Sunday 30 April 2023

Gt Haywood

All the tea pots at Woodend lock have now gone, I read that someone had replaced them all. Its also good to see how well the young trees set by HS2 are growing, unlike lots planted on the A14.DSCF7813

We were ready to go and it started raining, as we are in no great rush we waited until it stopped sometime after 11am. but it didn’t stop for long and the brolly was up and down all day, some light showers some heavy.
The towpath between here and Bridge 54 has been resurfaced with compressed ballast on top of a DSCF7815membrane. They are bringing the material in by boat from a large heap stored opposite the Plum Pudding pub at Spode.
The last time we came through Spode this boat was on fire, it looks as if its not a total loss but still heart breaking for the owners who also lost their dogs.DSCF7818

We made our way into Rugeley, this mother duck was taking great care of her youngsters, but one had gone AWL and dad was bringing it back. WeDSCF7819 have seen several ducks with just one or two ducklings .
There were a few places to moor in Rugeley but not many and a lot of boats moored to the north of the town, the same was true at Taft Bridge, I have never seen so many boats there. As usual Naomi’s Landing have a good display of manikins to brighten a wet day.DSCF7821

A little further on at the approach to the aqueduct there use to be a sign about the Bloody Steps and the death of Christine Collins, for some reason CRT have decided to change it to a notice about the aqueduct, maybe murder on the canal doesn’t fit in with wellbeing by water. DSCF7822

Our mooring for the night was to be between Colwich Lock and Gt Haywood lock, I did consider going into Gt Haywood but having seen how full popular moorings are I thought it may not be the best idea. At Colwich we struck lucky, no queue and about about to come down, By the time they left the lock there were three boats queuing behind us. On our way to moor we passed this boat and I just had to photograph it DSCF7824

Today’s Journey image

11¼ miles, 1 lock in 4¼ hours

Saturday 29 April 2023

Wood end Lock

Well we didn’t wake to the rain today but it was raining before we were up. Being in no rush we waited until 10-30 before setting off when we thought the rain was done with, wrong. It was mid day before it really cleared out and then it got quite warm. As we approached the bend just after Hademore  House Bridge the weather was probably at its best with this reflection of a Cherry Tree, I would have been better but a Moorhen decided to make a ripple.DSCF7809

Passing by the canal side building just before Bell Bridge the building with the Dutch Barge stile Narrowboat moored outside, looking back you can see it has a some what fantastic window in the end.DSCF7811

By half past two it was starting to rain again, quite heavily so we decided we would moor just before Fradley Junction if there was room, needless to say there wasn’t, so it was onto the Trent and Mersey Canal and turn left just in time to see a boat had just left the lock coming towards us, so the first of three locks were with us, as we cleared Middle Lock a boat was locking down in Shadehouse Lock, this time after a short wait the gates were open ready for us. Above the lock all the moorings were full so we pushed on, meetinhg3 boats between here an Woodend lock, luckily the next boat coming down saw us and reopened the bottom gates for us. Above the lock we just managed to fit the very end of the piling for the night.

Today’s Journey image

12 miles, 3 locks in 5¼ hours

Friday 28 April 2023

Fazeley Junction

It rained for most of the from home to the boat, only picking up at lunchtime, but we arrived at the boat in bright sunshine, thankfully it has continued into the evening.
We were away about quarter past four after I had done a few jobs. A couple of locals were waiting to see us off on or latest trip standing on the end of the jetty.DSCF7807

At the mouth of the marina the swans have again nested but I don’t hold out a lot of hope considering the fox activity that we have witnessedDSCF7808

We came out of the marina and turned left, I dropped Diana off at bridge 64 so she could visit Tesco Express, she said she would meet me at bridge 67, but someone has built a house on the approach, so she had to walk to the next one to re-join the towpath. As we turned Glascote top lock a boat was turning the bottom to come up, so we passed between the locks. A Fazeley Junction we stopped for water before continuing on a couple of boat lengths to moor for the night.
Diner was a Chinese take away from Peninsular Cantonese Restaurant, one of our favourites.

Todays Journeyimage 2 locks 3¾ miles in 2¼ hours

Thursday 20 April 2023

Home Moorings

We woke, not to early to lovely sunshine, we expected an early call from the water fowl but it didn’t happen.
As we made our way along the Birmingham and Fazeley canal a small team of three were cutting saplings and some a bit bigger on the offside and strimming the undergrowth.DSCF7800DSCF7801

Things started getting busy as we approached  Fazeley Junction with boats queuing for the water point, With people watching I swung onto the Coventry Canal and through bridge 77 flawlessly. At the Tame aqueduct Diana was steering and a boat appeared through the bridge at the other end, Diana stopped in a nice straight line to wait for them, they bobbed around for a bit and then waved her through. Diana commented to me that Glascote locks would be with us, they were but there was a queue and another coming down. The boat ahead of us going up drew over three foot and was doubtful about the pound, unfortunately he went slightly too far to the offside passing the boat coming down and struggled a bit. I expected him to be slow being so deep, but we didn’t catch him up until we reached Alvecote.
For once reversing into our berth down the marina the wind was in our favour, but did it really need to see haw hard in could blow when I was half way down for just a few seconds?  As I swung the stern in between the next boat and the pontoon the light breeze just brought the bows round for Diana to pick the bow moorings up.

I would rather not discuss the journey home, torrential rain, road works, roads closed, accident.

Today’s Journeyimage

2 Locks, 6¾ miles in 3 hours

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Middleton Lakes Nature reserve

Another quiet night and dinner was a takeaway from Shobhas, I didn’t bother trying to order on line but just walked up with our order then watched some ten pin bowling  for quarter of an hour before picking up our food.
This morning was not as nice as yesterday and I wondered if I had made a mistake not reversing up yesterday in the sunshine, but it all went well even if I did meet a boat coming the other way between the junction and Nechells stop lock. Down at the junction we travelled along the Birmingham and Fazeley canal towards Fazeley. The breeze felt decidedly chilly, not like yesterday. A short way after this junction we pass this advertisement and I always wonder, has it slipped or is it meant to be on the tosh?   DSCF7790

We had some good luck with the locks, it would have been better if they hadn’t leaked but you cant have everything, we met a boat who had just left Minworth top lock but by the time I had dropped Diana off it had dropped a foot. Most of the others were much better.
We stopped for a bite of lunch a short way above Curdworth Locks where we met yet another boat coming up, so hopefully that was a good omen. One good thing is that several of the paddles have been repaired, I think there were only two still out of use.
HS2 is stepping out across the countryside but already the earth banks are turning green with a good grass covering. I do wonder if the wild life will be a winner from this as there will be long strips of un farmed land for miles and miles.DSCF7792

When we came up the flight, three chaps were hard at work removing the veranda from the front of the old BWB cottage, even the old BWB number 254 is now visible DSCF7793

There was quite a bit of water coming down the flight, that plus us dropping locks meant that some top gates were overtopping.
Passing the God in a Doublet pub we saw this strange craft moored outside, as we passed I couldDSCF7796 see it was outboard engine powered and Diana said there was a banner on it to raise money for a child requiring medical treatment.DSCF7797

As we locked down lock N02 we could see another boat coming towards us, so we were able to leave the gates open, double bonus. We went just below lock No1 to moor for the night.

Today’s Journey image

9½ miles, 14 locks in 5¼ hours

Tuesday 18 April 2023

Star City

Yesterday late afternoon the share boat that we assisted earlier moored behind us and were away at about 8am this morning down the flight so we knew most would be against us.
Last night we moored  just to the west of Walsall Road bridge on the same side as the services, there is room for at least 4 narrowboats along here, we normally moor at the top of the locks opposite the services as that is also a mooring but its on the lock moorings.
It was about ten when we set of in bright sun shine for a change, I only took one photo, this in the towpath right in front of the top lock cottages. I guess whatever it was is no longer used.DSCF7789

We had just done a couple of locks when a CRT chap turned up to check the levels in the flight, The first few were fine, 6-9” down off weir but it was a bit short further down so he went to the top to let water down. however we were clear of the low pound before the water arrived, we nicked a bit from the pound above. Things went well until lock 12 where we couldn’t close the bottom nearside gate, something bouncy on the cill and too far down for me to reach so it was a call to CRT for help. I must say they were on the ball. After speaking to a chap I was on hold for quite some time while he contacted the region for them to send someone out so that he could tell me what the wait would be. About 5 minutes later a young lady called to say he was on his way and 15 minutes later he was getting out of his truck. A quick chat and he agreed with me, probably a tyre on the cill, Out came his rake with about a 20 foot handle and up came a tyre. Job done. We were stuck for about three quarters of an hour which was good going, just time for lunch. Once we were off again it was down through lock 13 and along to Salford Junction, a slow right hander up to Star City for the night.

Today’s Journeyimage

3¼ miles, 13 locks in 3¾ hours

Monday 17 April 2023

Perry Barr Top Lock.

Today not only did we yet again wake to the sound of rain but also ducks on the roof and it stayed a bit dreary until about 10-30am. not a problem for us as we spent the first half hour in Netherton Tunnel. Things looked slightly brighter as we came to the end.DSCF7777

We carried straight on to Dudley Port Junction and turned right towards Birmingham, looking back up the New Main Line towards Tipton you can see what sort of day it was and it didn’t really ever get much better.DSCF7779

Along the main line to Pudding Green Junction and hard left, one day I will do it right and get round in one, but not today. We were now on the Wednesbury Old Canal heading for the Riders Green flight of 8 locks down to the Walsall Level. The locks were all against us and a passing cyclist informed us one of the pounds was empty, not a problem going down as you can take the water with you. By lock three I could see people working locks ahead and walking our way, was someone coming up, no, it was a share boat going down and wanted to know how many lock full’s were needed to fill an empty pound. I opened both top and bottom paddles of the lock we were in to send water down to them, once the pound behind had dropped a foot we moved down to the next lock and did the same thing, which was sufficient to get them on their way. This was looking back up the flight.DSCF7780

It must have been lock 6 they were stuck at and by the time we were leaving 6 the CRT chap turned up as they had rung for help. I told him what we had done and he walked back up the flight to top everything back up. At lock 7  a family looking over the road bridge told us there were plenty of trollies ahead, this was only to be expected as the get thrown over wholesale from the foot bridge, it must cost Asda a fortune.DSCF7781

At lock 8 the share boat’s woes were not over, they could only release one antivandal lock as the square spindle was warn, I tried with snipe noise pliers with no luck, things weren't helped but the other paddle getting fouled, thankfully the lock is shallow and between us we soon had the bottom gate open, then they jammed on a toy car in the lock, so I cleared that with their boat hook for them, but it wasn’t over yet, they now had a blade full and pulled over below the lock. We had less problems as the near side paddle was now clear, I still couldn’t operate the offside one. However the poor Share Boat was still in trouble, he couldn’t release the weed hatch cover, it was stuck down solid, tickling it with a mooring spike and hammer didn’t do any good, but my large screwdriver tapped into the joint lifted it, It looks as if it was sealed on wet paint. We left him dragging hand fulls of polly out.
At Thame Valley Junction we turned right along the very boring Thame Valley canal, long and straight, looking back I noticed that CRT have erected a nice sign to tell boaters about the services.DSCF7782

Part way along the Thame Valley Canal on the non towpath side there are some orange buoys in theDSCF7785

canal and an anti pollution boom . There is also a very large excavation taking place in the bankDSCF7784

As we approached Perry Barr we passed the Blue Bells growing on the bank, I say blue, there were white ones as well.DSCF7788 (2)

When we arrived at the top of the lock there was a cruiser and narrowboat moored before the bridge with a long space between them. Right in the middle of the space was a fisherman. We went passed and topped up with water at the services and then gently reversed back, past the Narrowboat and moored before the fisherman all very gently so not to disturb him, what I didn’t realise he was packing up to go home. Unlike most fishermen he wasn’t loaded down with tackle, just a stool, short rod and bait from what I could see.

Today’s Journeyimage

11¾ miles, 8 locks in 6¼ hours

Sunday 16 April 2023

Windmill End (again)

  This is becoming a habit, walking to the sound of rain. Some of the boats must have been away about 8-30AM as we were one of the last to leave being moored on the inside of two other boats and we were off at 9-30 AM. 
The offside corner of Leys Junction is sliding into the canal and looks to be back to the building wall. I wonder if the owners know?DSCF7748

When I see buildings like this I often wonder what is in the overhang part they have gone to so much trouble to create.DSCF7760

Brettell Lane Bridge is part new and part old, the old section is quite low, one of the lowest we pass through, it may even be as low as the entrance to Hawne Basin but wider.DSCF7765

The towpath is quite a duck as well, you would be pushed to ride a bike under there or even jog.
Just prior to the Delph flight of locks behind the towpath on the edge of some new housing is this anvil on a plinth, I have no idea if its a real anvil or a hollow imitation.DSCF7747

It was here that we caught up with the others with still about 5 boat ahead of us waiting, a Phil, one of them was not only single handing but had just broken his alternator belt, this limited his engine running as it also drive the water pump. It was 2 hours before we left the top lock. There was one Volockie on duty who had been there yesterday and by the time we got to the top he looked warn out. This Heron or Harnser kindly posed for us as we worked our way up.DSCF7769

When we arrived at Merry Hills where we had moored on Friday night a small group were moored up supervising Phil fitting a new belt. A little further on opposite the pubs etc. Atlas and Malus were moored up. I am not sure if that was their destination for the night or they were having a lunch break.DSCF7770

We decided to carry on to Windmill End for the night so wished them all farewell
At Blowers Green Lock we found a top and bottom paddle wide open, CRT were letting water down to replace what we had all used coming up Delph, it was bit of a bonus as the lock was almost empty. When we came down this lock on Friday we saw a chap wearing a hivis jacket litter picking, it had the same symbol on the back as on this waste bin.DSCF7771

Over the years I have seen Dexion used for many things but I have never seen a fire escape made from it before, maybe that is why it has barrier tape and do not use, on itDSCF7772

A little further on and we met the Dudley Tunnel Trust trip boat full of people, they took our photo and we took theirs.DSCF7773

Along this part of the canal there are lots metal interpretation boards, it looks as if they have all been given a fresh coat of paint since last time we were this way. This one depicting the chain and anchor works that use to be so prevalent in this part of the Black CountryDSCF7774

As we approached our overnight mooring we passed this one by The Fox and Goose Bridge, the area is known as The Bumble Hole DSCF7775

I have wittered on far too long for today, we only covered 5 miles, the same ones we did over the past two days.

Today’s Journeyimage

5 miles, 9 locks in 5 hours

Saturday 15 April 2023

Stourbridge Extension

The rain didn’t stop until well into the evening last night but thankfully it was dry and sunny this morning. We set off at about 9-30 and were one of DSCF7742the first away.  It wasn’t long before we were at the top of the Delph flight of locks. The flight was well manned with Volockies, I think there were 5 spread over the 8 locks so no real holdup as other boaters were also assisting single handers etc.Down below the lock we didn’t see the boats in front again until we reached Brookmoor Junction where the two ex working boats were backing into the arm.DSCF7749

One of the yards we passed had some interesting bird boxes made like miniature traveling vans

DSCF7745 DSCF7746

We reversed back down the Stourbridge Extension, last time we were here was in 2020 when Brian was with us. The moorings were quite good then but they have recently been cleared from the water edge to the fence.DSCF7750

It ended up with 16 boats attending, one boat decided how far he could get down the Fens Branch before having to reverse all the way out, he said it was about 50 yards less than his last try.DSCF7756

A little further on along the arm was a Swans nest complete with a clutch of eggs, when we returned the hen was sitting on the nest.DSCF7759

The Stourbridge Extension was at one time much longer with several short arms running off as can be seen by the map bellow from Waterway Routes shown with a dotted line.image

The arm was once a railway transhipment yard with three rail lines running behind the moorings and across the Fens Branch. DSCF7753


Today’s Journey image

3 miles, 8 locks in 2¾ hours