Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tuesday 25 November 2014 Gt Haywood

Last night was not only cold with ice on the boat well before bed time it was also very misty and that didn’t clear until lunch time today.DSCF7725 The first job was to tighten the domestic alternator belt as it had let out a couple of squeals yesterday morning when I wound the revs up, the belt has only done a couple of hundred hours. once adjusted we were seeing an extra 10 amp charge at the same engine speed and no noise.

When I poked my head out the back at about 10-30 am I found something I had not experienced before, tufts of grass all over the rear deck, the bank side gunwale and the back end of the roof, I can only assume that the local ducks used us as a restaurant during the night or this morning, they must have been quite quiet.

We pushed off about 10-40 am in the mist and didn’t meet a boat until we entered Rugeley Tunnel, I had just started under the bridge when he spotted me and blew his horn, so I backed up out of his way. It was the only boat all morning. We stopped at the water point just before the Ash Tree Pub where some thoughtful boater had dumped his stove ash on the concrete edging by the mooring bollard so your rope drags in it. Its not there now.

Once full we were off to Rugeley town centre, I have never seen it so empty. Diana went to Morison’s while I went to a couple of places to try to buy some Fernox LS-X leak sealer to try to do a temporary repair to our water pump, but couldn’t get any. I did however find a shop that had just sold out and will have more in on Thursday. It was one of those shops that has everything, knows what you want and knows where everything is. Its called A.V.H Supplies and is in Albion St just the other side on Morrison’s car park.

By now the mist was lifting but it was also clouding over and we had rain forecast for this afternoon, so soon as Diana had finished in Morrison’s we were away. We continued on up through Colwich lock, there were no queues and just as we cleared the top gate it started drizzling, but it was very short lived so we continued on up Haywood Lock and have moored between the top of the lock and the Junction, still in the dry. It was only 3-30 pm but was much darker than previous days at this time.map 25

Today’s Journey 8.7 miles, 2 locks in 3.5 hours.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Monday 24 November 2014 Handsacre

It was a tad cool last night and this morning there was a bit of ice on the boat roof as well as the grass being white.DSCF7706DSCF7707

 
A quick stroll into the village so that we could visit the butchers before leaving in what was now bright sun shine. It was quite pleasant travelling in the sun but soon felt cool as you went into the shade. There was not a breath of wind as we made our way up to Fradley Junction.

The peace of the whole journey was marred by a helicopter continuously going up one side of the canal, turning over Fradley Junction and then flying back down the other, on one occasion he actually touched down behind the only house in the area between Common Lock and Bagnall Lock.DSCF7713  We found problems with Keepers Lock so I have sent an Email and photo to CRT. Straight on at the junction and up Middle and Shadehouse locks, unfortunately we are now behind another boat so the next three locks are against us.

As we passed King’s Bromley marina a couple of guys were fishing directly opposite, it took one of them ages to reel in his line, as he had cast right into the entrance of the marina, some 100 feet.

We passed a squirrel  having lunch in a bush by the tow path, DSCF7718 I expect he is making the most of this late autumn with still a good crop of berries to be had. Lots of the trees are still carrying a lot of leaf which gave some beautiful reflections.DSCF7719 We decided to stop at Handsacre for the night, we have not stopped here before, but as you get closer to Rugeley the roads get much noisier and we wouldn’t have time to get to the other side of town before dark.  map 24 Today’s Journey 6 miles, 8 locks and 1 junction  3.5 hrs

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday 23 November 2014 Alrewas

Yesterday evening we went to an event organised by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust who are working to restore the canal link from Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal to Ogley Junction on the Wyrley and Essington canal, part of the BCN.
The event they organised in Whittington Village Hall was first class with a 2 course Ploughman’s meal followed by the most wonderful entertainment buy a large company of people called “Just Us”.
As we walked to the even it was a clear starry night, when we returned it was cloudy and it wasn’t long before the forecast rain arrived.

 

DSCF7690

This was the view from our boat all night.

This morning we woke to the rain and made ready to leave at 10 am. when suddenly the rain stopped and we have had a dry journey.   At the far end of the village one of the householders is displaying his skills by carving his fence post.DSCF7691

One of the highlights was this photo just before Streethay Wharf.DSCF7693 He really teased me by flying round in large circles and landing, only to take off again as I pressed the trigger. 

We stopped for a chat with the people we were sat beside last night, they live beside the canal at bridge 88, they have their house for sale if anyone is looking for a canal side property for £625,000. We had to bid them farewell as 3 boats came along the canal towards us.

At Fradley junction we turned right along the T&M Canal, as Diana turned Junction Lock this couple came down the canal behind us,DSCF7701 carried their canoe round the lock and were off, very capable paddlers.

Since we were this way last I have been told that the work going on beside Hunts Lock is to put a gas main under the canal. They have sunk a deep concrete lined hole and as we passed by they lifted a man from the bottom in a crane basket. DSCF7702They have pumps and generators running 24/7 so I wouldn’t want to be trying to sleep in one of the boats on the long term moorings here.

We dropped through Alrewas Lock and winded in the winding hole directly below it, followed by a short reverse to moor in the centre of the village near the foot bridge. You may remember I posted photos of the graffiti on the road bridge, well there was a webDSCF7646 address on there and following that link I found they had made a DVD about the history of the canal from Fradley Junction to Alrewas and I decided to buy a copy. I emailed the link on the page and the producer brought it down to me on his bike this afternoon.

What else have I been up to? Well for the last couple of trips we have been getting air gushing out of the taps with the water which tends to splash you somewhat. I traced the problem to a leaking water pump and of course they no longer make that model, I have an old one that also leak so I will attempt to repair that as a replacement would A) be a different size and B) cost a lot of money.map 23

Today’s Journey 7.5 Miles, 5 locks, 3 Canals, 1 Junction in 3hr 45min

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 http://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/wr/index.html 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 http://nbharnser.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/hopwas-tuesday-16-sept-2014.html
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.