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Entries in Canal (8)


Back to Alvechurch

Today we had a steady, uneventful and lock free cruise back to base. It was also the coldest day we'd had and it rained a few times. We stopped for a warming lunch at The Horseshoe pub and instead of stopping short of the marine and somewhere like Hopwood House, where other boats had moored, we pressed on back to our marina base. 

We'd have to refuel and unload before 09:30 in the morning and thought we's save ourselves a rush and return to the marina tonight and we moored up at the refueling berth ready for the morning.

We had our evening meal in the marina's own Weighbridge pub and packed most of our luggage int the car before settling down for the night.


Lapworth Link

I hadn't realised last night that we'd stopped only a hundred or so yards short of the Lapworth Link turning, so today's long series of 21 locks were upon us earlier than we'd expected.

Photo: The locks after Lapworth Link

According to our guide book the 21 locks and 3 mile cruise should have taken us 8 hours (21 locks + 3 miles / 3) but we started about 09:00 and were finished by about 13:00. Most of the locks were against us but we did have a few that were set for us. After the nightmare of the broad locks yesterday it was nice to be back in narrow locks and we soon developed a rhythm and had the locks finished. Being back in narrow locks and small basins meant that I could jump off the boat and help with the paddles and gates so what could have been a long laborious day was soon finished.

Photo: The locks after Lapworth Link

As usual we stopped at a pub, the Wharf Tavern, for the evening.


Knowle Locks

I was my wife's mother's funeral today. I did ask if she wanted to fly home for it as we were close to an airport but she didn't want to as she isn't very good at funerals.

We had the broad locks an Knowle to tackle today. from the video they looked quite easy, especially if two boats teamed up, but as usual we were by ourself on the canal and they turned out to be a real struggle for the two of us.

The lock gates and paddles were twice the size and too hard for my wife to manage by herself. I had to jump off the boat and help her but with nowhere to tie up and far larger basins it was very difficult. The large basins were a problem as the side on wind made handling the boat harder while waiting for the next gates to open and if i strayed near the sides of the basin while the lock was filling the boat would sometimes go aground and we'd have to empty the water from the lock behind us into the basin to float again.

What should have been a fairly straightforward slight of locks took us ages and was a real struggle. We were very glad to finish Knowle locks and leave them behind us.

We moored outside another pub at Lapworth for the evening for a well deserved drink and meal.


Birmingham to Catherine de Barnes

We had another noisy night, including a group of lads posing for photos on our boat's roof at 3am. In the morning we set off early to fill up with water and then tackle first of the 13 locks we had to tackle is the first flight that day.

My wife couldn't handle the boat so she worked hard at locks. I must admit I felt a bit guilty checking my email and drinking coffee as she worked hard at the lock gates. The locks were't as bad as we'd feared and we were soon getting the hang of them. After a brief respite we had another 6 locks which were also followed by another flight of 6 locks. It was a hard morning for my wife but she didn't want to handle the boat so there was little I could do to help.

Photo: Modern buildings built over Farmer's Bridge Locks

We then had a few hours of canal sailing before we reached Catherine de Barnes for our overnight halt. Some parts of the outskirts of Birmingham felt a little bit like we were in the film Deliverance. Other cruisers we had met said they had been provided with maps of where not to stop and bridges to be careful around but we didn't have any trouble. Some of the smells we noticed during the day were cut wood, burning wood, curry, chlorine and cannabis.

Photo: Rubbish strewn canal

We found another canal side pub, The Boat Inn, to stop outside for the night and had a meal and few drinks there. The only downside was that we must have been close to Birmingham International Airport as there were a planes taking off and landing.



The only problem with where we'd moored at Gas Street basin was that it was a bit noisy at night due to passing revelers. I enjoyed a breakfast at Canalside Cafe and then we walked into central shopping area again. We had a brilliant pie and mash at Urban Pie and then bumped into the wife of a consultant surgeon who'd recently retired from the hospital in the Isle of Man.

Photo: Birmingham canal

She insisted we walk back to their daughter's apartment where her husband was and we had a surprise reunion with him. They wanted to see our canal boat so they walked back with us to Gas Street Basin. We moved the boat forward a bit to try to get a quite night and then we all went out for our evening meal and Nando's in the Mailbox