Monday 20th February - Black Country Living Museum to Birmingham
Today we moved the boat from our mooring to the water tap and filled up with water, emptied the rubbish and prepared the boat to cruise to Birmingham.
We returned along the canal towards the Birmingham Main Line Canal and then turned right to go through the Factory Locks.
There are three Factory Locks and we were helped through them by two volunteers, which was a nice surprise.
Each of the locks has a large side pound off to the right.
The canal to Birmingham is long, straight and wide. This is a boatyard called Caggy's Boatyard.
This is the turning to the right which we took last autumn to go on down through the Netherton Tunnel.
The M6 looms into sight and then we get to the more built up side of Birmingham.
I do like to see tasteful street art and I thought this looked very good.
Once into Birmingham we saw nbBeefur and waved to them and managed to catch up with Dave and Sue for a chat on the towpath.
I went to have an explore around Birmingham Library, a fascinating building, looking like a fondant fancy!!
From the 3rd floor I took a photo of Dave and Toby, can you spot them?
In the middle and open to the elements is a space for playing table tennis, you can see people studying through the glass windows.
We also had a walk through Gas Street Basin which has working boats and hotel and restaurant boats moored, with some privately owned boats as well.
Tuesday 21st February - Thursday 23rd February 2017
We have decided to stay in Birmingham for a few days to enable us to explore the city and give myself chance to recover from this nasty cold virus.
Thursday saw the advent of Storm Doris, high winds and rain, which caused much destruction in the city centre.
We found The Real Family bronze sculpture by Gillian Wearing. She invited residents to nominate families they thought best embody the city. It is of two sisters and their children.
'A nuclear family is one reality but it is one of many and this work celebrates the idea that what constitutes a family should not be fixed.' - Gillian Wearing
The waves on the canal confirmed in our minds that it would not have been safe to cruise in this weather.
Friday 24th February - Birmingham to Catherine de Barnes
We made an early start this morning and went to the left of the island to put on water and begin our descent down 13 locks through Birmingham's centre.
Today it was like a mill pond, how different from yesterday!!!
The canal goes under buildings and railway viaducts, in this case the Post Office Tower building!
The view of the tower as we emerged out the other side.
We turned right on to the Digbeth Branch and went through the Ashted Tunnel - very low and slightly crooked in the middle, I was pleased I didn't scrape the sides of the roof!!
We then passed through new buildings for the University of Birmingham and then turned right again onto The Grand Union Canal.
The stop lock was open on the Grand Union Canal and we cruised straight in.
The next 6 locks carried us up towards Catherine De Barnes and our overnight stop.
These locks were the dirtiest locks we have ever been through. We had to stop after every lock to clear the weed hatch and before we could get out of the locks we had to clear the rubbish with the boat hooks. A CaRT worker passed us as we were struggling with the weedhatch and took photos saying he would get a team out to clear the rubbish, too late for us but hopefully in time for another boat.
Just past bridge 89 we came across a tree across the canal, blown down by Storm Doris. The team were very quick and efficient in removing the tree and chopping it up with their chain saw!
We then proceeded on to Catherine De Barnes and moored up for the night. This was a really hard day, but left us, strangely, with a great sense of achievement!!
Saturday 25th February - Catherine De Barnes to Knowle
We set off with the intention of cruising down the five locks at Knowle, but we decided to moor up just past bridge 72 to walk into the village of Knowle for supplies and by the time we returned it was pretty windy again and raining, so decided to call it a day and watch the rugby instead!!!
We passed under the M42, Toby enjoyed the view!
Tomorrow we shall tackle the 5 locks at Knowle, our first wide locks on this cruise.
Sunday 26th February - Knowle to Kingswood Junction
Woke up to a much pleasanter morning and made an early start towards the Knowle Locks. I loved this bright yellow house with red and blue doors
We emptied rubbish and tried to put on water, but the tap sprayed more water on the towpath than in the boat, so soon gave up on that!!
The first of the locks just waiting to descend. The five wide locks used to be six narrow locks until the 1930 improvements, when they were changed into wide locks. The remains of the narrow locks can still be seen along with the large side ponds.
The locks are quite deep and look out over open countryside. Crossing the pounds between the locks was a challenge with the wind cutting across and pushing the boat off course.
|Ella in the wide lock|
We met Trevor, the lock keeper, who helped us down the locks. The locks are manned all year round and maintained to a high standard.
Coming out the bottom of the locks we then cruised another five miles until we got to Kingswood Junction.
On the way we passed many fallen trees in the canal, this branch was completely detached from its tree and we were warned about it by a farmer in a tractor.
This was a much larger tree across the canal and we got stuck in the silt on the side of the canal and Dave had to use the pole to push the boat past the tree.
We found another water point just past bridge 66 and filled up with water before mooring up for the night in front of the short branch canal linking the Grand Union Canal and the Stratford Canal.