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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Friday - Earlswood to Alvechurch

After heavy rain overnight a better weather day was promised for Friday, it was a little cool when we set of from Earlswood, I needed my woolly hat for the first time.
We first headed past Lady Lane wharf towards the modern suburb of Dickens Heath. The architecture comes as a bit of a shock, something you would expect in central Birmingham but you come round a corner with rural scenes.
Rural scenes just yards from Dickens Heath.

to modern architecture like this.
Dickens Heath.

After Dickens Heath we motored along, with the sun now out we passed Shirley lift bridge where we held up traffic for a while as the key jammed in the electric controls for the lift bridge, the control panel cycling through the routine 2 or 3 times with the stop lights flashing and barriers going up and down.
The next section is fairly featureless through the back gardens of the Birmingham suburbs up to Brandwood Tunnel.
Brandwood Tunnel.

We then passed through the old guillotine lock at Kings Norton and rejoined the Birmingham and Worcester Canal at Kings Norton Junction and are on the home straight to the boatyard.
Kings Norton Guillotine Lock

Dad cutting the corner (again) at Kings Norton Junction.

Next up was the long Wast Hill Tunnel where we passed a couple of boats inside, a fair bit of water dripping from the roof and ventilation shafts in the tunnel.
Leaving Wast Hill Tunnel with a wet roof.

We moored at Hopwood for lunch, receiving a hungry visitor.
Waiting for bread.

Leaving Hopwood, nice Stowe Hill boat moored outside the pub.

Leaves beginning to gather in the cuttings near Bittel Reservoir.

Getting near journeys end we had a short sharp burst of heavy rain before we pass some nice houses and moorings and then reach Alvechurch Marina.
Approaching Alvechurch after the rain.

A good, enjoyable week, we used 76 Locks, 6 Lift bridges, 4 tunnels, and travelled 56 miles and used 57 litres of diesel.
Saturday morning was spent cleaning and servicing the boat for the next owners before dad left for York by train and we headed back to Norfolk in the car.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thursday - Kingswood Junction to Earlswood

Rain was threatened for today, so we hoped it would be later giving us time to complete Lapworth locks. We reversed from our Grand Union mooring to the junction and headed for Lock 20 set at an angle at Kingswood Junction.
Back to Kingswood from the Grand Union.
Old Working Boat at Kingswood Junction.

Lock 20 - Kingswood Junction.

Lapworth Locks, still no rain.

We made it to Lock 3 of the Lapworth flight before the rain set in for a while. We moored for lunch after the top lock and let the rain clear before proceeding on to Hockley Heath for a few provisions.

Ryland McLaren Showroom.

Took the time to order my new McLaren MP4 12C at Ryland McLaren near the wharf. (I wish, they would not even let me in the showroom with my muddy boots and jeans)

At Hockley Heath we saw the only CaRT representation seen all week on the Stratford Canal, CaRT employees and contractors totally rebuilding the Bridge across the truncated wharf arm. Now we saw all the yellow aware tapes at faulty Locks up and down the Stratford with no sign of remedial work for the easy fixed probllems, yet they can spend a fortune rebuilding a towpath bridge over a disused arm. I hope they have a grant from someone for this! Surely lock safety should take precedence over towpath use by a few local residents walking their dogs.

After Hockley Heath we moved on to moor at Earlswood, just in time as the heavy rain came in.

Wednesday - Wilmcote to Kingswood Junction

Wednesday was a fine and dry day with a few hints of sunshine. We set of from Wilmcote happily before the Hotel Boats set off. Have been stuck behind hotel boats before and they are painfully slow with 2 boats to lock through, one unpowered and can add hours to a journey.
It was pretty busy on the Preston Bagot locks with boats coming down.
Busy at Preston Bagot bottom lock.

Midway up the flight.

Gill negotiating one of the narrow Split Bridges.

Ducks enjoying a nibble at the weed in a bywash.

At Kingswood Junction we took a right and moored for the night on the Grand Union.

Turning into the Grand Union link at Kingswood Junction

Through the Link

Left turn on to the Grand Union to moor on the full visitor moorings.

Not a bad day for a return journey which can sometimes be a drag. The promised rain did not materialise and it was relatively warm.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tuesday - Lowsonford to Wilmclote

Another nice day on the Stratford Canal. After a cooked breakfast (the only time I get the full Monty is on the boat) we set of down the locks towards Preston Bagot. Not a very busy day on the cut, the few boats that where about are mainly hire boats.
Entering the secluded lock 33.

Crossing the diminutive Bucket Lock Aquaduct.

Reflections at Preston Bagot Lock 37 cottage.

Lock 37 Lock Cottage.

Flowery boat - how do they see to steer!

We where briefly held up at Wooton Wawen whilst a boat was serviced, blocking the aquaduct.
We carried on across Wooten Wawen and Edstone Aquaducts to moor for lunch at Wilmcote.
Leaving Edstone Aquaduct

After lunch we decided to catch the train down to Stratford where we would have a quick look round before returning to Wilmcote for dinner.

Wilmcote station, ex Great Western with typical GWR footbridge.

Couple of boats coming into a quiet Bancroft Basin from the
sluggish looking River Avon.

When we got back to the boat we found a couple of Hotel Boats moored behind, will need to get away in the morning before these or it will be a slow climb up the locks.
Bywater Hotel Boats moored behind us, we will reverse to the winding
hole behind the hotel boats tommorow to turn round.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Monday - Hockley Heath to Lowsonford

Monday was not the weather we hoped for, it dawned with an overcast sky and promised rain for later.
We headed for Lapworth Locks in slight drizzle.
Gill operating Hockley Heath drawbridge.

Waiting for lock 8.

Only saw one boat on the move up Lapworth Locks, of course we met this at the awkward corner between lock 7 and 8 where it is difficult for 2 long boats to pass. The drizzle became heavy once reaching the main flight down to Kingswood Junction so we moored for a long lunch after lock 15.
Heavy drizzle, time to moor up.

After a lunch of Heinz Big Soup, ham sarnies, and local pork pie, you cant beat this on a wet day! we carried on down to Kingswood Junction, taking on water, I noticed the pump out is not working here.
Kingswood Junction.

The next part of the Stratford ranks as one of my favourites with delightful locks quite evenly spaced making for good exercise when lock wheeling.
Lock 29, one of the prettiest.

It must have been a hard summer down here, a number of the locks are showing some sign of wear or misuse, there is yellow hazard aware tape everywhere down these locks with some problem or another.
Broken Edging at this lock.

Broken beam held together with a large plank, the CaRT message on the
beam says do not sit or stand on this beam.

We finished up the day moored at Lowsonford visitor moorings, hot showers all round after a drizzly day.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sunday, Alvechurch to Hockley Heath

A lovely sunny autumn day for a leisurely cruise down the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction, then down the Stratford Canal as far as Hockley Heath.
Heading for Wast Hill tunnel.

First sign of another boat on the move, NB Skintus!

After a wet Wast Hill Tunnel we met a few other boats near Kings Norton then turned onto the Stratford Canal, the guillotine lock looks quite uncared for here.
More boats about near Kings Norton.

The first section of the Stratford is quite boring, being lined with vegetation as it passes through urban areas and this does not really open out till Shirley and Dickens Heath.
At Earlswood we moored for a while and took a stroll to have a look at the engine house at Earlswood Reservoir. This feeds the Stratford canal with water pumped up from Earlswood reservoir into a feeder that joins the canal at Lady Lane. There used to be a steam beam engine, but now has electric pumps. The engine house has a "sold" sign so no doubt will be developed as housing.
Earlswood Engine House with feeder to Stratford Canal under bridge.

Earlswood Reservoir.

Now moored at a quiet Hockley Heath. Good day, hoping for more of the same weather tommorow.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Saturday at the boat

We drove up from Norfolk today to spend a week on Centurion. A lovely sunny day we should have set off from Alvechurch and at least have made Hopton but father not arriving on the train till 3-30 and the need for shopping at Redditch put paid to that.

Centurion in the sun.

Was very quiet at Alvechurch Marina, not many hirers or shareboaters leaving the moorings.

The canal was very quiet too with only a couple of boats on the move.
Quiet on the cut.

Had a nice meal on board and settling down to a bit of telly.