|This Month's Totals and Average|
|140.31 miles||83 locks||75.16 hrs||2.97 lmph|
Dull but clammy morning. Slipped out from inside "Augustus" and moved over for services. Busy again in the basin, with more boats coming in as others went out. Once ready, slipped and took a leisurely run back round to the basin at the entrance to the Bentley Canal (left at Tipton Junction, right at Horseley Fields). Saw a fox in the scrubland at the north end of the Coseley Tunnel, but didn't have time to get the camera pointed. By mid-morning, the sun had pushed through, giving a sunny remainder to the day. Shopping at Sainsbury's in the afternoon.
|6.65 miles||0 locks||2.84 hrs||2.34 lmph|
Rain greeted us this morning so we stayed put, having a leisurely morning. Cleared the backlog of washing. The rain did eventually clear after lunch, but we couldn't be bothered moving so continued our quiet day, mostly chatting with museum-goers. Alan & Sue on "Augustus" turned up with their grandchildren, mooring outside us. Very busy in the basin tonight. Skype® call with son and family in the evening.
Leisurely start to the day - skipper very stiff after his exertions yesterday. Eventually on the move, and headed to the top of the flight. Started down, with the assistance of some of the local BCNS membership, clearing the bottom lock in very good time. At Oldbury Junction, turned left onto the old main line, retracing our steps from Friday. Turned left at Tipton Junction to head into the Museum complex again. Moorings busy both outside and inside, but there was a space at the 24hr berth. Winded and set onto the services berth, before moving across to the 24hr berth for the night. The dull early morning had now cleared to a sunny afternoon.
Quiet afternoon "recovering" from the past week .
|4.14 miles||6 locks||2.46 hrs||4.11 lmph|
Although the day started dull, the sun soon came out. I spent most of the day assisting boats at the locks. The first boats out were around 07:30 and it continued in a stready stream until about 15:30. Pat was on routine chores and cleaning. We had a quiet walk along the remaining boats late-afternoon, saying our goodbyes (we'll see some of our friends again at the IWA Festival at St Neots later in the year), then retired back to "Paws" for a quiet evening. Thanks to everyone at the BCNS for a well-organised and most enjoyable weekend.
Torrential rain, thunder and lightning from around 02:00, continued past breakfast. Went to the mini-service run by Living Water Fellowship - very nice indeed, with a mixture of new and old, and a small 'family' group. The rain had ceased by the time we finished, and the sun was back out.
Photos of Bradley workshop visit , Bradley Locks Branch walk and Titford Pools trip uploaded.
Busy day with boats from the BCNS 24hr Marathon Challenge arriving - points are awarded for miles steamed, locks operated, locations visited, etc, tempered with 'penalties/bonuses' for size of crew, towing etc, all within a set period (T's & C's apply).
After a mostly-sunny late-morning and early afternoon, the rain returned late afternoon, with more thunder. Not a pleasant evening so didn't go back to the marquee.
Day started dull, with a heavy shower just after breakfast. Those from the Explorer Cruise not staying for the weekend were on the move quickly, we took our time.
As arranged last night, we made ready by 10:00 to take a run up to the Titford Pools. "Caretta", "Comfortably Crazy", and "Saddleworth Rose" (all from the Explorer Cruise), and "Unique" and "Lamprey" (from the Rally), joined us and we headed upstream in convoy. On approaching the Pools , we turned left along the side of the large pool (the Causeway Green Branch), and turned in at the far end. The turn is sharp, and there is silting on the towpath side (just where you want to put your stern on the turn!). Once in, it opened out to a large lagoon. Although one boat caught a silt-bank in the entrance, we got all six of us in, and turned with no real difficulty - cameras going full tilt! We left the large pool again and travelled round to the small pool. There was a fallen tree partly across the entrance to the M5 bridge'ole, but no casualties. Again, all six got in, but it was a squeeze. Once we were all in, photographed, and winded, we headed back to our moorings, arriving about 11:30, justifiably pleased with ourselves. Moored outside "Augustus".
Quiet afternoon, generally pottering, with a walk to the pumphouse to see the stalls at the Rally. Pat did a stint on the tea/coffee stall. Late afternoon, "Augustus" decided she would go to the pools, so we swapped places.
The evening's entertainment was too loud for us, but reports suggest it was of good quality. The afternoon's sunshine dulled down again in the evening.
|2.63 miles||0 locks||1.67 hrs||1.57 lmph|
Very heavy rain overnight had eased slightly by breakfast but did continue throughout the morning. Up promptly and took "Paws" into the museum basin for services - had to politely ask a hireboat to 'move on' as he had overnighted on the water-point. Winded, then returned back out to Tipton Junction. Aiming the bows towards the old main line to Birmingham, reversed up to Tipton Green Bridge and moored again. Walked to the shopping centre for stores then went to the library where the group had congregated for a talk. Keith gave us a brief run through the "10 things for which Tipton is famous", then took us on a whistle-stop tour of the 'lost' canals of the Tipton area. Thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.
Our guides for the week, Brenda & Brian on "Colehurst", said they would be leaving us to take ourselves along to Titford as she was feeling under the weather. Thanks to you both for a great week - we've had a fantastic time.
We dispersed each to our own boats for the trip along the old main line from Tipton to Titford Junction - very easy going after some of the tribulations of the past few days. Saw our first kingfisher of the year as we were going along the Old Main Line. Turned right onto the Titford Canal and, with the assistance of the BCNS lock-wheeling crew, ascended 'The Crow' to the pumphouse. Moored up for the start of the 50th Birthday Celebration Rally of the BCNS, taking place over the bank-holiday weekend - we managed to get alongside John & Judith on "Serena".
The rain eased to a light drizzle for the afternoon and into the evening. The BCNS members at the Rally had prepared a 'welcome party' with finger-food at the beer tent for the Cruise arrivals. We said some 'goodbyes' (to those leaving in the morning), and 'hellos' (to our hosts for the weekend). Great evening.
|4.34 miles||6 locks||2.64 hrs||3.92 lmph|
Dull and much cooler morning, today. Managed to get some baking done early on (for the 'party' Friday evening), before we collected at the CRT workshops for a tour round. Staff were on hand to answer questions, and we had a very interesting morning.
In the afternoon, most of us went for a walk along the line of the old Bradley Locks Branch , which connected the Wednesbury Oak Loop to the Walsall Canal. David Pearson was very knowledgeable as our guide. Sun starting to get through.
After a brisk walk back to the basin, we got under way quickly for the day's movement. We headed back out from the loop to Deepfields Junction, most of us again getting at least some blanket-weed round our prop. Turning left onto the main line, we continued back to Factory Junction and headed into Tipton. We elected to run through and moor outside the Museum since we needed services in the morning (basin full, so we moored just outside).
Sunny evening. There was a meal for the tour members at the "Pie Factory", but with Pat's dietary needs we had to dine on arrival (the meal was booked for 20:00). Quiet remainder to the evening.
|4.27 miles||0 locks||2.95 hrs||1.45 lmph|
Awakened at 07:30 by work at the building site opposite, but no real deal. Walked round to the Bentley Basin for 09:00 for a brief talk by Councillor Phil Bateman, a keen advocate of the Birmingham canals. We then moved off for our short day's run round to the CRT Workshops.
Returning to the Birmingham Main Line at Horseley Fields Junction, we turned left and continued to Deepfields Junction (the next one along) and turned off again, this time onto what is left of the Wednesbury Oak Loop. This was another of the loops left over when Telford improved on Brindley's original route - in this case by cutting the Coseley Tunnel. It is now severed, with navigation only as far as the CRT Workshops at Bradley. Going was very difficult for some boats due to blanket-weed wrapping itself round propellors. A group of 4 of us were held up for over 20 minutes due to weed-clearing - we eventually ended up towing "City of Eustis" through the worst until he got clearer water. The actual water was so clean we could see the fish swimming around, and at least 4 families of Lesser Grebe (dabchick) were found nesting. Finally arrived at the current head-of-navigation at the CRT Bradley Yard, and packed the basin with our boats. "Henry Chichele" caught a tyre round her prop at Deepfields Junction and needed professional assistance from RCR, but at the basin, we were joined by "Cerberus" again after her repairs.
Another hot day, with a later than expected finish (too late to do the planned baking, but not so late that I didn't have time to get the diary done.
|6.08 miles||0 locks||3.48 hrs||1.75 lmph|
Up early again, but this time got away quickly (4th away of the 18 remaining boats). Left the Town Arm and turned sharp right to start up the Walsall Flight (8 locks), again with help from volunteers from the BCN Society. Ascended in very good time, but were greeted with warnings of mattresses and sofas in the water in the next section. We carefully continued northwards, noting "Peggy Sue" getting her weed-hatch cleared (again!).
Arriving at Birchills Junction again, we turned left on the W&E, heading back towards Wednesfield. We stopped at Sneyd Junction for services, with the following 3 boats all having the same intention. Continued back westward, arriving at Wednesfield retail park just before lunch. Elected to moor outside for the night (inside the basin would be straight outside a noisy pub).
After lunch went for a short quiet walk - 'catering' took a walk to the supermarket to top up (this also involved several stops at other boats for a chat). Remainder of afternoon used to get diary (from Saturday onwards) back up to date (finally!).
Big surprise just before dinner - John & Judith from "Serena" turned up outside the boat. Great to see them again and to catch up. They are also coming to the BCNS Rally over the weekend, and to the IWA Festival in St Neots later in the year. look forward to seeing them.
Another hot day, although a breeze made it bearable. Dinner ashore at Cosmo Authentic World Kitchen , a buffet-restaurant with food from all over the world (including Japan, China, Korea, Europe). Fabulous meal at exceptional value - stuffed! (The only downside was the volume of the so-called music)
Although diary finally brought back up to date, there should be some photos to be posted later (where I get time). You will be directed back when I get it done.
|7.62 miles||8 locks||4.65 hrs||3.36 lmph|
A cooler morning, with a heavy dew. Hoping to get an early start, we rose early and were ready to go by 08:00 - unfortunately a lot of the other boats had the same idea, and we finally started down the flight just after 09:00. "Wren's Nest" had decided they had had enough of clearing their weed-hatch and had announced they would be leaving us at the bottom of the flight. A moderately easy descent with the help of members of the BCN Society got us to the bottom of the flight (9 locks) just after 11:00, despite an empty pound at the bottom at the start of the day (quickly dealt with by the BCNS team). When picking up my lock-wheeler from the bank, my rudder got stuck in the mud at the side and it took some time to clear it.
Once on the move again, we turned right onto the Tame Valley Canal - a lot clearer and cleaner than earlier. This canal rises up from Salford Junction (foot of the Aston and Garrison Flights) through Perry Barr to Newton Junction, then almost straight to join the Walsall Canal at Ocker Hill.
At Tame Valley Junction, we turned right again onto the Walsall Canal. Back to the rubbish, and a slow run through that and the weed. The actual water was quite clear again, but although it makes an excellent corridor for wildlife, it is in poor condition for the boats for which it was built. We finally made the junction onto the Town Arm and, winding in the Town Basin, moored facing out ready for tomorrow.
Although the sun was out most of the day, it was slightly cooler for most of the time. After another late finish (and the diary not done, again), a quiet evening watching the TV in the cooler air. Again, the reports were of problems with fouled propellors, and we heard that "Cerberus" had also decided to pull out after sustaining damage to her rudder.
Diary finally brought back up to date on Tuesday afternoon when we arrived back in Wednesfield.
|12.23 miles||9 locks||7.82 hrs||2.72 lmph|
Expecting a fairly long day, we rose early and got on the move quickly. Another sunny morning. Let go and immediately turned left at Pelsall Junction to go to the current head-of-navigation of the Cannock Extension Canal. This canal used to run right into the Cannock coalfields but is now severed at the A5 road 1½ miles up. Not as 'industrial' as I would have expected, a pleasant hour's round trip.
On arriving back at Pelsall Junction, we turned left again, continuing on the W&E past Brownhills to Catshill Junction (turning left again) and on to Ogley Junction where the canal is severed. The continuation, to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal, is under restoration by the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust , whom we met last night. At Ogley Junction, the Anglesey Branch runs 1½ miles to Chasewater reservoir and serves as a navigable feeder for the system. It was a very pleasant run along the side of the housing estates, looking out across Cannock Chase.
Returning to Catshill Junction, we turned left again onto the Daw End Branch, and found ourselves behind the same slow boat as yesterday, and had another slow run (of 2 hours) until we reached our day's destination of Longwood, at the top of the Rushall Flight (again later than expected). Once again a number of boats had problems with rubbish and weed, which had been increasing during the afternoon.
A barbeque and entertainment had been laid on by the Longwood Boat Club whose home is on the short arm at the top of the flight. The singing from Phil was received very warmly, although after another hot day we were tired and listened mostly from our beds, then fell asleep early (the diary again not completed).
Diary finally brought back up to date on Tuesday afternoon when we arrived back in Wednesfield.
|15.90 miles||0 locks||7.29 hrs||2.18 lmph|
Away promptly for the Explorer Cruise , on a warm sunny morning - a convoy of 20 boats heading for the Northern reaches of the BCN. Turned left at Horseley Fields Junction onto the Wyrley & Essington Canal (known as the "Curley Wyrley" due to its convoluted route). This took us through the suburb of Wednesfield, passing the end of the old Bentley Canal (this end is still used as a mooring basin convenient to a retail park). It continues its twisted course to the west side of Bloxwich, coming south to Birchills and the junction with the Walsall Canal. We turned left, continuing up the east side of Bloxwich with the W&E, to Pelsall Common for the night. There had been some debris in the water, but the water itself had been fairly clear, clear enough to see the large lilypads under the surface. We saw our first damselflies, and numerous families of waterfowl including our first cygnets of the season. A number of boats had difficulty with fouled propellors, but we all managed to arrive. We were much later than anticipated due to the boat in front not keeping to a sensible speed (or not letting us past) so no time to get the diary written up tonight. The Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust had put up a gazebo with information about their work.
After a hot day, the evening cooled nicely. Sat watching the highlights of the Royal Wedding with Rosemary from "Jarrah" - Della aboard "Cerberus" was also supposed to join us but she was even later due to a damaged rudder.
Diary finally brought back up to date on Tuesday afternoon when we arrived back in Wednesfield.
|12.79 miles||0 locks||6.30 hrs||2.03 lmph|
A second quiet night, leading to another sunny morning. Mass exodus starting 08:00, some using the services as they went. We moved over as soon as "Dreckly" left, serviced, then winded and headed out. Returned to Tipton Junction and turned left, mooring just north of the Fountain Pub to allow "catering" to get stores.
On the move again by 10:30, returning to Factory Junction and turning left towards Wolverhampton. Noted "Dreckly" following us. A considerable number of coot families along this section, most with young - seems to have been a good year for the waterfowl of the cut. An otherwise uneventful run along to the CRT yard at the top of the flight. Moored initially in the main basin, but decided to reverse back through the road-bridge, wind, and moor next to the yard. Boats for the Cruise arrived thick and fast from early afternoon, mooring in the main basin, next to the yard, and even in the yard - going to be very crowded here tonight!
Evening meeting on the towpath at the gardens by the top lock, as a briefing from the Harbourmaster of information about the cruise. Some then went to the pub, others retired to their boats.
|5.95 miles||0 locks||2.37 hrs||2.52 lmph|
Disappointed to find the BCLM prices risen as high as they are, with concessions only over 65. Although a ticket lasts for a year, it is now not viable to make a visit every year - it will have to be longer between visits. Shame, as we had been looking forward to their excellent fish & chips.
Had a lazy day aboard, only clearing small jobs and routine chores. Another of our fellow Explorers ("Talavera") popped into the basin - he was doing a tunnel-tour before continuing on to Wolverhampton. By dinner time, a further two Explorers had arrived, "Dreckly" (who ended up breasted-up to us) and "Peggy Sue". The basin very busy tonight with nine boats moored, and three others had to move on as there was no space.
Although chilly in the morning, once the sun got through it was quite a warm day.
A day of Loops.
A dull, cool morning saw us on the move again. We headed out the other end of Oozles Street Loop, joining the main line at Ladywood Junction and continuing generally towards Dudley. We had decided to also take in the other two navigable loops on the way. These loops were part of the original Brindley line, left over when Telford straightened out parts of the "crooked ditch" (the Cape Loop is now un-navigable). We turned left at Sandy Turn onto the Icknield Port Loop, a fairly short loop passing close to Edgebaston Reservoir (also called Rotton Park reservoir). There is a CRT yard at the far end under the reservoir embankment - it was quite busy today. Returning to the main line at Rotton Park Junction, we headed straight across (as per the original line) into the Soho Loop. This is longer and less industrial, with parkland at the Winson Green end. The Hockley Port Arm turns off about half way round, but we didn't go along it (maybe investigate for a future trip). At Winson Green Junction we again returned to the main line, turning right along main line again. Once past Smethwick Junction, Telford's work again becomes very evident in his Smethwick Bypass, leading to the 'new' main line which runs almost straight as far as Factory Locks (3) which raise the canal back to Brindley's original level and rejoins his line. We turned left at Factory Junction, then right (at Tipton Junction), onto the Dudley No.1 Canal leading into the Black Country Living Museum where there are excellent visitor moorings and services. The sun did eventually peek out from behind the clouds mid-afternoon.
|9.83 miles||3 locks||4.09 hrs||3.14 lmph|
Retail therapy day!
Took a walk into town once the morning chores were finished. Went to our usual Chinese supermarket to top up on oriental stores, then headed for the Bullring. Had a wander round the indoor market and got some meat/fish, and (yet more) wool. Up into the main shopping centre for a walk round and lunch. The shop-a-holic decided she'd had enough, so back to "Paws" by early afternoon. Noted one of our fellow-Explorer's boats ("Wren's-Nest") moored at Gas Street. Lazy afternoon.
Took our time getting going this morning - with only the flight of 13 locks, it was not an arduous day. Returned to Aston Junction and turned left up the Farmers Bridge Flight. Met a boat at the bottom who said they had just come down, so the whole flight should be with us (yippee!). Set off upward, a couple of the locks still had leakage to drain back out but we were getting on well. Slight problem between locks 7 and 6, where a hire boat took the water and caused a difficult manoeuvre in the very small pound. This was then compounded by the following boat doing the same thing at lock 5 while we were playing ring-a-roses round each other in the pound between 7 and 6. The easiest way out of the mess was for us to wait for the second boat to descend 6 as well as 5 and pass us before we ascended 6. All sorted out amicably (he apologised for just plain not looking ahead).
Completed the run to the top and pulled alongside for services, then moved over to Brindley Place for a couple of nights (shopping tomorrow). Lovely sunny day throughout, but still with a slight coolness making locking comfortable.
|1.66 miles||13 locks||2.46 hrs||5.97 lmph|
The weather-front forecast to bring rain overnight moved on quicker than expected (the rain had actually stopped before we went to bed). Morning dawned fresh and bright - a good thing for us as we have a long day ahead. Mr Blackie was singing again well before we got up! On the move quickly and headed through the short tunnel at Curdworth, continuing to the three spaced-out locks at Minworth.
Bit of a problem at Minworth Bottom - the nearside paddle at the top gate refused to go down properly. It took nearly two hours to get through to the CRT emergency line to report it (there had been a crash in their telephone system). Had two gates which wouldn't fully open, Minworth Top and Aston Lock 10. Managed to get through after waggling the gate a few times. Got two lots of rubbish round the prop (at Minworth Bottom and around the Erdington area) requiring trips down the weed-hatch. Finally got to the pound above Aston 9 and moored at Aston Business Park for a lunch break.
After lunch, continued up the remainder of the Aston Flight (a further 8). A couple of boats coming down so got a "good road". Turned left onto the Digbeth Branch at Aston Junction, and moored at Aston Science Park visitor moorings after winding. Noted a large number of the Canada Geese with goslings, average brood of 5.
|8.08 miles||14 locks||5.24 hrs||4.21 lmph|
Rain had ceased by dawn, ushering in a lovely sunny morning (not too hot for locking, not too cold as to require heavy clothing). Birds all singing lustily. Although not rushing, we were on the move fairly quickly, continuing the rise up the remainder (8) of the Curdworth Flight. All locks were with us, although some needed overnight leakage drained before the gates would open. Met only one boat coming down. Moored just above Top Lock for the day. Serenaded all afternoon by one particular blackbird in a tree opposite - beautiful song, right into the evening until the rain came on!
|1.79 miles||8 locks||1.76 hrs||5.56 lmph|
The sunny start to the day slowly turned to cloud, with threatened rain by dinner time. Took our time making the final preps for departure, and moved across to the services berth for fuel, gas and loo, before departing just before lunchtime. Made the hour's trip round to Kingsbury and moored at the foot of the Curdworth Flight for a leisurely lunch, then started up the flight. No other boats moving today, but got a hand from a couple of walkers who closed the top gate at no.10 as we left. Continued up to the pound to the moorings at the pub and stopped for the night. Dinner at the "Dog & Doublet" courtesy a (very) small win on the Lottery. Rain stayed off until after we returned from dinner, but had started by bedtime and continued most of the night.
|3.53 miles||3 locks||1.93 hrs||3.38 lmph|
Sunday and Monday were hot and sunny, but Tuesday dulled down over the day as the cloud built. Rain both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, but not a lot. Back to sun on Thursday, but with a cooler breeze.
General routines and chores over the period - odd jobs done around the boat, haircuts for both of us, and shopping in preparation for the run to Birmingham. Trip to the chandlers by car. Visited David & Mary on Wednesday afternoon to collect a couple of banners and some promotional material for BCF to use on their stand at the IWA Festival in August. Did some bread and biscuit baking. All now ready to go again!
Sun streaming in through my porthole as it cleared the hedge outside at 05:45. Relaxed start, but let go not that much later than usual. Headed back in through Polesworth, Amington and Glascote. Very busy. Descended Glascote Locks - third in queue, with nothing coming up - and continued to Fazeley Junction, taking a sandwich lunch on the move. Turned left and back into our marina.
Completed a new map showing the itinerary of the Explorer Cruise in May.
|7.31 miles||2 locks||3.53 hrs||2.64 lmph|
Amongst the very lusty dawn chorus this morning was the sound of our first cuckoo of the year. Morning started dull but considerably warmer than of late. On the way promptly towards the Atherstone Flight. Just less than an hour and pulled in for services above the top lock. After services, descended the first 5 locks to the moorings nearest town. CRT volunteers were on duty and we got assistance for 4 of the 5. 'Catering' made a quick trip to the supermarket, then we had lunch before moving off again.
Descended the remaining 6 locks. Most were against us but a fairly quick run through nevertheless. The whole flight was busy, possibly because those that could had moved today before the Bank Holiday weekend. Continued to one of our favourite spots, just west of Bridge 50, and moored for the night. A cloudy but warmer day throughout (only T-shirt required).
|5.30 miles||11 locks||3.90 hrs||4.18 lmph|
Forecast for the next week is good weather with temperatures rising - we can but hope the forecasters are actually right. The plan for the next couple of weeks is to go back to base for a couple of days before heading into Birmingham, and out to Wolverhampton for the 18th and the start of the "Explorer Cruise" run by the BCN Society .
Mixture of sun and cloud today, still cool, but the wind had abated. On the move promptly, heading generally back towards Fazeley. Birds were singing more freely, as if they had decided spring had finally come. Passed Charity Dock, then Marston Junction, and on through Nuneaton. More boats on the move today. Once clear of Hartshill, moored up for the day. Lunch first, then diary, maps, other e-paperwork and ironing were the order for the afternoon. Cloud started to increase mid-afternoon, but it remained a very pleasant evening.
|8.76 miles||0 locks||3.23 hrs||2.71 lmph|
Rain and high winds came on with a vengeance overnight, and continued through to lunchtime - decided to stay put. Completed the map tracks for the last few days and the tracks for the plans map. Now up to date, I can continue with the backdating of 2015. Day cleared during the afternoon to a lovely sunny evening. On the move again tomorrow.
Such an improvement with the new month! Wall-to-wall sunshine (although still cold). Very pleasant trip down to Coventry again, reversing to the junction and winding for the trip south. Got what we needed, with lunch ashore, then headed back to "Sutton's". Stopped for services on the way past, but didn't get water as someone else was on that berth. Moved up to the other side of the junction for water, then headed to a berth. Had another chat with Tony &' Jacqui from "Timewarp" and bought some fudge from them. Gwyneth stopped by to deliver a couple of things. Day closed with slight hint of showers and increasing wind, but with a forecast of rain overnight.
|11.45 miles||0 locks||4.55 hrs||2.52 lmph|