom paddles up all the way down the flight, so I had to apologise, I even walked back and set lock 2 for them and we helped them up the other locks as well, The butty was “Olive” but I don’t remember the name of the motor. After they had passed we had a good run all the way to lock 9 with the last 3 being against us.

Maybe some one does read my blog.
You may remember on our way out I posted about the Birmingham Anglers association nailing their sign to a sculptured post below lock 7. Well its been removed, so well done them for sorting it out.DSCF7247

CaRT contractors cutting the offside overhanging trees have got as far as the middle of the bottom pound and they are chopping through some quite heft stuff.DSCF7510 DSCF7511

At the bottom lock there was another gang installing steel bollards along the lock side, I assume they are to prevent cars going into the lock, but they are ugly square galvanised things. DSCF7512 I have seen much better street furniture about than these. It seems a shame in what is quite a pretty setting in front of the cottages and lock side. 

By now it was getting a bit cooler as we passed a group of ramblers making their way along the towpath, I don’t know how well the leader had researched the route as he spent a lot of time consulting his map.

At Fazeley Junction it was hard left still on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal even if we are the other side of Fazeley heading towards Fradley. A brief stop at the CaRT offices at Peels Wharf to fill with water and as it was such a grand day for boating we then continued to moor for the night outside the tame Otter at Hopwas at 1630 hrs. A good days hopwas 7.5 hrs, 14.7 miles 14 locks, 2 junctions and 2 canals. On the way we met 2 boats towing butties.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Star City Sunday 2 November 2014

Well what a weekend its been, Friday evening was the Birmingham Canal navigation Society (BCNS)AGM followed by sausage casserole and a bar serving a selection of Pardoe’s beer.  There was even a three piece band for our entertainment.

Saturday morning we visited the Smethwick Pump house that once pumped water up from the New Mainline to the higher Old Mainline. In the afternoon we did a spell on the tea stall and then in the evening the bonfire was lit and a large firework display. The BCNS were selling burgers and hot dogs as well as the bar again. Once the fire works were over it was in the marquee for more Pardoe’s and listen to a local band “The Shady Band” and the weather held with just some light drizzle, however last night made up for it with a good quarter inch coming out of the sky. We setDSCF7490 off at 9 am. down the Smethwick three locks. Most of the boats were still there but a few had left earlier in the morning. The bonfire had been by the top lock but all was was to bee seen when we passed was a blackened area of ground.DSCF7491 We had started off in the rain but it soon cleared and got out quite bright.

As we headed into the centre of Birmingham we passed the first fishing match we had seen since down the K&A, they seemed a friendly bunch with a hello and a nod as we passed, behind them is a large compound that is packed full of vans, there must be hundreds in there.DSCF7493

Needless to say the Farmers Bridge flight was against us, but with no one directly in front we were able to set ahead and keep moving. At Aston Junction we turned off the the left down the Aston flight just as a boat was going out of the bottom gates. We turned the lock and followed. All the pounds where on weir which is unusual for this flight, normally a couple of pounds are down. At the second lock we spotted a boat coming up so we pulled over and waited for them which eased our passage, and then a second,, but after that we were catching the boat ahead so stopped for lunch 3 locks from the bottom.DSCF7495

As we set off again the sky was blackening, still no boats had been up and the second from last lock we had problems closing the top gate, there was a large piece of wood under the gate which I managed to dislodge with the boat hook. By now we had a boat right behind us. As we reached the bottom lock it started to rain, well more like someone with a hose. Diana got wet through and had to change once we were through the lock. At Salford Junction I went out turning to the left, I then reversed round the junction and into the Grand Union Canal continuing backwards to Star City to moor for the starcity 2

27 locks, 4 canals one of them backwards, 4 junction and 6.6 miles.