Saturday 31 December 2022


A nice quiet night at Perry Barr last night. This morning when I looked out the top lock was full and the second empty, no sign of CRT this morning, they are normally there about 8am to adjust levels. I walked down and drew a paddle on lock 2, noting the first 2 pounds were down a bit I let some water down from the summit, so at least we would have something to take with us if needed.
Frank was waiting at the lock for us to set of and accompanied us all the way to lock 11, I am not sure if he is hoping to become a Volockie or just a Gongoozler.DSCF7499

The Alexander Stadium has now lost all the extras that were there for the Commonwealth games but there are still hundreds of construction fence panels around it. A notice at the lower end says construction site and there is still machinery on site, as we passed I spotted a couple of people using the track.DSCF7501

It turned out I didn’t need to steal water from the top two pounds as all the levels were good, but that will change if someone leaves the bottom gates open on this lock, I think it was 11.

We didn’t have any problems until locks 12 and 13, 12 one of the anti vandal locks wouldn’t release and 13 the bottom gate was fouling something both reported to CRT. Between locks 12 and 13 there are the 2 Deykin Avenue bridges, old and new, side by side. The old one has cast iron panels.DSCF7505

The new one is a good impersonation with steel panels, a good effort.DSCF7506


We managed not only to do the flight, 13 locks and 2½ miles in 2 hours 50 minutes, but more importantly before it started to rain. When the rain did come it was only fine drizzle but its better if you don,t need to work locks. We were now on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, a cyclist warned me there was a lot of rubbish ahead and a small tree, but there was plenty of room to pass it. The Minworth locks are still a pain, lock 1 only one top paddle and only one of the bottom ones actually passes water, I have reported it every year for the past 4 years and expect I will do the same next year. We carried on to moor about a ¼ mile before The Cuttle Inn. Looking across the canal it looks as if the giant industrial building they were constructing last time we passed is complete. DSCF7509


Today’s Journey image

8½ miles 16 locks in 5 hours

Friday 30 December 2022

Perry Barr

It was quite windy last night when we went to bed and this morning we woke to find the bows still attached to the bang and the stern in the off side reeds, I can’t say I was surprised, the ground is wet and I could only get the pins in a short way, I can’t blame it on a speeding boater going by, we haven’t seen a boat on the move since half way up the 21.

We were away at quarter to nine in the rain and wind, the rest of the W&E was uneventful. Walsall Council have put a nice carpark and laid paths on a piece of land on the off side, they have also installed a couple of picnic benches for people to use. The tarmacked  carpark already supports some fly tipping.DSCF7494

We stopped at the services by Tesco and got shot of the stuff I removed from the prop yesterday and shortly afterwards turned sharp right down the Daw End Branch.
Black Cock Bridge that was rebuilt earlier this year looks very splendid and you could easily pass by not realising it had all been replaced, a little further on we past an impressive piece of graffiti on the wall.DSCF7495

One thing we noticed was that Aldridge Marina is now deserted, not a single boat or piece of boat equipment to be seen. The pumpout unit is still there but whether you would find anyone to operate it is another matter.
Our original plan for this trip was to stop at Longwood Boat club, but as we had made an early start we continued on down the 9 Rushull Locks, these all have anti vandal locks on them and everything worked nicely, some locks were with us, some against, but by now the weather was fine and it was fairly easy going. What I cant understand is why they didn’t put lock 3 a lot closer to lock 2, the canal in this long pound is on an embankment for part of the time and if they had dropped down earlier it wouldn’t have been needed.
Down at  Rushall Junction we turned left on to the Tame Valley canal, along here we met a gang of vegetation control operatives, one driving a ride on mower and the other three walking, I have no idea where they had been working. When we arrived at Perry Barr we pulled over to the services to fill with water, since all the refurbishment I can report that the walkway in front of the service block no longer clanks when a bike passes over it. Once the tank was full we pushed over to moor by the top lock for the night.

Todays Journey image

13¼ miles, 9 locks in 6 hours

Thursday 29 December 2022

Pelsall Common

As we were moored right outside the Nickelodeon pub we decided to eat there, the menu was not that exciting but the carvery was OK. The carpark was a bit noisy with the boy racers but quietened down before we went to bed. This morning we woke to bright sunshine. DSCF7491We slid very gently out of the arm backwards trying successfully not to pick anything up on the prop and headed off along the W&E making good progress, in fact we only stopped once for a weed hatch visit and that was caused by hooking a large branch on the bows. When I reversed off to clear it I picked up a large blade full, it mat once have been a fisherman’s bivvy with big heavy duty zips and some thin semi ridged plastic, that held us up for half an hour or so. I must say the water was not as cold as I expected.
We stopped at Sneyd Junction services and topped the water tank up a bit as we were passing, that should see us OK to Longwood.
Something I haven’t noticed before is this installation for disabled fishing persons, wheelchair friendly hard flat surface and a raised section to stop them rolling into the cut.DSCF7492

One day, hopefully the Heatherton canal will join here to give a direct connection to the Staffordshire and Worcester canal.DSCF7493

We carried on a little further mooring for the night just before the junction with the Cannock Extension at Pelsall Common, we are actually about two foot out from the bank and the pins are only in the ground six inches but we are not expecting anyone to come speeding by tonight.

Todays Journey image

11½ miles, no locks in 4½ hours

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Bentley Arm W&E

The weather forecast for today was rain, and they weren't wrong, although it wasn’t as heavy as I expected, but at least it was warm. After about 10 minutes we were at Aldersley junction entering lock 21 of the Wolverhampton flight.DSCF7477

Some of the locks were with us and some against, now and again even the rain stopped for a short time. Something that is always good to see on the 21 as you approach a lock is water coming from the bywash, it means the pound above is the correct level, there have been a lot of problems this winter with the flight being drained overnight, but today all was fine, only 2 to 3 were down a little bit.DSCF7478

Everything was well greased and worked well, even the anti vandal locks worked with only 2 faulty on the whole flight. Much to our surprise we met a boat coming down at the half way point, this meant all the rest of the locks would be with us. Some time ago CRT but little signs by every lock warning of falling from a height.DSCF7483

Today most of them have disappeared and just the posts remain. I can’t think why anyone would want to pinch them.DSCF7481

Some of the locks still have to original stone by the bottom gates giving both lock number and date.DSCF7484

One lock even supports an Ordinance Survey datum mark on the stone work. I often wonder how accurate these are today and how much the ground has moved since the marks were made.DSCF7482

Not a particularly fast run up the flight as things were a bit slippery in places with soggy leaves etc. so it took us 3 hours and twenty minutes. Once clear of the flight we carried on to Horsleyfields Junction where we had to turn left, as the canal ahead is still closed following a fire before Christmas. You can just see the gable end of the old industrial building standing there looking rather unsafe.DSCF7486

We were now on the Wyrley and Essington Canal. A short way from the junction is an old gauging lock, the gates long gone, but its a great spot for collecting rubbish round the prop, today we came through clean. A spot that always demands a photograph is going under the polished stainless steel bridge arch where you get a reflection of the boat as you pass under. A selfie with a difference.DSCF7490

We arrived at The Bentley arm and tucked in for the night right beside the Nickelodeon pub. Since we have been here the wind has freshened and is quite gusty.

Todays Journey image

4¼ miles, 21 locks in 4¼ hours

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Autherley Junction

Well last night was the opposite of the night before, when we went to bed the deck was covered in ice and when we set off this morning it was raining. We didn’t leave quite as early as normal as we didn’t have far to go, only Autherley Junction, tomorrow its the 21 and its forecast to rain. We didn’t have much rain today, just a few light showers and the only other boats we saw on the move were these kids in their canoes.DSCF7476

I noticed that some of the bridges, instead of having a cast number on them have a hand painted black wooden plaque.DSCF7475

One thing I spotted at Four Ashes was this old telephone wire pole or GPO pole which still has a couple of insulators on it, there are a few around the system where they and not easily accusable to remove.DSCF7471

As the day progressed the wind increased and although the actual temperature was quite high for the time of year the wind made it feel cold.

Todays Journeyimage

7¾ miles no locks in 2½ hours

Monday 26 December 2022

Gailey, Four Ashes

We had heavy rain overnight followed by a frost early this morning so went I went out to put the flags up they were frozen to the roof so had to be left for a bit, the grass was white in places and even very smell patches of ice at the edge of the canal. We were away about 10 am and it wasn’t long before we passed a moored boat, it was the one that came by yesterday evening. We only saw two boats on the move all day, both going from Gailey to Penkridge, the first then returning and mooring just ahead of us.
The crocodiles are out in force in this part of the world, we passed a second one today.DSCF7467

In Suffolk there is a property known as The House in the Clouds at Thorpness, House in the Clouds | Self Catering Holiday Accommodation |Suffolk
today we saw a model one in a garden.DSCF7468

We stopped at Penkridge to fill with water, I can report the tap has good pressure and the toilet spotless, also the signs on the little posts telling you not to moor to them have gone, but I have never seen so many signs on a waster disposal site, or should I call it a recycling facility. This was just the door, they are round the end as well.DSCF7469

It was just after this that we met the first boat of the day, they were winding and going back to Gailey, so meeting us they expected all the locks to be against them.  This is one expense that CRT  could really do without and its happening more and more, lets hope they can claim off the drivers insurance if they know who it was.DSCF7470

At Gailey Lock I noticed lots of books on the windowsill of the service block, but unfortunately the door was locked and a notice saying “services out of order on the elsan disposal door. We only went a few hundred yards further along the canal to the 2 day visitor moorings where we found a spot with no tree cover, this will do us for the night.

Todays Journeyimage

7½ miles, 10 locks in 4½ hours

Sunday 25 December 2022

Deptmore Lock Christmas Day

Following my posting and photo of the building at Tixall Wide Dave sent me this link


It has loads of information about Tixall, not just the building in question.

This morning we didn’t set off, the chap behind did so now we are all alone, we did have the company of a police helicopter for the best part of half an hour, circling a short way away, looking at the map in was in the area of Roseford Farm. 
Once that activity was over and we had had coffee I set to fitting the new alternator. The old one failed last trip and I refitted the 30 amp, 24 volt one which I originally fitted when I first installed the engine, This led to three problems,

1 I was 25 years younger.
2 There was much more room to work
3 The original came from a commercial vehicle so was a bit different on the mountings, not much but enough to make it not bolt out, bolt in replacement.

By one thirty I was seeing 42 amps going into the batteries, that is from a 60 amp alternator and so far the temperature has not reached 80° C within an hour the battery was full again and the temperature stayed constant. While I was doing this Diana took her self for a walk, on her return we had lunch and I cleared all my stuff away before His Royal Highness came on TV and said nothing of importance.
As the light faded the sky turned just a pail pink with some nice reflections on the water.DSCF7463

About 7pm. diner was ready, I can’t take any of the credit for this so I just did the washing up afterwards.DSCF7466

She even takes the credit for the Christmas decorations, I just make sure we have the electrics to keep them alight. DSCF7464


Merry Christmas one and all.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Deptmore Lock

Off at our normal ten in bright sunshine just after another boat had gone by. I think I have tried to get a good photo of this tree carving every time we have been passed but the angle is always not quite right.DSCF7449

When we arrived a Colwich lock, which was living up to its nickname Cow S**t Lock the single hander ahead was just going in through the bottom gates.DSCF7450

Diana helped him lock up and then it was our turn, if possible I like to tuck the bows in against the gate so the boat doesn't get washed about as the lock empties. As I stood there I watched a pair of Jackdaws on the lock cottage chimney top, I wonder if they well set up home in his flue.DSCF7452

As we were about to leave Colwich Lock a boat came under the railway bridge so we were able to leave the lock open.
The Kingfishers were out in force, the first just sat on some dead foliage as we passed but I spotted it too late to get the camera out, I had more luck with the next two.

DSCF7453 DSCF7454

  A bit more luck at Haywood Lock as there was a boat waiting to exit the lock and the engine had an unmistakable beat to it, it was the ex working boat called “Ironside” but I can’t find a historic boat with that name.DSCF7458

We continued up the Trent and Mersey canal  as far as Great Haywood Junction where we turned left onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. Surprisingly there were on 3 boats moored on Tixall Wide, I expected more stopping there for Christmas, but it did give me a chance to blow a few cobwebs out of the engine. The long building that stands not too far back from Tixall Wide was looking splendid in the morning sun. I have no idea how old it is and can find nothing about it.DSCF7460

At Tixall lock we met a gentleman who said his son owned the boat permanently moored on the offside above the lock and that it had crossed the English Channel twice, but couldn’t get to the Montgomery Canal as it was a tad too wide. We carried on to the outskirts of Stafford, past the Stafford link where they hope to join the canal back to the river Sow one day and stopped for a short time at Meadow Bridge 99 to explore the bridge that crosses the floodplain of the river Penk, today it was well flooded.IMG_20221224_134953

We had often wondered where this bridge went to. Back on board we continued on our way, the floods opposite the Stafford Boat club where even wider .DSCF7462

By now we were within striking distance of our chosen mooring for the night which was just above Deptmore Lock, the weather was pleasant enough to go further but soon the noise of the motorway impinges on the canal.

Todays Journey image

8¾ Miles, 4 locks in 4 hours

Friday 23 December 2022

Wolseley Bridge

Got up for my early morning we and could hear the rain on the roof and it was still doing it next time I woke up at 9am. so we were a little late getting away this morning in even heavier rain. Looking out of the back doors fist thing, this was our view.DSCF7438

It was 11am when we set off after a couple of boats had gone by, so we were held up at each lock for a bit in the pouring rain
Just before the foot swing bridge just past the water point this chap is watching out for people overstaying on the facility moorings.DSCF7439

Between Shad House Lock and Woods End Lock the HS2 work is progressing but no action today. DSCF7441

At the cottage and lock some of the teapots have returned and someone has put some decorations on the Christmas tree in the front garden. After this the rain eased quite a bit and it was surprisingly warm. We caught up with the boat ahead by The Plum Pudding, one of the crew was walking the dog so I was able to just follow them through Armitage Tunnel. At the far side we came across a sad sight or a boat on fire, as we passed it was just belchingDSCF7442 smoke. As we passed the owner returned in their car and when he opened the front door the air rushing in caused a Flash over and it start belching flames. I hope they didn’t catch him as he opened the door. I found out later that their dog was in the boat.
In Rugeley CRT contractors are still hard at it piling the towpath edge, they had started this last time we came through.DSCF7444

A little further on you pass Naomi’s moorings and the Christmas display is not a let down, they have really gone to town, I don’t know what it looks like at night.

DSCF7446 DSCF7448

We chugged on crossing the river Trent where a football was merrily flowing down stream, as we passed Taff Bridge I could see the boats that were sitting in the field have now returned to the water. Not far to go now as we decided we would stop at Wolseley Bridge for the night at 3-30pm.

Todays Journeyimage

10¾ Miles, 3 locks in 4½ hours