Saturday, 23 September 2017

Wolverhampton Saturday 23 September 2017

A little bit of rain early this morning but it was fine when we were ready to leave. we waved goodbye to Pat and Sheila and slid out ofDSCF9378 our moorings, did a 180° in the basin, out under the very low bridge and a 90° left hander into the canal. Looking more closely to day I could see at least 6 ramps where boats were pulled out and launched sideways.DSCF9389

Before you arrive at Gosty Tunnel you pass the site of the old Stewarts and Lloyds tube works. DSCF9392

I wonder what tales these old buildings could tell if they could talk and how many boats a day delivered coal and raw materials before they took away the finished product.DSCF9397

Just at the north end of Gosty Tunnel is a layby, I understand this was for the tunnel tug to pull in so that the boat it towed through the tunnel could continue on their way towed by horses.DSCF9405

Some one has made a few tiny metal baby Moorhens I saw a couple bolted under bridges.DSCF9408

At the top end of the arm at Windmill End there is a toll island, this is where the boats were "gauged" by measuring their free board to work out what weight they were carrying. they would then be charged so much per ton. DSCF9410
At the junction it was hard right and back into Netherton tunnel. There was a group of walkers coming towards us and the tow path was so flooded that at times they worked their way along the railings. DSCF9411

We carried on until we reached the New Main Line where we turned right, after about a mile we came to the first lock we had seen in three days, actually it was a flight of 3 locks, known as factory Locks that took us up to the Wolverhampton level where the Old Main Line comes in from Tipton.

The Wolverhampton level was quite weedy which kept picking up on the propeller but a quick burst of reverse soon blew it off. I didDSCF9417 manage to see a few fish in the very clear water. This time we didn't get any stones thrown at us as we went through Coseley Tunnel, its ideal for the little darlings as they can hide behind thatDSCF9414 painted wall about half way up so you don't know they are there. We continued on to Broad Street Basin at Wolverhampton only meeting one boat on the way if you don't count the tunnel trip boat with the blinding headlight. I didn't know they went through the No.2 Tunnel. When we reached Broad Street we went into the basin to top up with water and then reversed out onto the visitor moorings for the night. They don't allow overnight mooring in the basin only service visits.

Today's Journey 12 miles, 2 locks in 5¼ hours.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Hawne Basin Friday 22 September 2017

It was fine when we set off this morning about 1015 hrs. I had to back up to the junction before I could turn to follow the New Main Line.
As I started to back up the CRT waterwombles were just starting picking up floating rubbish in the area.DSCF9341

As we went round Old Turn Junction the sun reflecting off the Barclaycard Arena (I think that's its name at the moment) onto the side of my face was quite warm.
We continued North along the main line only seeing the odd boat until we got to Smethwick Junction where there was an ex working boat almost in the middle of the cut, a private pleasure craft had also just backed out of the junction as well as another working boat with a third just coming out. The steerer of the first one said that Smethwick locks were closed. The private boat went ahead and then the three ex working boats went back down the junction. Following the private boat along such a deep wide canal was not the fastest we have ever done this route. As we went through the toll island I nipped ashore and walked up to Smethwick Top Lock where CRT had just completed repairs and another ex working boat was being locked up. he had phoned back to the other three to say the way was now clear and they could follow. The chap we were following carried on as far as Gower Branch and then rejoined the Old Main Line there.

I think this is Spon Lane Bridge where they have had to brace the columns to give them strength.DSCF9353
We in turn carried on to Dudley Port Junction the next one and turned left to go through Netherton Tunnel, also known as the Dudley No.2 Tunnel. We were to meet 2 boats before we reached the far end. When the tunnels were built the builders sunk a number of shaft to the depth of the tunnel and then tunnelled out from them in both directions until they met up, so a tunnel is actually a number of connected small tunnels. When the tunnel was complete some of the shafts would be filled in, but others left open for ventilation.DSCF9357
Over the years Netherton tunnel has seen several repairs including the installation of a number of ground anchors in one part to stabilise the sides .DSCF9359

Once through the tunnel it was hard left again, passed where we were moored for the Windmill End festival down towards Hawne Basin, after a couple of miles we came to another tunnel, the dimensions of this one were somewhat different to the last.DSCF9365 This one is only about 8ft wide and the height the roof changes twice as you go through it with the DSCF9367very far end being very uneven brickwork so I suspect this is the original bit along with the low bit DSCF9374in the middle and the North end and the other middle bit being new. DSCF9370

About half a mile south of the tunnel is Hawne Basin part of the Coombeswood Canal Trust. The provide moorings and general services for boaters, one of which is the cheapest diesel on the canal system. I bought 150 lts.
About half way between the tunnel and Hawne Basin on the off side I spotted these three ramps and I suspect they were used to haul boats out sideways for repair.DSCF9375

As we have friends who have a residential mooring here we are staying in the basin overnight. Having said that even if we didn't have friends here we would be quite welcome to stay for the night.

You may have noticed that we have now travelled for over two days without passing through a lock, in fact that last lock was the top of the Lapworth flight some 31 miles away.

Today's Journey map 3512½ miles, 0 locks in 4½ hours

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Birmingham Thursday 21 September 2017

We were about earlier than usual as my son was coming for breakfast. just before 8 a boat came passed backwards. The Shirley Drawbridge was broken. When my son arrived a few minutes later he said the road lights were flashing but the barriers up. he stopped but then a chap waved him over. Thankfully it was fixed by 9.30 am. so we could set off for the day. We started in the dry and it remained like that until we reached Bournville then it really started to rain and didn't give up until we were in the centre of Birmingham.

We hadn't been going that long when we passed this tin duck in wellies sat on a garden step.DSCF9327
We then rescued a dog, his legs were still kicking when I pulled him out, but after Diana washed him in a bowl of hot water he seamed to have given up the ghost, maybe after a couple of days of drying out.DSCF9328

I have never seen a stretched glass fibre cruiser before but it looks as if Lyons are in the process of doing one.DSCF9329
Up to Kings Norton Junction with the tight right hand turn on the T junction. The old toll house on the Worcester and BirminghamDSCF9330 canal is still there and it has a painted board on the fascia listing both distances and tolls charged. DSCF9333
Here we leave the North Stratford Canal and run into Birmingham on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Just before we passed the Bournville works CRT, or their contractors were hard at work cutting back the offside vegetation, I hope they don't get a puncture in those dry suits, I don't think I would fancy waddling around doing that.DSCF9336

I have never heard anyone mention that they have used the "Barge Thru" cafe on the off side. handy for breakfast if you overnighted on the Bournville moorings and were heading south.DSCF9335

From the colour of the paint work would I be right in thinking that Cadbury's paid for the foot bridge over the canal near the station. Who ever did it the steel work over the arch is quite impressive.DSCF9338

We headed into Birmingham with the rain just about stopping as I passed through the "Bar". We were hoping to moor in Symphony Court but they were double moored so we pulled into a space a little further up to find all the moorings are reserved from yesterday until after the weekend for yet another event. So it was back down to Old Turn junction, wind, back through the "Bar" and moor by Granville Street Bridge, well its handy for the toilets.

Today's Journey map 3411 miles, no locks in 4¼ hours.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Shirley Drawbridge Wednesday 20 September 2017

Didn't sleep that well with the motorway noise, lets hope tonight is better. We have now done two days in a row without rain, I understand that will change tomorrow and the pressure is falling all the time.

This morning we were away just before 10 am. we thought we had given the hire boat a good lead. At kingswood Junction it was hardDSCF9304 left through the link and then right up the North Stratford where we caught up with the hire boat we shared yesterday with. They pulled away at the second as we waited for a boat coming down. As we were working the bottom lock we had the company of a family of swans, after a few attempts, why they have so much troubleDSCF9311 getting out of the water I don't know, they do it all the time, the parents left the 6 signets and walked up to the lock side to eat grass. DSCF9313The youngsters thought the easiest way to follow was up in the lock, we only just got the gate shut in time.DSCF9312

Here is a better view of the new housing beside the visitor moorings. Lets hope they all like boats and boaters.DSCF9316
The hire boat was waiting to enter lock 18, the other boat in front had taken some time to enter and leave the lock. There were a couple of CRT chaps there with some company reps sorting out new stone blocks to fit in the lock side. Nothing like ordering well ahead, the work is to be done in November and they are just talking about sourcing the stone blocks for the wall repair. This was the view looking up the Lapworth flight.DSCF9317
Again we lent our long through windlass to the ladies on the hire boat. They made as good a progress as possible in the traffic, 2 boats coming down didn't help who had problems passing the others in the short bendy pounds.

Once above lock 6 the locks are more spaced out and we did meet more boats. On arriving at the first lift bridge it was open and the crew of the Viking hire boat waited for us to come through, we carried on and returned the complement at the next lift bridge. We passed them again when they stopped at the pub for lunch. As the weather was still quite good we carried on to Shirley Drawbridge to moor for the night, rain is forecast for all day tomorrow but with no locks I can just get well togged up and stand on the back.
One thing I have noticed that week is that lots of bridges have anDSCF9323 mod orange dot sprayed on them, why I have no idea.

Today's Journey map 339 miles, 19 locks in 7 hours

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tom O the Wood Tuesday 19 September 2017

Last night we moored tightly between two hire boats, the one at our stern was running his engine but it stopped minutes after we moored up, but we got another couple of hours listening to it up to 8 pm, then spot on 8 am it started again, within the rules but not enjoyable, it was still running when we left at 9 30 am. We also had plenty of rain last night, another ¼" but this morning the sun was shining.

We passed this cruiser that was on the end of the moorings, I have never seen a outboard engine lift bracket used on the canals before, must be dead handy for clearing the prop.DSCF9282
As we approached Hatton bottom lock the lock was just emptying and a Viking Afloat hire boat waiting to go in, he waved me passed into the lock and I hovered at the mouth and encouraged him to join me entering. Thankfully he caught on straight away and we entered the next 20 locks side by side. We had a pair running up ahead of us and then about 4 locks up a single boat pulled out in front of them and headed up. The boat we were sharing with had one man and 4 ladies onboard, his wife and her 3 sisters, the husband and wife from Australia, two sisters from the UK and one from New Zealand. He had boated in France for several years so knew how a boat worked so things went quite well, We only met a couple of boats coming down so it was turn most of the locks. Unfortunately the sisters were not all in the best of health and found the locks hard work, even though I lent them a long throw windlass.DSCF9293
Over the weekend while we were at the Blue Lias a boat came by that was making more smoke than I have ever seen a boat make before. This morning he came up the locks, joining another boat who had already started.DSCF9288 I think he was single handed and the lady from the other boat looked to be doing all the work, so as we weren't making rapid progress I was able to back set until they caught us up.
We said goodbye to our international friends at the top of Hatton as they went back to the Hatton cafe for a late lunch, it was just after 2 pm.DSCF9296 We continued on eating on the move.
Another unusual sight was a Narrowboat moored with lock windlasses, I think as well as driving the windlass into the bank they may have driven a mooring pin through the eye, again something I have never seen before.DSCF9298

When we came down the Grand Union Canal last week I posted a photograph of Shrewley Tunnel with its horse tunnel, well this is the other side and as you can see the horse tunnel doesn't go all the way through but surfaces about half way continuing with a path.DSCF9299

We passed this old pair of wooden hotel boats that are up for sale, they have lain here for several years now, but the motor looks as if its had quite a bit of work done to the hull in recent years. It will take someone with a lot of passion and very deep pockets to take them on as a restoration.DSCF9300

One for all the clever people out there who are good at canal history. Just to the south of Tom O the Wood bridge on the off side is a canal side building and on the gable end facing the canal are a pair of rollers, I am guessing that this was an old engine house and a line came through the wall and was then guided by the rollers, but what was the line for?DSCF9301

DSCF9302We moored for the night just north of the Tom O the Wood visitor moorings and later in the afternoon the Viking Afloat hire boat joined us for the night.

Today's Journey map 327 miles, 21 locks in 6¼ hours

Monday, 18 September 2017

Warwick Monday 18 September 2017

We despite the weather I think I can safely say we all enjoyed our weekend at the Blue Lias.

This morning we were up slightly earlier than usual to assist nb. Just Heaven and nb. Pilgrim up the Stockton locks before returning to the boat for breakfast. Our plan was to turn the boat ready to head down Shop Lock towards Warwick at 10 am, with nb. Willow. we left the mooring going backwards at five to ten just as b. Willow was finishing filling their water tank so we were both ready for the first lock together and we continued travelling together as far as Radford Semele where we said goodbye.DSCF9267

Just below The Two Boats pub we were travelling slowly passed moored boats at about a length and a half apart when a boat tried to pull away between us, I had to slow down beside his bow while Willow got alongside him. We met the first boats coming up below Bascote Staircase, I don't know why the chap following didn't fill the top chamber ready and wait in there. On the way down the locks we passed a couple of large fields of pumpkins, I expect it will be more waste for Halloween.DSCF9256

I was rather taken by the notice on the fence at Welsh Lane Lock cottage, but then I am easily amused.DSCF9258 modded

Looking up on the hill below Fosse Locks we saw this swing, I wish I had have had one like that when I was a kid, it was huge.DSCF9263

While on the towpath we passed a boat with an unusual gardening feature, I have seen weeds growing in rear fenders lots of times but this is the first time I have seen flowers growing and blooming.DSCF9264

Below Radford Lock there is a large weir on the tow path side covered with a big steel grill, on the opposite bank is a normal lip weir but someone has strung a rope across it, I wondered if the rope was a hand hold so they could use the lip as a bridge maybe?DSCF9269

One of the houses we passed in Leamington has a very good growth of ivy on its roof, I can't imagine this is doing the tiled roof much good as it creeps under the tiles and along the battens, It would be interesting to look in the loft.DSCF9271

This is the back view of the basement under Casa Rica on Brunswick Street.DSCF9274

There are plans to connect the Grand Union Canal to the River Avon between the Avon aqueduct and the railway aqueduct just about where the yellowy green leaves are. DSCF9276This would involve a sharp left hand bend, a flight of locks going down to river level parallel with the canal and then another sharpavon link(Map from Waterway Routes)
left turn on the river joining the navigabile section just above Stratford.DSCF9278 I wonder if it will ever happen?

As Diana picked some more sloes today we had to stop at Tesco for another bottle of gin, as we left Diana spotted this rat under Emscote Road bridge.DSCF9281

As we approached Cape bottom lock I could see that one gate was open, as we got closed a hire boat went in and the gate closed, despite blowing the boat horn they still proceeded to fill the lock with just one boat in it, we were so close that I dropped Diana on the offside lock entrance and the lock was still only half full. They did wait for us at the top lock, they had to as I caught up before they entered it, but by then another boat had locked up with us. We stopped for water at the top while the hire boat thankfully moored outside the pub, there was just one gap on the visitor moorings between two hire boats and we have at least a foot each end. No sooner had we moored up and it started raining again, I cant remember when we last went 24 hours with no rain.

Today's Journey map 3110 miles 14 locks in 6¼ hours.