|This Month's Totals and Average
Despite wanting to stay in bed, we needed to be off-site by 10:00, so up fairly promptly. Finished clearing away stuff from the weekend and prepared to get away. A lot cooler this morning.
Let go bang on 10:00 and headed northwards. It was only 10 mins to Blackpole Lock, but found a queue of 3 boats waiting. After a delay of about 40 mins, we ascended and continued on to Tolladine Lock and thence to Offerton Locks (flight of 6). A steady stream of boats going up started to reduce the levels in the pounds, but not drastically. By half way up, a group of us were drawing paddles for the boat behind to speed up the flow of traffic. Clearing Top Lock (16), we moored up at the Tibberton Visitor Moorings just by the "Bridge Inn". Lunch aboard, and a quiet afternoon.
Saturday through to Monday was the IWA Festival of Water . Pat and I spent a lot of the time manning the BCF stand. We also covered for others on the Bradley Canal Restoration stand. On Sunday there was a communion service before opening-time and a public service in the afternoon. Lunches were obtained from the on-site catering stands, and were very good.
It was great catching up with old friends (Eric & Sally ("Chérie"), John & Sue ("Jura"), Roger & Margo ("The Lady Beth"), Colin & Jane ("Slow Gin"), Bob ("Bimble")), new friends made this year ("Sans Souci" and "Valiant" (although we never found out names), and BCF members (Jan & John ("Jubilee"), Stephen & Gwyneth ("Chyandour"), Peter & Fran ("Sonflower") along with Angie, Raymond & Jane ("Kathleen Margaret"), David & Mary ("Kew") along with Richard, Nick & Sallyann ("Lady Blatherwick"), and others including Dave Pearson (Bradley Canal Society, Helen Whitehouse (IWA Litchfield) and "Moose" (waterspace manager). It was also great to meet Rachel, Phillip and Grace in the flesh - we have been conversing with them on Zoom at the Doncaster church coffee, and they brought a sales-stand to the Festival.
We also had a visit from David & Betty (friends from London) and Allan & Ellie (friends from Stourport) during the weekend.
A most enjoyable, if very tiring, time.
After a quieter than expected night, up promptly. Spent the day in preparations for the IWA Festival over the weekend - erecting gazebos, printing flyers, general oddjobs both at the stand and aboard. Pat also did a trip for urgent stores. Noticed that there are now signs reminding cyclists to slow down.
Up promptly and did any jobs requiring water. Reversed to the water point, cleared the loo and topped up water (ready for the festival) then set off up the hill for Perdiswell Park.
The first two locks, Sidbury and Blockhouse came quickly after departure, then there was a longer gap before the remaining four (Gregory's Mill (2) and Bilford (2)). At Bilford Bottom, we encountered a working-boat coming down to wind between the locks. It was a CRT Heritage Fleet boat and they wanted to do a little tree trimming as they turned. We had a wait of about 10 mins till they got back up the top lock before we went through.
On clearing the lock, wew were welcomed by the harbour master who advised we had been moved from berth 38 to berth 40 (even further out). We crept between the moored boats and the reeds to be told by the section harbour master that we could have the first berth after the bridge so we took it (berth 31). This was right next to Peter & Fran on "Sonflower".
Late lunch having moored up and had a chat with Peter & Fran. After lunch, headed off to register our arrival, but were waylaid by the arrival of "Chyandour", then "Kew". Eventually got across to the Waterspace tent and booked in. Took a circuitous route back, including a 'disagreement' (subsequently a complaint to CRT) with a speeding cyclist.
Tucked up for the night.
A quieter mooring than I expected, apart from the emergency vehicle sirens. The Admiral slept in. After breakfast etc., I decided to go up to Sidbury Lock and spend the day assisting other boaters through (including "Jubilee" and "Kathleen Margaret"). Pat had said she needed to go back up to the shops, and had ironing and cleaning to do. On her way back from the shops, she passed the lock and we decided we would have lunch together at The Commandery - excellent toasties and home-made cakes. After lunch, I went back to the lock, and Pat returned to her jobs. A cloudy day throughout.
Up and on the move promptly. Watched a flock (family?) of goldfinches over breakfast. Descended the two locks to the river again and headed south. Five minutes took us to the only river lock today (Bevere), then an hour's run to Worcester. Much the same kind of scenery as last Wednesday (trees and bushes line the river) but there were the occasional groups of houses on the banks, all built with accommodation on 1st floor and garages underneath to help against flood damage.
Arriving in Worcester we noted a few mooring spaces at the racecourse, but it was a little far out for us. We hoped for a space on the visitor pontoon below Diglis basin. Not to be, unfortunately - double-berthed already with other boats with the same idea as us, waiting for the festival (including "The Jam Butty" with Andy & Helen). Needed services, so ascended the two locks to Diglis basin and moored at the services point. "Jubilee" and "Kathleen Margaret" were both moored nearby.
After servicing, we decided not to go back to the river (in case the one outside berth on the pontoon had been taken in the meantime), and moved forward past Mill Street Bridge where we found a space. Moored for the night.
Took a walk up into the centre of the town for the remainder of the afternoon.
Woke to a very heavy dew, but a pleasant fresh morning. Having received confirmation I was not needed as harbour-master, we didn't need to arrive until Thursday at the earliest. Decided to stay here an extra day before heading down to Worcester but, when the other boats left, we moved forward to the end of the section to allow maximum boats to get in. Generally pottered, with Pat doing some baking and chores while I got a couple of small jobs done. By mid-morning the sun was shining, and continued all day. A CRT workboat moored behind us late afternoon, blocking further boats for today.
Very heavy rain overnight, but dry by morning. Pat woke early, but left me to sleep till usual time. Pottered about till it was time to join our friends in Doncaster for the service, but didn't drop in for coffee today. After a chat with Colin & Jane, we both got away at 11:40, heading back towards the Severn.
Lunch on the move during the first hour to Ladywood Top Lock, then descended the flight paired with "Slow Gin". Had a good chat while working the locks together. Continued down Porter's Mill and Mildenham Mill Locks to the mooring we used on the way up - a lot busier today. After mooring, I assisted "Slow Gin" down the remaining two locks to the river, and the upcoming boat for the same two locks. By this time, the mooring was full and they had to continue, while I returned to "Paws".
After a cool morning (although bright), clouds built just before we departed at lunchtime. These cleared during the afternoon to leave a warm, sunny evening.
Other than the trains on the banking behind the basin, a very quiet night - we slept in! Awoke to heavy rain so decided to stay a second day in the hopes of better weather tomorrow. Awaiting news from the IWA Waterspace Manager whether I am required as an assistant harbour-master and/or whether he wants us at the showground early for next weekend. This will determine how many spare days we have.
Had a chat with Colin & Jane on "Slow Gin" - we had originally intended to head south with them today - they also decided to stay over, and we've agreed to run together tomorrow (we first met them at Huntingdon 2018).
The weather varied throughout the day between moderate rain, light drizzle and fair. A moderate amount of traffic passing, and a number of boats stopping for a break or for overnight.
Another quiet night. Up promptly and on the move. Continued northwards towards Droitwich. After 20 mins, we ascended Mildenham Mill Lock, then a further 20 mins to Porter's Mill Lock. There then follows the Ladywood Flight (4 locks at 5 min intervals). It is then an hour into Droitwich.
The canal throughout is bordered both sides by reed beds, sometimes making passing difficult. This continues right into the centre of the Town. Where there are gaps in the reeds, one can see the farmland, grazing cattle and sheep. Lunch on the move.
Arriving at Netherwich Basin, we moored at the visitor moorings (east side of the basin on a set of short pontoons). Went for a walk around the centre of town during the afternoon - investigated the history of the salt trade dating from mediaeval times.
The Barge Canal continues east through Vines Park, joining the Droitwich Junction Canal which continues to Hanbury on the Worcs & Brum Canal. Unfortunately, we are too high to get under the motorway bridge (as we found out in Aug 2015), so we will have to return via Hawford.
Lovely mooring - although there was the constant hiss of tyres on tarmac from the A449, it was far enough away and didn't cause problems. The Admiral decided that we should stay here for the day while she did some "ironing" (? ed.) and other domestic chores. I continued with the genealogy work for Fhi.
Quite busy with passing boats throughout the day. Weather mostly cloudy, but dry with occasional sunny spells.
Up about usual time. Put a load of washing on while on shore-power and so that the water could be topped up before departure. Fuel taken (excellent price). Walked round to the services berth for rubbish and loo before setting off (it was very busy with boats and walking round was quicker - someone else wanted the berth).
Let go, hoping to go down the wide locks for something different, but the CRT lads said "no!". Went round to the narrow locks and descended with their help onto the River Severn. Heading downstream was similar to sections of the Thames, with high trees and bushes both sides, so not a lot of scenery. Descended the manned (electric) locks at Lincomb and Holt, passing several of the villages of pre-fabricated houses brought in on trucks (like caravans). At Hawford Junction, we turned off the river onto the Droitwich Barge Canal, ascending the first two locks. The vegetation is very close to the sides coming up this bit. Moored for the night above Lock 2.
Slow start today. Took our time getting up and getting out. Coffeetime by the time we were ready to face the world. Went for a walk through town for a few items, and had brunch at Mimi's . I spent the remainder of the day working on our genealogy project (with new data passed by Fhi), and other e-paperwork tasks. Pat did more knitting.
After a quieter night than we expected, we woke refreshed and ready for the run down to Stourport. After breakfast, did the stores shopping at Sainsbury's then let go and moved forward to Kidderminster Lock. The first 3 locks today (Kidderminster, Caldwall and Falling Sands) come at roughly 20 minute intervals before a long (1 hour) pound into Stourport. The open view continues on this stretch with farmland on both sides. Arriving in Stourport, we descended King's Road Lock and immediately pulled over for services.
Once serviced, we checked in at Limekiln Chandlery for our pre-booked berth for 2 nights (£15 per night, including electricity and water on the berth - call ahead - no arrivals over weekends). Once moored up, had lunch.
After lunch, went for a walk round the basins to investigate the wide-lock route and to see how the narrow-lock closure was progressing. Visited the chandlery on the way back for a couple of items.
Sighted bats flying past at head-level over the pontoons as we were going to bed.
Tawny owls heard calling overnight. Awake early so up and on the move to get a better signal for the service this morning (phone reception has been weak over the last 2 days). Moved forward to Wolverley Lock, then on to Wolverley Court Lock, the vista opening up from the close trees as we neared the outskirts of Kidderminster. Moored outside Sainsbury's.
Joined our friends at Doncaster for service and coffee as usual, then had lunch before walking down to Weavers' Wharf Shopping centre for all the non-supermarket items, including collecting a parcel. Returned to "Paws" for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.
Weather was a mixed bag today, with periods of brilliant sunshine, and occasional drizzle.
Good mooring overnight. Dull start to morning, but dry. Decided to stay where we were for an extra day - wait for delivery notification of parcel, didn't want to overnight in Kidderminster more than one night, moorings at Stourport 'Marina' not available till Monday.
Form for BCBF booking received courtesy Stephen Carter (we couldn't get on Facebook page (no account), and the BCBF website not yet updated). Form completed but no email address for sending to, and I can't get an answer on their phone.
Delivery notification received late morning - plan is now to move to Kidderminster tomorrow morning before church, then do most of our business in the afternoon, moving to Stourport on Monday.
The dry start didn't last too long, and the remainder of the day was misty/drizzle with occasional heavier showers.
Lovely mooring overnight - very quiet, with little footfall. Another cool morning, sunny with occasional cloud. Took our time getting going as it would only be a shortish day. Let go and continued south past Stourton Junction (up the hill to Stourbridge and through Black Delph to Birmingham) and descended Stewpony Lock, then went through Dunsley Tunnel (only 25 yards!). Continuing on, there is a slightly longer pound before Hyde, Kinver and Whittington Locks. There are a number of narrower sections in this vicinity where it may be difficult to pass two boats - this is caused by the steeper contour gradient on which the canal sits, with cut rock close on the offside and then a steep drop next to the towpath - very scenic. In a longer pound, after passing through Cookley Tunnel (slightly longer than Dunsley but not by much) we came to Debdale Lock. All the locks today have been quite deep, and the paddlegear quite stiff. We moored for the day just north of Wolverley Lock. Lunch slightly late.
Rather an abrupt awakening today - remedial work was being done on the trees at the pub close by, and chainsaws and wood-shredder were started up at 08:05! We actually took our time getting moving. A cool morning initially, with a heavy dew. Continued southwards towards Kidderminster. The first bit of interest was the Botterham Staircase (2 locks). This was where a boat had sunk last year. Descended without incident and continued down the successive locks, Marsh, Swindon and Hinksford. Arriving at Greensforge, we used the services above the lock.
Duly 'serviced', we moved forward to the lock and found "Cerberus" moored offside. Had a long chat with Della (who was babysitting a friend's house while they were on holiday). Descended the lock, and the next two, Rocky and Gothersley. The canal has been mostly tree-lined, providing shade from the sun. Moored for the day just north of Stourton Junction, where we had arranged for Ellie & Allen to visit.
Ellie arrived aboard just after dinner, and we had a great evening chatting. Allen, unfortunately, wasn't feeling too great after a heavy day at the office and passed on the invite - hope he's feeling better tomorrow.
After a quiet night (no boats past at all, and little footfall), we got on the move again, starting the descent down to the River Severn. Descended Compton Lock and the two in Wightwick, then Dimmingsdale, Ebstree and Awbridge Locks, slightly more spaced out. Most of the canal here is actually canalised River Stour, the banks and vegetation looking more like river than artificial.
The next excitement comes with the three locks at The Bratch. The three locks are totally separate, not forming a staircase (each has its own top and bottom gates), but the 'pound' between locks is only a few feet long, with large sideponds to increase the volume of water. It has its own unique method of working, so a lockie (or volunteer) is mostly in attendance.
Once down, we continued down the next lock, Bumblehole, before mooring at Bridge 43 in Wombourne for the night.
Late lunch, then a quiet afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with occasional periods of sunshine.
Just heard, the Black Country Boating Festival (BCBF) has finally received the go-ahead (Sept 10th to 12th) so application lodged. Great news
Another very pleasant night at this mooring. Up with a plan for the day (in 5 parts). Let go on part 1 - continued northwards into Brewood and dropped Pat off at Bridge 14 to go to the fish-man in the courtyard of the Swan Hotel (Tuesday mornings except when it follows a holiday Monday).
While Pat was up the road, I carried out part 2 - continued to the winding hole at Brewood Wharf, turned, and returned to Bridge 14 to await Pat's return.
About 15 mins after I moored, Pat returned, and we let go again on part 3 - returned southwards through the wooded countryside, cuttings, and sections of narrows. Unfortunately, we ended up behind a slow boat as we left Brewood, but he did pull over and let us past at a convenient point. Arriving back near Autherley, we moored up after Bridge 3 and walked to Morrison's for stores. Spoke briefly with Phil & Dot on "Marsh Harrier" as they passed while we were getting the stores aboard.
Once back aboard, we moved on for a very short part 4 - south past Bridge 2 to the water-point before the lock. Topped up.
Last part - Let go again and passed through the stop-lock, turning right to rejoin the Staffs & Worcs Canal heading south. Passed Aldersley Junction (the bottom of the "Wolverhampton 21" up to the Birmingham plateau). We continued south for an hour. Just above Compton Lock, we moored up for the day.
A mixed bag of weather today - mostly sunny, but with scattered showers, occasionally heavy but mostly short. Yesterday's wind had completely gone.
Dismal start to the day, drizzly and dull. Early rise, knowing it could be a long day. Let go and ascended the 2 remaining locks (Brick Kiln and Gailey Top) to Gailey Wharf, where we stopped for all services. A very nice Japanese family (originally from Tokyo, now from London), just finishing their holiday, had showed interest in "all things 'boat'" so we invited them aboard for a visit.
Let go again and continued southwards towards Autherley, winding our way past Calf Heath and Hatherton Junction (where the Churchbridge Branch cut off, now part of the Lichfield & Hatherton restoration project), past Slade Heath and through the narrows. We were held up slightly with a charity trip-boat which was running very slowly - they winded at Cross Green.
At Autherley Junction, we turned right onto the Shropshire Union Canal, through the stop-lock, then moored at Bridge 2 for lunch. We had intended to go for shopping, but weren't happy to leave the boat in the vicinity of kids giving the "wrong impression" (we'll stop off tomorrow on the way back).
Continued north from there to the SUCS moorings between Bridges 3 & 4. I had been worried that, with our delays, there may be no spaces, but we were OK. The cloud had been building since noon, and finally let forth heavily just after we had moored (we would have been drenched if we had gone shopping, so a lucky escape).
Had a long lie this morning, only surfacing at 08:30. Generally bright morning, but with occasional showers and a brisk wind. Forecast for rain for most of the day. Visited our friends at Doncaster, as usual, for the service and 'coffee', then had lunch.
On the move after lunch, hoping the rain would stay off. Ascended Penkridge and Filance Locks which bound the centre of the town, then continued on up the flight towards Gailey - Otherton, Rodbaston and Boggs. Despite it being only 15:00, Pat decided that we had done enough and we pulled in for the day between Boggs and Brick Kiln Locks. There had been no real sign of the forecast rain so we finished the day dry. No phone signal here so diary, stats and maps will be a day late.
Pat had been 'thinking' (a painful occupation ) and came up with the idea that we could turn north at Autherley and head to Brewood where she could catch the fish-man (he comes only on Tuesdays). Idea approved.
After heavy rain overnight, Friday started bright. Walked into town for stores and pharmacy (for Pat) then returned to "Paws". Rain showers set in as we got back, although they cleared by after lunch. Pat decided we weren't moving today and did some baking, so I had a quiet afternoon.
Saturday also started bright, but with a forecast of rain later. Pat decided we would stay put, and she would do some cleaning. I spent the afternoon reworking the maps showing 'overall' track and overnights (MyMaps® software only allows 10 layers, and I run out at the end of this year). Rain arrived just before lunch, and showers continued all afternoon.
Was woken at 05:20 by a call of nature. Glad I was, considering the picture I was able to take. (but went back to bed)
Rose properly at 06:20 for an early getaway. Beautiful morning, with the sun properly up, but not yet too warm. Left Tixall and headed towards Stafford. Ascended Tixall Lock then continued the long pound, which initially follows the river and the railway past Milford and circles the northern suburbs of Stafford. Passing Stafford Boat Club, we ascended Deptford Lock and ran through Acton Trussell, leaving by ascending Shutt Hill Lock. Our route then continued south, up Park Gate and Longford Locks to Penkridge. We moored just below Penkridge Lock to await Pat's return.
I had just finished clearing the galley, and my lunch (Pat had hers on the train), when she got back. She spent the afternoon unpacking, and checking the state of stores.
Cloud had started to build mid-morning, but the rain finally arrived mid-afternoon.
Woken with a boat going past at 06:20 so decided to just get up. Generally pottered over breakfast, then over getting the boat ready for departure. Peter & Julie had been out at an early doctor's appointment, returning just after 08:00, so we all sat down to a cup of tea. Finally said my goodbyes just before 10:00 and got on my way.
Continued northwards, ascending Colwich Lock (arrived to find a queue of 3 ahead of me) and Haywood Lock, both with the assistance of the boat behind. Just clearing Haywood when the heavens opened - heavy rain and hail - soaked! Found a space just before the junction and moored up, waiting for the rain to clear.
Once the rain had stopped (only about 15 mins), walked round to the Canalside Farmshop for lunch. Unfortunately, the Staffordshire oatcakes I had my heart set on were only available on the 'breakfast' menu and were, by that time, not available. Went into the shop for supplies, then returned to "Paws" for a late lunch.
The weather had improved somewhat by the time I was ready, so moved forward to the services berth for the usual culprits, then reversed back to the junction and turned onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal. Continued through Tixall Wide, mooring at the southwest end for the night. Pat called to confirm arrangements for tomorrow.
Another sunny morning. Let go and headed through the town, round Brindley Bank Corner (allegedly where the victim of the 1st media-reported murder on the canals was found), and out to "The Taft" for a cuppa with Julie (as arranged yesterday afternoon). While I was there, I got a phonecall from Pat saying there had been a breakdown in communication over the day/date of the funeral - it is to be tomorrow, not today as I had been told. Pat is rearanging her travel for Thursday. Julie & Peter very kindly offered a mooring for the night, including electric hook-up rather than run my engine. Julie had a knitting group in the afternoon, so Peter invited me out for a spin in his Caterham 7 - out for nearly 2 hours; brilliant!
Awake early on a lovely sunny morning (but not overly hot), so up and on the move. Left Alrewas and started up the climb for the day. Ascended Bagnall, Common and Hunt's Locksd - bad road all the way. Was surprised to find a volunteer on at Keeper's so got a hand up, then pulled at the services berth. Once ready again, continued up Junction Lock and ahead to Middle Lock, both with volunteer assistance. Nobody working at Shadehouse so on my own for this one, then another surprise of a volunteer on at Wood End Lock. A misty drizzle came in shortly after this, not too uncomfortable. Continued on through Handsacre and Armitage, through the narrows of the ex-tunnel and into Rugeley. Very busy here, nose-to-tail (or should that be button-to-tipcat?) from the railway bridge to past Leathermill Lane. The new 7-day moorings were slightly quieter and I managed to find a space. Rain slightly heavier, but it didn't last long.
Late lunch, then a trip to the shops. Rang Julie & Peter to see if they would be in tomorrow morning, and arranged around 10:00 for a cuppa.
After a drizzly start, it cleared to a fine day. Usual Sunday morning, dropped in on the service from All Saints at Doncaster, then to their coffee morning. After lunch, headed back to the river lock for another stint assisting boaters through. Initially it was fairly quiet, but picked up mid-afternoon - ended up with more 'customers' than yesterday. On the way back to "Paws", had a long chat with Tony & Sue, new members of BCF , who had hired a boat for 3 months as a retirement present. Very late dinner by the time I finally got back.