Monday, 7 September 2020

Alvecote

Last nights diner came from Peninsular Cantonese Restaurant in Fazeley and I think we both agreed its the best oriental takeaway we have ever had. This morning we pushed off a little before 10 am just as it started to rain. This carried on until we reached Glascote locks where there was but of a queue. one waiting to go up and two in the pound above  which was a bit down. The boat ahead had the sense to wait until there was only one in the pound above and the top lock was drawn, this was more important for the boat following us as he was quite deep, so he locked up slowly while we cleared the top lock and turned it to give him a full pound. Once clear of the locks we met a steady stream coming towards up, while 5 boats locked up, nothing turned up to go down. We had a steady run to our marina where we found we have two new neighbours, Matt from the other side of the pontoon has gone and their is a boat in the same slot as us. With the reduced space I had bout 3” to spare reversing in. Next time I will turn and reverse down and into the slot. A quick bite of lunch and packed up we were away bat 1-30 pm and home by 5pm.

Todays Journey 4.5 miles, 2 locks in 2.25 Hrs.map 36


Here is a list of the canals we have cruised on this trip doing some  334 locks, travelling for 165 hours and covering almost 320 miles, we were away for 36 days. We spent quite a bit of time on the BCN as can be seen by this map.full journey
Coventry Canal
Birmingham and Fazeley canal
Birmingham and Fazeley Digbeth Branch
Tame Valley Canal
Rushall Canal
BCN Daw End Branch
Wyrley and Essington Canal
BCN Main Line Wolverhampton Level
BCN Bradley Arm or Wednesbury Oak Loop
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal
Stourbridge Canal
Stourbridge Town Arm
Stourbridge Extension Canal
Fens Branch
Dudley No.2 Canal
BCN Netherton Tunnel Branch
BCN New main Line
BCN Old Main Line
BCN Gower Branch
BCN Spon Lane Branch
BCN Titford Canal
River Severn
Droitwich Barge Canal
Droitwich Junction Canal
Worcester and Birmingham Canal
BCN Icknield Port Look
BCN Soho Loop
BCN Soho Branch
BCN Oozells Street Loop
BCN Old Wednesbury Canal
BCN Walsall Canal
BCN Walsall Town Arm
Grand Union
Grand Union Digbeth Branch

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Fazeley

A good choice of mooring last night, the land rises between where we moored and the motorway so is much quieter than down by The Dog and Doublet where you can see the cars going along the M6. The first boat went past at 8 30am so don’t know what time they left the top of Curdworth locks. A second boat came by shortly before we were ready to leave, well their lock wheeler did, setting well ahead, as a boat coming up arrived at the lock before the one locking down was through and had to wait. We left it for a bit before setting off, but didn’t meet any boats so the locks were against us again. It looked like a car boot sale was taking place a few fields away.DSCF4222
We plodded on passing a couple of boats still moored up that we had seen earlier in the week. We passed another brick hut beside lock 5, this one hasDSCF4223 both roof and chimney abut is free standing. until a few years ago there was one by lock 4 but it has slowly disappeared. There is a water point a little further down on the offside just above the long term moorings, but for some reason passing boaters are not allowed to dispose for their rubbish there andDSCF4224 the bins are only for the long term moorers which seems strange, as there is a nice compound and loads of access room for skip lorries.
At lock 10 we were watched by 2 gents and their children, one of them had an interesting mode of DSCF4227transport for himself and the kids. A three wheel trike with a box on the front.  At the bottom lock Diana had problems opening the gate, she had the same problem when we came up and the same householder helped her with it. even better he closed up for us and dropped the offside paddle, well there is only one working still. We carried on down to Fazeley Mill Marina were we topped up with diesel before heading to the junction to moor for the night.

Todays Journey 5 miles, 4 locks in 3 hours.map 35Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Birmingham & Fazeley lock 7

We stayed on the boat yesterday evening and didn’t explore Star City to see what was open or closed. There weren’t a huge number of cars in the carpark.
We set off this morning a little after ten down to Salford Junction where we turned very sharply right and headed for Minworth’s 3 locks meeting 4 boats on the way, result, the three locks were with us. We stopped just below the lock to take on water, but we had to run the tap a long time before it ran cold. While we were there this chap on a motorbike flew down the locks (the photo is him coming back) DSCF4216trying to take off at the tail of the lock, there was a lad coming up on his bike. The lad saw the motorbike and took evasive by turning onto the grass, the motorbike saw the lad and also took evasive action, also turning onto the grass, luckily the motorbike went wider than the lad, snaked around a bit on the grass but recovered and continued on his way. On a more pleasant note we saw these as well.DSCF4215Down by the bottom Minworth lock there is the remains of an old building in the bridge wing wall. I guess it must have been for a lock keeper to shelter in.DSCF4217We stopped for lunch down by Minworth Green Bridge, needless to say a boat went by while we were stopped so that would be Curdworth flight against us, however the boat that passed only went as far as The Cuttlebridge Inn. We didn’t see any more boats as we went through Curdworth tunnel carefully avoiding the bulge in the offside brickwork. Between the tunnel and the top lock there is a fallen tree on the off side, its been cut off but the trunk sticks well out into the canal, some thoughtful soul has hung a bag on it, but today something else caught my eye.DSCF4220The Curdworth flight were all against us, it loos as if C&RT have great plans for this flight. We worked ourDSCF4221 way down as far as lock 3 when I spotted someone working lock 5 so Diana went down to open the bottom gates rather than turning the lock, I then spotted her walking down to 5. It seems the boat was still a long way off and the chap was letting down water, so we continued down first turning 4 and then turning 5 only to meet the boat still coming up in 6. Well I don’t know what problem they had had, but the boat following wasn’t impressed with the speed of travel, it wasn’t helped by a boat below the locks moored on the lock landing. The pound below 6 was down a bit, but I was able to traverse it at normal cruising speed with no problem. The boat waiting below the lock said the other one had been going up the edge of the canal. We dropped through lock 7 and moored up for the night.

Todays Journey 9 miles 10 locks in 4.75 hours.map 34 Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Friday, 4 September 2020

Star City

In yesterdays blog I said we visited Hockley Port down the Soho Branch. Tom A fellow blogger  Waiouru commented that he had spent some time there and found this site very informative and interesting Hockley Port .

This was the view from the front of the boat just before we went to bed last night. I must say this is DSCF4194my favourite town mooring anywhere.

This morning when we got up our neighbours were long gone. We backed out of the Oozells St Loop onto the main line and headed down to the Farmers Bridge locks. I have never seen Cambrian Wharf so empty, only two boats in the whole basin.DSCF4196 The first lock was with us, but it was the only one. We were joined by a C&RT volunteer who was really helpful and we sped down the flight with Diana setting ahead, me driving and working the off side paddles and him working the near side and closing up. The flight is now well enclosed with differentDSCF4202
types of accommodation, probably how it would have been enclosed 200 years ago with factories. The road has been supported down at Saturday Bridge. I suggested they should be painted red an yellow, then they could ask Lego to sponsor it.DSCF4200At Aston Junction we carried on round to the right, the building work carries on along here, lots of the buildings in this area are connected to The DSCF4203Birmingham University. Its good to see some of this old building is being preserved.DSCF4206Our next light of locks was the Ashted Flight, after dropping down through the first lock you are into Ashted Tunnel. I misjudged this and removed some red paint from the handrail.DSCF4204We carried on down the next 5 locks and through Curzon Tunnel which is not only very wide but also slightly curved. We went straight on a Digbeth Junction into Typhoo Basin, somewhere we have never ventured before, we thought it a good DSCF4209DSCF4212opportunity to stop for lunch, its a pity there are no mooring rings or bollards , so centre line to a railing made sure we didn’t drift about too much.DSCF4208By the time we had finished lunch it started to rain, so coats on, by the time we left the basin it had stopped. At Digbeth Junction this time we turned right. Its a shame that the old stop lock and adjoining building is not being more actively DSCF4213preserved. The lock gates and beams  look in very good condition but the covered toll dock and island could do with some love. On our way to Bordesley Junction we passed lots of graffiti but these little white birds that kept popping up caught my eye.DSCF4214At the junction we turned left to head down the 5 Garrison Locks, again they were all against us, as we dropped down through 4 I could see a boat moored ahead on lock 5 lock moorings, we were three quarters of the way there when they all appeared and set off, so even lock 6 was now against us. Some of the crew were somewhat elderly and they explained that “mother” had prepared lunch and they though they had time to eat it between 5 and 6. It was a Kate  boat from Warwick so they have a good weeks work to do. We followed them down and moored on the floating Star City moorings for the night.

Today’s journey 7 miles, 24 locks in 3.25 hours.map 33 Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Birmingham

Last nights Indian Takeaway was another successes. All three have been similar price and very tasty. Last night, The Bangla Cottage, was the quickest service at about 25 minuets from order to pick up. The slowest service was Eastern Spice  , they quoted 30 minutes and then I waited another 30 minutes when I arrived to pick it up. Balti King was also ready when they said it would be. I would eat at any of them again without a problem.
Last night as forecast it rained and as the forecast showed today as being fine we were in no hurry to set off until we were sure it had cleared. We headed to Factory Junction to wind and then back past last nights mooring passing a CCCer on the way.DSCF4184(Continuously Cruising Coot). I’m sure its nest was once attached to a bank somewhere.  We then followed the Old Main Line back to Birmingham. Some one has cleared the vegetation at the site of the old coal shoots. The shoots were removed a few DSCF4185years back as they were considered dangerous and a large interpretation board put up on the site.DSCF4185

I now know who empties the new C&RT waste bins around Birmingham, C&RT do, and one of theirDSCF4132 chaps explained that most are not very close to where he can take his truck so he has to carry the bags of rubbish. Maybe C&RT should buy him an electric quad and trailer. We only had three locks today to take us down to Birmingham, the Smethwick New Locks, new because they eventually replaced the original three that ran to the north of them.
Passing by one of the toll islands we spotted these caterpillars on one of the plants growing on the island, they must be at least 70mm long.DSCF4186At Winson Green Junction we turned left round the Soho arm past Winson Green prison. The reason for going this way was to visit the Soho Branch down to Hockley Port as it was somewhere we have never been. The entrance is via a bridge with no path DSCF4130under it, making the branch and port quite secure, it is mainly residential moorings but there are a couple of visitor moorings in there as well as a dry dock DSCF4189and service block.There are two further branches running off the main branch at right angles which formed the old port.DSCF4190 While we were at the end one of the residents there turned their boat and left so we ended up following them round the loop and down the main line into Birmingham. When we got to Ladywood Junction they turned right round the Oozells Loop where as we carried on to Old Turn Junction and entered the Oozells Loop from the other direction. It soon became obvious that we both planned to moor on the visitor mooring, so we dropped onto the first bollard and they pulled in further along. At that point we exchanged pleasantries which ended up with a shuffle as we would have preferred to be where they stopped and they would rather have been where we were. A good result all round.

Todays Journey 8.6 miles, 3 locks in 4.5 hours.map 32Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Tipton (again)

The day started well with a peaceful nights mooring, DSCF4170before leaving we had to check that Lesley’s cat wasn’t onboard, it decided to adopt us and the boat last night creeping in at any opportunity and check that everything was closed up early this morning.This was my view as I looked back to the moorings as we turned out onto the canal again.DSCF4173The first strike of the gremlins was at Moors Lane bridge, completely blocked by a floating island of reeds, I gently pushed this away before we continued on our way to the first lock, No. 8. In the entrance to the lock I picked up a quilted jacket on the prop, complete with zip, just to bind it on the shaft. This was removed in the lock in the jet black smelly water.
One for the historians, can you tell me why they would have installed this bollard under the railway bridge just below lock 8.DSCF4174Lock 6 looks as it could possibly be a contender for an ISSS listing with the amount of habitat growing on the walls.DSCF4175A normal trouble spot is Wellington Bridge where the kid throw the shopping trollies off, I have know a reef right across the canal so you couldn’t get a boat through, but today as we approached they had just finished grappling them out and taking them away. It must cost the store a fortune.
Above lock 6 the pound was very low, and I onlyDSCF4178 just cleared the cill, a lock full of water from 5 helped as I really didn’t want to let anything down and rob the pounds above.  This was the only set of stairs that I spotted on the flight, I wonder if at one time there would have been a set at every lock.DSCF4179I don’t remember which lock this was but its the third one we have seen this trip that has been treated to first aid in this way, still its better thanDSCF4180 the lock being out of action. Overall I must say I found the locks and canal in much better shape than I did last time I cam this way. I think its because most of the old derelict yards have been repurposed and fenced off, its made the play ground less attractive to the kiddie winks. Just before we reached Pudding Green Junction we met a boat heading in the opposite direction, he would have found all the lock with him hopefully. At the junction we turned right on the new main line meeting yet another boat just before Albion Junction where we turned left up the Brades Hall Locks. I have neverDSCF4182 noticed how intricate this Temple “Venkateswara”  building is before. Its worth clicking the link and looking at their web page.
At the junction we join the old main line, turning right towards Tipton. By now it was raining hard (did I mention it started raining coming up Riders Green Locks), the tiller and rudder were juddering and progress was getting slower, so I stopped under Dudley Road bridge and removed a load of polly mixed with twigs and a length of gold braid for good measure, much easier working in the clear water where you can see what you are dealing with. With DSCF4183that off things progressed much better. At Tipton Junction it was left to the services just before Dudley Tunnel Trust building where we disposed of the polly and filled with water, winding in the arm leading to the Black Country Museum  before heading into Tipton to moor again at John the Locks moorings.


Today’s Journey 8 miles, 11 locks in 5 hours.map 31Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Ocker Hill

We decided not to stay in the basin overnight with the number of youngster roaming about and a fisherman suggesting we were very brave to have our boat there overnight. So after dinner we moved down to the offside pontoon at the junction for an undisturbed nights sleep. You can see from the map where we started this morning.

This morning Diana wanted to visit the charity shop with some books and jigsaws as well as picking up some new ones, so I dropped back from the pontoon to the quay side so she could get off and returned t the pontoon to clear the polly from the prop. It was 1130 when she returned and I picked her up to set off to Ocker Hill.
I think the Walsall canal is the dirtiest one we have travelled on all year, but although there is rubbish everywhere we didn’t have any real problems or weed hatch visits. We did have a problem with depth at one point, just north of Moorcroft Junction for about 70Mts it was very hard going, not weed, just silt, but it was the only spot.
Last time we were this way I assume its the same boat was in this polly tunnel, I bet it was warm inDSCF4162 there last week. The building in the background is quite interesting as well I thought with its hoist hatch over the canal. Old disused canal features interest me, this looks like some sort of lifting are where you would hang a set of chain blocks, but DSCF4163what would you lift with it being mounted on top of a concrete post. There has been a great deal of movement on this bridge, the brickwork must have gone back or forward over 50mm and there are steel plates up into the roof.DSCF4165Another strange thing was the water plant growth. All the canals have been full of water plants and weed until suddenly today there was nothing, just DSCF4167open water with a reed fringe, this was around Bulls Bridge. s I said the going was easy until just before Moorcroft Junction where it was badly silted, at the junction the Bradley canal restoration Society have DSCF4169erected a notice as they are actively trying to restore the Bradley Arm up to the C&RT Bradley workshop so that gives a link to Deepfield Junction on the BCN Mainline Wolverhampton Level. You DSCF4168can’t get to far at the moment but things are looking promising with lots of the structure still in place.
Its not far after this where the Tame Valley canal joins the Walsall canal and then the little arm to the Ocker Hill moorings where we are tonight. These are mainly residential moorings but there is room for a couple of visitor moorings. BW use to have their offices by the arm and keep their workboats here, but they have since moved on.

Todays Journey 6.5 miles in 3.25 hours with no locks.map 30 Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/