Thursday, 23 September 2021

Test Tosh

 Sent from the Tosh


We set off dead on 10 o'clock in light drizzle and sure enough Peter was waiting at the bottom of his garden to say hello, by the time we said goodbye to him the drizzle had stopped and the sky was turning blue, the weather continued to improve as the dat went by and we are now moored in bright sun shine. We would meet a few boats on our way into Birmingham.
One of the boats on the long term moorings at Lyonn's boat yard had a good selection of bird feeders and plants on the side of their boat.We came upon another length of closed towpath, this time the wall hadn't fallen down but the path was closed in case it does, they have demolished virtually all the internals already.At lock number one, a guillotine stop lock built to protect the water supply of Birmingham which also has a brick bridge over the lock chamber a couple were hard at work pressure washing off the graffiti, they stopped as we approached as they were working under the bridge arch.From here it is only a short way to Kings Norton Junction where we turned right on the Worcester and Birmingham canal for the run into Birmingham.
For some reason  people seem to enjoy having skeletons set up in their gardens by the canal, this one even has his wee dog with him. The Birmingham University have had an experimental hydrogen powered boat for some years, I have never known it to move and last time we passed it had brambles growing all over it, well today it had moved a bit, it was looking poorly with the deck boards up and connected to a petrol generator.
The last time we came this way I almost got cough by a canal stoppage where the canal was only open a couple of times for an hour while they lifted large concrete pillars over the canal to erect by the railway, this is what it looks like today, still a lot of work to do.Just before we reached the Mail Box we met the trip boat, thankfully he sounded his horn before I saw him so we could just wave to each other as we passed, there were no boats at all moored by the Mail Box and very few in Gas street, we headed for our favorite spot behind the Sea Life Centre where we found Graham and Brenda all ready moored up with just one other boat so plenty of room for us.

Todays journey 9¾ miles in 3¾ hours with no locks other than the non functioning stop lock.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Shirley Draw Bridge

 We said goodbye to Graham this morning at about quarter to ten as he set off up the Grand Union to Birmingham and we headed to Kingswood Junction to join the Stratford canal, also to head towards Birmingham. The arms on the signpost looks as if they have started to droop a bit or maybe that is how it was made.As we passed through the link we passed this adaption on a Narrowboat, I wonder if the owner has told CRT that he has extended the length of his boat.Needless to say every single lock on the North Stratford was against us, including the one from the link, We arrived at lock 14 just in time to see a boat enter the flight ahead of us but they had a crew of 4 men, so they only held us up a couple of times. I don't know why all angling clubs can't give these instructions to their members.At lock 13 a gent appeared and said "you must be Brian" It was Neil who I last saw about 20 years ago and was actually talking about him in the pub last night. He had been reading my blog and guessed that is where we would be.
 Other than slowing down a couple of times due to catching up with the boat ahead we had a good run up the flight, but were surprised we didn't meet any boats coming down, in fact we didn't meet a boat until we were passed the second lift bridge. At the tail of the top lock, lock 2 there is this little door in the wall, I wonder if anyone knows what it was for and what is behind it.

We passed through this lock at quarter to one, so it had taken us 3 hours from when we left The Navigation pub on the Grand Union to get to here with every lock against us. Later in the day a Hire boater would say Hello Brian, sorry I didn't get your name in passing.
I waited at the second lift bridge for the sign to change to go, but nothing changed so I took a chance and went through.
This sign outside a canal side house always brings a smile to my face, I never manage to find these things.Of course we had to make a brief stop at bridge 20 to visit Wedgies Bakery just along the road. 
I must admit it has been hard going from the top of the locks with the water level a bit low and the silt level a bit high, it resulted in me making a right pigs ear of getting round the bend by the flats at Dickins Heath and I just went straight ahead, luckily I got it sorted before a boat came the other way. After that we met a convoy of hire boat by a bridge and again ended up in the treacle. 
At one point we nearly got run over by a train, if we had have been just a minute earlier we would have been under the bridge when it went over us.
I rather like the sign at the Draw Bridge, I know it was once a swing bridge but I don't know how many years ago it was, not since I have been boating.

Maybe CRT have not updated their records and that is why they ask you not to push it open with your boat. The must be working from old records as they say you need a BW key to operate the bridge, not a CRT one.
Diana opened the bridge while I hovered rather than mooring to reduce the time the road was closed, even so she held up 12 cars. Once through we moored for the night on the first available pair of mooring rings

Todays Journey 19 locks, 8¾ miles in 6¼ hours.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021


 Well a bit different for us today as Graham and Brenda picked us up by car and took us to the NT property Packwood House where we spent the morning walking the grounds and visiting the house.

We finally slipped our moorings at 2 o'clock and chugged down to the Knowle flight of locks, no sign of anyone coming up and locks empty so while the top lock was filling Diana went and set the second, I was surprised to see someone walk up with a windlass and speak to her, turned out it was the boat ahead going down telling us it was low below lock 49 and they were stuck and had called CRT. Us locking down topped the pound up to weir level but were still stuck firm, so I passed a line and towed them free and they joined us in the last two locks. The side pound beside lock 47 looks in a bad way, of course that are not used now and I had completely forgotten they existed. For those that don't know the Knowle flight has square pounds between each lock and for some reason when emptying a lock it sets up a very strong rotating current in the pound below, if you try to hover because the next lock is not set the boat will just spin.

There is a new marina being constructed just below the locks, its a long narrow channel with pontoons on ether side running parallel to the canal with the entrance in an excavated square at the south end.We carried on down the Grand Union canal stopping for water at bridge 66 and then on to our final destination for the day, the Navigation pub for dinner with Graham and Brenda.

Todays journey 4¼ miles, 5 locks in 2¾ hours.

Monday, 20 September 2021


 We had a little think last night as to what we should do today and decided we would turn round again and head south on the Grand Union canal. 
We woke to a lovely sunny morning with clear blue sky's and at 9-30am dropped back to the winding hole and headed for the Ashted flight which needless to say were all against us. The first lock takes you straight into Ashted tunnel hoping that no one has entered from the other end while you have been locking down. I don't quite know why this tunnel was ever built as there appears to be no high ground above it.Since w were last this way the University building work has been going on at a pace and has now tied in the old building fa├žade and water tower.

When we reached thee last lock of the flight we mat a boat coming towards us, so that was just one we didn't have to turn. The bottom lock takes you straight into Curzon Tunnel, this is a very wide but curved tunnel under the railway and looks quite modern and was probably built to accommodate the railway crossing the canal .As you drop down the last lock to enter the tunnel which as you can see from above has a towing path the canal company mounted rollers at the exit of the lock, under the mouth of the tunnel to prevent the towing lines rubbing on the tunnel roof as the horses pulled the boats into the lock traveling up hill.
We carried on to Digbeth Junction and turned hard left through the stop lock at Warwick Bar.Shortly after this we passed   the old   Warehouse which looks as if its being renovated, I wonder what it will be in its new life? I wonder how many developers today would go to the trouble of including something like this in their brickwork, I bet HS2 wont, it will be plain brick at the best or even bare concrete.
We pushed on to  Bordesley Junction where a boat was conveniently moored on the lock moorings where I wanted to drop Diana off, so its not just London where it happens. This time we were going straight the Camp Hill flight ahead on the Grand Union Canal, on the second from top lock I nearly had a mishap climbing the lock ladder, the ladder was OK but the two handrails at the top were not secured and the whole lot tipped back as I went to climb onto the lock side, but I survived. We were now on a broad canal, I mentioned the other day CRT are having problems with walls adjacent to towpaths, well here is another that has fallen over. This has me puzzled, its a brick pillar on the off side of the canal just to the south side of bridge 89 and it looks to have a set of hinges set into it. If anyone can shed any light it would be greatly appreciated.
As we made our way along this broad lock free section a group of walkers with banners were coming along the tow path towards us, the are on a pilgrimage for justice for the Climate, They are walking to Glasgow.  .
Another first, these electrically driven paddle wheels along with a raft mounted generator, I can only assume they are oxygenating the water, possibly because they were dredging a bit further along.
There was actually a second unit up by the bridge.
The dredger was mounted on two floats to make it wide beam and he had two tugs with him taking the spoil awayI thought that maybe they were using the spoil to back fill along the long length of piling they have carried out along this section but no, they were taking it to the CRT Cope Heath Yard probably a good 2 miles away. so both operatives were getting plenty of leisure time waiting for the full and empty pans to arrive.
Our target for the night was Catherin de Barnes but when we arrived dinner was still cooking in the slow cooker, so we carried on to moor about a mile before Knowle Locks.

For some reason the GPS plotting our track was all over the place so the mileage is best estimate at 11 miles, 12 locks in 5½ hours. 


 Ashted top lock paddle gear failure. Note the top lock at Camp Hill is the same.

Sunday, 19 September 2021


 A bit of rain this morning, but it stopped by 10am and we were away at 1030hrs to blue sky's and sunshine, what we didn't expect was the amount of aircraft movement before we were up this morning, it seemed continuous, one after the other for about an hour. The three Minworth locks were against us with a broken Paddle on the bottom one which I will report. We decided to fill with water just below the top lock but the tap was so slow we gave up once we had turned the lock, this is a slow lock to empty as no water comes out of the bottom near side paddle, it lifts OK but must be blocked, its been like it for at least 4 years now and I have reported it several times, maybe I will do it again.
I do like it when canal side properties make bit of a feature of the bank, I don't know how often the bus passes.A little further on and the canal was green with duck weed, nothing to cause us a problem, after this we started meeting a few boat which was good as one of the locals thought the canal was derelict and unused.  As we arrived at Salford Junction Diana indicated there was a boat coming down the narrow so I had to draw back and let them out, this did mean that hopefully the Aston locks would be with us. I have moored at Cuckoo wharf in the past but I still can't work out which bit is visitor moorings.All the locks were with us until we reached the top two which were full, as you can see the lock beam has got a good twist in it. We did the complete flight in just under a hour and a half, a nice trouble free run.

It seems that C&RT are having quite a bit of trouble with walls that run alongside towpaths these days, there have been a few towpath closures this year for them falling over. I wonder who actually owns them and picks up the bill?Once we cleared the top lock we turned hard left for a few hundred yards before winding and mooring for the night on the visitor moorings outside the university building. We are saving Farmers Bridge flight for tomorrow.

Todays Journey 7 miles, 14 locks in 4¼ hours.

Saturday, 18 September 2021


 We had rather a large Chinese takeaway last night, there is more than enough for tonight as well. It came from Peninsular Cantonise and the meat was out of this world.

This morning it was very fine drizzle at about half nine but when we set off just after ten the sun was out and it continued to just get warmer and warmer.  I wouldn't want to be the person driving whatever machine left these tracks along the towpath, they were lucky not to slip in on more than one occasion.

We arrived at the bottom lock which was full and no boats coming down, As we were leaving the lock I could just see a boat leaving the lock ahead, we would follow them all the way up the flight, thankfully these ones didn't leave gates open when they left. We did meet a couple of boats coming down but in both cases we had to wait for them so not much help really other than winding a paddle or two. At lock 6 ether the ground survey equipment has been removed or someone has pinched it since we were last this way in July Work is ongoing on the HS2 bridge between the canal and the motorway but nothing yet the other side of the canal.
It took us 2½ to complete the flight of 11 locks and about 2¼ miles. The off side of the lock has been designated a wild flower area, these have all now been cut short with the exception of lock one.
There was only one paddle out on the whole flight, but I think it may have been the same one as last time we came this way. It says this structure is undergoing repair when really it should say it waiting to be repaired.

I also spotted a rather large terrapin sitting in the bushes, a poor photo as I thought it was a punchured football until we were level with it and then had to scrambled to get the camera. Its the largest I have seen for sometime, I wonder how big they will grow out in the wild.

We carried on just passed the The Cuttle Bridge Inn, lots of people moor here because there are rings but we find the road noisy so go another couple of hundred yards through Wiggins Hill Bridge to moor, it just a bit further from the road as can be seen on the map.

Todays Journey 7¼ miles, 11 locks in 4¼ hours.

Friday, 17 September 2021


 Well we are out for another little chug, luckily before I left home I switched Tomtom on and it suggested I went round the back of Beccles, wondering if it was a shorter/quicker route I followed it, good move, it seems the way we normally go was blocked for several hours with an accident. We were at the boat by 1pm and had lunch before leaving the marina at 3 pm. We met a few boats on the way including friends Simon and Jeanette in the top lock at Glascote. They had been stuck for 4 days at Kidderminster. The boat ahead of us decided that they would not only leave the bottom gates of the bottom lock open when they left but also one paddle half up, still worse things can happen and the sun is shining.
We carried on to Fazeley Junction where we turned hard left up the B&F and then moored at 5pm right in front of Tolsons Mill.

Todays Journey 3¾ miles, 2 locks in 2 hours

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Home mooring

 This morning I decided to wander down to the lock at 8-30am. The CRT chap was back and he had two cruisers coming up in the lock and said he would get as many boats down as he could before the rest of the team arrived with stop planks etc. There were only a couple of boats coming up and then it was all down hill traffic, We had just cleared toe lock when the other team arrived with the stop planks all balanced on square plastic floats. One chap pulling and one onboard steering.It turned out as there were only a few behind us they let everyone down before putting the stop planks in. We stopped just below the lock to have Breakfast before continuing on to our marina. At Polesworth there is a spill weir that feeds into what could be called a small stream. It seems that CRT have found it necessary to put these danger notices on anything that can be called a weir.

We were back on the moorings about half twelve and set to packing up to come home . 
Todays Journey 5½ miles, 2 locks in 4 hours

The total for the trip was a little over 200 miles and 76 locks traveling for 93 hours spending 20 nights onboard.