Friday 30 July 2021

Home mooring

 Boy did it rain last night, but when I got up to visit the loo early this morning it was bright sunshine, pity we didn't set off then instead of going back to bed. We set off at 10am and almost immediately it started to drizzle which just got more intense as we headed back. It only took us 45 minutes to get back to the marina and even with the wind I slid straight back to our mooring, of course no one was watching. Then it was just a matter of packing up and heading home in the car.

See you all next trip.

Todays Journey 2¼ miles, no locks in ¾ hour

The first half of the trip

80 miles, 81 locks in 44 hours.
Second half of the trip

68 miles, 14 locks in 28 hours

Thursday 29 July 2021


 Last night we had our farewell dinner with heather and Clyde in the Tame Otter at Hopwas. The meal was the normal Vintage Inn standard but our waitress had us in stitches, she was ace.
This morning we were away a bit earlier to get back to Alvecote by mid day, we did it easily as we went straight up the Glascote Locks with no delay. Arriving at the marina we went passed and winded by the pub so we could show them the ex working boats before mooring opposite as we intended to continue boating after they left. We had a £40 sharing board for 4 in The Samuel Barlow before they loaded their car and left us.
We then chugged 15 minutes up the canal to the old loading wharf,

its getting very overgrown now but you can still make out the wharf edge and I found just one mooring ring.
We then carried on towards Glascote locks to wind in what I think was another coal loading basin a short way before Anchor bridge. I think the concrete structure was the end of the railway siding

buffers. The turn was slow and gentle as there was a fisherman just beyond the winding hole and I didn't want to spoil his afternoon and then mooring for the night.

Today's total Journey 8½ miles, 2 locks in 3½ hours

Wednesday 28 July 2021



Last night we ate onboard with an Indian takeaway meal for 4 from Rajbari Indian Cuisine and there was more than the four of us could eat and very tasty, luckily the rain had stopped when we went to pick it up.

This morning we were away at 10 am to a fine morning, nothing like the forecast. Our first planned stop was at the water point at Spode, prior to this we did two  impromptu stops, the first at 65a the railway bridge where a group of canoes who as soon as the saw us coming stopped against the towpath, 2 of them right under the bridge, on the bend with a boat also coming the other way. I thanked them for stopping but did suggest that was not the best spot to choose to do it. The second stop and fast reverse was under bridge 62 by  The Ash Tree, where we were half way through the bridge when I saw the bows of the fender boat coming round the bend towards the bridge.
Once filled with water we were off again meeting 5 boats in a convoy, I suspect they had all followed the leader through Armitage tunnel. We had a clear run through the tunnel with no sight of another boat. We started to get a bit of rain as we approached Kings Bromley marina but it didn't get coat worth until nearly at  Woodend Lock, thankfully it didn't last long. There were Volockies on all the locks helping people up and down. We moored at the very end of the Fazeley Moorings on the Coventry Canal for lunch before Diana and the guests walked back to the junction and down to the services and ice cream shop. When they returned we were off again to Hopwas but were rather alarmed at the number of moored boats before the village, if it hadn't been for the git gaps there would have been room for another boat to moor outside the pubs. As luck would have it there was a gap of about 70 foot just through Dixons Bridge.


Today's Journey 17 miles, 3 locks in 6¼ hours

Tuesday 27 July 2021


 We had a very nice meal down at the Wolseley Arms, with very good service. This morning I received an email from CRT to say work on Colwich Lock was complete well before the estimated 10am but we didn't get on our way until 10-30am. At Colwich Lock there was only one boat ahead who was entering the lock as we arrived, so no queue. It was a different story at Haywood lock where we were number four to go up. We carried on to Gt. Haywood Junction, were we turned left just to take a trip round Tixal Wide just to show our guests before winding to start our journey home. As we approached Haywood lock to go down a gentleman kindly drew the paddles for us as he walked by. We stopped just below the lock for lunch which happened to coincide with the first shower of the day.
Setting off again there was no one waiting at Colwich lock and a boat coming up was almost ready to leave the lock, so again no holdup. We carried on to Rugeley moored and just before bridge 65 at about quarter to five just as it started to rain and its been chucking it down ever since, so today we have been very lucky with the weather.
I must just say a big hello to the steerer of the Barry Howkins boat we met twice today who took the trouble to tell me he enjoys reading this blog.

Today's Journey 12 miles, 4 locks in 5¼ hours

Monday 26 July 2021

Wolseley Bridge

 We were away at quarter to ten but had a slow run up to Fradley Junction, we had planed to take water her but there were already two boats there so we carried on to Middle Lock, by the time we locked up there were 8 boats behind us and one coming down at every locking. At Woodend the boat ahead had just entered the lock and there were two waiting to come down, there was also a lady Volockie on duty there as well. We carried on up the T&M past Kings Bromley when again we caught up with the boat we had been following all morning, so I pulled closer and Diana asked them to let us by, needless to say the chap on board enquired what our hurry was, I do like to do a bit more than 2½ MPH on an open canal with no moored boats. We stopped for water at the Armitage water point after we persuaded the hire boat it was not an overnight mooring. While filling the boat we passed earlier chugged by and we exchanged pleasantries, so no one upset. We followed them through Rugeley where they stopped to walk the dog so I was able to pass and inform them of the Colwich closure tomorrow. The house just through Rugeley has a new layout of manikins for

 boaters to admire. We continued chugging to Wolseley Bridge where we moored for the night just after 5pm. with a view to eating at the pub tonight.

Todays Journey 16½ miles, 3 locks in 7½ hours

Sunday 25 July 2021

Whittington Brook


Well I won't be repeating last nights visit in a hurry when I want somewhere to eat. A large TV on every wall in every room with boxing on, the first 3 choices from the menu were off, one beer was "back soon". We booked a table but they obviously had not reserved one and had to look round to find us one when we arrived, luckily no one else likes sitting up the corner. They did warn us it was a ¾ hour wait for food once we were sat down, but by then what can you do. I am sure they knew they were having two very large parties in when they took the booking for 7-30pm.

We set off this morning a little after 10am heading back to Alvecote marina and arrived there 45 minutes later. The reason for out return is we are picking up Diana's sister and husband who will be with us for a few day. 
When Diana's sister arrived we decided to have lunch before setting off, then it was out of the Marina and turn left, arriving at Glascote to be third in a queue of 4 and only one boat coming up, but it gave the opportunity to give a bit operation tuition. We carried on through Fazeley junction towards Fradley. There were loads of boat moored at Hopwas before the Tame Otter but very few after. We pushed on to moor for the night at Whittington Brook.

Today's Journey 12 miles, 2 locks in 5 hours

Saturday 24 July 2021


 Last nights stop was ace, no cars, trains or geese, just silence, that's one for the book. Being a lot cooler made it better as well, best night this trip.

This morning we were off a little after 10am with not much ground to cover, stopping briefly outside Fazeley Mill Marina to dispose of the rubbish that came off the prop yesterday plus the domestic stuff. Popping through Watling Street Bridge at Fazeley Junction I had to wait for boats from both direction before moving to the water point to refill the tank. I was now facing the wrong way so we winded in the junction before heading down the Coventry Canal. Looking back at the junction Tolsons Mill is being converted to flats and is full scaffolded out.There was quite a bit of activity at Glascote locks with two boats going up ahead of us and none coming down, so we followed the second one up only for a boat to appear at the top lock, but by the time they had closed up and dropped down we were out of the bottom lock and hadn't held them up at all. We also had to turn the top lock and by the time we were up there were two boats waiting to come down and three behind us waiting to come up. We carried on to the next bridge and stopped both for lunch and a visit to the Co-op which is very conveniently situated right beside the canal. While there we discussed what to do about dinner tonight, as we were returning to the marina and would have the car available. In the end we decided to go to the Amington Inn which is walking distance from the next bridge, so after lunch we only moved for ten minuets and have moored for the night at Bolehall.

Today's Journey 4 miles, 2 locks in 2½ hours 

Friday 23 July 2021

Fisher Mill Bridge B&F

 It was quite overcast this morning with a cool breeze but soon warmed up. We had two boats go by before 7-30am.I don't know which direction they were going in. 
Today was to be quite a short day so no rush to get away, so we left about 1030hrs meeting a boat before the Curdworth flight. As we went under the bridge prior to the locks I could see the top gate open and blue shirts with lifejackets. It was a crew of volunteers busy painting the iron work around the lock using Hammerite Smooth. Down to the second lock and there were even more, this time all ladies, who assisted me down the lock so I didn't have to get back aboard when the lock was empty. There were even more of them at their hut at lock 4. It seems they have chosen today to have their Christmas get together as it was cancelled in December and this could be an outside event. Needless to say all the locks were against us, even meeting a boat at lock 7 didn't help. 
Hs2 will cross the canal between locks 6 and 7, at each one they have installed a ground monitor which is solar powered. I guess its recording now so they know what the ground readings are like prior to building work starting on the bridge over the pound. I have done a little more looking around and these look to be ground vibration monitors often used on construction sites where piling etc. is involved made by Rion  https://www.noise-and-vibration.co.uk/products/rion-vm-56-groundborne-vibration-meter/
We carried on down to the bottom of the flight and everything seemed to work OK, I have reported faults on the paddle gear on both our last two transits and these look to have been sorted. We carried on for about another half a mile to moor a short way before Fisher Mill Bridge, not on the visitor mooring rings as there are several boats there already. We normally moor closer to the flight between the lock moorings and the winding hole but its not unknown for the geese to give you an early call in the mornings there.

Today's Journey 5½ miles, 11 locks in 3½ hours.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Minworth, Cuttle Bridge Inn

 It was a good peaceful night and if anything slightly cooler or I am getting accustom to it. The chap from the Rothen group was here before 7-30am to play with his weed collecting machine, so we set 

off earlier than normal and were away by 9am.
Work on the stadium is racing ahead, I don't know if this is drainage being laid, underground heating or irrigation, but they were going to a lot of trouble with the narrow trenches, removing anything that slipped in by hand. On the section that has been sown to grass the lines are quite visible.

As we made our way down the flight we met a CRT chap coming up, he said the pounds were all good except the last( 6 to 7), that was a bit low but with the water we were taking down it would be fine when we got there. He was half right, it was low, but we had to let water down to get across the pond. I had to call CRT about lock 6,  the hinges holding the checker plate around the bottom paddle had failed, when I put my foot on it, it opened like a hangman,s trapdoor, I was lucky not to go down it.
If the last pound was low then below 10 
was the opposite with the tow path below the lock under the bridge being awash, when we reached lock 11  the water level was being controlled by what could flow over and around the bottom gates. Again we had to let water down, this time to lower the pound as there was so much water coming over the top paddles it was impossible to drain the lock to open the bottom gates.
Down at lock 12 we met our friend on his C5 again,  he rides around collecting drink cans from the towpath and from what he can reach in the canal squashes them and loads them into one of the 3 sacks he has attached rear of his machine.
I pulled over below the bottom lock to clear the prop, I could see the ends of what looked like a long hose trailing behind me and rotating when in gear, that turned out to be about 4 mts. of pvc cable insulation that someone had stripped off, there was also a sack and other rubbish to remove before we could carry on.
As you approach the end of the Tame Valley canal you pass a chimney on your right with a symbol on each face near the top, I think it depicts an electromagnet, can anyone throw any light on it?
Our farewell to the Tame Valley was this stand of giant hog weed growing on the off side, I dont know if they had been sprayed but they didn't look very health. 

Back on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal things improved greatly and we were able to travel at a reasonable speed until Minworth top lock, where we were number 3 in a queue of 4. The hire boat in front and the one behind were doing the Warwick ring, I don't know how much further they went, but we were pleased to stop for the night a short way before the Cuttle Bridge Inn.

Today's Journey 8½ Miles, 16 locks in 6¼ hours

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Perry Barr top lock

 Last night was both cooler and quieter than previous nights, there was a bit more noise from the unit across the canal and then nothing until about 8am this morning, it was so much cooler that I had to get up in the early hours and close some of the doors.

When we set off at 10am this morning it was quite overcast and about 18°C but the sun was soon through and things heated up, to start with the going on the Daw End Branch was good but slowly deteriorated, the worst being just past Aldridge Wharf where it seemed very silted up. We passed these 4 ducklings, I thinkthey may be Tufted Duck as the mother was very dark with white on her wings when flying. We didn't see her closely as played the injured duck trick flapping off away in front of us to draw the predator  (us) away from her young before flying back to tend them.

We have noticed a lot of gardens are now tended all the way down to the waters edge and often wondered if CRT owned a ransom strip, some have even built jetties out into the canal with seats

and tables on them. Well today the answer quite plain, here is a Canal Company boundary marker about 6 foot back from the waters edge.We stopped at Longwood Boat club to fill with water and also to have lunch before tackling the Rushall flight,  some locks were full and some empty with bottom gates open, one of the pounds was quite low but to our surprise we got straight down the middle.Once clear of the flight it wasn't long until we were down to Rushall Junction where we turned left on to the Tame Valley canal, going was much easier than I expected, probably something to do with the weed clearing equipment moored at the top of Perry Barr locks. It's called the Tame Valley and it sure is a valley with some very high bridges crossing it, one is known as Chimney bridge, the reason is obvious when you look at the support tows. This bridge is undergoing  some structural maintenance with lots of scaffolding.We continued on to the top of the locks where we have moored for the night, tomorrow we will tackle them and the Minworth flight.

Today's Journey 10½ miles, 9 locks in 6¼ hours

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Brownhills Daw End Branch

 Today we did the Wyrley and Essington Canal, all of it and it was easier going than expected but the day was somewhat longer than planned. We set off after another hot noisy night at 9-30 am. back to Horseley Field Junction and hard left. The weediest part of the trip was only a few hundred yards onto the W&E by the Urban Community Moorings where it was thick blanket weed, after that things just got better, slower than normal but no major problems and I didn't actually look down the weed hatch until we moored for the night. I then spent a fun half hour clearing the prop from strong polly, electrical flex, netting, rag, all wrapped round bramble stalks which made handling difficult, also a fishing spinner but thankfully no hooks. The canal has water Lilies almost end to end, nearly all are white, a couple of pink and one yellow.

We passed under the shiny (well on one side, the other is green) arch and took a photograph of Harnser's reflection as we passed under it. If the other side was cleaned then you would be  able to see the clouds and sky reflected in it.
I can only assume that this bridge is built like this to give full wheelchair access, I don't know what the approach is like on the offside as I couldn't see that.
The old Short Heath branch looked very inviting, I wonder how deep it is, maybe next time when we have more time I will see if we can not only get down, but also out again.It nice to see what some people do with a bit imagination to the bits of bank at the bottom of their gardens, some just pretend they don't exist.

We passed the end of the Walsall canal at Birchills Junction, it's the first time we have passed without turning in or out. I must admit that after you get to Walsall Basin its not my favourite bit of canal.It wasn't long before we were passing a large building site, it looks as if it will be a large housing development.Then suddenly you are out in open country side, nothing but fields on both sides, this I found quite surprising when you consider how close we are to Walsall and other towns.Soon Pelsall Works bridge looms into view looking very splendid with its white paint and black lettering, after this the canal gets much straighter and wider, I even managed to get over 3mph, but it doesn't last for long.

Our planned mooring for the night was at the visitor moorings outside Tesco at Brownhills, but again we not only found the road noisy but also it was in full sun, so after the compulsory shopping we went about half a mile down the Daw End Branch and moored in the shade. We are right opposite an industrial estate which until now almost 10pm has been silent then suddenly there is a lorry and heavy forklift flying about with bleepers and hooters going.

Today's journey 16 ½ miles, no locks in 6½ hrs

Monday 19 July 2021

Wolverhampton Broad St moorings

 Well last night was more disturbed than the night before with groups of people making a noise as they passed until it was getting light this morning. No problems but with the doors open due to the heat not a good nights sleep. I don't expect tonight will be much better here in Wolverhampton with the traffic rattling by on the ring road system. We slid back this morning and put a bit of water in the tank while eating breakfast and then we were away up the New Main Line. We did meet a couple of boats and when we got to factory Locks discovered a hire boat just leaving the top lock, it was the first we had seen of them and not seen them again.

It would seem that in Birmingham yellow is the new white and the tops of these mooring bollards have all been painted yellow with a

 "smiley" on the top. Mind  you there is a big plastic giraffe watch it it, so anything could happen.
On one of the bridges, I didn't note which one someone has attached this ceramic tile, I have no idea if its an official thing or someone making a statement, or what, its just there.
Last night I took my wife out for dinner, well it was our wedding anniversary so I thought I better treat her. Where is this going you say, well we went to eat at Côte Brassiere and they have a "Living wall" one that is planted green with living plants from top to bottom. It seems this is a BCN thing as today we passed a factory like it and also where we are moored at Wolverhampton

I managed to get all the way to Wolverhampton without a weed hatch visit, I had to slip into reverse a couple of times to throw the weed off but no real problem. I usually pick a load of rubbish up going through these narrows which I think must have been a toll lock. Talking of Toll Locks I hadn't realised how long this toll island is on the New Main Line, there would have been room for 4 boats with two on each side at any one time.Another feature today was aqueducts, you don't often pass under aqueducts where one canal crosses another but we went under two today, this one is taking boats onto the Engine Arm, the other was where the Old Main Line crosses the New Main Line, but the sun was in my eyes for that one, there is one other I can think of.We winded in Broad Street Basin and dropped off some rubbish, we will have to return in the morning to drop off more stuff. The basin is well packed with weed and was probably the most problematic bit we had other than Factory Top Lock, a but of a toss up between the two. We winded in the basin and then moored up on the offside secure moorings. This is where the other bag of rubbish has come from, we cleared up what other boaters had removed from their props and just left laying there, the moorings are only accessible by boat.
Today's Journey 14 miles, 3 locks in 5¼ hours

Sunday 18 July 2021

Birmingham Holiday Wharf

 I didn't sleep too well last night, it was hot and with the rear doors open there was quite a bit of traffic noise, so this morning we were away before 9am heading up the Grand Union towards the Garrison flight of locks. A long stretch  of the towpath is closed for new cables to be laid by the look of it, Its major work with an offside storage yard, several flats, a couple of tugs. The closed towpath has a portable toilet and small hut at each end. At the other end there is also a moored wide beamed flat with a portable mess hut on it. Not surprisingly them look to have a couple of security guys keeping an eye on things. They have laid a thick crushed concrete pad beside the cable bridge. The portable mooring rings are impressive, a bundle of lengths of rail track with a loop attached.They  have had to remove some of the towpath side seats to carry out their works, there was no way these were going to fall over.Just after the works the graffiti on the under side of this bridge is quite striking, so often the people who do this are very talented, unlike some of the scribble you see about the place. In my opinion this is just as worthy as the suspected Banksy that is protected by clear plastic in Gas Street.

I have noticed that several of the old canal side buildings often have these large round stones at their base, I have no idea what they would have originally been for, there is a building down the Aston flight that has even more of them.

I quite like the Garrison Locks, they were built with the boater in mind and drawing the top paddles use to let water enter the lock behind the bottom gates so closing them. it doesn't always make it that far these days probably do to obstructions in the culverts.
A good run up the flight, once at the top its dead straight to Bordesley Junction, the small figures you can see on the towpath are a magnet fishing club, they had a few bikes and other oddments they had pulled out but no treasure. At the junction we turned right and it wasn't long before we met the first boat of the day, we were about to go into Warwick Bar when its bows came round from the other way, he didn't quite get it right and I was wondering if he was hoping to pass under the covered bay rather that the lock. If you don't know it, it looks quite possible as the end wall is just below the surface of the water. It was a motorised butty with a hydraulic motor and prop mounted in the rudder. The whine from the motor was quite noticeable. We expected all the Ashted locks to be with us, some were and some weren't but the ones that were the lock walls were quite dry so didn't look as if they had been turned recently.
We stopped for lunch just passed Aston Junction, while we were eating a hire boat came down from Farmers bridge, a sign it was time for us to set off. Some of the locks were empty but most needed a few inches dropping out. We were to meet yet another hire boat under the buildings, a bust day. 
I have often wondered what this building use to be, now I know, it was Cliveland Street flour mill. Once at the top of the flight we headed into Birmingham to find somewhere to moor, There was room at Cambrian Wharf but that was in full sun and we felt the Oozells Loop would be the same so we plumbed for gas Street, last time we were her it was empty, today it was full so we went just round the corner onto the Worcester and Birmingham and moored just before the services, it was still sunny but there is always a breeze up there and it wasn't long before the sun moved round and we were in the shade.
Today miles s Journey 5¾, 24 locks in 5 hours.