Thursday 10th September
It was very chilly first thing today and it did not warm up very much all day.
We dropped off the rubbish at the facilities at The Waterfront, and then made our way to Blowers Green Lock – the only one for today. We took on water at the Pump House next to the lock and were able to dispose of most of our recycling (there had been no recycling bin at The Waterfront).Clean and Tidy Rubbish Disposal Area
We’d now moved off the Dudley No.1 Canal to Dudley No.2. The next couple of miles meandered through the parish in which we used to live. We had hoped to have coffee at the Bumble Hole Visitor Centre, but, like so many places, it was closed due to Covid-19. We spoke to a local dog-walker who said that the volunteers were still actively looking after the area. We made our own coffee and moved on through Netherton tunnel. The towpath through the tunnel is in good condition and we met a couple of Nordic walkers on the way through.Netherton Tunnel (and the light at the end of it)
Right turn onto the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction, through Smethwick (lunch on the move) and into Birmingham. We moored at Cambrian Wharf and decided to take a short walk alongside the canals of central Birmingham. We visited the Lego Shop and had a chat with the couple on Good Enough who had followed us up Delph yesterday and whom we had followed through Blowers Green this morning.
There were very few people (and boats) around, presumably because of the recent stabbings and the rise in Covid-19 cases. There was no sound at all from The Flapper during the evening.
Miles: 13.00 Locks: 1 Total Miles: 162.50 Total Locks: 110
Friday 11th September
Another day of lots of locks lay in front of us so we made an early start leaving our mooring at 7.45 to start down the Farmers Bridge flight – this is yet another canal, the Birmingham-Fazeley.Farmers Bridge Locks
Another boat, La Dolce Vita, was before us though. They had started down the locks soon after 7.00 so were well ahead of us. Although we were having to turn every lock, we made good progress and caught La Dolce Vita up a couple of locks from the bottom.
Attractive development on Farmers Bridge Flight
We paused to have a coffee before starting down the Aston flight. Then onwards working with the crew of La Dolce Vita, we finished the flight. La Dolce Vita stopped for water, so we overtook them and carried on to the Minworth locks. Here we met a couple of boats coming up the locks – there had been very few boats around all day.
We moored at Cuttle Bridge Inn – not the quietest of moorings being under the flight path to Birmingham Airport, but with an outlook on harvested fields. We had a late lunch – unlike on Wednesday when lunch was missed completely!
We enjoyed a walk through some of the fields opposite our mooring before settling down for the evening.
Weather was dry but cloudy and breezy for most of the day with some sunshine in the late afternoon.
We leant on the evening news that stricter Covid-19 restrictions had been announced for Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.
Miles: 8.00 Locks: 27 Total Miles: 168.50 Total Locks: 137
Saturday 12th September
We woke to a bright, sunny morning and it remained sunny all day, though a sharp breeze meant it was not always warm.
We set off just after 8.00, but were obviously following at least one other boat as most of the eleven Curdworth Locks were set against us (except for a couple in the middle when we crossed with a boat going towards Birmingham). This is a pleasant flight with planters of herbs and flowers at the side of many of the the locks, together with notices announcing preparations for wildflower meadows.
We stopped for coffee on the moorings between Locks 8 & 9 and then carried on as far as Fazeley Mill Marina. Parts of this stretch of canal are very shallow and we had slight problems when passing other boats. We were going to have a pump out oat the marina, but there were already a couple of boats wanting the same thing, so we moored up and had lunch while we waited.
After having the pump out, we moved along the canal and moored opposite David and Mary Litchfield’s home. We needed to post a granddaughter’s birthday card so walked round to the local Tesco Express for a stamp and some milk. We then found a post-box and returned to the boat.
Steve decided he needed to go into the weed hatch and remove stuff from round the propeller – nothing very exciting, just plastic bags and an unidentifiable ring of rubber and plastic.
We held a conversation with David and Mary across the canal.
Fish and chips for our evening meal and then coffee with David and Mary.
Miles: 6.50 Locks: 11 Total Miles: 175.00 Total Locks: 148
Sunday 13th September
We left Fazeley at 8.30 and turned on to the Coventry Canal. Even this early, we began to see more boats than we had done yesterday – it certainly looks as if people are avoiding Birmingham.
Glascote Locks were their usual slow selves, but at least this time there was no queue (see 24th August).Poem at Glascote Locks
We stopped for coffee near Alvecote Marina.
Today was sunny and hot – completely different from any other day this trip. We were glad of the gentle breeze.
We stopped for lunch before starting the Atherstone Locks, and then just did the first (or last, if you go by the numbering) four locks before stopping for the day.
The beam on the bottom gate of the bottom lock snapped a few weeks ago - the photo shows the temporary repair.
The same area in September 2019
Miles: 9.00 Locks: 6 Total Miles: 184.00 Total Locks: 154
Monday 14th September
Another lovely day – warm and sunny. We met boats at several of the remaining seven Atherstone locks; some of them had made very early starts to avoid the heat of the day – one had left Hartshill at 6.30. VLKs at top lock helped us through. We got rid of our rubbish (but not our recycling) at the facility at top lock.
We had coffee on the move, but stopped at Springwood Haven to pick up a new gas bottle (and an ice cream).
We stopped for lunch in Nuneaton near the Cock and Bear Bridge and then made our way towards Hawkesbury. Through the lock there and onto the Oxford Canal and the last leg before our home base. We arrived back at the basin at about 4.00. We transferred our belongings from the boat to our car, and then had a last cup of tea on the boat before going home.
It wasn’t the trip we had planned, but it had been a good one nonetheless.
Miles: 13.75 Locks: 8 Total Miles: 197.75 Total Locks: 162