Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year

All the very best for 2015!
Thank you for reading this blog throughout 2014, and I hope to keep up to date a bit better in 2015.

After having a lovely couple of weeks in Spain, it was back to the boat and some cruising.  We wanted to get into Birmingham for a Jools Holland concert in the Symphony Hall, and had a different to our 'usual' route, as there was a stoppage on the Worcester & Birmingham canal.  So from Brinklow, we went through Rugby, on to Braunston (where incidentaly, we caught up with Maffi) then a right turn at Napton (with a cheeky visit to the Folly) onto the Grand Union, through Leamington Spa and Warwick, with a chance to visit Rachel in Kenilworth for a couple of days, and a shopping trip with Mum to Leamington.  Then up the Hatton flight of locks, through Knowle and Solihull, down the Camp Hill locks, (which have a bit of a bad reputation, but more of that later), then across the Digbeth branch and up the Ashtead locks, and then up the Farmers Bridge flight of locks into Birmingham centre.  I thought I'd include a couple of maps to explain our route a bit better, so (Mum) you can see where we've been.  Sorry about the poor quality, but it's the best I could do - for some reason the better quality images kept coming up upside down, and try as I might, I could not get them to come up the right way round!

Along the Hatton flight, out of Warwick towards Birmingham, this is "Ugly Bridge"!

Oh heck - that's alot of locks - 21 of them, large double width.

The lovely sculpture outside the CRT offices at Hatton

We passed NB No Problem weighted down with wood. 
No one aboard, as they were on a cruise at the time on a substantially bigger boat!

Ah, this is where the wood must have come from!  
More logs than you can shake a stick at.

A reminder of the Aki pub in Fron, that same yellow colour, visible for miles!

We had made good progress along the Grand Union section into Birmingham, and all was going well, until we came to the last pound, between locks 5 and 6, and were met with this........

No water!  There was no way a boat could travel through that little puddle.  However, when I walked onto the next lock, I could see that someone had left a ground paddle up, which had completely drained the pound.  I closed the paddle, so all we had to do was send down some water from the top of the flight - ensuring we didnt flood any of the other pounds on the way down.

Eventually, after about an hour, the pound had sufficient water in it for us to continue on our way.

After descending the 6 Camp Hill locks, there's a sharp right hand turn at Typhoo Basin, and you ascend 6 locks along the Digbeth Branch.  Not the most salubrious of areas I can say!  These 6 locks were a doddle, as whoever descended the locks prior to our arrival, had left every bottom gate open, so we could go straight into the lock.  Fine, for us going up the locks, not so great if you were coming down the locks, as it involves alot more work to set each one in your favour.

I do love the Farmers Bridge flight of locks, taking you under the high rise buildings into the heart of the city, and most of them are close together, so it doesn't take that long to do the 13 locks.

With five locks to go, my knees were feeling the strain of already having done 20 locks, together with Knowle and Hatton flights over the previous days, so when this chap appeared, whipped out a windlass from his back pack, and started lifting paddles and opening gates - I could have kissed him!  He says he does a bit of volunteering for CRT, but likes nothing more than going for a walk along the canal & doing a bit of lock keeping.  

And so into Birmingham - but that's the next blog!

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