Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back on the Shroppie

Kathy rang me just as we were heading back to the boat with our shopping to let me know they were on their way to meet us. By the time we had stashed the shopping and made a cuppa to get on our way they must have been most of the way up the flight. We were almost at the junction to go back onto the BCN and we saw Scott running towards us. We stopped at a narrow spot, probably an old stop lock, to pick them all up and they rode with us to the top of the flight.

We had only gone down a couple of locks when we caught up with another boat with only two on board so Kathy went ahead setting locks to speed their passage down so we wouldn't have to wait at every lock. It made it quicker for them and us. Scott, Kaia and I took it in turns to walk on and open up so Ray could go straight into the next lock. We were down the flight in about two and a half hours and then were quickly round the corner and onto the Shroppie moored up with Kathy. It is good to all be back together again.

Today's journey 4.6 miles and 22 locks

So far we have travelled  722.2 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 24 tunnels.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Almost the end of summer

Yesterday I took a trip into Birmingham. The city center is much like any other city with the exception that it has an excellent market, or rather markets. If I hadn't had to carry stuff on the train I could have stocked up on food very cheaply. I did find a really good herb stall that sold both cooking and medicinal herbs so I spent a bit there. The Birmingham Bead Shop has a good selection at reasonable prices too.

I didn't manage to make it to the Jewellery Quarter, which is probably just as well as money is a bit tight at the moment. I had a good day and Ray enjoyed a lazy day on board.

Today we did the long haul from Bournville to Wolverhampton, slow going as there are a lot of moored boats in the centre of Birmingham. There are also a lot of places where the canal narrows as if you are going through a lock but with no change of level. I will have to do some investigating, they might have been toll houses or loading places in the past.

We took a slight detour at Wolverhampton to moor at the disused Bentley Arm so that we weren't right in the center. Tomorrow we will head down the twenty-one and that will be our real travelling over for this year. Kathy, Scott and Kaia are going to walk up to meet us in the morning and help us down through the locks.

Today's journey 18.7 miles, 3 locks and 3 tunnels

So far we have travelled 717.6 miles, 620 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 24 tunnels.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

So many locks!

We were up early and started up the Tardebigge flight at ten to eight. We fairly flew through the first twenty locks, averaging about eight minutes per lock. After that things slowed down a bit as we started to meet boats coming down. At one lock the water level in the pound had dropped so much that by the time we had filled the lock to go up they were aground, so I walked up to the next lock and let water down until they were afloat before we went up the next one. The entire flight took us four hours and twenty two minutes, an average of less than nine minutes per lock which is pretty good. At least I can say "been there, done that" if anyone mentions Tardebigge.

As it was only lunchtime and no more locks to face, we carried on the Bournville and moored up opposite Cadburys. The weather forecast for tomorrow is very windy and I fancy a break so I am going to investigate Birmingham while Ray has a lazy day.

Today's journey 12.4 miles, 30 locks and 3 tunnels

So far we have travelled 699.9 miles, 617 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 21 tunnels

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Carrying on upwards

Today's promised sunshine never really appeared, although it was quite warm.

We spent the morning following about half an hour behind the hotel boat "Periwinkle" up through the six Astwood Locks. With no traffic coming down it meant all the locks were against us. However, they stopped for lunch at Stoke Prior and we passed them before the six Stoke Prior locks. We managed the six in excellent time, partly because they were so close behind they were happy for me to go ahead and prepare the next lock while one of them closed up behind Ray. I discovered at the top lock that they had a taxi booked for their guests to go to the Avoncroft museum so they were anxious to make good time.

We are faced with the Tardebigge flight tomorrow, thirty locks spread over about two and a half miles. At the moment the locks are with us, so I reckon an early start is called for so we are the first boat through.

Today's journey 7.8 miles, 12 locks and 1 tunnel.

So far we have travelled 687.5 miles, 587 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 18 tunnels.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lots of locks

There are eighty locks between where we moored at Worcester last night and the junction with the Shroppie Union. today I worked through fourteen of them, only sixty-six to go!

The route out of Worcester is relatively inoffensive, although it is mostly through housing and industry the canal is mostly screened by trees so feels quite rural. Today was a good day for foraging, while we were travelling we picked up two largish branches and a pallet, to be chopped up for firewood and also about a pound of blackberries. Once we had moored at Tibberton we went for a walk and collected another couple of pounds of blackberries, a pound of sloes, half a pound of rosehips and about a pound of elderberries. The rosehips and elderberries will need adding to before we turn them into wine or syrup but we have enough blackberries for crumble and blackberry vodka and enough sloes for sloe gin. I could have had about a pound of mushrooms as well but as I already had over half a pound left from some a bought in Tewkesbury it seemed wasteful so I left them.

Tonight we are moored at Tibberton with the prospect of another twelve locks tomorrow and the thirty locks of the Tardebigge flight to look forward to on Thursday.

Today's journey 5.5 miles and 14 locks

So far we have travelled 679.7 miles, 575 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Monday, 20 September 2010

Long haul upstream

Today we did an about turn to head back to the canal system. Luckily what wind there was, was mainly from behind us and the current was not running too fast. It was still a long haul from Chaceley up to Worcester, we managed about three miles an hour upstream compared to the six we were doing downstream. We were a little concerned about how well Morgana's engine would cope with the hard work against the current but she behaved beautifully.

We enjoyed a pleasant, warm day cruising up the Severn, with very little traffic on the river. At Worcester we turned onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which we will follow northwards to join the Birmingham Canal Network. After that it will be back to Wolverhampton and then the Shroppie Union for the winter. Nearly time to rescue my car from Mandy's drive and look for work. Summer has gone far too quickly.

Today's journey 19.3 miles and 4 locks

So far we have travelled 674.2 miles, 561 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Only a little way

We were planning to meet Keith and Leesa at Haw Bridge, but when we went through Upper Lode Lock the lock keeper warned us that about five cruisers had gone down ahead of us all bound for Haw Bridge. As we did not fancy going all the way into Gloucester and moorings are few and far between we decided to stop at the Yew Tree Inn.

We were glad we did, the people were very friendly and the food was tasty and not overly expensive. The only problem was that mobile phone signal was virtually non-existent so trying to contact Keith to let him know we were a couple of miles further north on the Severn than originally planned meant me going for a half mile walk.

It was really nice to see Keith and Leesa again, hopefully now Ray is retired we may get to see more of them. Anyway we all enjoyed a nice Sunday lunch and a good chat.

On Saturday we travelled 2.8 miles and 1 lock

So far we have travelled 654.9 miles, 557 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Friday, 17 September 2010

Avon Calling

This morning the river level had gone down enough for the locks to be reopened so we set off for Upton-on Severn. Only a short run, of twelve miles and one lock. It was a bit chilly when the sun hid behind clouds but apart from that a pleasant morning. I spotted another two kingfishers and several herons as we travelled. However, our plans to stop at Upton were scuppered by the fact that the mooring pontoon was already full with boats breasted up. As we were not desperate to stop we decided to carry on to the River Avon junction at Tewkesbury, which is where we are now moored below the lock.

The lock keeper's hut has a line on the wall, above head height for me, which shows the level of the flood water in 2007. When you remember that this is on the lockside and the lock is about 8ft deep, that makes the flood water about 14ft above the river where we are now! I had a look online at some of the photos of the 2007 floods, as I can now identify places.

We took a stroll through town and had a wander around the Abbey. We only have about an hour's journey tomorrow to reach where we plan to meet Keith and Leesa.

Today's journey 17.8 miles and 1 lock.

So far we have travelled 652.1 miles, 556 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

River closed

We were going to move downstream to Upton-on-Severn today but the river is officially closed!
We had stayed on the river as the park-keeper in charge of the moorings told us the 48 hour restriction only applies in peak season. So we decided not to move onto the canal.

I didn't think it had rained that much but I woke at about five this morning and the boat was tilting, only very slightly but enough for me to notice. Being sensible people we are aware that rivers are subject to sudden changes in level so we had moored with fairly slack ropes. However the river levels had risen nearly two foot in just over 12 hours! So there I was, at five in the morning, in my dressing gown, on the landing stage slackening ropes! Ray was a picture of sartorial elegance in t-shirt,boxers and bare feet as he assisted me.

As we watched the river level rise until it was washing over the landing stage, and saw fallen branches cruise past us we decided that moving was not an option. We later discovered that the river is officially closed and in flood conditions. We did see a couple of hire boats, breasted up, being taken to the safe haven of the canal by crew from the hire company. It will probably take about 24 hours for the levels to drop enough for them to reopen the river. Although the level is already dropping. This evening we were entertained by the dragon boat crews training on the river, obviously "river closed" doesn't apply to dragon boats.

However before all that happened we spent a pleasant day on Wednesday sightseeing in Worcester.

Worcester Cathedral

The West Entrance

The West Window

Monday, 13 September 2010


We are currently enjoying the delights of Worcester.

Getting from the canal to the river was time consuming as there are two pairs of staircase locks to negotiate and there were quite a few boats on the move. Apart from that we had a very pleasant journey down to Worcester. The river seems enormously wide after the canals. I even spotted a couple of kingfishers.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon and moored on the embankment by the racecourse.  Not exactly rural but more pleasant than on the canal. Our main entertainment has been watching pupils from the King's School overturn their boats and end up in the water.

We will probably move onto the canal for a day or two tomorrow as these moorings are 48hr maximum stay and we still have five days to complete less than two days journey. We may even manage to do the tourist bit and visit the cathedral and museum.

Yesterday's journey 11.9 miles and 8 locks

So far we have travelled 634.3 miles, 555 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Saturday, 11 September 2010

She who speaks to cows.

Thursday saw us travelling down from Kinver to a spot between Kidderminster and Stourport. Anyone travelling on the Staffs and Worcester who needs to shop can probably get just about anything they need canalside in Kidderminster, there are two retail parks, one above and one below the lock. We only stopped to grab a couple of bits from Tesco then carried on. We found a nice peaceful mooring for the night where the kittens could be let out to play. That was until about seven, then the cows started!  After about ten minutes I had had enough, so I shouted "Shut up you noisy cows!", much to Ray's surprise they did!  I have now been renamed "She who speaks to cows".

On Friday we moved on to Stourport in wind and rain, neither of us fancied tackling the River Severn in 20 mph gusts so we stopped above the locks. Today was equally wet and windy so meeting up with Keith and Leesa this weekend is cancelled, or rather postponed to next weekend. We have found what looks like a good pub at Haw Bridge so that is where we are heading. It's a few miles north of Gloucester and we have seven days to do a three day journey, but as the weather forecast is a bit dodgy that is a good thing.

The plan for tomorrow is to head down to Worcester and spend a couple of days there.

Thursday's journey 8.2 miles, 7 locks and 1 tunnel

Friday's journey 1.8 miles

So far we have travelled 622.4 miles, 547 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Going south

This morning was a little chilly, with no sun to burn off the dew until after ten. The day improved greatly and turned into a glorious afternoon.

I had a run-in with the lock-keeper at the Bratch, who was downright rude to me, which left me feeling stressed for most of the day. I don't do confrontations!

Apart from that we had a good day, nothing of note but lots of progress. We moored for the night at Kinver and went for fish and chips as I was still too wound up to face cooking. We should make it to Tewkesbury by Saturday afternoon, I hope!

Today's journey 9.4 miles, 15 locks and 1 tunnel

So far we have travelled 612.4 miles, 540 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 16 tunnels

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Much progress, much rain!

We made a fairly early start this morning, leaving Gailey about nine. As we had about nine miles before the first lock I got on with the washing as we went along. We had a slight worry about the engine as we were smoking more than normal and also running a bit hot. Ray moored briefly to check things but couldn't find any obvious problems so we carried on to Autherley Junction where we stopped for lunch. I walked up to Morrisons for some bread and milk in brilliant sunshine and walked back in pouring rain! Our lunch stop was a little longer than planned as we sat out a storm, including thunder!

When the rain eased off we carried on southwards in alternating sunshine and showers until we reached Awbridge Lock where we have moored for the night.

Circular weir at Awbridge Lock

Bridge with a gap in the middle for the rope to pull a butty into the lock

Today's journey 13.8 miles and 6 locks

So far we have travelled 603 miles, 525 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 6 September 2010

Windy weekend.

On Friday we travelled to Gailey, not far but seven locks, which of course is twenty-one locks by the time we have got Morgana, Destiny and Foxy Lady through. As the weather was nice we had a barbeque when we reached Gailey and Martin joined us, then the "grown-ups" piled onto Martin's boat for drinks till about one!

Kathy and I went shopping in Wolverhampton on Saturday, we were very good and didn't spend much. We must have spent at least half an hour broosing through books in Hobbycraft. Kaia had gone off to her dad's for the weekend and Ray and Scott spent their time fitting the LED lights on Merlin. The weather started to turn a bit nasty on Sunday so Kathy and I spent most of the day inside, beading. Ray and I had intended to start off for Gloucester this morning but as we woke up to 20mph winds we decided it wasn't a good idea. So it was another day of beading for Kathy and I, while Ray helped Scott and Kaia build a den in the woods. The weather forecast for tomorrow is a lot better, just as well as it is absolutely chucking it down at the moment. It looks like we will only make it as far as Tewkesbury at best for the weekend.

Friday's journey 2.8 miles and 7 locks

So far we have travelled 589.2 miles, 519 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


After going shopping in  Midland Chandlers, then waiting for BW to cut back a tree which was overhanging the canal and a bit unsafe we headed on to Penkridge. We moored up around lunchtime and headed into the market. It is well worth a visit, not a lot of food stalls but good for clothes and bits and pieces.

I had the bright idea that all this sunshine was far too good to waste so we decided to have a barbeque, the weather should have been like this for all of August.

We spent an excellent evening enjoying good food, good booze and good company. Tomorrow or Friday we will head back to Gailey then think about what we are doing for the next few weeks.

Today's journey 1.3 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 586.4 miles, 512 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels