|This Month's Totals and Average|
|112.41 miles||68 locks||62.15 hrs||2.90 lmph|
Up and on the move promptly for what should be the longest working day of Fhi's holiday. Let go at 09:15 and headed down the flight. There are a total of 13 locks, grouped 7, 4 and 2. Two boats had already gone down, and CRT staff had refilled the low pound, so we had a good run down. The first 7 have an open vista out over the valley and the arenas built for the Commonwealth Games. The next 4 have more tree cover along the bank, and the backdrop changes from housing to industrial lots. The final 2 are the dirtiest of the flight; not really a nice place to be. After that, the canal disappears under Spaghetti Junction, and joins the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. We continued ahead, having lunch on the move.
Clearing Salford Junction, we were back to the deeper, (almost) weed-free canal that makes the going easier. Speed picked up as we passed the industrial/retail areas of Tyburn and Erdington, then we continued on down the 3 locks at Minworth before stopping for the night above the Curdworth flight. Had a long chat with a lovely couple on a shared-ownership boat "Heron".
It was cloudy most of the day, with the occasional glimpse of the sun, and some drizzle.
Fhi realised we were intending to go to Rugeley after dropping her at Alrewas. She checked her connections and found Rugeley would be better (and gave her an extra day's travelling), so her plans were changed to drop her at Rugeley.
|8.93 miles||16 locks||6.05 hrs||4.12 lmph|
After a very peaceful night, we woke to a lovely sunny morning. As soon as we were ready, we got under way and started down the Rushall Flight. Going wasn't too bad, weed still slowed us up but, after the 1st two locks, it reduced down the remaining seven. One gate had a big leak and was slowly causing a reduction in level but we managed through. Fhi was going ahead to fill each lock ahead while I was dropping the current lock, Fhi returning to close up after me and drawing a paddle for "Jura" following us - we switched round part way down.
Clearing the bottom of the flight (9 locks total), we continued south to Newton Junction where the Tame Valley Canal crosses. We turned left towards Perry Barr. Although the weed had almost completely cleared, we managed to find a bag of rubbish and something got round our prop. We nursed it the remaining mile to the top of the Perry Barr flight and moored up for the day astern of "Brimble", and had a late lunch. "Jura" joined us about an hour later, having been caught by the low water level and other rubbish. Walked the loo cassette along to the service point so that we could get straight away tomorrow.
A mostly sunny day, but with a couple of short light showers.
|5.01 miles||9 locks||3.50 hrs||4.00 lmph|
A dull start to the day but dry at least. Up and on the move promptly, saying goodbye to our friends from the weekend, and heading eastwards to Brownhills again. I serviced "Paws" while Fhi went for the shopping. Fhi and I also took in a hot shower at the service point (in order to save some water, and get it hot!).
On the move again east, turning right at Catshill Junction onto the Daw End Branch, and heading south through Aldridge for Longwood. More weed keeping the speed down, but no problems from rubbish, despite the stories being told at the festival. The canal is tree-lined throughout this stretch, but one can see the scrubland covering the old coal mines between the trees. Drizzle set in around lunchtime, but we had lunch on the move taking turns at the tiller. Arrived at Longwood slightly earlier than we had expected, and moored just above the top lock. John & Sue on "Jura" moored ahead of us late afternoon.
After getting a large load of washing done in the morning, we had a thorough vacuum round in the afternoon to clean up after the visitors of the weekend. Finally caught up with the diary and maps. A very quiet evening!
|7.44 miles||0 locks||3.70 hrs||2.01 lmph|
Every year, the Inland Waterways Association holds a festival - a different location each year - to highlight problems in the area and invite the public to learn more about the benefits and uses of the waterways. This year is the turn of Pelsall.
The 3-day festival of all things 'canal' offered stands and stalls selling canal-related items including hand-painted canalware, charity stalls, and stands providing information (both practical and historic). Around 70 boats were on site (historic, traders, and private). There were rides for young children, and games in the Arena. The Waterways Recovery Group brought in a small digger and invited 'children' of all ages to learn to drive it. Plenty of food outlets were available, as well as a bar.
Entertainments for stall-holders, boaters and site staff were available in the evenings, including a quiz and an open-mic night.
Saturday, we helped man the BCF stand, chatting to the public and running a 'boat race' game (propelling wooden boats along a section of guttering using water-pistols). On Sunday morning, BCF held a short service for boaters, stall-holders and site staff in the Entertainments tent then a second in the afternoon, in conjunction with the local Methodist Church, for general public. Rev. Liz took the service again. "Paws" was roped in Sunday and Monday as part of "WoW" (Wild Over Waterways - the childrens' activities group at the IWA stand) - the children were given a tour of the boat and had to find our visiting TV personalities (Rosie & Jim). We finished the weekend shattered (but having had fun) and looking forward to a quiet time for a few days.
After a quiet night, we woke to a sunny start to the day. As soon as we were ready, we assisted John to get the gazebo up to the showground and erected. During the remainder of the day, I assisted Stephen & Elizabeth to erect theirs and get the remainder of the equipment into ours. We had a visit from Ann in the afternoon, and Rev. Liz stopped by - both were enticed in by home baking and tea.
Fhi and I went up to the Entertainments Tent in the evening for the traditional quiz night - the BCF team came third.
A mixture of sun and cloud, with the occasional slight shower of rain. We heard tawny owls calling late evening and overnight.
Up and on the move fairly promptly, returning south on the Anglesey Branch. Lovely sunny day. Turned right at Ogley Junction onto the Wyrley & Essington Canal and returned through Catshill Junction to Brownhills. Stopped on the main section and did shopping and lunch, then moved forward for services.
When ready again, set off westward towards Pelsall, making better time than on the way out. There were quite a few boats already moored at Pelsall when we arrived. We located our designated mooring, but continued through as far as the junction with what used to be Lord Hay's Branch (now derelict, but planned for use as the new connection to the "Hatherton Canal" under restoration). We winded and returned to Pelsall late afternoon.
Once moored up, Fhi and I went to check in at the Waterspace tent, then returned to "Paws" and prepared her for the weekend. Had chats with those who passed, including Jan & John, then had a quiet evening in front of the tele.
|6.14 miles||0 locks||3.35 hrs||1.83 lmph|
Lazy start to the day. Andy & Sue came over for coffee and a chat. Quiet afternoon pottering. Was 'buzzed' several times by a drone. Mostly sunny, but with cloudy spells. Lovely quiet mooring here - must use it again some time.
Woke to a sunny morning, but decided we didn't want to stay any longer. Checked the weed-hatch (just in case, but it was virtually clear), then reversed back to the services berth to clear out from the weekend - loo, water and rubbish. Set off southeast as soon as we were ready, but took it easy as we planned only a short day. At Catshill Junction we continued ahead on the "Curley Wyrley" to its current end-of-navigation at Ogley Junction (the remainder to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal is under restoration) and turned left onto the Anglesey Branch (a navigable feeder from Chasewater reservoir).
It was a beautiful run up the branch, with lots of dragonflies and damselflies flitting about. At the head of the feeder, we found Bob "Bimble", and Michael & Beccy "Shorelark"had taken the only two spaces, so we winded and returned to the first available piece of banking, around the old coal wharf, and moored for the day. Had a surprise visit from Stephen & Elizabeth on their bikes.
Had a quiet afternoon, Fhi baking some bread and Pat continuing with her knitting.
|3.40 miles||0 locks||2.05 hrs||1.66 lmph|
Hoped to have a quiet day, today. Nice sunny morning, and we pottered around the boat, clearing up from the festival. Emergency run to the laundrette in the morning, and a shopping trip in the afternoon. After the jury-rig for the BCF banner over the weekend, spent some time making more permanent arrangement - we'll see how it works next weekend. Slowly clouded over throughout the day.
A bunch of teenagers had been cycling past the boat all weekend. After dinner today, they came past and broke off two of the solar lights marking the mooring pins (one mine, one from next-door). I replaced mine as it was not physically broken (next-door's was busted). They came back ½-hour later, pulled off the top and threw it in the water. The incident was reported to the police and CRT. (.....and we thought it was a nice place here!)
This festival stemmed from a local council festival - one day every three years. It had fallen by the wayside, but for the 250th anniversary of the coming of canals to Birmingham, the festival was resurrected by the BCN Society . Unfortunately, Covid got in the way and it was again shelved. In 2019, the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust picked it up, and this year is their 3rd year hosting the festival.
As usual, we had booked in as a private boat, expecting to be the only boat here (again), but word got round our BCF colleagues and 2 other boats showed interest, plus two other people decided to come by car. There were also far more traders than previous years. Rev. Liz Dunning of the local Methodist Circuit was very helpful in arranging a service on the front lawn of the church - a great addition.
We did our usual and went 'open-house', allowing visitors to see inside a modern residential narrowboat. We had plenty of takers, some looking to possibly buy a boat in the future. Finished the weekend very tired (as usual), but had great fun.
Up and (reluctantly) on the move promptly - it was heavy rain! Reversed out of the arm - took ages due to the weed) and headed eastwards along the Wyrley & Essington Canal. Horrendous weed dramatically slowing us. Crawled on past the suburbs of New Cross, Ashmore and Shortheath to Sneyd Junction, where we stopped for services. The rain had eased to a light drizzle. Lunch on the move. Continued on through Bloxwich, Blakenheath and Pelsall to Brownhills, the weed increasing and causing overheating of the stern-gland bearing. Managed to nurse it through to arrival. A bit of shuffling finally gave us a berth around 15:30, with access at the stern ready for tomorrow (thanks to "Credalwood" and "Streetgirl" for their assistance. The rain had completely ceased, with patches of blue sky poking through.
Dinner aboard. Had a late evening visit from Graham and Stephen. By the time they left, the rain was back.
|13.42 miles||0 locks||6.25 hrs||2.15 lmph|
After an excellent night's sleep for all, we were ready to go by 09:30. Set off back to Tipton Junction and continued northwards on the Birmingham Canal (now know as the 'Old Main Line' or 'Wolverhampton Level') past Factory Junction and west towards Wolverhampton. The weed was very thick and we were considerably slowed. Eventually, around Catchum's Corner Bridge (A4126) we were forced to stop and clear out the weed hatch - weed and a plastic bag! Noted a larger number of coot families, and three families of little grebes (dabchicks), all with young - a good sign of healthy (if weedy) water. Lunch on the move. At Horseley Fields Junction, we turned right onto the Wyrley & Essington Canal. Headed along as far as Wednesfield Junction, the connection to the Bentley Canal, now a short arm at the retail park. Moored up for the day.
Pat & Fhi went shopping to the large Sainsbury, Hobbycraft, and a local Indian minimarket we have used before. On their return, Pat did some clearing up, while Fhi assisted with clearing the weed-hatch again - just in case, but did recover part of a jumper and some more weed. Dinner out at Cosmo International Buffet .
|6.60 miles||0 locks||3.28 hrs||2.01 lmph|
Beautiful day. Up and on the move fairly promptly, after Fhi walked up to Brindley Square for a Costa coffee. We had decided to take the old route across to the Black Country so set off along Oozells Loop for Sherbourne Wharf, picking up the 'main line' at Ladywood Junction. Turned off at Sandy Turn and went round the Iknield Port Loop, then cut across onto the Soho Loop at Rotton Park Junction, and finally emerging back on the 'main line' at Winson Green. Continued west, past both ends of the (now derelict) Cape Loop, to Smethwick Junction where we turned right (the original route of the Birmingham Canal) and ascended the 3 Smethwick Locks. The team for the Smethwick Community Fun Day were just setting up - a community fun day (including canoes & paddleboards), organised by Community Connect Foundation. Continued on passing Spon Lane Junction, and on past Oldbury to Tipton Junction. We turned left onto the Dudley No.1 Canal into the Black Country Living Museum where we winded. We had hoped to moor here but there were no moorings available, so we moved to the grass area just outside the museum and moored for the day.
The day remained mostly sunny, with the occasional cloudy period.
|9.84 miles||3 locks||4.27 hrs||3.01 lmph|
Sun was out when we got up. Checked the internet 1st thing to see how Fhi's flight was getting on - landed 07:45 at East Midlands Airport. She would get bus and train to Birmingham.
Pat walked down to the Bull Ring for shopping, then went up to New Street Station to await Fhi's arrival. Once Pat left, I reversed "Paws" across to Cambrian Wharf (to save turning her above the lock), and did services (possibly not needed, but it did give us a good start for the time with a guest). I then returned to Brindley Place to await Fhi and Pat.
Fhi on board around 11:45. Lunch and chat - the inevitable catch-up. Mid-afternoon, Pat and I took a walk to the Lego Experience shop (we always do) while Fhi had a nap (she had been on the go since 07:00 yesterday, not sleeping due to a sick guinea-pig, who perked up after she flew out. Pat and Fhi then went shopping for necessaries for Fhi. Quiet evening.
|1.14 miles||0 locks||0.52 hrs||2.21 lmph|
Overnight rain continued into the day, turning more showery. Spent Monday cleaning and preparing for a guest for the next 3 weeks (Fhi flies in tomorrow). The rain eventually died out mid-afternoon. Dinner out at Zizzi in Brindley Square. Excellent meal as usual.
Up promptly and winded "Paws", and headed back north into Birmingham.
Joined the boats at The Mailbox, mooring for the rally to support the "Fund Britain's Waterways" campaign. Around 50 boats were pre-booked, of which 5 were BCF members. An IWA gazeebo and BCNS working-boat "Atlas" formed the central points (see photo page) , and a general sounding of horns marked midday.
Ann joined us for lunch, and once boats started to leave, we headed round to Cambrian Wharf for services before finding a berth in Brindley Place for the night. Ann headed home late afternoon, after a long chat, and we settled in (exhausted).
The day had started cool and cloudy, turning to heavy rain just as we were mooring for the rally (soaked!), then cleared up to a pleasant evening.
|3.83 miles||0 locks||1.93 hrs||1.98 lmph|
A bright morning on Friday, but under the trees so no power gain from the solar panels. Caught up with last night's diary, then had a quiet remainder to the day.
Another nice day on Saturday. Pat went for a few items of shopping while I did some modelling. Noted "Maylee" pull in astern - had a chat with Roy & Maggs before they also went shopping. Quite a lot of passing traffic, still none mooring ready for tomorrow. I wonder if they are going in directly today - we'll see tomorrow. "Maylee" moved on early afternoon to meet friends at Bournville. Fran, Peter and "crew" (Angie and Alex) arrived late afternoon on "Sonflower"
Beautiful sunny morning, and didn't rush too much as only 3 hours planned to Selly Oak. Set the washing maching going and pottered.
Just as we were getting ready to leave, the Admiral suddenly decides on a change of plan to extend the day and continue to Holliday Wharf for services tonight rather than leave them to a special trip tomorrow. This adds at least 2 hours to the day's run - now in a hurry.
Set off just before 10:00, returning through the villages of Dicken's Heath, Major's Green and Shirley. Again noted "Sonflower" moored at Shirley, but still no sign of Peter & Fran. Continued on into Warstock, mooring for water at Yardley Wood. Continued again, to the other side of Warstock, stopping at Lyon's Boatyard to obtain a replacement gas cylinder.
Continued on again, with lunch on the move, to King's Norton Junction where we turned right onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, heading north for Birmingham. Returned through Bournville and Selly Oak (we were surprised to find no boats moored), then on through The Vale and Edgbaston into Birmingham. We winded at The Mailbox and moored at the services point at Holliday Wharf for loo and top-up on the water.
Once ready, we headed off again, southwards, back to Selly Oak - still nobody moored! Had a chat with Simon & Vicki aboard a hireboat which moored astern, then settled in for a quiet night.
|14.18 miles||1 locks||5.73 hrs||2.65 lmph|
A far nicer morning today, with the sun shining but not overly hot. Took our time getting under way. Continued southwards through Earlswood and Waring's Green to the winding hole (Rotherham's Oak) halfway to Hockley Heath where we turned (although that was made more difficult because a boat had moored partially across it!). Returned north to Waring's Green, mooring at Bridge 18 and walking to Wedges Bakery where we bought a number of items, including our jacket potato lunch which we took back to "Paws".
After lunch, we headed back north again to the same mooring as last night, the sun still bright.
When we were getting ready to move after lunch, I found that the tracker software (which had shut down its server at the beginning of the year, but still worked locally) was now failing to start on either of my laptops - either someone has pulled a further plug or the latest Windows update has changed yet another 'system', preventing it from working. We now have to find different software to suit our needs. (sigh!).
|4.96 miles||0 locks||2.43 hrs||2.04 lmph|
Up and on the move fairly promptly, on a dull and damp day. Headed south through Bournville to King's Norton Junction. Turned left onto the Stratford Canal, passing through the old stop-lock (now fixed open). Continued through Brandwood Tunnel and then passing Warstock, Yardley Wood and Shirley. Noted "Sonflower" moored at Shirley, but no sign of Peter & Fran. A temporary repair had been put in place at the faulty barrier at the draw-bridge so we got through (a full repair is planned for tomorrow). We continued on past Major's Green and Dicken's Heath, mooring just south of Bridge 14 for the night.
The cloud lifted late afternoon, leaving a lovely evening.
|8.38 miles||1 locks||3.42 hrs||2.75 lmph|
After a surprisingly quiet night, we were woken by the generator aboard the boat ahead being started. We had a leisurely start, clearing up and prepping for a trip down to Selly Oak. Finally got on the move at 11:00. Headed round through Worcester Bar onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, then out past The Mailbox and through Edgbaston and the university sector to Selly Oak. We met very few boats on the run south, very quiet (certainly in comparison to last year during the Commonwealth Games). Moored at the visitor moorings just south of the refurbished Junction (it will eventually be in use again to join the Dudley No.2 Canal across to Netherton once the restoration project is finished).
After a lateish lunch, we went shopping to Sainsbury's, that and stowing the goods taking most of the rest of the afternoon.
|3.39 miles||0 locks||1.45 hrs||2.34 lmph|
A lot of rain overnight, but it had died out by morning. After a brief chat with the Dutch family ahead, we got on the move for the last stage of the climb - 13 locks of the Farmers Bridge Flight. A boat had got ahead of us while we were chatting, so initially all locks were against us, but we still made good time. A mostly sunny morning so a pleasant run. A couple of brief but heavy showers blew through late morning. Despite taking it easy, and the initial 'bad road', we made to the top in just over 3 hours.
Arriving at the top, we pulled in at the services berth before then moving on to Brindley Place where we found a mooring for the night. Went out for lunch at Costa, then returned for a 3-way video catch-up with the family - Fhi in Italy, us in Birmingham, and Kenney (on sound only) from the car as he drove to Dumfries for an ice hockey coaching week.
Once clear of the telecall, Pat nipped off for essential stores to tide us over.
|1.88 miles||13 locks||3.22 hrs||4.63 lmph|
A wet and windy day!
Possibly just as well as we both slept in!
On seeing the weather, we decided it would be unwise (unsafe with the slippy cobbles, and climbing over lockgates) to try to work a flight of locks. The hatches remained well battened down and we had a quiet day. Had a chat late afternoon with a hireboat with a Dutch family aboard, doing the Small Birmingham Ring (Alvechurch to Birmingham centre, then Grand Union to Lapworth, and Stratford Canal to return).
The rain eased late in the day, as did the wind.
Friday started dull and damp. On the move promptly again to continue the climb into Birmingham (stage 2). Departed 09:00, heading southwest through Curdworth village, noting "Creature Comforts", who followed us up the flight yesterday, moored in the village. Continued on through Minworth, ascending the three spaced out locks, and noting that there was little improvement in the state of the 'furniture' from last year, with broken paddlegear and leaking locks.
Lunch on the move as we continued past Tyburn, Erdington and Bromford to Salford Junction. Turned second-left, continuing on the B&F past Cuckoo Wharf and on to the bottom of the Aston Flight.
Pat had been driving this morning as she cannot cross the Birmingham Lockgates (no footplate attached to the gates, one has to climb onto the top to get across). Started the ascent of the Aston Flight (11 Locks) but Pat had a 'bad brain' afternoon and got confused with her steering part way up (causing a grounding). I had to revert to driving for the remainder, with Pat operating the onside paddles only. The paddlegear was no better on the Aston Flight - I'm sure I reported some of the faults last year! Reached the top of the flight and turned left onto the Digbeth Branch, only going as far as the winding-hole above the locks, turning, and mooring up for the night. It is a great mooring for breaking the flights into manageable pieces.
The day got brighter as it went on, with a sunny late afternoon and evening.
|8.05 miles||14 locks||6.05 hrs||3.64 lmph|
After overnight rain, we woke to a lovely sunny morning. Up promptly, and on the move, continuing towards the Curdworth Flight, the start of the long climb up onto the Birmingham plateau. Hoping not to tire ourselves too quickly, we started up at a steady pace, finding all (except where there were top-gate leaks) set for us. Passed by Bodymoor Heath around Locks 9/8. Noted the construction works for HS2 either side at the pound between locks 6 and 5. Arriving at the top lock, we moored for the night about halfway between the winding hole and the 1st bridge, just short of Curdworth village. Tomorrow is the longest/heaviest working day in the climb.
|3.51 miles||11 locks||3.48 hrs||4.17 lmph|
Today dawned sunny with light cloud. With a forecast of rain and possible thunderstorms, however, we decided to stay put rather than risk getting soaked on the flight. As there appeared no change in the actual weather by lunchtime, we decided we would get our lunch then attack the flight. Unfortunately, Pat didn't feel great after lunch so we never got going. The good weather remained for the afternoo, but clouded over by dinnertime with rain by bedtime.
First Tuesday of the month, so stayed put for the morning and joined the e-coffee group online at Doncaster - along with us were Liz and Margaret from All Saints, John & Jane in Cookley, and Fhi in Italy.
After lunch, we moved on to Fazeley Junction and turned left onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. We stopped to pay a visit to David & Mary who live canalside, then continued on to Fazeley Mill Marina for services.
Once serviced, we headed off towards the Curdworth Flight. Noted Tony & Jacqui's "Timewarp" tied up at Drayton Boats - unusual. Moored at the aqueduct south of Fisher's Mill Bridge, next to Steve & Sheila on "Perfect Solution" (neighbours of ours when our base was at Fazeley).
A generally dull and damp day, with the forecast of rain overnight and into tomorrow.
|2.31 miles||0 locks||1.47 hrs||1.58 lmph|