Saturday, 21 June 2014

From City to countryside

Tuesday 17th June to Friday 20th June 2014

We thought it might be nice to have a bit of a cruise on Tuesday - after all we had finished our time on the 48hr mooring, so we had to move; we needed water; Diane wanted to get a load of washing done and we needed the elsan - this last item we didn't really need to move the boat to get done.

We headed west and took a turn off the New Main Line onto the Soho Loop - it is so lovely up here that we are tempted to moor here sometime; and then we looped through via Sherbourne Wharf - yikes, is it ever crowded through there with moorers and trip boats; then straight ahead when we emerged from that loop to the services opposite Cambrian Wharf - watered; elsaned; and de-rubbished, all we needed to do was wind and move back.
Diane tied the bow line to a bollard and with no other boats moving it was a simple matter to pivot on that point.
A group of school children with the CaRT people were impressed.

We moored up again on the 14 day moorings.

After lunch we took a trip up to the viewing platform of the new library.
a couple of panorama shots from the top of the library

looking down to the canal where we were moored the
day before - outside the NIA (on the right)

and inside the library

Wednesday, we headed into the city for a bit of shopping - firstly down to the Bullring markets - Closed on Wednesdays - only the fruit and vegetable stalls were open - luckily we needed things there.
There are a 2nd lot of indoor market stalls a bit further on where we managed a few more items to cross off the list.
the family business?

We made our way back - me to the boat and put the purchases away; Diane down towards the Mailbox to await me - she was after Tapas today.
A lovely restaurant at the Mailbox called Bar Estilo - excellent.
We had a lovely lunch and sat and watched everyone racing around on their lunchbreak; a few boats make the turn towards the basin (and beyond) and completely unrushed at all.

After that it was back to see the tennis and the football - unfortunately Australia went down to The Netherlands, 3-2; but we were in front and looking good for the upset of the series.

All of this time we have had magnificent weather - sunny, a bit of cloud, a nice breeze - why then on Thursday, when we schedule ourselves to move out of Birmingham does it turn cold - so cold in fact that coats, gloves and hats came out.
Coat, gloves and hat weather - certainly changeable
Our newest tiller pin - the welsh lady - and a miners
lamp below

We wanted to look at a different way out of Brum and decided on a trip through the Netherton tunnel. It was just a lazy 7 miles to the entrance - peaceful cruising. We chatted to a guy walking his dog (boat moored up at Titford) but gave us some helpful hints about where to moor around Merry Hill (our intended destination).
approaching the Netherton tunnel

The tunnel itself doesn't present any problems - it certainly is big enough - two-way traffic and a towpath on each side; straight as an arrow - each end could clearly be seen.
No problems in the passage - only one boat to pass.

Exiting at the other end and into some warmer weather - tunnels always seem to do that - that other side is always better - or is it that you have been in a cool, dark, wet place and it seems better instantly upon leaving it.
and on the other side - warm sunshine

We resisted the moorings at Windmill End - our target was further on - the canal was winding around and we slowed to cope with the twists and turns and didn't really notice that we had lost some power until we neared the junction where we stopped for water.
An inspection down the weedhatch produced a bit of rubbish from around the prop and hardly surprisingly the boat performed better.
We finally moored up outside the Copthorne Hotel.
A couple of visits to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre refilled the pantry along with a few other bits and pieces.
We were a bit apprehensive as the Wetherspoons across on the other side had been promoting the England v Uruguay game and the supporters were gathering - our thoughts being that if there was an England victory then the celebrating might go on noisily for a while - in the end there was barely a whimper either on the screen or in the pub.
a panoramic of the Merry Hill basin

the gardens around the basin were full of roses

We could easily have settled for an easy day on Friday and stayed for another 24 hours, but we craved a more rural setting and prepared ourselves for the 2 flights of locks that lay ahead.

The weather had warmed up and with so many locks we were expecting a reasonably tiring day - not to be disappointed at all.
Looking down the Delph locks..

..and up

all of the locks were quite deep

This has to be the shortest pound on the system-
in the foreground is the top gate of Lock 10
and in the background the bottom gate of Lock 9

A single hander was in front, but we all worked through the Delph locks steadily and then through the Stourbridge flight he allowed us to go ahead and with the help of friendly unofficial volunteer we both made very good time down the flight.
a well deserved drink 

We didn't travel too far before mooring up and enjoying the openness and peace of the countryside.

20 Miles, 25 Locks,  2 Tunnels

Totals: 2596 Miles, 1978 Locks, 90 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

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