Monday 31 July 2023

Wootton Wawen

Well the rain started just as we moored up yesterday and it was still raining when we went to bed, it was fine when we got up this morning but it didn’t look like it would stay that way.
It was only a short run today setting off at 10 am and mooring up about half an hour before it started tipping it down again.
I boat had already come by going up the canal but even so the locks had all leaked off, this even happened after meeting other boats so all needed water adding before we could open them, It wasn’t long before we crossed our first aqueduct on this canal, just before Bucket Lock.DSCF8249

I couldn’t quite touch the telegraph cables that you can see crossing the canal in the foreground, the posts are in the land adjacent to the embankment.
CRT have some very visible markers along this canal to show the location of overflows, culverts etc.  DSCF8253

These young cattle looked out inquisitively as we passed them on the off side and I was  lucky enough DSCF8254to spot a Kingfisher, the first I have seen for months, but no chance of a photo as it was away before we got there. The bridges along here don’t have towpaths through them, the horse had to cross the track that ran over the bridge and then carry on on the other side of it, to remove the need to uncouple the boat from the tow line the bridges were made with a gap in the centre of the deck.DSCF8256 On this particular bridge you can see the boat the other side has not chosen the best place to moor as the canal swings away to the left, we cleared it OK but a full length boat would have needed to get much closer to them and it they were towing a butty I think paint would get lost.
Our target for tonight was Wootton Wawen and we have moored between bridges 52 and 53, not on the 24 hour visitor mooring.

Today’s Journeyimage

3¼ miles, 6 locks in 2¼ hours

Lowsonford Bottom Lock

We woke to bright sunshine, but there had been heavy rain earlier, a boat just mooring behind us said it was pouring when he set off at 6-30am, I don’t do 6-30am unless I have to. Not so bright when we left around 10 o’clock. We went the hundred or so yards down the Grand Union and then back to the Stratford canal through the link and then sharp left to go down the South Stratford. I can’t say I have ever noticed the Toll House here before, it looks the same design as the one at Kings Norton.DSCF8244A chap off the boat coming up the top lock walked up to meet us and introduced himself, it was John and he had been updating me on the river conditions on the Canal Forum over the past few days.
We had quite good luck with the locks meeting lots of boat, we even met four boats each about 30 foot long who were locking through in pairs, but our luck ran out around lock 28 after that we were turning them.
I posted the other day about someone painting under a motorway bridge, today we passed under the M40 and someone has kindly put Eyebolts in the concrete on the off side to moor to.DSCF8246

It should also be noted that when the canal was built the engineers obviously thought a lot of horses and put bridges over the spill weirs, on most canals you walk across the bed of the weir and if its spilling you get wet feet and the horses wet fetlocks. DSCF8247

Our original plan for today went out of the window two days ago when we carried on down the first 4 locks of the Lapworth flight putting us too far forward.so we will need to gain or lose a day on the Avon as Gloucester Lock is closed on a Tuesday. We finally stopped for the day just below lock 32, the trees are a bit drippy but we did manage to tie up just before the rains came.

Our latest plan is at https://canalplan.uk/journey/19607_cp


Today’s Journey image

2¾miles, 11 locks in 3 hours

Sunday 30 July 2023

bottom lock Lowsonford

No blog today as the signal is poor, just these few words

Saturday 29 July 2023

Kingswood Junction GU

Went out to put the tiller on this morning and the boat behind was just pulling away so we waited until he cleared the first lock, number 6 and then followed him down, we only turned the first two locks when we saw two boats coming up, the first a 70 footer I met on the bendy pound just below lock 7, I don’t think the Volockie was too impressed when I wouldn’t go into the by wash and waited against the towpath. Any way the young lady on the 70 footer slid past with no problem and when her bows were in the mouth of the next lock i slid forward clear of her stern. I then waited in lock 8 as the next boat was single handing and this time I did move out so he could rub against the towpath to the next lock. after that we met a couple moor boats coming up until we were below lock 14, after that we had to turn a couple. As we needed water we stopped below 18 while three boats came up 19, they were very slow as a swan was sitting by the offside paddle and no one would go near to use it. Once full with water and the third boat had exited the lock we dropped down through both 21 and 22 before turning through the link onto the Grand Union to moor for the night.
One of the locks with steel girder beams as had wooden blocks set into the ends so that you can close them with a shaft from the back of the boat as you leave, some locks on the Shropshire Union have similar blocks.DSCF8238

I think the owner of this boat has a DIY fuel polishing system with an external filter stood out on the deck, it didn’t look to be running when we passed, I am not sure how its sealed into the diesel tank, maybe its not connected at the moment.DSCF8239

I am not sure the do not use me tape was really required here.DSCF8240

At the junction there are two plaques, one national Trust and the other the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal SocietyDSCF8242


Today’s Journeyimage

1¼ miles, 16 locks in 3¼ hours

Friday 28 July 2023

Lapworth Flight Bridge 31

It was again a very quiet mooring and the boats didn’t seem to be around that early this morning, they were strimming the edge of the lock moorings and where the mooring rings are as I was showering so I didn’t see them.
We set off a bit later at ten to eleven just as a boat was coming towards the other side of the bridge, so Diana raised the bridge for them almost catching a car, he stopped with his wheels on the hinge, I don’t know if the barrier would have cleared the back of his car, but the counter weight would creased his roof if Diana hadn’t stopped the operation. Flashing red lights mean nothing to some drivers, I am sure he only stopped because he saw the barrier falling in front of him on the far side, so getting him to back up delayed things a bit and then the other boat untied both ends and came through at snails pace, I think Diana said she had 10 cars waiting.
I noticed that the smart newish blocks of apartments now have flood barriers along all the ground floorDSCF8227 windows, I think that would put me off having one.They stand about a foot above canal level so I am not sure how they flood other than rain building up on the brick paviours, surly better storm drains would be the answer. Does the water feature ever work?DSCF8228

I see nothing has been done with the old burnt out farm house, it must be ripe for replacing with a couple of semidetached properties and making a few bob.DSCF8229

We made a fifteen minute stop at bridge 20 for some goodies which I haven’t actually seen yet, but Diana’s bag looked quite full when she got back to the boat.DSCF8230

Someone has a task on their hands under the M42 motorway bridge, they make a good wet dock paint shed but the light is poor and you can only get to one side without cruising to the nearest winding hole.DSCF8233

We passed this cruiser and I am not sure if its two boats grafted together or what’s happening under the corrugated sheeting, the fibreglass hull doesn't quite seem to flow.DSCF8236

Our original plan was to moor above the top lock, but as we had met a couple of boats we decided to do the first four lock before mooring, on this bridge the change of profile has been highlighted with white paint and someone has taken the opportunity of drawing some plants on it.DSCF8237

After this its close locks all the way down nearly to Kingswood Junction.


Todays Journeyimage

7¼ miles, 4 locks in 3½ hours

Thursday 27 July 2023

Shirley Drawbridge

Yesterday evening it rained and rained so when we went out to eat we didn’t go too far, only to Las Iguanas Mexican restaurant where we have been before and their menu is large enough to make us visit again.Even that short walk we were quite wet when we got back to the boat.
This morning the forecast was much better, even some sun, just before we left this ex working boat came by and like last time failed to make the junction and hit the far wall.DSCF8209

We followed him out but went the other way, as we left the junction I spotted this on the far bank. I wonder who commissioned it? I think its a bee.DSCF8211

I was surprised to see Joules Fuels moored by the mail box, I didn’t realise Birmingham was on there run, we stopped just round the corner by the services for 5 minutes then made an error of judgment, as we were about to leave a hire boat came round the bend and rather than pulling out I waited for them to go slowly passed and then followed them to Selly Oak Junction. One of the points of interest, where they slowed to a crawl is Edgbaston Tunnel, this use to be wide enough for two way traffic but a few years ago CRT decided to widen the towpath and reduced the channel to single file. The University railway Station looks to be nearly complete now with the line running through the middle of the station.DSCF8217

We carried on to Selly Oak Junction where we stopped for an hour to replenish supplies from Sainsburys, This will be a winding hole to give access to the Lapal Canal when restoration is complete. The only down side is the goose poo all over the hard surface.DSCF8218

I forgot to add, up until now it had been raining but had thankfully just stopped.
Shopping done and we were away again, just passed the Bournville moorings there were some boats breasted up, on the outside was a CRT push tug with a chap down the engine hole and in front of them was what I think is a Standedge Tunnel pod. On the inside was the Ikon art boat that was moored  in Birmingham for some time.DSCF8219

Then on to Kings Norton Junction and no I didn’t get round in one, but the old Toll House is looking splendid, I hope someone takes on living there with all the money that has been spent following the fire a few years back. I don’t think it would suit every one to live there, but its a grand house now.DSCF8221

From here it was on the North Stratford Canal and through the only lock of the day, Lock No. 1 a now disused stop lock that was put in to prevent water loss from one companies canal to another.DSCF8223

From here we went through our second tunnel of the day, this one is two way working, but this one doesn’t have any tow paths though it so looks much narrower especially compared with Netherton Tunnel that we did yesterday.DSCF8224

We were lucky to find a mooring just prior the the bridge moorings at Shirley Lift bridge.DSCF8226




Today’s Journey image

11 miles, 1 lock in 3¾ hours

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Birmingham Oozells Street Loop

This morning we saw a CRT “chugger” setting up just to the front of our boat, and sure enough I hadn’t been standing on deck 2DSCF8194 minutes and she was on to me to become a friend of CRT. When I pointed out I wasn’t interested she said most boaters say that. We then had a quick visit to the Bumble Hole visitor centre and I got an update on yesterdays found dog who turned out to be chipped. The were doing quite a good trade in the morning sun shine serving tea and coffee outside.DSCF8195

We were away just after 10 am and into the tunnel, at first I thought there was a boat coming towards us but it was an electric bicycle with 3 LED headlights, the smaller dot is the end of the tunnel.DSCF8196

This tunnel is over twice as wide and high as Gosty Hill tunnel and has towpaths ether side although the left hand one is now closed off.DSCF8197 We didn’t meet any boats in the tunnel and only a couple on the way into Birmingham. At Dudley Port Junction we turned right to follow the New Main Line all the way to Birmingham, so no locks for us today going straight on at both Albion Junction and Bromford Junction.DSCF8200

Then on under the motorway and the Old Main Line, it looks tight but I am guessing there is actually room to get a boat past on the right hand side of the bridge supports from when the canal was a working waterway.DSCF8201

Having passed under the Old Main line it wasn’t long before we were going under the Engine Arm, this aqueduct always reminds me of Iron Bridge.DSCF8202

The mass of green you can see under the aqueduct is one of the old Toll Islands that is well overgrown but no problem to pass it, the BCNS have cleared some of the others but at the moment their boat is in need of some repairs and they are trying to raise the cash. It seems CRT didn’t get round to preventing regrowth.DSCF8204

Just after this we came across a Narrowboat at 45° with its bum sticking out, at first I thought it was adrift but then saw someone on the towpath, as we got closer the boat straightened up a bit, turned out it was Robbie Commins videoing. I wonder if he got past the toll islands with those fenders dangling down like that?DSCF8206

Like lots of other places we have passed this week the towpath is being upgraded and like most of the other locations someone has seen fit to smash the barriers put up at the end of the worksite.DSCF8207

One thing I notice is that the Birmingham skyline is always changing, they are always knocking something down and building something else.DSCF8208 We carried on into Birmingham and turned right at Ladywood Junction going round the Oozells Street loop hoping there would be a mooring behind the Sea Life Centre and we were in luck, only one boat moored there. We had been moored up for about an hour, even got some wood preserver on the boat hook before it started to rain.

Today’s Journeyimage 9 miles, no locks in 3 hours

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Windmill End

Well tonight we are moored in the same spot as last night even facing the same way, but we have not been here all day.
Before we set off a little after 10 the Bumble Hole volunteers were out patching things up, on a sadderDSCF8173note there was a very nice fluffy dog tied up outside the centre, it seems a lady had found him wandering around and he was waiting for the dog warden, lets hope he is chipped. We turned right at the junction down the Dudley No 2 canal, just through the junction is a toll island but this one is definitely suffering from ware and tare of coming into contact with boats.DSCF8174

The towpath from the junction almost to the tunnel is being upgraded and is closed throughout its length, but a few people cant accept this fact .DSCF8179     

The materials for this work is being transported by boat to the work face and we were surprised to find the tug being driven by an acquaintance of ours, needless to say we met her at a bridge hole and her barge was hard aground giving us water to pass through.DSCF8187 

Looking at the tow path before the ballast is laid reminds you very much of a railway line snaking off  into the distance but without any sleepers.DSCF8176  Not only was the towpath being maintained on land but CRT were out cutting back offside vegetation, Its good to see but I am sure they could find more pressing places to do this important work.DSCF8177Then we were approaching Gosty Hill tunnel, Diana decided to jump ship and walk over and look at the ventilation shaft in someone’s front garden while I chugged on alone.DSCF8183

For those that don’t know, the head clearance at the entrance is nothing like the clearance further through where its about the same as the Harecastle Tunnel.DSCF8184

Once clear off the tunnel I picked Diana up who was waiting for me, its not the fastest tunnel in the world. From here its not far to Hawne Basin where we filled with diesel and had a pump out, probably both are the cheapest on the system.DSCF8185

As you can see their entrance is a bight on the tight side as well. Back through the tunnel and under the railway bridge, the road beside the canal the road under the bridge has been closed for some time with no obvious reason, today it is obvious, where the road crosses a disused branch from the canal.DSCF8181

Our original plan was just to come back to Windmill End and moor up for the night, but we have only done 6 miles so off we go to Parkhead Junction where we winded and were haled by a hire boat at the water point, they couldn’t get their hose off and there was water spraying everywhere, had I got a spanner. I pulled over and had a look, their hose was attached by a brass hose connector which they couldn’t move, in attempting remove the host they had pulled the supply pipe out of the tap so water was gushing everywhere and no stop tap. Two minutes and the mole grips had the tap coupler off, The second tap fully open reduced the water pressure and a spanner had the fitting back on the tap, job done. We then headed back to Windmill end for the night, we hadn’t been moored up long when the hire boat pulled in ahead of us and tried to give me a bottle of wine for my trouble. I refused but what a lovely gesture .
This area of the Black Country they have invested heavily in metal interpretation boards and surprisingly the don’t seem to suffer with the same vandalism as other structures.

DSCF8191 DSCF8192 DSCF8193


Todays Journey image

11 miles no locks in 4¾ hours