This Month's Totals and Average
167.08 miles 238 locks 101.44 hrs 3.99 lmph

  August 2015

Monday 31st August ~ Curdworth (en route to Rugeley)

Rain came in overnight. Still raining at breakfast. Forecast suggested it will continue most of day. We decided to stay put until it clears (if it does), then re-evaluate. Called "Serena" after breakfast and found they were already at "Dog & Doublet" pub further down flight, also staying put till rain stopped. "Catering" spent the day baking bread and goodies, but then "housekeeping" were forced to get the vacuum out! Rain continued, on and off, throughout the day and into the night.

Sunday 30th August ~ Birmingham Centre to Curdworth (en route to Rugeley)

Woken by another boat leaving at 06:45 so got up and on the move. Reversed to 'The Roundabout' and headed towards the Farmer's Bridge Flight (13 locks) on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (this runs from here to Fazeley Junction via Salford Junction). Shortly after starting the flight, a gentleman offered to help and worked ahead setting locks. This reduced our work and cut time considerably, and we are very grateful to him. We later found out that he had gone back to the top and helped another boat down. The flight brings the canal down between (and under) tower-blocks of flats and offices.

At the bottom (Aston Junction), we elected not to take the straight run down the Aston Flight, but to go round the other two sides of what forms a triangle of canals. We turned right onto the Digbeth Branch (which took the B&F to 'Typhoo' basin and linked it to the Warwick & Birmingham Canal (part of the Grand Union)). Descended the Ashted Flight (6 Locks). The Ashted Tunnel, between Locks 1 and 2, although high enough in the centre, is single width and has a rounder turn to the roof. Unfortunately, the side-hatch lid took quite a scraping - some more paint-repair required. This section is dirtier and more run-down due to lack of use and socially-challenged youth plastering their artwork.

Arriving at 'Typhoo' Basin Junction we turned left, past Warwick Bar (the junction with the Warwick & Birmingham) and continued out to Bordesley Junction. No improvement in the surroundings, with litter in and around the canal and towpath. At Bordesley, the main Warwick & Birmingham route continues ahead, but we again turned left onto the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal which drops down the 5 locks of the Garrison Flight allowing us to rejoin the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. A slight, slow improvement from here in the surroundings. We took lunch on the move at this point, although it did start to spit a few drops of rain. Noted a very mangy fox running along towpath.

Salford Junction is situated underneath the Gravelly Hill Interchange (more usually known as 'Spaghetti Junction'), and connects the Tame Valley Canal (to NW) and the B&W Junction Canal (to SE) with the Birmingham & Fazeley (running from SW to E). We turned right and headed towards Fazeley. The slow improvement continues past the industrial and retail parks at Tyburn until one arrives at Minworth. We descended the 3 locks and the scenery rapidly changes to pastoral on the run to Curdworth. The slight drizzly rain continued intermittantly most of the early afternoon.

We managed to get a mooring just above the top lock by late afternoon, and called it day! The spits of rain cleared by dinner and the sun had broken through a couple of times. Picked up email from "Serena" saying they were at Fazeley and would be moving tomorrow lunchtime - should be able to meet up for a chat.

13.62 miles 27 locks 7.40 hrs 5.49 lmph

Saturday 29th August ~ Bumble Hole to Birmingham Centre (en route to Rugeley)

Lovely morning. Took our time getting moving, with a few routine chores before departure, then winded "Paws" at the entrance to the Bumble Hole Arm and headed into the Netherton Tunnel. Propellor clipped several pieces of debris on the way through, but nothing wrapped itself round. At the exit, the branch goes under the Old Main Line of the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) before joining the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction. We turned right to head into the centre of Birmingham. This line is almost straight until it reaches the junction providing access to the Old Main Line at West Bromwich. It is very open with scrubland either side. It then becomes dirtier and more closed-in as the industrial backyards become more prevalent.

Once clear of West Bromwich and Smethwick, it clears again slightly, with loops extending both sides, before arriving at Deep Cuttings Junction, or Old Turn (sometimes known as 'The Roundabout' due to the round island in the centre). We went left as far as the top of the Farmer's Bridge Flight (only about 250 yds) to obtain services - we had also hoped for the visitor moorings there, but none available. Winded and returned to Sherbourne Street Wharf where we moored opposite the Exhibition Centre. Sun remained out for most of the day, although not overly hot. Went for walk to local supermarket, but the Admiral unusually decided against a walk round any more shops.

9.50 miles 0 locks 3.43 hrs 2.77 lmph

Friday 28th August ~ Brierley Hill to Bumble Hole via Coombeswood (route changed to Rugeley)

Apart from the fishermen, a very quiet night. Woke to bright sunshine although a little chilly in the breeze. Took our time getting under way then continued round the contours of the hill on which Birmingham sits. Leaving Merry Hill, the canal initially runs past the backs of industrial units. These then become hidden by the trees, and the woodland on the other side becomes more visible. Ascended Blowers Green Lock and turned right at the junction - the left fork takes one through the Dudley No.1 Tunnel which is restricted to unpowered craft or those towed by an electric tug. Availed ourselves of the services at the junction.

Continuing, now on the Dudley No.2 Canal, we noted that at Primrose Bridge we had passed the nearest point to our boat-builder's yard. Arrived at Bumble Hole and stopped for a visit to the Bumble Hole Conservation Centre, then had lunch.

After lunch we decided to explore the remainder of the navigable Dudley No.2 Canal (as far as Hawne Basin - the Lapal Tunnel was left derelict after the collapse in 1917, cutting the link to the 'Worcs & Brum' Canal at Selly Oak), so moved off and turned right at Windmill End Junction. Mostly industrial unit backs, but with a few small sections of residential and woodland. It became very shallow by the time we reached Gosty Hill Tunnel and manoeuvreing was becoming difficult. Entered the tunnel to find the roof height dramatically reduced about 50 yards in from the portal. Edging up to the reduction, I was doubtful if it would be safe to continue so reversed out. We then found that the nearest winding hole was 20 minutes back down the canal! Oh well, good practice at travelling astern! The "Tumzel Cloud" came out of the tunnel shortly after, and we spoke with Don & Celia (BCF members ) as they passed. They reckoned we would probably have got through, but not worth the risk for the extra distance. Saw a bat flitting around close to the end of the tunnel.

Eventually reached Neptune winding hole, turned, and returned to Windmill End, mooring for the night at the Bumble Hole visitor moorings. The rain which had been forecast for lunchtime fortunately held off until nearly dinner-time, but still didn't come to much. Planning meeting - felt we were getting short on time to arrive at "The Taft" by 4th Sept, so decided to skip Dudley and head straight there (we can always go to Dudley another time).

7.80 miles 1 locks 4.02 hrs 2.19 lmph

Thursday 27th August ~ Stourton to Brierley Hill (en route to Dudley)

Up earlyish, as planned, and got away fairly quickly (by 08:00). Sunny with occasional cloud, but cool enough to be OK for heavy locking. Headed round to Wordsley Junction and attacked the Stourbridge Flight (16 locks). Good road, almost every lock was with us; those that weren't were only up a bit due leakage from their top gates. Made very good time and cleared the top lock by 11:00, changing to the Dudley No.1 Canal. Tried to explore the Fens Branch but, although supposedly navigable, we couldn't get more than about 50 yds along due to a tree overgrowing almost 3/4 of the canal width. Continued along the main line eating our pre-made sandwiches.

Just finished lunch when we arrived at the bottom of the Delph Flight (8 locks) so set about them. Again everything was with us and we quickly made the top. Moored just round the corner on the embankment overlooking Merry Hill shopping precinct by 13:30, having not seen a single moving boat all day. Went for a walk round the shops. A few splashes of rain while we were out, but didn't last long or come down too hard. Back to sunshine by late afternoon. Excellent dinner out at Brewers' Wharf . Unfortunately, had a couple of fishermen who thought that where "Paws" was moored was their private fishing spot and cast their lines at one end of the boat then dragged their rods to the other end over the roof (several times)!

5.56 miles 24 locks 5.32 hrs 5.55 lmph

Wednesday 26th August ~ Kidderminster to Stourton (en route to Dudley)

More heavy rain overnight. Cool and damp start to day - actually had to resort to my fleece jacket on departure. Continued the steady climb up from the river, through Wolverley Court, Wolverley, Debdale and Whittington Locks before stopping on the south side of Kinver for a break for lunch. Sun had come out and it was starting to warm up.

After lunch, we continued up Kinver, Hyde and Stewponey Locks to Stourton Junction. Had managed to ditch the fleece after lunch, but mid-afternoon rain threatened again. Turned right onto the Stourbridge Canal, ascending the four locks above the junction, then pulled in and moored for the night just before the winding hole. Rain never came to anything. Early start planned for tomorrow to go up the Stourbridge and Delph flights.

7.83 miles 11 locks 5.20 hrs 3.62 lmph

Tuesday 25th August ~ Stourport to Kidderminster (en route to Dudley)

Lovely sunny morning, if colder than previous days. Up slightly early to finish services jobs before getting on the move. Managed to get away slightly earlier than normal, and ascended York Street Lock. Drifted next to "Dilly-Dally" for a short time for a last chat with Alan & Hazel, then continued uphill towards Kidderminster. Ascended Falling Sands and Caldwall Locks, taking us into the town, and stopped at Castle Street Bridge for stores for "the Piggy". Moisture in the air, threatening the forecast rain.

Ascended the final lock for the day, Kidderminster Lock, and moored at the visitor berths at the retail park. Very busy here, and we could only get a mooring on the bend. Went to Costa for lunch, then Sainsbury's for stores. Rain meaning it when we came out, so battened down for the night.

4.42 miles 4 locks 2.80 hrs 3.01 lmph

Monday 24th August ~ Stourport

Had planned to head off today, but the forecast came in for rain, and there was a spare berth available, so we just stayed put. Slight to moderate rain showers dotted throughout the day, interspersed with short sunny periods. Went for walk during one of these for more fresh provisions and chandlery. Had then intended to use the rest of the day for a cleaning spree, but it never quite happened. Had a short chat with Alan & Hazel from "Dilly-Dally" (BCF members ) as they passed through the basin headed for the locks.

Just finishing dinner when Alan & Hazel dropped round for a chat. Great evening - hope to see them again at "The Taft" in September.

Sunday 23rd August ~ Stourport

Heavy rain overnight, cleared by breakfast. Long lie, then a very lazy day. Heavy rain back again by late morning, and showers continued for remainder of day. Topped up water during dry spell.

Saturday 22nd August ~ Worcester to Stourport

Rain overnight, but clouds clearing by breakfast. Up slightly early again looking for an early finish in Stourport. Let go and headed up-river. Phoned ahead and booked a berth for two nights in the basin. Ascended each of the three locks on the river, then moored on the pontoon before the canal locks into the basin at Stourport. Had lunch.

After lunch, ascended the two staircase pairs with the assistance of CRT duty volunteers, and checked in at the chandlery before moving onto our pontoon by early afternoon. Sun out just after lunch giving a very hot afternoon.

Enormous thunderstorm just before dinner, with hail like golfballs!

13.24 miles 7 locks 4.34 hrs 4.66 lmph

Friday 21st August ~ Dunhampstead to Worcester (en route to Stourport)

Slightly early rise to a cloudy day with a stronger breeze. On the move as soon as breakfast finished in the hopes of getting to Worcester before the pontoon mooring on the river was full. Once again descended the Offerton Flight, Tolladine and Blackpole Locks, and again stopped after the lock for the stores (that we should have got in Droitwich). Lunch on return to "Paws".

Away again straight after lunch, cloud had increased and there was a little moisture in the air. Descended Bilford 2, Gregory's Mill 2, Blockhouse and Sidbury Locks, and again stopped at the service berth for water (that we should have got in Droitwich). Checked the pontoon and found enough space so headed for the two wide locks. Bit of a delay at the upper lock due to an altercation between two boaters, one accusing the other of scratching his new paintwork and demanding reparation of two cans of paint. Descended to the river with the assistance of a CRT volunteer, and in company with a hire-boat. Turned left onto the river and moored on the visitor pontoon for the night. Cloud cleared considerably, and sunny spells by dinner time. Passed the milestone of the 500th lock for this year.

The perceived wisdom of the locals is that the river is slightly up, but with the rain forecast could go into the yellow shortly. Reluctantly decided not to get stuck on the Droitwich Barge Canal with no way of emptying the loo, so that exploration will have to wait for another time. Disappointed.

7.30 miles 16 locks 5.47 hrs 4.26 lmph

Thursday 20th August ~ Tibberton to Dunhampstead via Droitwich (nearly!)(en route to Stourport)

On the move promptly intending to turn left at Hanbury Junction and moor in Droitwich. Good run up to the junction, and turned onto the Droitwich Junction Canal. Descended through the Hanbury Three locks with the kind assistance of Roger and James, volunteers with CRT. Stopped at Droitwich Spa Marina for a loo empty, then descended the staircase two and Lock 6. Only once we were actually at the M5 Bridge was there a height-gauge. We knew it would be low, but thought that any gauge would be before the last chance to wind. Found we were 2" too high for the bridge. Hurried making of sandwiches while Lock 6 was reset from the boat going up, then reversed into the lock and ascended backwards into the pound where there is a winding-hole. Turned the boat and returned up the staircase whilst eating our lunch. Arrived back at the first three locks and the surprised faces of Roger and James who assisted us back up. Hurried rescheduling, and decided to stop at Dunhampstead again for tonight. We may go the other way round to Droitwich via the Barge Canal (may not).

After a bright start, the cloud increased during the morning and threatened rain by lunchtime. Sun came back out again mid-afternoon with only a few spots.

7.35 miles 12 locks 5.11 hrs 3.79 lmph

Wednesday 19th August ~ Worcester to Tibberton (en route to Stourport)

Lovely bright start to the day, despite the forecast of rain. Decided to see how far back up to Hanbury we could get before the rain set in. Ascended Sidbury, Blockhouse, Gregory's Mill 2, Bilford 2, Blackpole and Tolladine Locks in good time - every lock with us. This was where we had expected to stop, but the weather was still holding so elected to continue. Headed up the Offerton Flight expecting to get soaked by the end. The pound above Lock 14 was very low due to a boat having left paddles open, but CRT were on the case and assisted us up the last two (15 & 16). At this point, the wind was rising and the sky darkening (a little) so decided to take the first available mooring. Stopped at Tibberton, just before Bridge 25, as the rain came on in earnest. Had a late lunch aboard.

Rain stopped briefly after lunch so checked to see if there was another spot near so that we could get SatTV, to no avail. Spoke with "Cousin Jack" and "Falmouth" who were just mooring up as the rain came back on. That's us battened down for the night!

5.40 miles 14 locks 4.01 hrs 4.83 lmph

Tuesday 18th August ~ Dunhampstead to Worcester

Partly cloudy, but very muggy. Let go and headed off for the final leg down to Worcester, hoping to get onto the pontoon on the river. Shortly after departure, we caught up with the "Black Prince" hire-boat "Kathleen", who were going very slowly indeed. They did attempt to let us pass, but the vegetation did not permit it. They pulled over again at a wider point and we got past, although there was no rush due to the locks just ahead. We ended up going down first, and drawing a paddle for them as we left each lock. It turns out they were first-time boaters and taking it easy until they were happy - very sensible.

Descended the Offerton Flight (locks 16 to 11), then Tolladine and Blackpole Locks (10 & 9). Moored up after the lock for lunch, then a walk to the retail park for stores. On return, continued towards Worcester, descending Bilford Locks (8 & 7), Gregory's Mill Locks (6 & 5), Blockhouse (no.4) and Sidbury (no.3) Locks, arriving at the services berth before the basin. Passed "Kathleen" moored above Blockhouse Lock. We noted "Cousin Jack" and "Falmouth" whom we'd moored beside at Pershore. Checked the river pontoon and found there was no space, so winded and moored clear of the services, astern of "Cousin Jack".

7.08 miles 14 locks 5.27 hrs 4.00 lmph

Monday 17th August ~ Stoke Pound to Dunhampstead (en route to Worcester)

Apart from the drunken singing emanating from the pub until 23:00 last night, a very quiet night. Cloudy start, but when the sun was through, it was hot. Leisurely departure, headed off to face the two short flights down to Hanbury. A good road today, locks mostly with us, and a few boats coming up. Dropped down through the Stoke Flight (Locks 28 to 23) then had refreshments on the move. Dropped down through the Astwood Flight (Locks 22 to 17) with the boat ahead "Aurora" drawing upper paddles as they left each lock since they had the extra crew to do it. Cleared the bottom lock and an "Anglo-Welsh" hire-boat pulled out in front requiring us to severely hold back on speed. They then proceeded to dawdle.

Had hoped to find a mooring around Hanbury by lunchtime so that we could stop for day, but none could be found that had SatTV line-of-sight. The banking southwards is severely overgrown with weed and reed and the channel is restricted to a single boat width in places (passing a boat coming the other way could have been difficult!). Where there was a space, there was no view to SW, where there was a gap to SW there was no mooring. Passed through the fairly short Dunhampstead Tunnel. Eventually found a tiny slot between the trees on the visitor moorings at Dunhampstead, stopped for a late lunch, and settled in for the rest of the afternoon. Completed the third (final) Windows 10 upgrade - the project has gone very well in spite of my foreboding.

6.31 miles 12 locks 4.22 hrs 4.33 lmph

Sunday 16th August ~ Tardebigge to Stoke Pound (en route to Worcester)

Beautiful morning  to wake to, with the mist still lingering over the water and the sunlight twinkling through the trees. Early rise and breakfast to get as much of the flight done before it got too hot. Moved back to the services berth, topped up with water and did the other loo cassette. Set off to attack the steep descent (Locks 58 to 29).

Took a short break at Lock 46 for juice then continued down. Took another short break at Lock 38 before continuing to the bottom. A good road most of the way, although very quiet to start. Met more boats in the last 6 locks than in the rest of the flight, including a "Brookline" hire-boat who had obviously not been told about the etiquette of not taking another boat's water - they emptied our lock in front of us! Stopped at the visitor moorings at the Queen's Head pub, had lunch aboard, and decided that was enough for the day. Quiet afternoon before the Stoke and Astwood Flights tomorrow.

2.41 miles 30 locks 4.53 hrs 7.16 lmph

Saturday 15th August ~ Hopwood to Tardebigge (en route to Worcester)

Considerably better morning today - sunny with occasional clouds. Took our time getting going, sorted the problem with the Windows installation, then moved to the water point before setting off. Had a leisurely run to Alvechurch for lunchtime, where we stopped and walked into town for emergency stores.

Headed off again, had lunch on the move before arriving at Shortwood Tunnel, then continued to Tardebigge Tunnel. Stopped at the services berth at the southern portal to the tunnel, then moved across to the visitors' berth opposite for the night. Should get a prompt start down the flight tomorrow morning.

5.28 miles 0 locks 2.11 hrs 2.51 lmph

Friday 14th August ~ Hopwood (en route to Worcester)

The heavy rain finally arrived just before midnight, although no thunder. Woke to a soggy morning, still dribbling after the downpour. Decided we were not going to get soaked and elected to stay put for another day. Rained most of the day, clearing only at dinner-time.

Completed the ironing, did a second Windows 10 installation, but it took until dinner, then failed to log on. Something to sort tommorrow! Invited Richard & Jackie aboard from the hire-boat ahead as they had expressed interest in possibly buying a boat in the future.

Thursday 13th August ~ Hopwood (en route to Worcester)

Cloudy start. Checked the forecast again, and it said thunderstorms with heavy rain from about lunchtime through to tomorrow morning. Decided to have a day off from moving. IT Manager attempted to install Windows 10; Housekeeping had a cleaning purge. Sun tried to break through late morning!

A bit of moisture in the air early afternoon, amidst brighter spells. One installation done, some file tidying done, vacuuming done, pile of ironing done. No signs of thunderstorms by bedtime.

Wednesday 12th August ~ Warstock to Hopwood via Edgbaston (route changed to Worcester)

Prompt departure, as planned, and headed towards King's Norton Junction. An alternative plan, raised by the Cruise Director, was approved. We would now be heading for Worcester then exploring the Droitwich Canals. Catering Department said we needed stores so, having passed through the Stop Lock , we turned right onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, headed towards Selly Oak. There is a mooring just at a winding hole, by Bridge 80, which gives access to Sainsbury and Aldi. Unfortunately, at time of passing, there was a Stoppage on the winding hole due to bank damage from prop-wash. We continued to The Vale winding hole, winded and returned to Selly Oak (an extra 45 minutes each way). Did our shopping, and had lunch.

Once on the move again, we returned to King's Norton Junction, then continued southwards towards Tardebigge. Passed through the Wast Hill Tunnel (exactly 30 minutes for the 2726 yds (2465m)), then moored at Bridge 67 for the night. Sunny all day, and very hot (the forecast however is for thunderstorms by the end of the week!).

13.13 miles 1 locks 5.32 hrs 2.66 lmph

Tuesday 11th August ~ Hockley Heath to Warstock (en route to Dudley)

On the move promptly in the hopes of getting our engine service done at some point today or tomorrow. Fine and dry, mostly cloudy. Left Hockley Heath, continuing towards Birmingham, with the depth of water slowly decreasing. Frequent groundings as we passed other boats. Stopped at Bridge 20 to visit Wedge's Bakery , which (since our last visit here some 13 years ago) now sports a deli and a café as well as their tasty bakery products.

Lunch on the move as we continued past Earlswood and Shirley into Warstock. Stopped at Lyons Boatyard , who very kindly slotted our service in at no notice at all. By the time we had taken water, fuel and gas, and had the service done, it was almost closing time so we stayed put overnight. Thanks very much to Sarah, Gary and Dave for their friendly and knowledgable help. Watched a squirrel eating nuts on the branch of a tree overhead, and dropping the outer shells into the water.

7.40 miles 4 locks 3.44 hrs 2.15 lmph

Monday 10th August ~ Kingswood to Hockley Heath (en route to Dudley)

Very heavy rain overnight, but cleared by breakfast. Went out the back doors to find the "Viking Afloat" hireboat (which had been moored astern) floating across the channel! Recovered the aft line and hammered the stake back into the soggy ground. Worked along the boat and found no stake on the end of the forward line. Held the boat alongside with their centre-line and trawled for the stake with our magnet (to no avail). Finally had to wake the crew to get piling hooks and re-moor them properly.

Having lost over an hour, we finally got on the move ourselves and headed up the last four locks of the Lapworth Flight. Stopped at Swallow Cruisers in the hope of getting an engine service, but they didn't have time. Asked for an oil filter suitable for our engine but they didn't know which. Continued onwards to Hockley Heath where we again stopped, for stores and lunch. Excellent lunch at the Wharf Tavern . Extremely full, we decided to stay put for the afternoon and move on tomorrow.

1.84 miles 4 locks 1.73 hrs 3.38 lmph

Sunday 9th August ~ Lowsonford to Kingswood (en route to Dudley)

Woke early. Nice cool, fresh morning so decided to get on the move to beat the heat of the sun. Ascended the three locks up to the motorway (30 to 28), then started the Lapworth Flight proper. Ascended the first six (27 to 22) and pulled in for loo and water. Kingswood Junction was manic, with boats joining and leaving the Lapworth Flight from/to the Grand Union Canal. Ascended the next six (21 to 15 (lock 20 is actually on the link section)) with the assistance of a CRT Volunteer, then pulled in again for lunch. Took a short walk to the Canal Shop and purchased ice-cream for mid-afternoon, and cake for dinner. Caught up with the e-comms, including getting yesterday's diary online. Getting very hot again, so just taking it easy.

On the move again, ascended the next nine locks (14 to 6) again with the assistance of the CRT Volunteers (same ones as the morning), and on their recommendation stopped between Locks 6 and 5 for the night, in a shady avenue of trees to the west of Kingswood. Ate our thoroughly deserved ice-cream! No SatTV tonight, but plenty recorded to catch up with.

"Paws" clocked up her 1000-lock mark during the last stretch.

2.81 miles 24 locks 5.02 hrs 5.34 lmph

Saturday 8th August ~ Wooton Wawen to Lowsonford (en route to Dudley)

Already hot by the time we surfaced, and the temperature kept rising with almost no movement in the air. Set off shortly after breakfast, headed for the next flight of locks. Passed "Gabriel", and paused for a chat with James & Hazel (BCF members ) before continuing (hope to see you again at The Taft). Ascended the three locks of the Preston Bagot flight (38 to 36), then the four others which come in quick succession (35 to 32). Stopped for water below Lock 31, then ascended, hoping to get a mooring. It was very busy along the moorings but managed to squeeze in, and repaired to the Fleur de Lys pub for lunch (at 13:50), only to be told there would be a wait of an hour! Returned to "Paws" and made our own lunch, the had a quiet afternoon doing very little. (No phone again so this is a late transmission.)

4.35 miles 8 locks 3.83 hrs 3.22 lmph

Friday 7th August ~ Wilmcote to Wooton Wawen (en route to Dudley)

Nice sunny morning. Went for a walk into Wilmcote village, home to shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden . There is a working Tudor farm (but we did not visit). On return, we let go and continued generally northwards. Ascended Bearley Lock  and came across a nice section of bank just before Wooton Wawen aqueduct, so moored for the day. Lunch interupted by mooring operations!

After lunch, went for walk along the towpath to find the Yew Tree farm shop . Mid-afternoon, Chris & Sam on "The Wind Mariah" caught up and moored ahead of us. Clouded over late afternoon.

2.69 miles 1 locks 1.50 hrs 2.47 lmph

Thursday 6th August ~ Stratford to Wilmcote (en route to Dudley)

Fair when we got up, but drizzle by the time we were ready to go. Moved forward to the water point. Discussed continuing up to the head of navigation, but the Admiral said no (which leaves a 3-mile section to do some other time). Drizzle cleared by the time we were properly on the move. Left the river at River Lock, entering Bancroft Basin on the Stratford-upon Avon Canal. Passed through the basin and started the climb out of Stratford through Locks 55 to 53, stopping just before One Elm Lock 52 (Birmingham Road) to allow shopping at the retail park, then lunch.

Sun now well out. Once on the move again, ascended locks 52 and 51, then commenced the Wilmcote Flight (Locks 50 to 40). We were assisted through from Lock 47 by a CRT Volunteer, which was gratefully received. Note that some of the locks are very narrow (particularly 46 and 47) so fenders should be removed. Clearing the locks, we moored at the Featherbed Lane moorings (but no phone and no SatTV) - back to the DVDs again!

Have enjoyed the (generally) wider and deeper water of the rivers, but not the heavy deep locks. Some of the scenery has been stunning, but at other times nothing could be seen due to the trees each side. Glad to be back in our more natural element of the narrow canals.

Just getting out of the shower, and there was this mad tooting from a boat going past! Clim & Tina on "Brindley" (next pontoon at our marina)! Shame we couldn't have chatted and caught up - catch you again later in the year.

3.90 miles 15 locks 4.58 hrs 4.13 lmph

Wednesday 5th August ~ Stratford

Bright morning; up promptly. Took a walk into town for stores and window-shopping. Found a teddy-bear shop (oh dear!). Returned to "Paws" for lunch. Went back into town in the afternoon for a visit to Holy Trinity Church, the trip out and back both using the chain-ferry (one of the oldest in the UK). On return, invited Chris & Sam across for coffee; spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and putting the world to rights. Great afternoon, great company, thanks and best wishes for the future. Slight hint of rain at dinner-time.

Tuesday 4th August ~ Offenham to Stratford

"The Wind Mariah" departed just before we were ready to go but we caught up with them as they were ascending Harvington Lock. Chris and Sam said they would wait at the next, and we partnered each other for the rest of the day. We had originally intended only going to Welford Lock, but things were going so well we decided to continue to Stratford. Cloud had increased during the morning, and there was a slight suggestion of rain, but it never came to anything. Passed through Bidford (where the bridge had been struck by a vehicle  in June). Bridge repairs  going well as far as we could tell. Lunch on the move. More sightings of kingfishers. The approach to each lock was marked by a distinct narrowing of the river, and increased reed and lilypads. That and the increase in current flow from the weirs made reductions in speed of almost a full mile-per-hour. Arrived at the Recreation Ground Moorings mid-afternoon (paid our fees for two nights) and went for a short walk into town for necessary stores. More investigation tomorrow.

13.36 miles 8 locks 6.75 hrs 3.16 lmph

Monday 3rd August ~ Fladbury to Offenham (en route to Stratford)

Quiet night again, with a cloudy start but with the prospect of better later on. We all left just after breakfast, each going our separate ways. Headed round to Chadbury Lock, then on to Evesham, mooring at "Workman's Gardens" for water, then (clearing the berth) a walk into town. Lunch ashore.

On return to "Paws", departed the mooring and headed round to Evesham Lock, did the loo, then ascended the lock. The section upstream of Evesham is narrower and has more reed and lilybeds. The lilys underwater are encroaching into the channel and reducing boat speeds. Sighted several kingfishers between Evesham and Offenham. Couldn't find the mooring we had chosen from the map, and ended up ascending Offenham Lock. Found that there were overnight moorings inside the quay-wall for the lock, so tied up. A fallen tree was removed from the lock entrance during the evening, and we got company from "The Wind Mariah" whom we'd seen a couple of times whilst on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. A mixture of sun and cloud throughout the day, quite warm working the heavy locks.

7.96 miles 3 locks 3.67 hrs 2.99 lmph

Sunday 2nd August ~ Fladbury (en route to Stratford)

Beautiful sunny day, with little wind. So nice here with no other boats, decided to stay put. Lovely quiet Sunday, doing very little. Two hire boats arrived late afternoon and breasted-up together at the other end of the mooring. A further hire boat arrived at dinner time, was too long for the remaining space so we offered to let them breast-up to us. A sharp shower at bedtime was the only rain for the day.

Saturday 1st August ~ Pershore to Fladbury (en route to Stratford)

Another sunny morning. Prompt departure. Moved back to the services berth (rubbish seems just to be into the public bins along the quayside). Ascended through Wyre Lock, then a lovely run through the village of Wyre Piddle, with the houses along the river bank (hopefully high enough to be flood-safe), and the interestingly named island of Tiddle Widdle at its east end. Continued through the villages of Cropthorne and Fladbury. Although not much of the villages can be seen from the river, we noted a pair of fox cubs playing in a field and a kingfisher on the wing. Ascended Fladbury Lock, which was manned by a team of volunteers from the Avon Navigation Trust . Cleared Fladbury and moored for day at Craycombe Turn. Very quiet mooring despite the proximity of the road.

6.54 miles 2 locks 2.36 hrs 3.62 lmph

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