Monday 31 August 2015

Hinckley Monday 31 August 2015

It rained from the early hours this morning and was still raining when we got up, but we have a saying. “Rain before 7, fine at 11” well it was actually 11-30 when it stopped and we were off by quarter to twelve, the problem was it started again an hour later.

I don’t expect we will see many more or these around in the next few years, at one time the telegraph poles would have followed the canal for miles, just like they did the lanes.DSCF0055 Look how they put the bracing pole to the left hand side as the poles would not have been in line due to the bend in the canal. I would also think that at one time this part of the country there would have  been a lot of heaps  like this. Today its hard to imagine this area’s past.DSCF0054

As we passed one of the canal side houses it was obvious to me that this chap thinks a lot of his boat.DSCF0056

I am very pleased to report that Dr. Who is in Nuneaton at the moment, or he was today, or is that was in the future. Anyway he left his Tardis by the canal, two very different forms of travel.DSCF0057 By now it was starting to rain again but it didn’t slow this canoeist down, watching him I can now see why a canoe passing a moored boat causes so much disturbance, not only is the canoe going through the water it is actually going up and down with every paddle stroke when the paddler is working hard.DSCF0058 This is a steady rhythm and so builds up a lot of water movement alone, hence the large wash from a small, light vessel.

We turned into the Ashby Canal, did I mention we were going down there, well we are. As it was chucking it down with rain and I had done a couple of hours so had a reasonable charge in the batteries we stopped on the 48 hr visitor moorings by bridge 5. You need fat fenders here as the edge is interlinked concrete that slopes into the canal so the base plate bangs. At the beginning of the moorings there is a sunken Narrowboat that is leaking both diesel and black oil into the canal, not a major incident but I thought it best to inform CRT on their out of hours number 0800 4799947. This is a call handling service and about half an hour later a CRT personnel rang me back to get details. They didn’t know about the boat sinking so the owner may also be unaware.

After a couple of hours the rain stopped so we set off again. For some reason CRT are tethering these where the bank has eroded, I am not sure what they are supposed to do. I can’t see them stopping the erosion getting worse and who would try to moor there anyway. As for walkers its not going to stop them stumbling into a hole.DSCF0062

We finally moored up a little after 5 pm. a bit north of Hinckley just before bridge 19. If you look at the map below you will see we are just over 3½ miles from where we started from.

Today’s Journey map 04 12 miles, 1 Junction 2 canals in 4¼ hrs

Sunday 30 August 2015

Springwood Haven Sunday 30 August 2015

I had just untied the front rope this morning when a boat appeared coming towards us so I held in until he had gone, but no sooner had I let go at the stern another appeared followed by a third so I slid very slowly passed the moored boats giving them plenty of room, I then discovered that the boat at the front of the moored boats was also about to push off, it was  Fenchurch again, we have seen them on both of the previous days, but hadn’t realised they were on the other end of the moorings to us. This is them passing us on Saturday at Alvecote.DSCF0034 

We stopped for water and empty the rubbish by bridge 48 where Fenchurch passed us again only to catch them up at the bottom of the Atherstone flight and give them a hand up the lock. In return they drew the paddles on lock 10. After that we were to meet a boat at every lock, sometimes there were 2 boats in some of the short pounds. At lock 7 we met a steam powered Narrowboat called Tixal just coming out of the lock. Fenchurch pulled over for shopping just below bridge 43A while we continued to the top of the flight, once clear of the locks we pulled over for a late lunch in steady rain. If the rain continues we will stay here overnight.

Well 2½ hrs later and it fined out so we set off again there wasn’t a breath of wind and the sky a nice light blue. We passed a boat that had its complete roof covered with solar panels the most I have ever seen on a boat.DSCF0048 We passed boats that we had seen at the bottom of the flight this morning and continued on through Harts Hill where there were only 3 boats moored, The old British Waterways yard is looking quite sad but on the up side it looks as if a cafe may have take over a building on the left hand side. hard to say as they were just locking up as we passed. A bit of Goggling shows this to be The Landgirl’s Cookery School and Tea Rooms.
The smell from the bone factory wasn’t too bad but it was probably just drifting the other way. We carried on to just before Springwood Haven Marina before mooring for the night just before 6 pm.

Today’s Journey map 03

8 miles, 11 Locks on 5 hours

Saturday 29 August 2015

Polesworth Saturday 29 August 2015

The first boat passed us around 7 am this morning but we didn’t move until our normal 10 am. We only saw one day boat and they were just mooring at the Tame Otter, I expected more on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend.

Down to Fazeley Junction where we turned left onto the Coventry canal again, we had left in minutes before mooring up last night as Whittington to Fazeley is the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, There was no queue at all at Glascote Locks which surprised me but there was a boat going up ahead of us. At the bottom lock we had a chat with the owners of the lock cottage, also a lady who helped at the lock, it turns out she was living on a boat but has just had to return to bricks and mortar. As she walked passed us at the top lock I pointed out she had left her windlass behind but it was one she borrowed so I was able to give her one from our stock with a swivelling handle.

It wasn’t long before we reached Alvecote where this weekend the working boat rally is taking place so we moored up just before the marina to visit.

This is the map of the first part of Today’s Travels map 02a 8¾ miles, 2 Locks, 2 Canals, 1 Junction in 3½ hours

Our timing was quite good as just after we hade moored the first of the old boats came by on their parade run.DSCF9999 After the boats had gone by we wandered down to The Samuel Barlow to check the beer out and buy home made fudge and Welch Cheese, O and we also failed to resist one of the  beefburgers being cooked on the BBQ. There were a lot of boats there including 4 steam powered ones.DSCF0004 

After spending a couple of hours there talking with old friends we decided to be on our way again and although it was turned 6 pm we decided to set off while the canal was quiet, we really didn’t want to be in the mellay if the boats start moving in the morning ready for another parade. As you can see there were lots of boats there.DSCF0041

We made our way slow through the moored boats and headed for Polesworth for the night arriving at about 7 pm. It was a bit late to prepare diner and we had already had a Beefburger so settled on an Indian Takeaway from Maya Bangladeshi and Indian Takeaway. They have an offer of a set meal for one for £9.95 so we had two of them expecting them to be small portions, wrong, it was huge and we have not eaten half of it, so its Indian Sunday Lunch tomorrow as well.

Part two of Today’s Journey map 02b  2½ miles in 1 hour

Friday 28 August 2015

Whittington Friday 28 August 2015

We left home early for us to travel to the boat, spot on 8am. We don’t normally do this trip on a Friday and especially the Friday before a bank Holiday but it all went amazingly well with very little holdup, bit of a queue at the A14 M6 junction but that was about it really so we arrived before mid day.

After unloading the car onto the boat we drove into Armitage to The Plum Pudding where we sampled their Piattini menu which gave 3 different dished for £10.95 so by choosing different dishes we got to sample 6 of them. They are also running a loyalty card scheme where they stamp your card on each visit, 3 stamps = a free starter.

We reversed out of our berth just on 2 pm. and once out on the canal turned right. We were to meet 10 boats between here and the bottom of Wood End Lock, but even so we were second in line for Wood End Lock so I don’t know how many had been there earlier, another arrived behind us before we set off down.

At Shadehouse lock there was a Volocky (Volunteer Lock keeper) who had the lock ready when we arrived and also told me to stay on the boat and he would do the offside. There was also one at Middle Lock and he indicated to the Volocky at Junction Lock that we would be heading down the Coventry Canal. There were several vacant moorings just into the Coventry Canal unlike through bridge 90 in Fradley Village where it was choker block. We continued on past Huddlesford where again there were vacant 48 hr moorings. We continued on to where the CoventryDSCF9992 joins the Birmingham and Fazeley canal just before Whittington Bridge where we moored up at 1730 hrs.

Today’s Journey Map 01 8¼ Miles 3 Locks and 3 canals

Saturday 15 August 2015

Home Mooring Saturday 15 August 2015

We timed our departure spot on a little after 9 am so we arrived at Colwich lock with no boats ahead of us and one coming down, we then arrived at Haywood Lock just as the boat ahead was entering the lock, he had been in the queue for an hour. We went as far as Haywood Junction to wind and then headed back south, Second in line for Haywood lock wit a boat waiting to come up. Just below Haywood lock the Sweet boat was setting up shop with his new Gazebo mounted on the roof.DSCF9983 At Colwich lock we caught up with the boat we followed down Haywood Lock but there were 7 boats below the lock to come up.DSCN2320

We stopped between the Trent aqueduct and the A513 for lunch and then walked over the aqueduct to the steps so George could try his “Slinky” on the steps.DSCN2321

We then headed back to the marina arriving about 5 pm. Once back it was an oil change and get ready to head off in the morning.

Today’s Journey map 2612¾ 2 locks (twice) in 6¼ hours

Friday 14 August 2015

Wolseley Bridge Friday 14 August 2015

Lots of rain last night and a very drizzly morning. We pushed off at 9-40 and met a few boats before the junction, there were loads of vacant moorings both in Fradley village, at the junction and above Shadehouse Lock. The crew was dispatched to operate the swing bridge but one of them decided that outside in the rain was not a good idea.DSCF9964

Just as I left the bridge a boat crossed the junction going up, he was the only boat to pass through Junction Lock in the past hour, It was a single hander and we worked him up through Middle lock and Shadehouse lock where he pulled over and helped us up and followed us to Woodend lock. As we arrived at the lock a boat was coming down and by the time our single handing friend arrived there were two waiting to go down so he will have had an easy ride. The drizzle continued well into the afternoon as we continued on towards Rugeley. I noticed that the walking/running graffiti artists have been out again,DSCF9967 I first spotted them yesterday on the B&F and now on the T&M The last one was in the same place as we saw them last time at bridge 58.DSCF9970Rugeley and the surrounding area was packed with boats. I expect to find the piled section up to the supermarkets full of boats, but today there were loads north of this, opposite the grave yard and opposite all the houses leading to the aqueduct, then moor on the 48hr rings just over the aqueduct and also between the winding hole and Taft Bridge.

We stopped at Taft Bridge to fill with diesel as its the cheapest place in the area before mooring up just before Wolseley Bridge, to our surprise there were only a couple of boats here, but its filled up a bit since.

Today’s Journey map 25 12 miles, 1 junction, 1 swing bridge, 3 locks in 5 hours

Thursday 13 August 2015

Bodymoor Heath Pump Station Thursday 13 August 2015

We set off just after 10 am only doing 1 lock before stopping for water. The weather was trying to rain, but thankfully not trying hard enough. Needless to say the locks were against us and we inadvertently left the water point between Viking Afloat hire boat that were travelling together, all one family. One thing I did note was that Viking Afloat had provided very neat buoyancy aids to the children on the boats. They measure the children and then supply one that is a good fit. The front boat waited for the others below the bottom lock.

George, my youngest grandson who joined us at Star City when I gave the other one back enjoyed exploring the recently refurbished Drayton footbridge.DSCF9940 We stopped for bacon sandwiches by Fazeley Mill Marina  before continuing to fazeley Junction where we turned left towards Fradley dropping our rubbish at the Fazeley CRT offices. A little further north we passed a moored boat who had set up a swing over the towpath.DSCF9948 We decided to moor for the night beside the Fradley pumping station and hope that CRT don’t want to use their mooring overnight.

Today’s Journey map 24

13 miles, 3 locks, 1 Junction in 6 hours

Bodymoor Heath Wednesday 12 August 2015

Setting off at 0940 hrs it was the normal backwards to under Spaghetti Junction and then off down the Birmingham and Fazeley canal. The tow path opposite Star City, under the motorway and half way to Minworth is bow tarred and stoned.DSCF9919 There is then a short length of black tarmacadam that has had several small square holes dig in it and then its stone all the wayDSCF9917 to Minworth locks.

Or first stop was Minworth top lock behind a hire boat, they had also discovered that the bottom paddle had no water flowing through it, I reported this to CRT last August. The rubbish skip is overflowing as CRT are having problems getting access to empty it. We had to wait at Minworth middle lock as the lock was against us and the hire boat approaching from below was hard aground. With help from people on the bank and a long pole he was on his way again. As we locked down a second boat endedDSCF9925 up stuck in the same spot about 6 to 10 foot out from the bank opposite where for many years there was a scaffolding barrier.

CRT did put these notices along the bank telling you not to moor due to underwater obstructions but they are not much help today.

DSCF9927 DSCF9928

We stopped by the Boat pub for lunch before heading off throughDSCF9931 the cobweb lined Curdworth tunnel and drop down through 7 locks before stopping for a BBQ outside Brook Marston Farm Hotel. Once we had finished eating we moved down to below lock 8 onto the 48 hr moorings with rings, here we were able to get close to the bank to moor as opposed to 3 foot out in the pound above.

Today’s Journey map 23

8 Miles, 8 Locks, 1 Junction, 2 Canals, 1 tunnel in 5 hours.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Star City Tuesday 11 August 2015

Yesterday evening about 10 pm we went for a wander around the City, I was surprised how quiet it was, very few people about and most bars and restaurants that we could see into quite empty.

DSCN2284 DSCN2283

The moorings behind the Sea Life Centre were so quiet it was almost unbelievable. This morning we pushed off at about
9-30 am  filling with water at Cambrian Wharf, needles to say justDSCF9907 as we were getting ready to go down the flight a boat went passed so we followed them down. At about the third lock we were joined by a volunteer lock keeper who assisted us the rest of the way, what we didn’t realise was that there was a second volunteer with the boat in front. Part way down the flight there is a rather clever portrait of Brindley, it is black perforated steel mounted in front of a white wall.DSCF9912 We met the first boat of the day as we exited the bottom lock.

At Aston Junction we turned right on to the Digbeth Branch and stopped on the 48hr moorings for lunch, there is a very convenient winding hole here but there are a row of mooring bollards directly opposite and in the middle of the 48 hr visitor moorings.DSCF9913

After lunch we retraced our steps to Aston Junction and headed down the Aston Flight. A boat must have come up while we were having lunch as the first two locks were with us. We met two moor who were travelling together down at lock 7 & 8 By now the relief skipper was steering the boat straight into the locks.


At the bottom of the flight it was hard right and hard right again up the Grand Union to moor at Star City. The moorings were empty but within minutes a boat came up behind us and moored followed by a hire boat coming down. The end of the moorings has now been taken over by the pedalo hire people so when a forth boat came along we invited them to moor along side, they will move to the pontoon when the pedalo chap closes up for the night.

Today’s Journey map 22 24 locks 3 lots of junctions and canals, 4 miles in 4½ hours

Monday 10 August 2015

Birmingham Monday 10 August 2015

An early start this morning as the relief skipper was up, made his bed up, laid the table and got breakfast ready so we had an early call, we were on the move at 8-30 am.

The canal was diverted when they built M45 at the Crown Meadow Arm and the arm is now un-navigable.DSCF9904 Passing the Bittel Reservoir I thought there was a lone fisherman,DSCF9906   but on closer inspection it looks to be a scare crow in a boat.DSCF9905

Wast Hill tunnel is some 2726 yards long and as we approached I could see a very bright light coming towards us, but it seemed to be flickering as if something was passing in front of it. A short way into the we realised that there was a boat ahead of us so eased of a bit. We were well over half way through the tunnel before we met the boat with the headlight that had been dazzling us since we first entered the tunnel, I did suggest he should maybe adjust it slightly but I think it fell on deaf ears. Once passed we could clearly see the boat ahead with no spot light in our faces.Again there are some nice stalactites in the tunnel.DSCN2264

Once we were passed Kings Morton junction the relief skipper took over until we reached Bournville. DSCN2270 I was surprised by the amount of wind at the Mailbox, I was considering mooring there but the wind changed my mind, I don’t know if this is due to to the high buildings surrounding it?

We tried getting into Cambrian wharf but there was no space so we backed in behind the Sea Life and moored there for the night, there was just one boat here when we arrived who left shortly afterwards but by tea time all the moorings were taken. Not only is it handy for town its also got a good Wifi signal courtesy of Mr Bannatyne .

Today’s Journey map 21

11½ miles, 1 tunnel in 4¼ hours

Sunday 9 August 2015

Alverchurch Sunday 9 August 2015

Only a short day today, as the family are joining us for Brian’s Birthday.DSCF9896

We picked rather a bad time to leave, I had started the engine, got the tiller on etc and a Black Prince boat came through the bridge behind us, they had tied up in the flight overnight, they were about half way passed me when the boat moored directly in front of us pushed off although they knew the hire boat was coming which resulted in the hirers ending up in the offside trees. The result of this was that we were in a queue at the top lock.

If you are in the area watch out for the Hippopotamus on the off side.DSCF9884   Once clear of the lock we topped up with water before heading into the first tunnel and had a clear run through. This one is quite dry.  From here its not far to the second tunnel, Shortwood Tunnel. This one drips a bit and has a good collection of stalactites hanging from the roof. DSCF9889

There were two boats exiting the tunnel as we approached so I held back and let them both clear the tunnel before going in, mind you it would probably been easier to have passed in the tunnel as there are no overhanging trees in there. After the tunnel the towpath is being upgraded so that will soon be another length of race track to contend with, at least they are not tarmacing to the waters edge.DSCF9892

We stopped briefly on the aqueduct for a quick explore, I thought it may be a stream but it turned out to be just a footpath.DSCF9894

We pushed on to moor at bridge 60 so that we could all eat at The Weighbridge this evening.

Today’s Journey  map 20

3¼ Miles, 1 lock, 2 tunnels in 2¼ hours