Thursday, 31 March 2016

Minworth to Kingsbury Water Park

Good Friday was a gorgeous sunny day when we left Minworth we briefly stopped at the Curdworth top lock and enjoyed some hot cross buns before making our way down the Curdworth Locks.

Approaching Curdworth Top Lock

All was going well, the lock side were very well maintained and looked lovely in the sunny weather, there were no other boats around, in fact we hadn't seen another moving boat for days.

Until we got to lock 6, both off side paddles were out of use so it took ages to fill, the pound below was very low, it must have been around a foot down. James left the lock and started to make his way slowly to the next lock but got totally grounded, I had to start letting water down and eventually he managed to scrape his way to lock 7. 

Grounded - they're not going anywhere!

This next pound was slightly down but luckily we could get through and more water wasn't needed. 

Such a shame, it's going right across the nature reserve too

At the Dog and Doublet we met a hire boat coming up the lock and as we approached the next one a boat was just leaving we also now had one behind us as well. The boat leaving the lock happened to be Ian and Irene on Freespirit unfortunately this pound was quite low as well and some of the permanent moorers were sat on the bottom. We said a quick hello to Ian on the tow path and then Irene on the boat, the boat behind us didn't move over for Freespirit to get by and she was forced right over towards the moored boats, some people are just so thoughtless. After a bit of manoeuvring by Irene she was on her way again.

We continued down the flight and moored on the stretch by Canal Pool at Kingsbury Water Park, a lovely spot to spend Easter.

Outside the cottages at the bottom lock, I could just squeeze through

4.5 miles and 11 locks 

TOTAL 88 miles and 123 locks

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Star City to Minworth

After our overnight stop at Star City we set off around 8am we were soon going over the aqueduct above the River Tame and under the M6 near Spaghetti Junction. At Salford Junction it was a very tight left turn onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and all very familiar as we have been through here a few times now. 

Te River Tame with M6 above

Under a large warehouse built over the canal

We stopped near Erdington and James went off to post his latest commission pen and also pick up a few bits from Lidl to keep us going over Easter.

We were soon on our way again and down the three locks at Minworth and stopped for the day outside The Boat Inn.

4.5 miles and 3 locks

TOTAL 83.5 miles and 112 locks

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Catherine-de-Barnes to Star City

There is not a lot in Catherine-de-Barnes and a very busy road runs across the canal, there is a small village shop and a Chef and Brewer pub. We had planned to only stop for the night but on a walk with Dudley we spotted some Ash wood piled next to the canal, as our wood stock has been used and the coal was running low we decided to stock up, although spring is on its way it is still quite chilly. We now let the fire go out overnight and as we are busy during the day it doesn't need re-lighting until around 4ish.

The following morning James completed a commission pen and late afternoon we moved up the canal slightly to pick up the wood, staying there overnight.

Next morning we set off through Solihull and then the Camp Hill lock flight, these are six narrow locks, with lovely old buildings just before them. The flight was well kept and there was hardly any rubbish until we reached the bottom, I guess it was all being flushed down. At Bordesley Junction we turned right and through Garrison Locks and then onwards down to Star City for the night.

Excellent path for cycling but definitely a no mooring zone

Approaching Camp Hill top lock

'The Arches'

And the bottom lock - along with all the rubbish

Such a shame - the old lock cottage at Garrison locks

10 miles and 11 locks

TOTAL 79 miles and 109 locks

Monday, 28 March 2016

Knowle to Catherine-de-Barnes

We stayed the best part of a week at Knowle and very productive it was too. James was getting on with pen making, we now have nearly enough for full displays when the festival and market season starts, he's also had a couple of commissions to complete as well. I had been busy inside giving LJ a massive spring clean and re-varnishing in the bathroom and kitchen.

We were just over a mile away from the Knowle lock flight and I really wasn't looking forward to this one! This part of the canal had been included in the widening scheme along with Hatton in the 1930's so these five locks were wide and they are not particularly pretty either. The widening scheme saw the original six narrow locks being closed and five wide locks replacing them. Like Hatton the narrow locks are still evident as they are now the overflows and the paddle gear on the wide locks are hydraulic like Hatton. Very hard work winding them and very heavy gates, I was glad there were only five. Even so I preferred to be up dong the winding rather than down in the deep wide lock. 

We stopped in Catherine-de-Barnes as it is the last recommended stopping place before Birmingham.

4.25 miles and 5 locks

TOTAL 69 miles and 98 locks

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Lowsonford to Knowle

Another lovely spring day saw us leaving Lowsonford going through a couple of locks before reaching the bottom lock of the Lapworth flight, although the first few locks here are quite away from the main flight so I'm surprised they are included within the Lapworth locks. We past a very remote cottage, which I believe is one of two that is still completely off grid.

No evidence of an access road for miles 

The pitched roof house is attached to this one, so guess it has a massive extension
On reaching Kingswood Junction we turned right onto the Grand Union link and then at the Grand Union it was left, onto new waters for us. 

Kingswood Junction

Onto the Grand Union link

and left turn at the junction

The Wide Grand Union
We continued on for a couple of miles before stopping half a mile or so before the Black Boy pub on the outskirts of Knowle.

4.5 miles and 10 locks

TOTAL 64.75 miles and 93 locks

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wilmcote to Lowsonford

After a couple of productive days we headed off on a three mile lock free section and crossed the Edstone Aqueduct, we had walked there the previous day so I managed to get some photos of the structure from road level. This is the longest aqueduct in England at nearly 200 yards.

This photo makes it seem wider than it actually is, the boat just fits in 

After crossing the smaller aqueduct at Wootton Wawen we had to negotiate getting past the hire boats moored at Anglo Welsh, as our stern was still in the narrow aqueduct we couldn't get the front round to avoid the boats across the canal, there was nothing for it but to keep going and push them out of the way, not ideal and not something we liked doing but on this occasion there was no choice, as well as their own moorings being completely full they had also taken up several spaces on the visitor moorings. I really am of the opinion that if the hire bases have not got the room to put their boats when there are all back at base then they really should reduce their numbers.

Just about to go over Wootton Wawen aqueduct

No way we can get round that, half of LJ is still in the narrow aqueduct

It was then up through a few more locks and the lovely barrel lock cottages, we stopped again overnight in Lowsonford. It had taken us five days with three stops on the way back to Lowsonford, on the way down it was all one journey - we had missed so much.

A very extended barrel roof cottage

Yarningale Aqueduct

Lowsonford Lock

Lovely barrel roof cottage

Lowsonford barrel cottage around the 1950's

Moored outside the Fleur-de-Lys

7.5 miles and 9 locks

TOTAL 60.75 and 83 locks