This morning I was woken by the Rooks as they finished the end of the nights sleep was backed up by the light rain dripping off the trees. We pushed off at quarter to ten, the boat ahead who we knew was going to Stourport to have a leaking sole plate repaired had already gone, so we expected all the locks to be against us.
At 1030 hrs we crossed the Staffordshire / Warwickshire boarder, there was a stone erected in 1999 on the line of the boundary for some reason.
I have noticed these pipes beside the locks on this stretch of canal before, today I looked at one closely and the bit sticking up at the end is a square the same as a lock spindle, it is on the top of a bolt that goes through into the pipe and the bolt has a flat plate on the bottom. I think these were to store a keb so that a fouled cill or gate could be cleared quickly. The handle of the Keb slid into the pipe and the square headed bolt screwed down with a windlass to trap it and prevent interference.
As the day progressed the weather improved as did the number of boats we met, it must have been 8 or 10 before Kidderminster.
Cookley Tunnel always amazes me with its row of houses perched over the canal, the one directly over the water has a load of bird feeders hanging out. I couldn't see for sure because of the cobwebs but I think this may be an unlined tunnel just hewn out of solid rock.
As we passed Upper Lee Cottages a lady lent out of her door to tell me she reads this Blog, she has a superb row of outside privies in her garden, but she assured me that she now has one indoors as well. I think things like these should be kept as they are part of our social history. I wish I had got a photo of them.
Just below Kidderminster Lock someone has been fishing for shopping trolleys and bikes, but they have just left them strewn over the towpath, if they are still there tonight the chances are they will be back in the cut. I have emailed CRT about them.
We stopped outside Tesco for a top up of a few items, while Diana was shopping I rigged the anchor ready for our trip down the Severn. I doubt there is enough flow to make things dangerous, but with an engine/drive failure an anchor could be the difference between a friendly tow and paying someone to come out to haul us off the weir.
After lunch we continued on down towards Stourport, at Caldwell Lock CRT were just bringing a nice shine hired workboat up with a digger onboard. It looks as if they have been carrying out bank repairs a little further down.
Just leaving falling Sands Lock and it started to rain, not much at first but soon it was shucking it down, we had planned to moor in Stourport and go out to eat tonight but then we saw the empty moorings right outside the "Bird in Hand" pub, if its raining tonight we just have to cross the towpath, so that is where we have stopped. The last time we went here was with several friends when we were moving a friends boat down to the IWA National at Worcester Racecourse. It was still chucking it down when we tied up, but has since stopped and the sky brightened a bit, but we will stay put for tonight.
Diana just went out for her afternoon stroll and decided to look at the pub menu, she did this last night and we decided to eat onboard. Tonight she also came back with bad news. A blackboard by the road saying the pub is closed tonight and bookings only.
So it was start up again and head into town, it all looked pretty full and I was just starting to back up by bridge 5 when a lady came out of one of the moored boats and said there was a space in the basin, but we had a hire boat ahead and they were going that way. I pulled in between the moored boats and the bridge and felt there was room to moor there for the night, Diana would go and check the basin and wave down if there was room, she just got under the bridge and waved me through. there were two vacant rings between the bridge and the first of the moored boats so we squeezed in there for the night.
10 miles, 7 Locks in 5 hours