Thursday 31 August 2017

Droitwich canal Thursday 31 August 2017

As the Bird in Hand was closed last night we went to Namaste Indian eatery, well that's what they call it and it was packed. There were two tables for 2 unoccupied and one of them was reserved, by the time we had eaten our popadums every table was occupied. They have a special Sunday to Thursday deal with 3 courses for £9-95 our meal worked out cheaper than a take-a-way.
The moorings were surprisingly quiet after midnight so we had a good nights sleep.

This morning started sunny and stayed that way, We didn't get away until 1030hrs as we visited Limekiln Chandlery for more polish enquiring about diesel prices while we were there, 67p lt. which I thought was fair.
We set off down through York Street lock and then backed up to Limekilns service wharf for diesel, while we were there I noticed that a black water pumpout was £14 so that was added to the purchase. As our pumpout connection is on the port side I had to turn round and come back in the other way to do that. All in all it was half eleven before we were on our way again. While we were in the basin the air ambulance visited the other side of the river for some reason, but he wasn't on the ground very long.DSCF8894

To get from Stourport Basin to the River Severn you have to drop down through 2 sets staircase locks. As we dropped down the second chamber of the first set I went to set the second read for us. There was something very unusual happening, a CRT person was oiling the paddle gear.DSCF8898

I mentioned the other day about scaffolding handrails on bridges due to a lad falling in while cycling over one with no rail, well this is the one he cycled over back in June 2011 and it still has a temporary scaffolding rail.DSCF8897

The river level is quite low and had very little flow on it but the boat travels much better on wide deep water, 5mph for the same effort as 3½ mph on the canals. We met several boats as we made our way down stream and we had forgotten how many pubs there along this stretch of river with their own moorings. We only had to wait a few minutes for Lincomb Lock to be ready for us. All the river locks are manned and access controlled by red and green lights, a flashing read light means the lock keeper knows your there, a red one stop and a green enter the lock. You can see the water level is well down in the green.DSCF8899

In the next reach we caught up with a hire boat and tagged along behind him as far as Holt's Lock. Here the red light was on so the hire boat stopped as he should, I was a bit further back and dropped all way. Looking through the binoculars I could see the lock keeper leaning on the top gate looking at us, the gates were open but she had forgotten to switch the light to green after the last boat left.
We shared the lock with the hire boat but as we were on the outside we left first, we had also been travelling quite a bit faster than them, but when we left they kept up with us as far as Hawford Junction where we turned into the Droitwich canal.

Looking up as we approached the lock, due to the amount of noise it was making I saw this plane flying over, It looked quite strange, its a vertical takeoff OspreyDSCF8903

The moorings for the lock are a bit confusing, their is a long length of moorings marked Lock Waiting only, but from here you cant getDSCF8906 ashore to operate the lock, just at the mouth of the lock there is another floating mooring that says its private but that is the onlyDSCF8905 place you can access the lock side from. Diana walked ahead to check if there were any mooring spaces above Lock 2, there is room for 4 boats to moor here, She called back it was all clear so I started setting the lock, I had just gone in when 2 boats cam up the river and it was fairly obvious they were coming up the lock but we thought they were together, however the back one carried on towards the lock so I shuffled over and let them in beside us, the other waited on the wait pontoon.
The end result is that there are now three of us moored above lock 2 for the night and since we have been here a couple of hire boats have also come up, but continued on along the canal.

Today's Journeymap 16

9¼ Miles 9 Locks in 4¾ Hours

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Stourport on Severn Wednesday 30 August 2017

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.DSCF8877

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.DSCF8882

Lots of this canal is cut through rock and the navies must have had a terrible time chipping away at it.DSCF8883

Down at Wolverley Court someone has carved an old tree trunk into a pair of Kingfishers, I did get to see a real one today.DSCF8885

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.

Shortly before Kidderminster we passed this boat, a thank you, instead of some of the sarcastic notices tell you to slow down.DSCF8887

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.DSCF8889

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.DSCF8891

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.DSCF8892

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.

Today's Journeymap 15

10 miles, 7 Locks in 5 hours

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Kinver Tuesday 29 August 2017

Well we didn't hear anything from the Greyhound sanctuary overnight which is on the off side, but you should have heard it this morning when I guess they were feeding at about 8 am.

It was an overcast morning and we set off at quarter to ten, looking to the east in the distance you can see a well disguised radio mast. DSCF8862

With the help of the lock keeper we were clear of the Bratch Locks by five past ten, not so quick as in the working days, but not bad. Lots of people call this a staircase but its not, it is three individual locks that are very close together.DSCF8863

We had a good run with the locks all day, we had to fill some that had leaked away but the Bumble Hole was the only one we turned.DSCF8865

At Botterham Staircase the over cast weather turned to rain and it was a coat on job. The cottage and buildings below the staircase is starting to look quite run down, it would be a shame if these canal side buildings were lost. DSCF8868

The rain stayed with us until we stopped at Greensforge Lock to fill with water, then things brightened up a bit, but not a patch on yesterday. Below the lock we passed this vessel which I would describe as a narrow beam barge perhaps.

DSCF8870  DSCF8869 

I can't remember how big the cave was at Rocky Lock by the top gates but now it is completely closed off.DSCF8871

The gardens beside Ashwood Garden centre just below Ashwood marina are a real picture, I don't think they are open to members of the public so us canal users have a special treat.

The Devil's Den is only just visible now if you know where to look, I remember all the uproar when BW fitted the door to it to keep people out and just let the bats in, it doesn't look touched since. DSCF8874

Passed Stourton Junction, it was yesterdays plan to go left here to Birmingham, but that changed last night and down through Stewponey followed by Dunsley tunnel, all 25 yards of it, I know of bridges that take longer to pass through than that, but it has all the tunnel notices. I think it said the average transit time was one minute. Our target for the day was below Kinver Locks and this was the first lot of visitor moorings where we have seen any number of boats, all the others have ether been empty or just a couple of boats at the most.

Today's Journey map 14

8¾ miles, 14 locks in 5½hours

Monday 28 August 2017

Bratch Monday 28 August 2017

Set off at our normal 10 am this morning after the rush had gone and boy was that some rush between 8 and 9-30.
It still gripes me to see the no mooring signs and no stopping signs along the chemical works, I wouldn't want to stop there but what if other companies started imposing this outside their works.

By now the high cloud was clearing and things were getting much warmer. The railway passes very close to the canal between Gravelly Way Bridge and Schenectady Bridge. Along the towpath is a concrete edge with what looks like the bases for posts along it. I was wondering if at sometime there had been a canal to railway transhipment point here.

We met an awful lot of boats again, so we could be going in the right direction. We didn't meet any boats in the narrows above Autherley Junction but we could now see the back of one going our way. We caught them up at 1300hrs. at Aldersley Junction where two hire boats were turning up the 21. It was the two we had been following yesterday. If they lock at the same rate as yesterday it will be almost midnight before they clear the flight.

We continued south, heading for Stourport, Compton Wharf used to be a good place to fill with diesel at a reasonable price, now its a block of flats. On the hard in front of them is what looks like a very short ex working boat, but is two bits slid one behind the other.DSCF8857

Many years ago a lad fell from a bridge in Stourport into the canal and died, the bridge didn't have any handrails. Almost immediately British Waterways went round putting scaffolding handrails on bridges, the one at Awbridge is still there.DSCF8860

We moored for the night just above Bratch locks, we had gone a bit further than planned as I got my maths wrong, but since then we have had another change of plan so I now have to recalculate.

Today's Journeymap 13

14.3 miles 6 locks in 6 hours.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Gailey Sunday 27 August 2017

Yesterday afternoon we walked round the site of the old lock down to the River Sow, the proposed no link wont be following the old one as can be seen on this map from Waterways Routes. Link MapThe trust have exposed the old Lock Keepers cottage foundations and laid a few course of bricks on them to show the layout.DSCF8835

They have also opened up the old holding basin and some of the lock.DSCF8837

One of the reasons for cutting a new route is that the river is no longer where it use to be, this can be seen by the old footbridge that now spans dry land.DSCF8840

This morning we woke to a sunny day, we were well aground with bit of a list on, it makes you wobbly when you first get out of bed. We were away just after 10 am with a 4½ hour planned trip ahead of us. We shouldn't make plans.

The day started well and as we approached Deptmore Lock a boat was just coming down and a second waiting above. we then passed a few boats waiting to pull away but they waited until we passed, then it all went wrong.
At Shutt Hill Lock we caught up with a hire boat who had not been out long, that in its self was not a problem, but they were travelling with another hire boat and the way they worked was that one would lock up and then sit and wait for the second one to lock up, by the time we locked up they were both just setting off and at the next lock it was repeated, so they were sitting at each lock for abut 30 minutes as opposed to 15. The lady said to Diana they thought they were making slow progress to complete the ring in a week. We stopped for half an hour talking to New Zealand friends who were working on their boat at Longford Lock but we still caught up with them. At Penkridge they decided the needed water so we were able to overtake the back one, we then passed the second one who was doing a bit of fishing while they waited for the back one to catch up. They definitely wont do the ring if they carry on like this as they are wasting over a ¼ hour at every lock.

At Teddesley we passed Lady Hatherton moored under her cover, from what I could see she is in better shape than when we last passed by.DSCF8848

DSCF8849After Penkridge we made much better progress meeting boats at locks and a generally smooth run. We moored on the visitor moorings above Gailey for the night at about 5 PM, we should have been here about 3 pm and as I type this the two hire boats have just gone passed.

Today's Journeymap 12

9.2 miles, 11 Lock in 6¾ hours

Saturday 26 August 2017

Baswich Saturday 26 Aug 2017

As we were in Stone we went out to eat last night, as can be expected on a Friday night its busy but the Thai had a couple of tables for 2 in the not so popular spot in the restaurant which suited us fine.

This morning we set off at 10am. Stone lock was with us and we pulled over just below it to fill with water before continuing towards Gt Haywood. We passed the boat with the Falcons on again and they were both out in the morning sun.DSCF8820

Construction work has started on the recreation ground at Stone just across the road from he Star Pub, I am not sure what's going on but it looks quite major.

We also passed a Swan on the bank with Angel Wing, its thought that diet is the main cause of this and it prevents the bird flying, so if this one is in someone's territory next spring there could be problems.DSCF8821

We continually met boats throughout the day, 2 or 3 between each lock so we didn't turn any  ourselves. We did have a boat ahead and he seemed to time it wrong at each lock as another boat would just have entered below as he arrived at the top, often with 2 more waiting . At Hoo Mill lock he was just leaving and Coal Boat Roach was waiting below to come up well loaded with coal, probably not considered well loaded in working days but with the state of the cut now he will probably touch bottom occasionally with that load.DSCF8826

He didn't tell us he also had  butty Gosport below on a long line, if he had I would have waited until that came up as well, but I didn't find out until I was in the lock going down.DSCF8828

There is a new venture started at Hoo Mill Lock called the Emporium, its in the wooden building on the offside of the canal just over the bridge,. We didn't have time to investigate further but it sounds interesting.DSCF8827At Gt. Haywood we turned sharp right with nothing coming out of the Staf & Worc to impede our progress and headed across Tixall Wide, a very popular mooring spot. As we approached Tixall Lock we met a day boat so our luck with locks was holding, as we locked up a hire boat arrived to go down and the 2 lads onboard where more than happy to open the top gate for us.

Last time we came this way there was a lot of ground work going on about half a mile west of Tixall Lock, we were surprised to find it all still there, it looks like they have sunk a large pit lined with concrete, this is something they do if they plan to tunnel under the canal.

We continued meeting boat all the way to our planned mooring for the night at the old junction of the Stafford riverway Link. Just to the east of here is a mobile home village and some years ago they pruned the canal side trees, I think they may have over done it as about 6 look as if they are now dead. The first one looks OK.DSCF8833

I am sorry but there is no map tonight. I got hold of the Ipad wrong and somehow deleted it, I don't know how as I had already saved it and usually it takes several actions to delete a route, but I did it in one. I have salvaged this map from it.

Today's Journey map 11

6 Locks, 14 miles in 6.5 hours

Friday 25 August 2017

Stone Friday 25 August 2017

A good mooring last night on the 24 hr moorings above bridge 104, I was even able to get Wedgwood's free Wifi, well its free for 8 hours which was fine, it was just that it dropped out every time a train went through.
About half ten a boat came by looking for somewhere to moor, luckily there were spare rings between the bridge and the last boat in the row.

We set off this morning in the sunshine at about quarter to ten and had a steady run through Barlaston village where we passed this boat with two hawks on the roof.DSCF8808

We also spotted a rather strange cloud formation, I expect there is a good explanation for why its formed like that.DSCF8812

Meaford locks were against us so Diana filled the top one and in we went, I went forward to draw the bottom near side paddle but couldn't swing the windlass. Another email to CRT.DSCF8814 Not only that as we left I noticed that the top cill fender was missing and the cill projects over the brickwork, so it’s possible for a boat going up to get its bow fender caught under the cill as the lock fills.

The second lock has what looks like a permanent notice on it saying there is a culvert problem, that's only half the story,DSCF8816 the bottom gate leaks so much that it's nearly impossible to make a level and it needs quite a bit of weight on the beam to open it. Now that's two out of four locks, when we got to the bottom one it was half full with water poring in through the top gate, not around the edge but through the gate.DSCF8817

We carried on down to Limekiln locks just as 2 cruisers were leaving, so it was straight in, We were assisted hear by a CRT volunteer who was working on the locks. It came as bit of a surprise to find a boat just entering Newcastle Road lock as we arrived, do to the holdups we had experienced at Meaford we expected the way to be clear. We carried on into Stone and moored on the offside 24 hr moorings above Star Lock for the night and replenish supplies, this took two trips as Morrison's were selling Pedigree at £1 a bottle.

Today's Journey map 10

7 Locks, 4 miles in 2 hrs 40 min

Thursday 24 August 2017

Wedgwood T&M Thursday 24 August 2017

Early start this morning, 9AM as we wanted to visit Trentham Gardens. This was the view from the porthole before we set off. Well someone had a good breakfast. DSCF8796

We turned onto the Trent and Mersey just as a boat was coming up Stoke Top Lock so we waited for him to leave and headed down, unfortunately for us they had met another boat just below the lock so the next was against us, after that we met loads of boats.

One thing I noticed is that the anti vandal locks have been removed from the top paddle gear.

As we made our way down to Trentham the weather was looking mixed but both the forecast and my weather station said fine. No chance of an Oatcake for breakfast as The Oatcake Boat was closed but I did give them a toot as we passed. The moorings at the rifle range have had a bit of work done on them since we last came this way, just south of bridge one of the residents leant out of his side hatch and thanked me for passing slowly, said its like the M6 and going by the amount of traffic we met he wasn't far wrong.

At about 11AM we moored just south of Hem Heath Bridge 106 on the rings and walked to Trentham Gardens for the day.

We returned to the boat mid afternoon and set off again. CRT are relaying the brick paving at Trentham Lock and have build scaffolding with a small gate in it around the lock beam, they have also scaffolded over the steps running down on the offside of the lockDSCF8806. Because they have left the job and not completed the brick paving, some of what they have lade has already been disturbed and will requite reworking.DSCF8804

We continued in the now quite warm sunshine to moor for the night just above Old Road bridge 104.

Today's Journey map 09

5¼ Miles, 6 locks in 2¾ hrs