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Sunday, 24 June 2012

June Updates

Euston Rural Pastimes.
During June we went to our first car show of the year with the TR7, this was Euston Rural Pastimes, a mini county style show with lots to do and see. We had the usual Club Triumph contingent showing their cars in the classic car section.
A few Triumphs

There is a nice country feel to this show with working displays by gun-dogs, sheepdogs, shire horses and other country side pursuits.
The estate church is decked out in flowers, which had a Jubilee theme this year.
To keep the girls amused is a large variety of stalls and food tents as well as the beer tent.
Plenty of different cars where shown in the classic car section as well as Traction Engines ,Tractors, Vintage Motorbikes, Classic commercials, and Model air planes.
Sentinel Steam Bus.

Early Bentley Blower.

Euston Hall.

Colourful display of tractors.

It was a very nice day, a good run to get there with the hood down, weather stayed kind until on the way home when it rained heavily.
Fathers Day.
With the daughter not about to treat me on fathers day Gill and I decided on a run out in the TR7 as we had been cooped up at home on the rainy Saturday.
With the hood down again and sun out we headed of into Suffolk to look at a couple of places we had wanted to visit, first up was a visit to Wyken Vineyard near Thetford, this proved to be a very pretty place, with a winery, gift shop, and restaurant but was very exclusive and expensive, needless to say we did not spend much. We had a quick tour of the Wyken Hall gardens, part of the same estate.
Wyken Vineyard.

Wyken  Hall.

Leaving Wyken we headed towards Stonham Aspel to the Suffolk Chilli Farm, Gill wanted to stock up on Chilli Chutney and a few cooking sauces which are grown and made on the premises. There is also a good smokery and cheese shop so I ended up with a piece of Binham Blue and a piece of Stinking Bishop. We also had a nice light lunch here.
Down Suffolk Lanes.

We then headed for the quaint Mid Suffolk Railway for a whiff of steam. I like this little railway, it does not have a very long track or lots of stock but is typical of a rural light railway. They had a 50's theme weekend with some old vehicles and staff in costume.
Rural Railway.

Tank Engine and Train.

50's Rural Transport Scene.

Rural Station.

We then continued down pretty lanes working our way back home the long way via Debenham, Stradbrooke, and Eye managing to do 66 miles.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Canal Cruising - Stourport Ring Days 5 to 7

Day 5
Thursday we woke to a grey morning, there was a little rain overnight but nothing to keep us awake.
We had the normal cooked breakfast, a boating tradition for us then had a quick look at Stourbridge.
With a few locks ahead of us we set off from Stourbridge Basin at around 10am, back down the Stourbridge town arm to Wordsley Junction, then turned right heading for Dudley and Birmingham. We immediately had the Stourbridge 16 locks ahead of us. All narrow locks so the going was not so hard.
We passed the Red House glass cone at Stuart Crystals visitor centre, quite imposing, believe the only one left in the area.
Red House Glass Cone.

Climbing the Stourbridge 16 Locks.

Split bridge, the towrope would have been passed
through he gap in the days of horse drawn narrowboats.

View back to the Glass Cone.

The area is pretty urban, but the canal is a green ribbon through the urban areas.
Drizzle set in near the top of the locks but we had to push on as the girls wanted to spend Friday shopping in Birmingham.
We carried on, one minute in the drizzle, the next the sky clear, turning at Leys Junction through more industrial areas before reaching the 8 Delph Locks. These are an impressive sight as they climb up towards the Dudley No 1 canal, with large holding ponds and sluices to the left of each lock as we climbed upwards.
Looking down Delph Locks.

Side sluices at the side of each lock.

After Delph locks the rain came down as we headed through the Merry Hill shopping complex, this used to be the site of the massive Round Oak Steelworks before redevelopment and the canal has a new wide channel.
Merry Hill in the rain.

We pushed on in the rain onto the Dudley No 1 Canal heading for Blowers Green lock and back to familiar territory at Park Head Junction. Locking up then turning right here for the Dudley No 2 Canal the rain cleared. We soon reached Windmill End.
Windmill End.

Netherton Tunnel.

We then headed through the long Netherton Tunnel then right onto the New Main Line toBirmingham.
We reached Birmingham around 6pm and moored near the National Indoor Marina. After a welcome shower we headed into Brum for an evening meal and a few drinks.

Day 6/7
Not a brilliant nights sleep this time round in Birmingham. We had our ropes cut by yobs after midnight, luckily Toni was awake and heard something so we where out of the boat before we drifted off. We tied up again then noticed that higher up the canal 4 more boats had been cut adrift and where at all angles on the canal. We eventually woke the owners up and helped them get tied up. First time this has happened to our boat.
We spent most of the day shopping, well the girls did, I had a sneaky snooze.
Geese and young in Birmingham.

We left Birmingham around 3pm and headed back along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal back to Alvechurch. Mooring up in the marina around 6.40pm.
We settled for a fish and chip dinner before the hardwork of cleaning the boat began, continuing on the Saturday morning once we had filled with diesel, water, and had the bogs pumped out. Was a good week, we covered a lot of canals we had not previously visited but still have more to add to our to do list.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Canal Cruising - Stourport Ring Days 3 & 4

Day 3.
Tuesday arrived with more sunshine, though not as warm in the morning. We set off from Netherwich Basin up the Droitwich Barge Canal heading for Ladywood locks. There are 8 sets of locks before the River Severn, these are wide-beam locks and can take 2 narrow boats at a time.
The channel was very reedy and narrow, this is deliberate attempt to satisfy the green brigade as a habitat for wildlife. Makes a picturesque scene but difficult for boaters to pass each other with poor visibility on corners.
Narrow channel and blind corners.

We had company through the wide-beam locks with a very nice boat that was out for a couple of months, lucky them!
Leaving one of the 8 Ladywood locks.

More of the Reed lined channel.

Before the final locks a new bridge, Hawford Bridge, has had to be built under the A449 dual carriageway which was built over the canal. As an engineer I found the following site interesting which shows the work completed. http://www.leepd60.net63.net/DEIcanal301.htm
After Hawford Bridge we locked down onto the River Severn.
Waiting for the lock into the River Severn to be readied.

The River Severn is still quite wide this high up after Worcester, a few weeks ago it was a raging torrent but is now nice and tranquil. We passed a few narrowboats and cruisers as we headed up river to the first large lock at Holt.

Passing a nice Dutch Barge as we headed up the Severn.

After 4 miles and approx 1 hour we reached Holt Fleet and the first of 2 lock keeper operated locks.
Holt Fleet Bridge with Holt Lock behond.

The lock gates where closed and we had to slow down to allow for the lock keeper to empty the lock and open the gates, all done automatically whilst he sat in his cabin, the traffic light then changes to green to allow entry to the lock.
Green light calling us in to lock.

The gates are shut, you feed your mooring ropes around metal rods inset into lock walls to hold the boat as the lock rises, this is all done very smoothly and quickly with little turbulence or current, then the top gates open and away you go, really easy.
We had one more automated lock to do, Lincomb lock, another 3 miles away before we reached Stourport, the head of navigation for narrowboats on the Severn. Smaller cruisers can navigate further up the river.

Stourport is created entirely around the junction of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and River Severn. The canal was dug to carry coal from the Cannock Coalfields to the River Severn, then on down to Worcester and Gloucester. Where the canal met the Severn a small town was created around the wharves and basins. There are 2 sets of locks from the Severn, the first, the barge locks are only used by larger vessels and is at an angle to the river for easy access, narrowboats have to use the next set, 2 pairs of staircase locks accessed through a bridge at nearly a right angle to the river.

Entrance to the wide barge locks, Tontine Hotel in background.

Narrow lock entrance below bridge.

I had to drop the crew off on the landing stage to the right, then wait in the river for the lock to be opened, with no real flow on the river getting in to the lock was not a problem, I would not want to try it when the river is flowing after rain.
Lining up for the lock.

In the first staircase, with no overflow weirs the
excess water goes over the end gates.

View from narrow locks to lower barge lock.

In second staircase locks, looking back to river.

After finishing the locks we filled the water tank and moored in the upper basin, another early finish so we had a look around Stourport, a couple of quick drinks in town, then a spot of fishing in the basin, plenty of small roach about. Later we had dinner on board followed by more fishing.
Upper Basin mooring with Stourport yacht club in background.

14 locks only today.
Day 4.
Wednesday we awoke to yet another sunny morning, already quite warm after breakfast.
Sunny Morning in Stourport.

We left the upper basin around 9-30am and headed up the Staffs and Worcs Canal through York Street lock, there are some nicely situated locks along this length, under small red sandstone cliffs which provide pretty views.

Caldwell Lock.

Kidderminster is the next town, there used to be large carpet works alongside the canal however most of these have been demolished, one however has been taken over by Debenhams, which has saved the mill but the extension they have put on does not blend too successfully.

Carpet mill converted into Debenhams store with glass extension.

Me doing the hard work at Kidderminster Lock. 

After Kidderminster the canal continues along fringed by more cliffs of Triassic rock, near Wolverley the canal is quite narrow in places meaning care has to be taken rounding bends, locks are fairly evenly spaced as we climb out of Worcestershire into Staffordshire. We pass through Cookley where once 20 pudding furnaces made wrought iron, part of Cookley village is perched on a small tunnel.

Narrow cuttings near Wolverley

Looking back round the corner you can see why a sharp lookout
is needed for oncoming boats.

Cookley village above small tunnel.

Another Section with overhanging cliffs.

Debdale Lock has a large cave hewn out of the sandstone cliff, entrance
can be seen.

Entering Whittington Lock.

We passed Kinver and Stewponey before turning off the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal at Stourton Junction onto the Stourbridge canal, heading up through the 4 Stourton locks. When entering the second lock the weather changed with a vengeance, a big thunderstorm hit, Gill and I doing the locks had to take cover under trees until it passed.
Stourton No one lock.

After the rain had cleared we completed the remaining Stourton locks and headed for Stourbridge, passing some nice Staffordshire countryside before the canal becomes urban at Wordsley Junction.
Rhododendron Fringed woods near Amblecote.

Rolling hills.

Wordsley Junction.

We turned of the Stourbridge Canal onto the Stourbridge town arm, passing the site of Dial Glass works and Stourbridge Iron Works before reaching the end of the canal at Stourbridge Town Basin. The basin is run by the Stourbridge Navigation Trust who's headquarters are in the restored Bonded Wharehouse and they provide safe moorings for a donation to the trust.
Stourbridge Bonded Wharehouse.

We spent a pleasant evening having a barbie at the side of the canal accompanied with more cider.
15 Locks only today.