Thursday 31 March 2016

Oldbury Thursday 31 March 2016

Well we have been a bit loopy and backwards today. It was a quiet night out side the Barclay Arena and we set off at 9-15 AM this morning turning left at the Deep Cutting Junction beforeDSCF4100 heading through Gas Street to fill with water at services on the W&B Canal. Then it was backwards to the Mailbox where we passed the boat that was moored behind last night, before retracing out steps under Broad Street Tunnel and then turning hard left into the Oozells Street Loop. After going round the loop we turned left on the Main Line. we carried on until we came to the Soho Loop passing a dredger coming towards us on the way. We went round the Soho Loop passing under Spring Hill Bridge, this not only has the hydrant door but also a roller to support the suction pipe.DSCF4103

We went all the way round the loop passed Winson Green prison to the very far end where it rejoins the main line, it was here I picked up a blade full and drifted right across the Main Line in front of a hire boat, luckily as soon as he saw my bow he stopped a good way back. We headed back in the Birmingham direction until we reached the Icknield Port Loop where we turned right and made our way round the loop passing the CRT wet dockDSCF4105 and yard on the way. When we reached the far end of the loop we found the dredger moored in the bridge hole completely blocking our exit with a man pressure washing the under side of the bridge. This meant another reverse, this time all the way to the CRT yard to wind, on the way again we met the boat that had moored behind us last night. OOnce we had turned it was passed CRT yard again back to the Main Line.DSCF4107

Once on the main line we headed back into Birmingham passing the other end of the loop with the dredger still in place. DSCF4111 Back in Birmingham we moored in the same spot as we had been last night and a few minutes latter the boat we had seen twice came back and moored in the same spot as last night.

We spent the afternoon wandering round Birmingham before retuning to Harnser at setting off about 3-30 PM. Firstly it was backwards to the junction and then along the Main Line. We stayed on the New Main Line as far as Bromford junction where we doubled back on our selves to go up Spon Lane Locks. As the lock emptied  the mud bubbled up around the boat, DSCF4115 the water is jet black. At the top of the three locks we had to again double back on ourselves on the Old Main Line beforeDSCF4118 crossing the New Main line where we had been half an hour earlier on the Stewards Aqueduct. We continued on along the Old Main line to Oldbury mooring for the night just through Whimsey Bridge on the bollards.

Today’s Journey  MAP 4 12¼ Miles 3 locks loads of junctions in 5½ hrs

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Birmingham Wednesday 30 May 2016

A good quiet mooring outside the Cuttle Bridge Inn last and we set off to a sunny but chilly morning a little after 9 o’clock.  The two boats moored behind us were already on their way. The first lock, Minworth  bottom was with us but the second against us. last time we were this way I told CRT that boats were going aground while still well out in the channel, this has now been sorted with extra signage.DSCF4088We caught up with the two boats ahead at Minworth Top Lock where they were taking on water. The first had finished and was locking up but the second had only just started to fill his tanks so we went up ahead of him. It was then a good run to Salford Junction where we turned sharp left into The Grand Union Canal. We hadn’t met any boats all day so the locks were all against us but someone kindly drew the paddle on the third and then disappeared. Lock 2 was engulfed in smoke.DSCF4091 On the off in all that smoke is a Fire Brigade suction hose in the canal and a large pumping unit. 
We had see a large plumb of smoke rising from the area most of yesterday afternoon and this was the reason, a recycling yard had caught fire. There is a video and full report on the BBC web site HERE .
As we approached the top lock I saw people at the lock and the bottom paddle being drawn so I backed up to the wide to allow the exiting boat to pass, except there wasn’t one, it was a Volocky setting the lock for us. At the top of the arm at Bordesley Junction we turned right onto the Digbeth Branch and moored against a CRT work boat on the off side to have lunch. Fully refreshed it was off again to through Worcester Bar. This is a lock with back to back gates at each end and its purpose was to stop water flowing from one canal to the other regardless of which was at the higher level. The building over the gauging arm is being restored so is covered with scaffolding.DSCF4095

Once through the lock it was hard right yet again at Digbeth Junction, under the railway tunnel to the Ashted Flight, as we approached the first lock the gate opened for us, it was one of the lads from a small group who were sitting enjoying the sun, the sort you think twice about speaking to. At the next lock a passer by opened the gate for me and suggested I  told my crew to get a move on. Last time we came though these locks they were erecting a building on the off side, that is now complete and part of Birmingham University and the are building 4 blocks on the tow path side, as they are of similar design I would guess they are also part of the University Campus.DSCF4096 We had to wait for a hire boat coming down the next lock in the short pound. We continued on to Aston Junction turning left onto The Birmingham and Fazeley canal again. Just after the junction we met a boat so this meant all the Farmers Bridge locks would be with us. The mural on the side the building above the first lock has started to fade unfortunately. The obviously did use such good pant as was used for the old one. We were hoping to moor in Cambria Basin or the Oozzel Loop but bother were full so we dropped into a 60 foot gap just before Old Turn Junction.

Today’s Journey  map 3 10½ Miles, 27 Locks, 4 junctions, 4 canal in 6¼ hrs rising 152’ 1”.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Curdworth Tuesday 29 March 2016

After a very pleasant late afternoon we had a clear stary fine night.

This morning the wind was quite light and the sky clear, during the day the wind freshened and out of the sun it was quite cool, it stayed fine until about 4 30 when it started raining.

We were away at 9am and headed into Fazeley, I am sure there are  more polly tunnel this year than previous years going back several fields.DSCF4072

We stopped at the CRT offices to top up the water tank, there are 4 of us onboard this trip so we need to keep it topped up. Once full we were off again turning hard right at Fazeley  Junction still on the Birmingham and Fazeley Junction. We stopped just through the Bridge to visit Tolsons Mill Yarns only to find that it has been replaced by a Gym. Just as we were pulling away again a hire boat cam by so I expected to follow him all the way to Birmingham, but to my surprise he turned into Fazeley Mill Marina.
We stopped off at  Drayton Foot Bridge to show our friends before continuing just below Curdworth Bottom Lock for lunch. DSCF4075We hadn’t been stopped long when the hire boat we saw earlier came by, so all the locks would be against us when we set off.

After about an hour we were on our way again meeting a boat at lock 9, maybe I luck was changing, but no, they must have stopped at the pub for lunch as the very next lock was against us.

A field of horses beside the tow path had very little grass but what they did have paddling about in the mod was a small flock of White Egrets.DSCF4082

At lock 6 we get up with the CRT volunteers working the lock. Both paddles on the off side of lock 6 are out of use, it seam they are locked slightly open to take the weight of the lock by wash which is collapsing. The Volockies were all in radio contact and we had a few minutes wait above  6 as a boat was making its way down.

We just cleared lock 1 when it started to rain but we didn’t have far to go until we moored out side The Cuttle Bridge Inn which use to be called the Kingsley Arms. Once moored the rain fell harder but by the time we had finished dinner it was a nice evening again with the sun going down behind the bridge.DSCF4084

Today’s Journey  map 2

12¼ miles, 11 locks, 1 junction, 2 canals in 6hr 20 minutes.

Monday 28 March 2016

Whillington Monday 28 March 2016

A wet and windy car journey heading west , as we approached the M6 the weather improved greatly but we had a short show before reaching the boat. Loaded up we were off at quarter to three in the sunshine. No sooner were we out of the marina  and it started to rain which just got heavier until we dropped through Wood End Lock where we found a boat was ahead of us. Filling the lock was slow as the top ground paddle is wrapped in black polly.

Hard right at the junction and through the swing bridge which CRT have now decided doesn’t need locking closed.

There were plenty of moorings at Fradley but we continued on towards Fazeley. Some time back just before the Waterworks at Brookhay a hard standing was made in the field adjacent to the canal side road,  today there is a small drilling rig standing there and the road is closed.DSCF4069

As the afternoon pushed on the weather continued to improve until we finally moored up at the boundary between the Coventry Canal and The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal a little after 6 pm.

Today’s Journey map 1

8¼ miles, 3 locks, 1 junction, 1 swing bridge and 2 Canals in 3 hrs 20 min.

Sunday 27 March 2016

King’s Bromley Sunday 20 March 2016

It was quite dark and the walkers were still coming by, they had to be at Beaudesert Scout Campsite by 1am this morning. 

This morning it was a leisurely start just after 10am. and down to Colwich lock, I am pleased to report that the cow pats are starting to build up, so clean your boots before going inside.

Bishton Hall was looking grand in the morning sun.DSCF4037

We stopped at Taft Bridge to top the diesel tank up ready for our next trip. This is the cheapest outlet in the area so they always get my business when we pass. Just opposite the diesel boat someone is fitting out an old working boat which looks as it will be trading as a trip boat.

DSCF4043 DSCF4042 DSCF4041

It was a good job that Rugeley Power Station is still operational as there was nothing being produced by all the wind turbines and I would guess that was probably country wide.DSCF4040 We stopped at Tesco to stock up with bulkier items ready for next trip. The railings have been replaced along the top of the bank behind the towpath so no more just nipping down the bank with shopping, its back to using the official path by the bridge.DSCF4047

I was more than impressed with this garden seat standing out on the decking at one of the canal side houses we passed but I wouldnt want to sit in it without the cushions.DSCF4048

The birds of pray were in their Avery's when we passed but as I thought the one nearest the canal is not home to a bird but ferrets, I thought I had caught a glimpse of one some time back but today I got a photo.DSCF4051

We were going to fill with water at Armitage but the boat in front pulled in, so we continued onwards. I had to wait for a boat to exit Armitage Tunnel, but it was only a few minutes. They have painted about half the length of the railings under the tunnel, I wouldn’t want them doing any painting for me and do wonder if work of this quality is of any value to CRT.DSCF4058 If anyone is looking to buy a business the Plum Pudding is up for sale, I would think it is probably quite a good business with the chalet park right behind it and stand on a main road, just a pity there is no where convenient to moor to visit.DSCF4060 Last photo of the trip, this boat had to wait for me to come through a bridge and I was taken by the jaws painted on the bow at the waterline. The reflection providing the bottom row of teeth.DSCF4061

It wasn’t long before we were back in our berth, the weather today had been much better as was the first day, but the two in the middle where chilly to say the least, but it did stay dry.

Today’s Journey map 4

10 miles and 1 Lock in 4 hours.

This trip we have done 40 miles, 12 locks in 16¼ hours over 4 days.

Gt Haywood Saturday 19 March 2016

We we got a surprise last night when we returned from the restaurant, The Fair had gone to bed and it was only 9pm. we were expecting heavy base music until 11pm. at least on a Friday night. 

We left this morning just after 10 am heading south back towards our mooring, on the way we passed the fair.DSCF4024

It wasn’t quite so cold today and we had an uneventful trip. We caught up with a boat just passed Aston Marina so all the locks were against us, as we passed the marina a boat was about to leave and they followed us, we were all well spaced but caught each other up and lent a hand at the locks.

Last time we were this way CRT Volunteers were out planting daffodils at the back of the towpath, just a few are coming into flower, but they were a bit late getting them in the ground.DSCF4026 The crazy Cob was ready for me at Western and as soon as he saw us approach he flew to meet us, his attack didn’t last so long

this time, well he had tackled several boats today already and the one in front of us had a small dog so that got extra attention.

One thing I saw today was a swan eating a drowned lamb, something I hadn’t witnessed before. When we reached Hoo Mill lock there were 4 boats below the lock waiting to come up. We continued through Gt Haywood and down through Haywood lock to moor opposite Shugborough Hall at about 4.20 pm.
I am pleased to report that Shugborough Hall no longer has a lake like last time we were here when the Trent was in flood.DSCF4033 There has been a continuous stream of young people walking by, it seems that 400 Scouts are doing a 40 mile walk today, we can see them walking up the lane to Shugborough Hall and then they are joining the tow path and walking towards Rugeley but still have a long way to go.

Diana went for a walk while I fitted a new horn. In the past I have always had a pair of wind horns, but they are plastic and degrade in the sun so I have changed them for a metal Truck Horn, it runs from the same small compressor but has a much deeper note.

Today’s Journey  map 3

10 miles, 1 junction, 5 locks in 4¼ hours

Stone Friday 18 March 2016

Not a bad little mooring last night, I like wildlife but I do wish ducks would sleep at night instead of swimming round the boat quacking in the dark. 

Today has been overcast and decidedly chilly unlike yesterday which was very pleasant. We pushed off at 9-30 heading for Stone to deliver a book to The Canal Cruising Company and met several boats on the way. One boat passed before we set off but didn’t pull the pins out or draw us off the mud. Why they make stakes like this with the ring so fare from the top I don’t know.DSCF4006 You end up with only ¾ of the stake in the ground doing any work unless you hammer the ring into the ground as well. DSCF4004 Note the rope is round the stake, not just through the ring, I have seen so many rings just fall off.

There are quite a few lambs out in the fields now, I am not sure what the lambing season is now as the seem to start around Christmas time and run through to Easter.DSCF4027

Today was a day for birds, why did nature insist on Herons nesting in trees, they look really unsuitable for landing in tree tops but manage it OKDSCF4011 This was followed by a somewhat aggressive Cob at Western, I don’t know what he will be like when he has a nest to protect, he started attacking the front fender then drifted back to have a goDSCF4012 at the stern one, this was followed by actually let us draw away and then flew at us, I was a bit worried that he may damage his wing on the back of the cabin. Not happy with the progress he was making he took a quick nip at Diana’s leg and then tried to eat mine.DSCF4017 Three hours after pushing off and we were below Star Lock in Stone, not wanting to go through town we winded below the lock and dropped onto the 48 hr moorings, a little bit further down by the end of the 5 day moorings the Fair is in town, I just hope there is not too much movement on the towpath tonight.

Just as we moored up I spotted this fine specimen sitting on the fence post opposite.DSCF4020

Today’s Journey map 2 7½ miles and 3 locks in 3 hours.

Ingrestre Bridge Hixon Thursday 17 March 2016

Well guess what we are doing, we are back on the boat. We left Suffolk this morning in bright sunshine but by the time we reached King’s Bromley Marina in was quite hazy.

We arrived at 12 pm.  and by 1230 I had the engine running, stove alight and the water system refilled and by twenty to one the ropes were off and we were backing out from our pontoon. This is the first time the boat has been out this year and we are just taking a couple of days to make sure everything is OK.

Leaving the marina we turned left towards Rugeley, as we chugged along the weather got better and lunch was taken on the move.

At Armitage Tunnel we caught up with another boat who was moving slower than us so once clear of the tunnel we stopped and filled with water. At the tunnel a group of lads in high vis jackets were repainting the railings, they weren't over enthusiastic and I suspect they may have been on a Community Pay Back. We chugged on meeting the odd boat, in all we met 9 boats, 3 of them hire boats.

I don’t  think a covered swimming pool is the best environment to store a motorbike in, but I guess its better than outside.DSCF4003

We noticed that both sides of the canal, if front of the power station and behind the Ash Tree Boat Club the ground has been cleared and marked out for digging footings, I wonder if these will be housing of industrial. DSCF4002 DSCF4052





I noticed that the winter mooring signs have been removed between the river and the A51, I don’t know how well these were used but it didn’t seem a very sensible location to me, near a busy road and quite a way from town also several hours cruising with two locks each way to fill with water at Gt Haywood.

As the afternoon went on the weather just got better, we bought some free range brown eggs at Taft Bridge for £1 per half dozen, I don’t know if brown are better than white?

Both Colwich and Gt Haywood locks were against us, although we did get some assistance at Colwich from a boat who turned up just as we drained the lock, he was heading for the Leeds and Liverpool the long way round.

We considered stopping in Gt Haywood and there was plenty of room, but the sun was so nice and all the wind had died away that we just kept going. Ho Mill lock was with us as a hire boat was returning to base and we thought we may stop on the 48 hour moorings mid way between Fields Bridge and Ingrestre Bridge but there was already a boat there so we continued until just before Ingrestre Bridge and stopped there. We are moored with stakes and on the bottom but it will be OK for the night.

Today’s Journeymap 1 12¾ miles, 2 locks, 1 junction in 5 hours