Thursday 24 August 2023

Home moorings

No signal last night


Had lovely meals in the Dog and Doublet last night, They only had the Wok kitchen on which suited us fine. I suspect they had a very busy weekend with the good weather as the choice of beer was very limited.
There had been a couple of spots of rain this morning before we were about, we hung around a bit before setting off as Darley hadn’t been long gone, looking back there was black smoke rising in the distance, lets hope its not another motorway fire.DSCF8482

Moored right in front of the pub is this raft, its been there for several months now so I walked down toDSCF8483

read the notice on it, I seems its fund raising for a little girl but its been her for months and not moved on its travels yet. The young girl has already been to Rome that is mentioned, so seems a bit in limbo.IMG_20230823_101600

Needless to say all the locks were against us and we didn’t meet a boat until after we had left the flight. The swing bridge just above the bottom lock is looking very sorry for its self, I doubt its been swung in 20 years, at least before they fitted the non slip surface as a walkway. a bit like the money on the sunken bollards that have never been raised.DSCF8486

There were only a couple of boats moored between the lock and Drayton Turret Bridge which is very unusual, there are normally about 4 at each bridge. We didn’t meet any boats until we turned at Fazeley Junction and then only one, so we knew Glascote locks would be against us and sure enough the boat ahead had just gone in the bottom lock so we followed him up, we than met a couple of boats above the locks, that was all we saw until back at the marina. We did pass this chap sitting on the fence beside the canal. A whole new meaning to wind your neck in.DSCF8488

I made a real pigs ear turning into our mooring slot and actually had to turn round and go in forwards.



5 locks, 7½ miles in 4¼ hours

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Dog in a Doublet, Curdworth

A few boats around this morning so we left it a bit later before setting off. Curdworth Tunnel could have been interesting for someone that doesn’t know it, the towpath at the entrance was awash and with the light coming through the tunnel reflecting on it, it looked like there was a towpath at all and the white handrail end on was almost invisible. I hope no one got caught out by it. As we approached lock No1 a chap walked up and opened the top gate for us, His boat was below the lock and he was coming up. The signs were all good until we got to lock No2 and there was a boat going down just ahead of us. Needless to say we didn’t meet anyone else. Not much activity at the HS2 site, just a couple of chaps with a drill rig and a lorry turned up with a new generator for them.DSCF8478

The lock cottage beside lock No 4 looks a lot better now that its been painted  following the removal of the veranda. I had a quick chat with one of theDSCF8477volunteers on the flight as to how they get there by car now as HS2 has chopped the access to the bridge over the motorway, she said its an extra couple of miles along the lane.    Click Map image
It seems the old motorway crossing will become a foot bridge. We carried on down to moor for the night in the pound between locks 8 and 9 and will go to the pub to eat tonight.

Since we have been moored up we have been joined by the ex working boat Darley who had tied up just ahead of us.DSCF8481



Today’s Journey image

8 locks, 2½ miles in 2 hours

Monday 21 August 2023

Curdworth, Broad Bulk Bridge

It’s a long time since I have seen the water feature actually running in the business park, intentional leaking gates.DSCF8466
One boat came up the flight before we were up and we then met another three before Salford Junction. On the way down the flight some work is taking place on the old offside wall.DSCF8468

They also had a floating scaffolding on a flat with hydraulic legs, I hope no one tries using it without the legs down, maybe they have a good on site foreman.DSCF8467

We stopped for water at Cuckoo Wharf, without doubt this must be the slowest tap on the system, your arm would ache just filling a kettle under it, so we gave that a miss. CRT have erected a new sign there now and there is no mention of boaters services.DSCF8469

We carried on to the Minworth locks, the top lock only has one paddle working, the other has no rack and the bottom hates leak to such an extent you cant get a level so two people on the beam to open the gate, only other problem is , its a poorly lock beam with splints holding it together.The bottom end the off side paddle is fine but the near side hasn’t worked for at least 5 years, it lifts OK but no water comes out. I have reported once a year for 4 years. We stopped below the lock and filled with water, this is quite a good tap, we took the opportunity to sit and eat lunch.
There is a car wash beside the can a short way before the lock and sometimes a bit or fine spray finds its way onto the canal, but this was a new one for me, I wonder if its a £5 job or a £7 one, its only a 2 seater and not a 4X4. Even the drum was getting the treatment with a long brush.DSCF8470

We got to Minworth Bottom lock and had just turned it when a lady appeared and produced a windlass, no sign of any boats coming, she said there were two and they had just left the pub. Again only one paddle works at the top, the off side the rack doesn't engage with the pinion. The other thing with this lock is someone sliced the handrail on the ladder. It was reported to CRT September last year and they have hung a piece of tape on it which is almost disintegrated. I thought this would be a top priority safety issue on a lock ladder.DSCF8471

When we finally got down the lock there were 4 boats waiting to come up, the first a single hander who arrived as I came into the lock followed by a boating friend of ours, Erick, it was his wife working the lock but we hadn’t seen her for about 10 years so didn’t recognise her and two other boats.
There was some kind of fund raising event going on outside the pub with a small table under the bridge asking for donations and in the water a dozen canoes with very little experience, they held onto the bank for dear life until we passed before milling about again.DSCF8472Clear of the lock it was down to one of our regular spots just before Wiggins Hill Bridge, but after a bit we decided the sewage farm was a bit whiffy so we moved on half a mile, over the boarder between Minworth and Curdworth, just after Broad Bulk Bridge, the parish boundary in the middle of nowhere, since we have been here another boat has come in behind us.
That is now two behind us.


Today’s journeyimage

6½ miles, 6 locks in 3¾ hours

Sunday 20 August 2023

Rocky Lane Bridge

Yesterday evening we ate at Les Iguanas again and the meal was as tasty as last time, the whole area was alive and heaving with people. Last night was the noisiest I have ever known it in Birmingham with shouting and singing well into the early hours, so getting out this morning was a struggle.
As I didn’t want to do battle with trip boats etc. I decided not to reverse along the moorings and out onto the main line  if one of them were coming in, so I went forward under Sheepcote street bridge, wind on the wide corner, then head back to Old Turn Junction and straight down to Farmers Bridge locks. Needless to say I didn’t see a trip boat. WE had a first class run down the flight, all pound were on weir with lots of water running down and only 2 locks had lost any level at all, so we flew down.
Lots of the scaffolding in place to replace the cladding on the buildings has been removed but these steel supports that were made to hold that scaffolding are still in place. an interesting rigging job for someone.DSCF8456

Lock 10 has even more scaffolding than when we were hear last.DSCF8459

The amount of building going on around the area is unbelievable and some are working today. The cladding of choice now seems to be fake bricks I don’t know what is behind it for insulation.DSCF8460

There is no end to the graffiti along here, all available wall space seems to have been used. Some is a lot more artistic than others.DSCF8461  As for the locks some of the bottom paddles we found quite hard work to draw, they were all well oiled on the mechanism it was drawing the blades. We were soon down at Aston Junction, Aston top lock was empty, our luck had changed, but only slightly as the rest were all right full and the weirs running hard.
I still find it strange that nothing has been done to secure the cladding on this building, I am sure that

not all the sheets have fallen straight down like this one imbedded in the canal bed. I am sure theDSCF8463 authorities would have something to say if it was near a road or footpath. We continued on to moor for the night between locks 8 and 9 on the off side  as there are handy rings.
Yesterday I asked a question as to the location of the box and what was in it. The location is under the bridge at Windmill End Junction, its only accessible by boat and requires a CRT key to open it. It should contain information about the Dudley Can but this is what I found.DSCF8441


Today’s Journey image

2½ miles, 21 lock in 3 hours

Saturday 19 August 2023

Birmingham Oozells Street

Thankfully it wasn’t raining this morning, before setting off we visited the Bumble Hole visitor centre, donated a jigsaw and a couple of books, came away with another jigsaw and a couple of books plus a couple of cakes.
Now a question for you, where is this and for extra points what’s inside it?DSCF8442

It was about half ten when we got away, the wind had changed direction overnight and the total covering of green behind us had gone, it had now spread up the first 700 meters of the tunnel. The tunnel itself was unusually wet but seemed very light, its nice to see the sun waiting for you when you get out.DSCF8448

Down at Dudley Port Junction the canal was again green, I am not sure if it duck weed or fairy moss, I suspect duckweed but ti was thick enough to support these flowers thrown from the bridge .DSCF8450

Looking up the main line towards Factory Locks the canal was again green for quite some way, howeverDSCF8451when we passed through some latter nearer the town it looked dead.
As you know, we tend not to do things in a straightforward way so at Albion Junction we turned right again and up Brades Locks. On this stretch CRT have done some offside bank support using coir sausages seeded with reeds.DSCF8452

Brades Hall Junction hard left along the old main line and soon under the M5 which again is all scaffolded out.DSCF8453

Summit tunnel is marked up as one way traffic so I decided to try measuring it, but I couldn’t reach the far side with my cabin shaft and that is 9 foot long. Aft the end of the tunnel there is a lovely carved dog which I would be more than happy to have in my garden. I think its delightful.DSCF8454

Down the 3 Smethwick locks and we are back on the main line heading into Birmingham, the towpath on our right is still closed for resurfacing with a lone security guard looking after the plant, its here we pass another toll island but its very difficult to see if anyone is coming the other way as the bull rushes are quite tall and thick.DSCF8455

We continued on into Birmingham avoiding the canoes, catamaran canoes and electric day boats that all happened to be about at the same time as a trip boat coming towards us. I left it a bit late swinging into the Oozells Street loop which I don’t think pleased the party boat following me, but still it all worked out. Two boats already down there , one with a 56foot git gap, maybe someone left, but we were able to get in at the far end under the foot bridge.
Once moored we went to New Gate Station to have a look at Ossie the Bull.image


Today’s Journeyimage

10 miles, 6  locks  in 4½ hours

Friday 18 August 2023

Windmill End, Bumble Hole

It was chucking it down this morning so we delayed our start until it eased and then actually stopped for a bit. Sections of the canal around here are thick with Fairy Moss, I have never seen it like thisDSCF8433 before, we use to get lots on the Middle level when we were there. Needles to say we met a boat just round this bend, the upside was Parkhead lock was in our favour. We may have been late away but 10 minutes later and we would have been third in line for this lock as before we got to the top there were two boats waiting behind us. Just past Highbridge Road bridge there is an old BCN cottage, its adjacent to the connection with Log Farm Reservoir, so did the tenet there control the water flow in or out of the reservoir?  I couldn’t quite see the cottage number.DSCF8435

We saw a few fishermen out today, this one didn’t catch anything while we were there but a group of children  having a bit of coaching at Windmill End Junction were doing better.DSCF8436

We turned down the Dudley No2 canal as gently as possible so as not to spoil there fishing. CRT installed a rather nice all steep stop plank shelter down here some time ago, there are still bits of it left, definitely not vandal proof, bell not Dudley vandals.DSCF8437

The towpath resurfacing is now complete and there is a hard surface from the Bumble Hole almost to Gosty tunnel.DSCF8439

At the different access points sign posts have been erected, they have the CRT logo on them but whether CRT put them up I don’t know, surprisingly they are all still in one piece and legibleDSCF8440

A steady run through Gosty Tunnel and down to Hawne Basin for a pumpout, £10 and a fill up with diesel at 80p/lt. While we were there we had a long catch up with Pat and Sheila, they have been away the last few time we have visited. I made a right pigs ear getting away from the service jetty and in the end reversed out through the bridge onto the canal, I don’t think I left too much paint on it. It was back through the tunnel and up to Windmill End Junction again, my plan was to go out of the junction, turn towards Netherton Tunnel and then reverse back to the 48hr moorings by the visitor centre, but as the kids were all still fishing I just crept out and turned left, past them and on to the moorings, we will wind in the morning.

Today’s Journeyimage

10¼ miles, 1 lock in 4 hours

Thursday 17 August 2023

Merry Hill

We didn’t set off until 10-30am and with no other boats on the move we were soon at Wordsley Junction, the bottom of the Stourbridge 16 locks. Our plan was to go up the flight and then overnight at the Fens Branch, but that didn’t quite work out.
The first 8 locks were against us and all the pounds on weir. Just below the second lock there is a boat moored on the off side, I rather liked their figurehead.DSCF8425

The first time I ever came this way kids were lobbing bricks off the top of the derelict warehouse, today it’s a rather smart multi use establishment. I was rather taken by these window covers, looks much nicer that chicken wire.DSCF8426

The Glass Museum is open but all the cone is fenced off, there is a lot of money about to be spent on it.DSCF8427

Locks 19 and 10 are very close together, some people think they are something special like a staircase, but they are not and there is a large side pound behind the cottage teed in with a culvert between the top gates of 10 and the bottom gates of 9 and its worked the same way as any other lock, the only difference is that two boats cant pass between them.DSCF8428

At the next lock everything changed, all the locks were now empty and even better John was there windlass in hand, from now on every bottom gate was open ready for us. This mud bank in the pound gives a good indication of how low the water was. They are not floating weeds, its solid mud.DSCF8430

As we made our way up John came back for a quick word, we gave him a packet of shortbreads and he was away, we thought off home, but there he was at Number 2 with a CRT chap, it seemed all the pounds had been very low or empty this morning and between them that had been sorting things out. We cleared the top lock and we had only been going 2½ hours so I suggested rather than stopping here or up the Fens Branch we moor in the first pound of the Delph Flight. Big mistake on my part. On our way I looked up to see a cloud high in the sky which had swirled into a large round circle.DSCF8431
As we approached the Delph locks something I was not expecting to see, a boat just ahead of us waiting for the locks. We were only going up one and then moor in what is the weir stream on the off side of the lock. While waiting our turn up the first lock I spotted this floating bird house with an occupant.DSCF8432

Once the hire boat had gone we went up, three CRT people were there doing running repairs and fitted a wedge and new bolt to the bottom gate once we were in the lock. The moorings didn’t look hopeful being packed with weed, I tried pulling the boat in with the centre line and stern line, Di was helping. We must have struggled for half an hour or more. It didn’t help the CRT chap saying he had mown the grass at the Fens branch and it looked good, I know I should have stopped there, even some kids fishing offered to help pull the boat in, in the end I admitted defeat and went and set the next lock hoping the extra water would make it easier getting our.  So we had to carry on up the next 8 locks, we didn’t lose any time with all the wasted effort as we still caught up with the hire boat at the top lock.IMG_2132 (2)

Its a very short run from the top of The Delph flight to the visitor moorings at Merry Hill with a nice soft edging and big iron rings to moor to, there is also lighting and CCTV, no idea if it works or anyone watches it, but its there on top of the poles.

Today’s Journey image

4¼ miles, 25 locks in 5½ hours