Monday, 16 June 2014

Slow trip into Birmingham - wonderful

Friday 13th June to Sunday 15th June 2014

You gotta love a fine sunny day, without it being too hot and just a gentle cooling breeze - the conditions that we had on Friday morning for a short cruise and a few locks.
The Knowle locks are very pretty and if you take the time when going up to just turn around, you are treated to the most delightful views of the surrounding countryside.

There was a lockie at the locks to give us a bit of a hand through - not too much I had to tell him - "Don't want to go spoiling her"

He mentioned that if we were going into Brum that the services at the top of Camp Hill Locks were good to moor at and very secure - something to think about.

Once we were through the locks, we watered up and then just cruised about a half mile to moor up at bridge 72.

I had wanted to visit Knowle for some time and now was a perfect opportunity - it is just a 10 minute walk on the flat into the town.

Our first stop was for a bit of morning tea and we can highly recommend The Catwalk Cafe - excellent service, excellent food and the hot chocolate is pretty good too!

We spent about an hour wandering around - in and out of the shops, picked up some more books and there is a very good artisan bakery - yummy herb and olive bread and croissants.

The more we looked, the more we found that we wanted to do - it will be down to next time, but it means that we would make this way into Birmingham a selection used more often.
Knowle church

Boaters revenge - standing outside someone's house for a photo

We cruised on for the next 3 miles to Catherine de Barnes and made a final mooring for the day just before bridge 78. The sun on the panels topped up the batteries as we had only short cruising time today. Gee, those panels are really doing the job that we were told they would do.

We thought about what the lockkeeper at Knowle had said; we were due to meet Debbie, James and the girls at Aston Junction and give them a trip up the Farmers Bridge Locks and hopefully a bit of a cruise as well.
After we had spoken to them they selected Sunday as it was the free day for the weekend - mmm, Father's Day free? - someone wouldn't be getting a visit.

Anyway, the thought of being able to break up the journey into the basin was tempting, so we decided that we would cruise to Small Heath and check the mooring situation out - if there were any problems we could continue into the centre of the basin and sort out Sunday cruising after that.

You have to say that travelling into Birmingham, whether it be as we were doing - via the Grand Union, or coming up the Wolverhampton flight, or from Kings Norton, it is a lovely green corridor and there are many reasons to enjoy it.
the canal is so wonderful through here...

...and continues to be so

...except for this unfortunate boat

What was not to enjoy upon our arrival at the CaRT services block was that the mooring spaces - mainly 2 or 3 had been taken over by a couple of boats which appeared to be in process of being fitted out; the dog on one of the boats had obviously been left to wander around at will whenever it needed to ablute - not a pleasant environment - the services block was very clean however, so someone is looking after that.
We used the elsan services and decided that we would push on - an email to CaRT early in the week will register our complaint about it.
the Camp Hill resident's association

I had always thought that the Camp Hill locks were very pretty to work through, but a lack of mowing, the abundance of yobs with spray cans, and a large amount of household rubbish has destroyed that recollection - still they were easy going.

Then through Curzon Street tunnel and into the Ashted flight - equally easy; more pleasant environment, and not as much rubbish, but enough to feel a bit of pity for those with not enough character and pride in their own area to dispose of their refuse in the proper manner.

We got as far as Aston University and moored up for lunch; the rain followed and we looked around us and thought that it looked reasonably OK.
I remembered that Paul Balmer (Waterway Routes) had indicated in one of his DVD's that this was a spot where you could moor up - and he is a bit of an advocate for Birmingham.
So we stayed.
the Aston University environs ...

...we found it very safe

In our favour was the weather - raining; England were playing Italy in the World Cup that night; it was a bit out of the way for anyone.

In the morning after a very peaceful night's sleep - well for anyone who isn't an England supporter - we awoke without any problem being experienced.

Refreshed and ready to attack a handful of locks at the beginning of our cruising for the day, rather than tired after a 5 hour trip to get there and find more locks to do.

All-in-all this is looking good for future reference to cruise in this way - Knowle, Aston University mooring, an easy 2 days (instead of 1 long hard one).

We met up with the Birmingham Bunch plus 1 (Katherine's boyfriend, Ben, joined us as well) at the junction and set off for the flight of locks that would lead us up to Birmingham proper.

When you see people new to the operation of a lock set about the process you think back to the time when you yourself first started and realise how far you have come - things these days are natural to us and we simply know now what has to be done and instantly recognise when something is not correct - so it took just a couple of locks to get things right, but still keeping a watchful eye on things.
Passing a couple of boats made things a little tricky, but an enjoyable time with a bit of unexpected exercise was had by all of the new crew.
James engaging the ground paddles - supervisor, Debbie,
offering encouragement

a team effort

instruction from "she"

Katherine - happy face - "this is not what I signed up for"
"when do the fun bits start?"

A study in concentration - Rachel, making sure that all
is OK 

Well done Debbie - management of the situation is important.

The strain of lockgates - James is getting to grips with it

Reaching the top lock and there was nb Waiouru moored at Cambrian Wharf and after Diane roused them, Tom and Jan appeared at the hatch - we are going to catch up with them both on Monday.
Sorry Tom! I wanted the better one of Jan

Exiting the top lock almost turned to a bit of disaster as a canoeist, not realising that we were coming out put his small boat into the water in the direct line of our path.
Catastrophe was averted by a quick stop on our part, a hasty removal of the canoe, and smiles all round.

Rather than simply mooring up we had decided to cruise down to Edgbaston and back so that the Katherine, Rachel and Ben could have a turn at steering the boat.

We made it back in one piece, the senior crew member out the back survived whilst "she who must be obeyed" sent out tea and sustenance.
Ben, Katherine and Rachel - very glad that the locks are finished
and cake time has begun

mmm! - did someone say cake.

Eventually we moored outside the NIA - our preferred location - it would have been Cambrian Wharf, but Tom and Jan had indicated that it had been quite noisy there the night before.

After the boat was secured we all headed off for a well-deserved drink and then for a meal.

Back on board we managed to see most of the France v Honduras match before one of us couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.

20 Miles, 30 Locks,  4 Tunnels

Totals: 2576 Miles, 1953 Locks, 88 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges


  1. ray which way are you coming out of BRUM?

    1. Hi Richard

      we are coming out via the Netherton tunnel and then up the Staffs & Worcester to Autherley Junction


  2. ray i will be tackling the wolverhamrton 21 on wednesday coming via the shroppie where are you off to after autherley junction?

    1. Richard
      might be an idea to check, but the Wolverhampton 21 are closed due to a problem with a lockgate.
      we will be heading up the Shroppie slowly.

  3. Yes saw the canal forum discussion last night! Am moored by bridge 8 on the Shroppie -hoping the flight will open late tomorrow-will then go up hopefully wednesday