Sunday, 21 October 2018

Mid Worcestershire Ring Week 4

Sunday 14th October - Alvechurch to Tardebigge Top Lock

We woke to a very wet and dismal day and decided to sit tight and wait for the rain to stop before moving down to the top of the Tardebigge Locks.

For our entertainment we were treated to the boatyard opposite craning one of their boats out of the water.  Fascinating to watch, and skilfully done!

Once the rain had stopped we prepared the boat and began our short cruise down towards the Tardebigge Locks.  We cruised through 2 short tunnels, both wide enough to take two narrowboats and with no towpath.  Fortunately we could see if another boat was on its way through the tunnel.

We stopped at the services above the locks for rubbish disposal and water and then went through the top lock - first of 30 - and moored up for the night ready to make an early start the next day.

Lovely sunset from our mooring.

The top lock replaces a lift which was prone to operation problems and water wastage, and is 14 ft deep, one of the deepest narrowbeam locks on the system. 

Monday 15th October - Tardebigge to Stoke Wharf

We made an early start as we wanted to get through the locks as early as possible.  However the weather was not as promised and we cruised in heavy drizzle for the whole trip.

At the second lock is the former pump house which was used to pump water from the reservoir which is 50ft below the summit.  It is now 4 luxury apartments - very nice indeed.

Tardebigge Reservoir supplies the flight of locks and the canal with water and is very popular with local anglers.

Now, I guess it was only a matter of time before we were bound to experience an accident whilst out on the canals.  We had settled into a comfortable rhythm working the locks together, Dave setting the next lock whilst I closed the lock I was in and started to empty the lock.  With only 5 locks to go to complete the flight, I stepped off the boat and slipped on the lock edge, fell off the boat and ended up with one leg in the lock, between the boat and the edge.  I was able to get up, continue working the lock and even warn Dave about the slippery edges, all the way down to Stoke Wharf before I broke down and admitted to Dave that I had fallen in the water.  I ended up with a bruised and battered right side, thumb, shoulder and leg and a very dented confidence in my ability to work a lock safely.  
There was a notice on the lock beam saying that the lock edges were very slippery and Dave had already seen it, but I hadn't as the lock beam was open to get the boat in.  

We moored up for the evening just before the Queen's Head, and after a hot shower I was able to tend to my injuries.

Despite the unfortunate accident, we were very pleased with our first attempt at this flight of locks.  The 30 locks drop the canal over 200 ft, there are stunning views across the countryside to the Malvern Hills and this time it took us 4.5 hours.  No idea if this a good time, but it is a lot less than the 7 hours Pearson said it would take us!

Tuesday 16th October - Stoke Wharf to Dunhampstead

Today we set off again in much better weather and worked our way steadily down the Stoke Locks and Astwood Locks.  

We passed an enormous canalside housing development, water being pumped into the canal as they were working.

A very attractive lock cottage with a lovely garden on the opposite side, beautifully cared for.

We called in at Hanbury Wharf for diesel and then continued on to moor at Dunhampstead where we treated ourselves to a meal at The Fir Tree Inn.  Very pleasant Inn with delicious food, but we were the only diners, so a little lacking in atmosphere.

Wednesday 17th October - Dunhampstead to Diglis Basin

On our last leg towards Worcester and our home mooring in Diglis Basin, we passed the Sixways Stadium where the Worcester Warriors play rugby.

Another lock edge, with the same stone that I slipped on.  There is also a notice on the lock beam warning that they maybe slippery.  Needless to say I took exceptional care getting on and off the boat.

We cruised down the locks into Worcester, all very quiet, a delightful journey in calm, warm weather.  We arrived back in our basin, reversed the boat onto our pontoon and closed the boat up and returned to our apartment.

Map Key

Week 1 - Brown                             Week 2 - Purple                       Week 3 - Blue
Week 4 - Light Blue

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Mid Worcestershire Ring - Week 3

Sunday 7th October -Lowsonford to Hockley Heath

We left Lowsonford early on Sunday morning, beautiful clear skies and mild temperatures.  We were straight into the first of the 29 locks for the day.  We took it in turns working three each, until we got to Lapworth and then we were blessed with the appearance of a volunteer lock keeper.

Jeff was brilliant, filling and opening locks ahead of us so that we climbed through the Lapworth Locks in record time.  We didn't pass another boat the whole morning and the majority of the locks were set against us, so Jeff's assistance was most welcome!

Although the pounds and locks were pretty low in water, we didn't have any problems and completed the flight by 1pm and moored up for the night in Hockley Heath.

We moored opposite a line of permanently moored boats and the boat opposite seemed to having an open air jamming session, all very pleasant.

Close to here is the Blue Bell Cider House which was doing a roaring trade with bikers and families for Sunday Lunch and also Wedges Bakery where you can buy delicious bread and cakes.

Monday 8th October - Hockley Heath to Edgbaston

The next morning we continued on our way, passing Lyons Boatyard and a most unusual vessel moored up.  Not sure what it was or what it will become!

Brandwood Tunnel is 275 yards with no towpath and room for just the one boat, but as you could see the end of the tunnel it wasn't a problem.

As we were approaching Birmingham we noticed an increase in the number of herons along the canal.  They seemed less concerned about the narrowboats than others we have seen.

This is the remains of a swing bridge as we approached King's Norton Junction.  Our book had suggested it was usually left open, but it had obviously been completely dismantled.

And then through the last lock on the Stratford canal, a guillotine stop lock, whose purpose originally was to keep the waters of the canal at least 1 inch above the water on the Birmingham and Worcester.

We have now joined the Worcester and Birmingham Canal as it takes us into Birmingham.

Coming up through the railway and road  bridges we were struck by the skyline showing the massive redevelopment still ongoing in Birmingham.

We moored for the evening in The Vale, Edgbaston, close to the University Campus. and had a walk through the Village of Edgbaston.

Tuesday 9th October - Edgbaston to Brindley Place Birmingham.

Toby and I walked into Brindley Place and Dave brought the boat in.  We moored opposite the Arena and spent the rest of the day shopping for food and a few bits and pieces for our new apartment.

Gas Street Basin looking magnificent in the afternoon sunshine.

Worcester Bar is no longer a lock, just a narrow channel where the lock used to be.  It marks the point where the Worcester and Birmingham Canal joins the Birmingham Canals.

In the distance you can see The Mailbox, home of the BBC Birmingham and high end retail outlets.  To the right is The Cube, but not in this photo.

In the Arena complex there is a new Legoland shop and playground with an enormous lego giraffe standing outside.  We enjoyed a good look around the shop and bought a birthday present for our granddaughter, Bea.

Wednesday 10th October - a spin around Icknield Port Loop 

We are staying another day in Birmingham but the boat is fcing the wrong way, so we took her for a spin around the smaller loop.  

At the top of the loop is the Egbaston Reservoir and a boatyard tucked away.

As we rejoin the main canal, we see the bridge opposite carrying our family name.

The Icknield Loop is being redeveloped for 21st Century living, Port Loop, with townhouses being designed and made in factories before being brought to the area and placed ready made.

A little worrying that the whole area is being pumped dry of water before any of this can begin.

We went for a walk around the City and found the Cathedral and the Bull Ring.  The weather was amazing, warm and sunny, with stunning blue skies.

Birmingham Cathedral, a church that became a Cathedral in a town that became a city.

St Phillip's Church was consecrated in 1715 and remained a church until 1905 when the first Bishop decided to use an existing church as the Cathedral and the Bishop's Seat,

We sat outside Bill's restaurant with Toby and had a cooling fruit cocktail.

In the evening we went to the Symphony Hall for the first time and listened to the new conductor, Kazuki Yamada, conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing Ravel, Korngold and Bernstein.  An amazing evening, beautifully played and much appreciated by the audience.

Thursday 11th October - Birmingham to Alvechurch

Thursday morning we made an early start, passing through the Worcester Bar, leaving behind the Birmigham Navigations and rejoining the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Another handsome heron on the outskirts of Birmingham, not at all bothered by our boat passing!

We continued on past Bournville, I had wondered if it was worth visiting, but Cadbury's World was obviously aimed at children, so gave it a miss.

Got to King's Norton Junction and for the first time ever, we continued straight on for Worcester, according to the finger post was 24.5 miles and 58 locks, homeward stretch!

Very soon we got to Wast Hill Tunnel, 1.55 miles long, it is wide enough to accommodate two narrowboats but there is no towpath.  In the past horse drawn boats would have been 'legged' through the tunnel, no mean feat!

The headlight and navigation lights light up the tunnel and fortunately for us we didn't meet another boat.  

I am in this photo, you can just make out the spots on my raincoat!

The Bittel Resevoirs were built to supply water to the canal so that chocolate crumb from Cadbury's, rock salt and coal could be transported along the canal.  Today it attracts over 200 different species of wildfowl and is also home to many rare shoreline plants.

We passed under the M42 motorway and saw the short section of the canal that was re-routed to accommodate construction of the motorway in 1985.

We moored up at Alvechurch opposite Alvechurch boatyard and Marina.  It is a large boat hire place and we have been kept entertained by the various comings and goings of hire and share boats.

Friday 12th - Saturday 13th October - Alvechurch

We have spent the last few days here sitting out Storm Callum, it has rained persistently and been very windy, so decided to stay put.

We enjoyed a lovely meeting with friends, Anne and Steve, at the Red Lion Inn Saturday lunchtime and will continue our cruise once the rain stops!

Map Key

Week 1 - Brown                             Week 2 - Purple                       Week 3 - Blue