Sunday, 27 July 2014

Great Haywood Sunday 27 July 2014

We actually arrived at the boat at about 11 pm last night but decided not to move until today.

As we were picked up by “Enterprise Car Hire” last week we left in bit of a rush so two things happened.
One
I left the electricity main switches on, which also meant the inverter was running all week. We do have two small solar panels so they saved the day but and the Stirling gauge showed a deficit of 5ah over the week.
Two
I dropped my glasses down between the pontoon and the boat, so I brought a landing net back with me and had a good trawl around without any luck.

A little after 10 we left our berth and headed through the marinaDSCF6273 towards the canal. At the service wharf (extreme left of the photo) was a boat called “third Time Lucky” on the extreme right of the photo there is another boat, also called “Third Time Lucky”.DSCF6274

It was dead on 1030 am when we pulled out of the marina and turned left along the Trent and Mersey canal meeting 10 boats in the first hour. We had just entered Armitage Tunnel when the tenth boat arrived at the end of the narrows so he had to wait. At the long term moorings by the end of the narrows this chap/lady is holding a glass to passing boaters.DSCF6275

We stopped at the Rugeley water point, needless to say there was a boat already there who had just arrived with empty water tanks so we were a little while, but we put the time to good use by both having a shower as the water was now hot and when we filled the tank we replenished it. By the time we had filled our tank another boat had arrived for water so he had to wait a few minutes, turned out he was a Norfolk boy as well. We pushed on and moored by Tesco’s in Rugeley. I had a slight problem with the local Duck population as they wanted to swim around my sternDSCF6279 while I wanted to go backwards. Luckily a boat was leaving as we arrived so we were reasonably close and regardless of what the signs say you can wheel a trolley as far as the bridge. When we were ready to leave the canal was getting busy again and several boats came towards us but few passed going the way we were.

At Taff Wharf, bridge 69 we passed this boat but we were OK forDSCF6282 diesel, but will keep them in mind for our return. I don’t think they can have an engine in it looking how high it is in the water.

Needless to say there was a boat waiting at Colwich Lock so we had to tuck in behind them and wait not only till they had gone up but also until one came down. Then things improved an a boat came into sight as we were leaving the lock so we could leave the gate open, he spent some time blowing his horn, he obviously doesn’t know me because there is no way I would waste energy closing a gate if there was a boat anywhere in the area coming towards my, its one of life’s bonuses.

We carried on after the lock, we were planning to try and moor at the junction but decided to pull in near the Hall for the night at about 4 30 pm. There are loads of vacant moorings along here but its full above the next lock by the junction.

Of all the boats we have met today they were about 50/50 hire and private, but we didn’t see that many boats with school age children on them so not sure what impact school holidays actually have on boating numbers, but for some reason it always seems a lot busier in the holidays, maybe they are all school teachers.map Gt Heywood Today’s Journey some 10 miles and one lock in nice sunshine.

Great Haywood Sunday 27 July 2014

We actually arrived at the boat at about 11 pm last night but decided not to move until today.

As we were picked up by “Enterprise Car Hire” last week we left in bit of a rush so two things happened.
One
I left the electricity main switches on, which also meant the inverter was running all week. We do have two small solar panels so they saved the day but and the Stirling gauge showed a deficit of 5ah over the week.
Two
I dropped my glasses down between the pontoon and the boat, so I brought a landing net back with me and had a good trawl around without any luck.

A little after 10 we left our berth and headed through the marinaDSCF6273 towards the canal. At the service wharf (extreme left of the photo) was a boat called “third Time Lucky” on the extreme right of the photo there is another boat, also called “Third Time Lucky”.DSCF6274

It was dead on 1030 am when we pulled out of the marina and turned left along the Trent and Mersey canal meeting 10 boats in the first hour. We had just entered Armitage Tunnel when the tenth boat arrived at the end of the narrows so he had to wait. At the long term moorings by the end of the narrows this chap/lady is holding a glass to passing boaters.DSCF6275

We stopped at the Rugeley water point, needless to say there was a boat already there who had just arrived with empty water tanks so we were a little while, but we put the time to good use by both having a shower as the water was now hot and when we filled the tank we replenished it. By the time we had filled our tank another boat had arrived for water so he had to wait a few minutes, turned out he was a Norfolk boy as well. We pushed on and moored by Tesco’s in Rugele. I had a slight problem with the local Duck population as they wanted to swim around my sternDSCF6279 while I wanted to go backwards. Luckily a boat was leaving as we arrived so we were reasonably close and regardless of what the signs say you can wheel a trolley as far as the bridge. When we were ready to leave the canal was getting busy again and several boats came towards us but few passed going the way we were.

At Taff Wharf, bridge 69 we passed this boat but we were OK forDSCF6282 diesel, but will keep them in mind for our return. I don’t think they can have an engine in it looking how high it is in the water.

Needless to say there was a boat waiting at Colwich Lock so we had to tuck in behind them and wait not only till they had gone up but also until one came down. Then things improved an a boat came into sight as we were leaving the lock so we could leave the gate open, he spent some time blowing his horn, he obviously doesn’t know me because there is no way I would waste energy closing a gate if there was a boat anywhere in the area coming towards my, its one of life’s bonuses.

We carried on after the lock, we were planning to try and moor at the junction but decided to pull in near the Hall for the night at about 4 30 pm. There are loads of vacant moorings along here but its full above the next lock by the junction.

Of all the boats we have met today they were about 50/50 hire and private, but we didn’t see that many boats with school age children on them so not sure what impact school holidays actually have on boating numbers, but for some reason it always seems a lot busier in the holidays, maybe they are all school teachers.map Gt Heywood Today’s Journey some 10 miles and one lock in nice sunshine.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

King’s Bromley Marina Thursday 17 July 2014

Last night was not a bad mooring other than a couple of small points, the boat ahead housed the local cider king, singing, playing music and watching TV all at the same time, but he went to bed when it got dark and stayed on his own boat. The other was the generator king who ran one of his selection until after midnight when we got to sleep.

We set off this morning at 9-15 AM and met several boats between our mooring and Fradley Junction. Needless to say we met one who wanted to come down the Coventry canal as we came out so we passed on the wrong side giving him an easier line for the swing bridge.
The junction was very quiet with just one boat ahead of us goingDSCF6251 into Middle Lock and one above ready to come down, nothing waiting to come down Shadehouse Lock so we turned that.

At Wood End Lock we caught up with the boat in front and by the time they had cleared it there was one waiting to come down. I had a bit of a problem below the lock, firstly I couldn’t get the bows out of the exit line of the lock even pulling on a rope from the lock moorings, pulling back I got in fine, then when it was my tern to enter the lock I couldn’t push the bows out, when I did get out I could see the end of a 6” square post just under the surface.  Once in the lock I went back with the hook and pulled out a waterlogged post about 4’ long.

Once clear of the lock the traffic was coming thick and fast, I think the tranquillity of the junction this mooring will soon be gone. We must have met at least 6 boats between Wood End and King’s Bromley Marina. Just prior to the marina entrance Ling was moored with a load of sand onboard.DSCF6254

She looked prettier as we approached her with the sun glistening on her paint work.DSCF6252  

On arrival at King’s Bromley Marina we turned in and went to the service pontoon for a pumpout and to pay our dues, this will be Harnser’s home for the next 12 months. We are moored right at the back of the marina so we have to negotiate their bridge toDSCF6255 get into the second basin. So for us today was a very short cruise of only two and a quarter hours , three and a half miles and three locks.

map King's Bromley

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fradley Wednesday 16 July 2014

Last night moorings proved to be better than expected. I was expecting an early call with the flights taking off from East Midlands going overhead, but the wind changed during the night and they came nowhere near us. Last night they had been climbing right overhead.

Two boats went passed a little after nine so we set off at our normal 10 am. Before we left I jammed the contacts of the tunnel light relay so we had a light for Curdworth tunnel, but its so short I need not have bothered.

We passed The Kingsley where we have moored in the past, thisDSCF6221 has not only been vandalised but it looks as if they are building  bedrooms along side it, so next time we are this way it may beDSCF6222 open, that would be a first for us.

We were soon into Curdworth Tunnel, all 57 yards of it, It may be short but it can catch you out with several bulges in the off side wall. The roof is one mass of cobwebs but I didn’t see any spiders drop onto the boat.DSCF6225

As we approached Curdworth top lock we could see a boat just leaving the lock so we eased down, no point in chasing them down, but they were quite slow, even though the lock wheeler was using a bike to travel between locks. Even not setting ahead we were catching them up.

Some of the offside vegetation is really intruding into the navigation channel, I could have got round this on Harnser as we are only 57 ft. but if we were a full length boat going into the lockDSCF6229 this would be the steerer’s view. My bow is just against the top gate.

At lock 4 I spotted this tree growing on the offside well back from the lock on the field boundary, I wonder if her ashes are under the roots.DSCF6233 

We carried on down to the bottom of the flight, stopping for water just below lock 9 and as the locks were now further apart we didn’t see the boat in front any more.
Last time we were this way below the lock they were building a long flood defence wall in concrete and then cladding it with brick. The work now looks to be complete, this is to protect the canal from flood waters originating in the new Kingsbury Water Park that has been created in the old gravel pits and is fed by the River Tame

DSCF6236

A bit further along this stretch of canal BW in their wisdom spent a lot of money attaching sausages made from wire netting filled with sticks, coir and other stuff to the piled edge of the canal to make it more like a river bank with plants growing out of it. It was a complete failure as can be seen these ones still in place.DSCF6238 I wonder how many are, or will be rolling round the bed of the canal waiting to entwine a propeller at some time in the future. It was here that we met our first boat of the day and we had been travelling for 4 hours. We did meet three more boats after that before the Fazeley Junction.DSCF6240

We called in at Fazeley Mill marina and filled with diesel at 79p/lt which I didn’t think was too bad.

Work is ongoing again on the buildings at Fazeley Junction, they seem to stop and start on a regular basis, may be they will get finished this time.DSCF6245 We are still on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal but in places its the Coventry canal, it was all due to a funding issue 200 years ago when they were building it, so today’s problems are nothing new.

As we made our way north we met two young ladies on horseback, I wonder if they know they are not supposed to take horses on the towing path, ironic really as that is what they were built for.DSCF6247 We wanted to get well on as we need to spend a bit of time in the marina office at King’s Bromley tomorrow so we made it bit of a late one, around 6 pm it started to rain, we had already decided not to go as far as Fradley Junction as that tends to be crowded and we probably wouldn’t be able to find a spot where we could reach the bank at this time of day, so we pulled over just before Bridge 90, about a mile from the junction at 1845hrs. After mooring the rain got a bit heavier followed by bright sun and a rainbow.DSCF6249

Today’s Journey 17 miles, 11 lock, 1 Tunnel and 1 Junction.map Fradeley

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Minworth Greaves Tuesday 15 July 2014

The moorings opposite Cadbury’s World are quite good if you don’t mind an early wake up call as the trains run every few minutes from 6 AM the good thing is that there don’t seem to be any night trains after midnight.

We set off at about twenty past eight this morning as we knew we had a good run ahead of us, unfortunately the boat at the far end of the moorings set off at eight and didn’t do more that one and a half miles an hour, sometimes a lot slower so we caught them up at Selly oak Junction when they stopped completely for a boat coming the other way.DSCF6188

CaRT contractors are relaying the tow path from Bourneville all the way to Edgbaston so it will be much better for the cyclists.DSCF6187

They finally pulled over to let me passed, but on the wrong side, the chap onboard jumped ashore with the front rope nearly knocking a cyclist off his bike.

Since we were last this way they have completed not only Selly Oak Aqueduct, last time we went round a diversion loop, butDSCF6190 now it looks as if its been here for ever but also they have also built The Cube. Again last time we were this way it was a big hole in the ground.DSCF6199 We met fellow bloggers just as we approached the roundabout at Old Turn Junction, I am never sure which side to go so I went toDSCF6201 the right and down towards the Farmers Bridge flight of locks. Needless to say they were all against us, but with Diana working ahead we were soon on our way. This is what the flight looks likeDSCF6202 on the Waterway Routes program on my I pad. We are at lock 6 but the photo is not clear enough to see that. I find it an interesting flight of locks, one being this lock in an old tunnel withDSCF6206 a stout fence along the towing path so the horses didn’t fall in, it makes it a bit awkward getting on and off the boat to work the lock unless you are hard back against the gate which the old working boats would have been. Again there is a lot of development going on alongside the canal. It was at this lock where we met a locky who told us there were two boats coming up and he had told the first one to wait in the next lock, he then proceeded to close the gate after we had left! so the last two locks were with us, but the second boat had closed up behind them so we still had to open that.

After seen these two boats that had left Minworth at 6-30 we were surprised to find the Aston flight against us.DSCF6212 We worked our way down setting ahead, As we were going down in the second lock a CaRT employee coming up the flight shut the paddle down, sat there for a while before opening it again and then crossing to open the offside one as well. Why he shut it I don’t know but he did also open the top gate for me.

After the next lock we met a couple of boats coming up which helped but below lock 9 the pound was down and I had a job getting out of the lock grounding on what felt like loads of bricks so I would imagine a working boat would have problems with the pound on weir level.

One of the locks in this flight has a cantilevered bridge across the bottom of the lock, there is about a 6” gap at the towing path end where the tow rope could pass when boats were towed along by horses. I am surprised it has not been removed on Health and Safety grounds.DSCF6215

Just as we approached Salford Junction I spotted the bows of a flat coming in from the left so a blast on the horn was required, it was more material for tow path repairs as they are doing all the ones down this flight as well.

Turning right we were out of their way meeting several boats coming towards us. A fisherman said we were the twentieth to have passed him in half an hour, I didn’t ask how big the fish were he caught, but it was busy.

At Minworth Top lock we caught up with a queue of 3 boats waiting to go down the lock and one just below who had stopped for water. One bottom paddle was out of action making the lock very slow. Below the locks the bank stands very high above the road and over the years has been in danger of breaching, BW packed puddle clay along the edge and then erected this scaffolding to protect it, this looks bit of a permanent solution.DSCF6218

One of the bridges has quite an interesting collection of “things” under it arranged along the Offside.DSCF6220

We pushed on for a mile or so before mooring for the night against a hard edging at the back of an industrial estate at Minworth Greaves about quarter of a mile before the old Kingsbury Arms at Curdworth.

map Minsworth Today’s journey.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Bourneville Monday 14 July 2014

Last night we ate in The Boot pub and it was the best meal we have had out this month

We only heard one boat go by before we set off at 9 am which was a surprise as I was expecting boats leaving the rally this morning to come this way. The boats moored ahead of us had left which included “nb. Oakfield” 

DSCF6164 This really is a pretty canal, this was the view from the front of our boat as we set off this morning in the sunshine.

The first two locks were against us, but as we cleared the first we spotted a boat coming down so that changed things round putting all the locks with us. We met boats quite regularly as we made our way up to Kings Norton Junction. Some of the residents are not to keen to have boats moored by their property but when they buy a house by the canal they don’t buy the towpath as well.DSCF6167 

There are three lift bridges along this canal, two of them are manually operated where you turn a handle on a hydraulic pump which jacks the bridge open, the first one was very hard work to lift. The second is also hydraulic but much better balanced, if anything it required more effort to lower it.DSCF6169

But the third is electric and its just a matter of pressing a button to stop the traffic and raise the bridge.

We stopped to fill with water by bridge 5 and while Diana was filling the tank I took the opportunity to delve down the weed hatch and remove some black polly and string from around the propeller shaft.

We pushed on to the end of the North Stratford canal through Brandwood tunnel where the tunnel light decided it wouldn’t light any longer so Diana stood in the bows with an LED torch, I couldn’t see with it, but boats coming the other way could see us, without it they wouldn’t know which way we were going.DSCF6179 

At Kings Norton Junction and turned right on the Worcester and Birmingham canal towards Birmingham. On the junction stands an old navigation authority house, these are quite common on junctions and are designed so that the occupants can see in all directions from the windows DSCF6181

We will be travelling through Birmingham tomorrow,  but now we needed to find a safe mooring for the night. A couple of miles from the junction is the Bourneville Chocolate factory and as they are open to the public they often get holiday makers on boats visiting. Holiday boats moored outside the factory became a magnet for the local thieves and vandals so British Waterways created a mooring on the opposite side of the canal and to access it on foot you require a British Waterways key that all boaters have. The moorings are just long enough for three average length Narrowboats and there were two here already with a bit of a gap between them, but we have just managed to squeeze on the end by lifting our back fender.

In Birmingham the Fire brigade still maintain the doors in the bridge parapets painted red so that they can hang a suction hose down into the canal for fire fighting water.DSCF6182

Overall its been a good run today, some 9 hours with just a short stop for water and Diana to buy some fresh fruit. It started with blue sky and sunshine but clouded over about lunch time looking like rain, but thankfully that never arrived.

map Bournville

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lapworth Sunday 13 July 2014

Things don’t always go to plan and sometimes you go forward half a mile and back four. Today was like that.

About 2-30 we walked back to the boat and decided to set off north. Just before we reached Harnser a hire boat came by with a young lad and a dog playing on the roof, I said to Diana I really don’t want to share locks with them, so we set to removing the bunting, we had just about finished when another hire boat came by so I had avoided that one. When we reached Knowle bottom lock there was another boat waiting to go up and the two hire boats in the full lock, waiting for the second to open, when they moved off we turned the lock and boat went in. The other boat had the same thoughts about them as we did so were pleased when a second boat arrived. As we looked up I could see that at the lock ahead which now looked full someone was winding the bottom paddle up with the boats still in the lock. By the time we could find out what was happening the paddle was closed again and the boats left.
We were soon to find out what was happening as once we were up Diana and the chap from the other boat went forward to turn the lock, They drew the paddles but water was coming in nearly as fast as it was going out. What had happened was that the top gate had been lifted out of the cup and was sitting at and angle.

I rang CaRT and they called back within minutes to say that someone would be out from Birmingham. Both the other boater and I decided we would go back down and use the North Stratford, so we winded in the pound and locked back down. By now there was a hire boat waiting to go up but they decided the would go to Stratford instead, so we all trooped back through the rally site to Kingswood junction, hence half a mile forward, turn round and four miles back. The pound between Knowle and Hatton has been quite low all weekend and we have spent most of the time listing, you can see from this weir how low it is.DSCF6161

I went into lock 20 first to find a family of swans at the top, mum and dad on the bank and four cygnets swimming around the topDSCF6162 gate, so we could only use one paddle as no way was dad letting anyone near the other. Just as the lock filled both parents launched into the cut and they all swam round to lock 21.

Before we cleared lock 20 a boat had come up the South Stratford so they were now right ahead of us, as it turned out this didn’t make much difference as they were mob handed and worked ahead.

We went as far as lock 15 and then moored for the nigh about 6-30 so in three and a half hours we have gone fore miles backwards. Done one wide lock twice, up and down followed by 6 narrow lock once. Still the sun was shining and we have enough time in hand.map Lapworth If you look at the map you can see how far we went north before coming all the way down to the junction to do about another half mile north.