Friday 31 December 2021

Tixall Lock

I was rather warm last night so we decided to turn the stove off, it was actually so warm we didn’t notice I hadn’t shut the front slide fully.
This morning a boat rattled by before we were about, I suspect the same boater left the bottom gates on Penkridge lock. There was just enough drizzle to mark the windows as we left but that is all the rain we saw and we even had some sun shine.

As we waited for the lock this duck was having a quick wash and brush up.DSCF6108 Last time we were this way someone had attached “No Mooring” signs to these wooden posts as they are the only convenient thing to moor to while using the services. Someone has kindly driven the white stake in and left for boaters to use.DSCF6109 This was looking back into the lock while I waited for Diana to join me, she has insisted on doing the locks today. DSCF6110I have a feeling that last time we came this this cross was the location of the small cut out of a fisherman. DSCF6111In Suffolk we have a house in the clouds so it was nice to see this miniature one in someone’s back garden. DSCF6114The river Penk and the Sow were both in flood between the canal and Stafford, this happens most winters.DSCF6115 We stopped for a bit at the site of the “Stafford Riverway Link” they wouldn’t need to do much more to reach the river today. They are making good progress with the mooring basin, I don’t know when they plan to connect to the canal.DSCF6118 We continued on our way mooring for the night just above Tixall Lock as we thought below may be a bit soggy.

We have started a new series of maps today as you can only put 10 layers on Google Maps but the old ones are still available HEREmap 11Todays Journey 10 miles, 6 locks in 4½ hours

Thursday 30 December 2021


As it was raining we waited until quarter to eleven to set off, we needn’t have bothered as by ten to eleven it was raining  but it only lasted half an hour or so and then brightened up. After about 200 yards we passed Autherley Junction with its stop lock, but we are not going Chester way today, we are goingDSCF6096 straight on. You can see from the clarity of the photograph how nice the weather was. It wasn’t long before we were going through the narrows, a section of hard rock where the navies excavated just enough for one boat to pass,DSCF6097 if of someone is coming the other way some has to wait, today there was nobody coming which was not really surprising.

DSCF6098By now the weather was brightening and we were soon going under the M54, I know its graffiti but I do think some of it is really good.

DSCF6101I have asked this question before but never received an answer. what use to stand on this spot, its the closest point the canal comes to the railway. (Yellow star on the map)

DSCF6102We stopped in Gailey to fill with water and were pleased to see that Gailey lock was with us, as was the next but then we came to an empty one but with a boat approaching from below, then surprise surprise we met another boat who had just left Rodbaston Lock but it was already too late for Diana to open the top gate without drawing the paddles, the bottom gates must be passing a lot of water considering what’s coming in through the top cill.

DSCF6105We considered mooring opposite the Otherton Marina but felt it was a touch to close to the motorway so we continued on to the 5 day moorings in Penkridge map 10

Today’s Journey 10½ miles 5 locks in 4¾ hours

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Autherley Junction

It was surprisingly quiet last night, much quieter than we expected but we did hear the rain and ended up over sleeping this morning, thankfully its been dry all day today.  Ether CRT or more likely their volunteers have trimmed all the  vegetation along the moorings. Also the the grass has been edged back from the brickwork down the locks and everything worked.DSCF6091
The water by the moorings and down the locks was gin clear and you could see the bottom all the way across the cut when it was still.DSCF6092It was getting for 10-30am. before we set off and working the top lock a CRT chap informed me that all the pounds were fine but probably all the locks would be against us and he wasn’t far wrong, there were probably 5 maybe 6 with us, all the rest needed turning. On the offside by the top lock there is this box in the wall, Does anyone know what its for, possibly a lock counter?DSCF6093

A new sign has popped up at most of the locks down the flight, not sure why they missed the odd one or two, will we be seeing them beside every lock on the system? I would have thought that anyone without the sense to know you could fall into a lock wouldn’t have the sense to know what the sign means.DSCF6094

Our journey down the flight was slower than normal as I worked all the locks, we even stopped for a bite of lunch in the long pound, needless to say mooring on the lock landing didn’t inconvenience anyone. Once down the flight we turned right on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and moored for the night near Autherley Junction. Since we have been moored one boat has gone by and one moored just ahead of us, so another busy day.

map 09Todays Journey 2½ miles, 21 locks in 4½ hours

Tuesday 28 December 2021


Last nights mooring was much quieter than last time we stopped there, they have erected fencing and gates between the road and the industrial unit carparks so the boy racers can’t do doughnuts. When we went to leave we had a fisherman set up a short way in front of us and another behind us. Like yesterday almost as soon as we set off it started raining. We went to Hawne Basin for a pumpout , fill with diesel and dump rubbish.
The bridge at the entrance to the basin is actually lower than the tunnel to get down here. As we left we exchanged pleasantries with the two fishermen who were very cheerful even if it had started to ran. Before you get to Gosty Tunnel there are the remains of some side slips on the offside, I think there may have been 6 of them but this is the best preserved one.DSCF6082

Once through the tunnel we saw a couple of police cars on the off side by a bridge and then spotter two officers walking back along the tow path carrying something between them but were unable to see what it was.
We did meet one boat today in Netherton Tunnel, we were over 600Mt from the end when he approached the tunnel with his head light on and was dazzling me with it then. It was set pointing straight ahead so just reflected all the way along the surface to me. We joined the New Main Line again and turned left  to Factory Lock which were all in our favour. Once passed Factory Junction the land on DSCF6086 (2)the offside has now been cleared and just consists of large piles of broken bricks, I expect it will become another housing estate. They have left the pump house and the large pipe in situ so I assume thatDSCF6084 the pump is still used for something.
There are a lot more shopping trollies in this length of canal now than there use to be also quite a bit of oil on the water around Dixon Street Bridge area, probably due to all  the rain and runoff from all the industrial sites in the area.
CRT have a yard in Wolverhampton on the offside and this rather nice tug was moored there, I don’t know were it worked when it was in service. I amDSCF6090 not sure you will be able to read the name but its Gloucester and I like it.
We carried on into Wolverhampton mooring on the offside just through Wolverhampton tunnel, this is a stretch of mooring only accessible by boat, so no take a way.

map 08

Today’s Journey 12 miles, 3 locks in 4¾ hours

Monday 27 December 2021


Well we woke to quite a nice dry bright moorings, the hire boat we met on Christmas Eve went by at about 9am and we set off at 10am by five past it was raining and did so for the rest of the day.

We decided to take a trip round the port loop, building is still going on but the latest waterside ones you need to like living in a goldDSCF6065 fish bowl as they have a floor to ceiling wall to wall window facing the canal. On the far side of the site as we returned to the main line where they are still putting the footings in for more dwellings they have installed mooring rings all along the brick canal edge,DSCF6066 I have no idea if the will be visitor moorings. Back on the main line we turned left and stayed on the New Main Line passing through a DSCF6068very overgrown toll island, The BCNS have recently completed clearing one so I don’t know if they plan to do them all.DSCF6076

I suspect they were also responsible for clearing this one as well. The octagonal brick work marks where the walls of the old toll house use to stand, it would be nice if some decided to fund building a new one.DSCF6072

Along the New Main Line there are still some telegraph poles standing, all the cross beams have been removed DSCF6070at some point. After passing under the Old Main Line you go under a concrete pillared bridge supporting the M5 motorway.DSCF6071

We continued on until we reached Dudley Port Junction where we turned onto the Dudley Number 2 canal and again passed under the Old main Line before entering Netherton or Dudley No.2 canal we then turned left yet again down the Dudley No. 1 canal. We stopped in Gosty Hill tunnel just before the low section DSCF6078to remove the stove chimney as it wouldn’t fit under that section, After the low section the roof is again a lot higher almost to the far end when it drops down againDSCF6079

It was still raining when we left the tunnel to go past the old tube works long since gone and moor for the night by the industrial estate just before the Coombeswood Canal Trust moorings at Hawne Basin.

Todays Journey 12¼ miles, no locks in 4 hoursmap 07

Sunday 26 December 2021


Its been a busy old day today, we met two boats within seconds of each other, as we crossed with the first the second was in the winding hole and we had to wait for him.  Not so much rain today and only 10mm in the past 24 hours but it never cleared out with mist and cloud all day.
We shoved off at 10-30am but only to the other side of the cut to fill with water and dispose of the rubbish before heading into Tardebigge tunnel and out of the rain. We were soon approaching Anglo DSCF6037Welch’s hire base with all their boats at home.

We passed lots of Boxing Day walkers and a few fishermen, one asked were we were going and we told him Birmingham, he said “In this weather” and I pointed out he was sitting fishing in it. Shortwood tunnel is very slightly longer and then it was Alvechurch hire base. I have seen this boat out before and how anyone could build a Narrowboat DSCF6039with lines like that I don’t know. Straight hull and a V bit welded on the front, no attempt to blend it in where they join.
When they put the motorway in, so as not to close the canal which was still a working waterway they built the motorway bridge over a new cutting and then chopped off the loop to cross the canal. The oldDSCF6042 loop is now a nature reserve.
I have my doubts that this boundary marker is still in its original location being set in the edging brickwork like that.DSCF6043

With all the rain we have had there was a lot of water coming off the land, some of it quite DSCF6046spectacularly, this was just before Wast Hill Tunnel.DSCF6047 I don’t know if CRT are now recommending we navigate tunnels at 2 MPH even so there sums are somewhat adrift.  This tunnel is brick lined for its entire length and down the centre are the remains of the old electrical insulators. I don’t know what DSCF6054cables they carrier or their purpose, but similar insulators can be seen on the bridges going into Birmingham.DSCF6060

A short way north of the tunnel on the offside is this interpretation board, it looks as if its erected in in the remains of a brick structure.
Running into Birmingham this chap and his dog were still sat beside the cut, I bet being that thin they feel the cold.

Coming round by the Cube, the boat is still moored on the water point BTW all the restaurants have light out, not sure if its for Christmas or they are always there.DSCF6062

We are now moored exactly where we were on the 23 of December but facing the other way.


map 06Todays Journey 14¼ miles, no locks in 5 hours

Saturday 25 December 2021

Tardebigge Merry Christmas

Firstly a merry Christmas to all who read this we are spending Christmas day here at the top of the Tardebigge locks, needless to say we are the only visiting boat moored here, the only other boats are the residential ones on the wharf.

The weather is not very good for Christmas with 20mm of rain in the past 24 hrs. overnight and the wind picked up to 35 MPH at some point. It was a bit noisy when we went to bed.
This morning the rain had stopped but its a bit chilly out side at 5Deg C and wind has moderated to just a cool breeze.

Lunch was a very light affair with Bucks Fizz and smoked salmon as we would be having our DSCF6033Christmas dinner this evening. We watched Queenie at 3pm, I wonder how much it cost the BBC to show it as well nowt that ITV has the contract?
Dinner went well and the washing up all done before sitting down to watch The Abominable Snow Baby.
Its still raining and will probably carry on all night.

Friday 24 December 2021


Lovely quiet moorings last night directly opposite Lego Land. This morning the weather was miserable yet again,  this was looking back from our mooring,DSCF6015 we did have a brief touch of a blue sky but then it all just turned to rain.
Once again Gas Street was empty of visiting boats as we turned at the Mail Box down the Worcester and Birmingham canal.DSCF6019

The amount of scaffolding in Birmingham at the moment is unbelievable, I suspect lots to to remove cladding from buildings.   One of the two boats moored across the water point yesterday has left and left all the bags of rubbish from his back deck on the towpath outside the service building.
Lots of work has taken place at University Rail DSCF6021Station since we were last this way and they have another canal closure planed for January when I expect they will be doing more heavy lifts over the canal and towpath. They have even put in a new bridge from the station to the university grounds.DSCF6022 I do wonder how much ground the universities cover in Birmingham including student accommodations. Just after this we had a short stop to remove a small amount of polly and string from the prop, it wasn’t much but had a big effect on performance.
At Kings Norton Junction we went straight ahead towards Wast Hill tunnel passing this smartened up DSCF6023length of fencing, it was here that we met a hire boat, so that makes it an average of just one a day. Wast Hill Tunnel is wide enough for two boats to pass and 2726 yards long, CRT suggest it take an hour to traverse the length of it. We would have two more tunnels to traverse before we reached our moorings for the night, Shortwood at 613 yards which is only brick lined at each entrance, the restDSCF6026 being raw rock and then finally even shorter 580 yard Tardebigge tunnel. It is not far from the mouth of the tunnel to the top of the Tardebigge flight of 29 lock, but as we don’t plan to do them we winded and moored towpath side facing the tunnel.

map 05
Todays Journey 14¼ miles, no locks in 5½ hours