Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The slow boat from hell

Saturday 21st June to Tuesday 24th June 2014

We thought it would be a good idea to walk in towards Stourbridge, Diane wanted a Wilkinsons and her phone said there was one not that far away; so we headed back over the last bridge, along a public footpath, got some more directions from a lovely lady along the way, made our way along and around a few streets until we found the location - trouble was it wasn't there.
Fortunately for Diane she found a butcher shop and an Aldi - between them she managed to fill three bags with things that we apparently needed - after thinking before we left that there was nothing at all we needed.

Not to be deterred we carried on to central downtown Stourbridge and found Wilko's; she bought the camp shower that she wanted - the practical side of this being (what she had read somewhere) was to fill it with water, put it on the roof on a bright sunny day and when we weren't moving we would have hot water for the dishes or just for a wash - the theory will be put into practice now.

A walk around the Saturday market; a coffee each and we found a lady who knew where the terminus for the Stourbridge arm was - instructions followed and we found it.

Moorings are available either in the secure area operated by the Stourbridge Canal Trust or outside this - both looked suitable and now marked in the memory for future recall.

We opted to return to the boat via the towpath - the reasoning being that it was flat - unlike the up and down trek that got us into town originally.
on our stroll back to the boat, we spotted these two
youngsters enjoying swinging over and sometimes into the canal.

Once back on board we decided that we would move - just a mile or so - the reasoning being that there had been just a few too many people wandering around - on bothsides of  the canal the previous evening - no problems at all, we just wanted it a bit more quiet.
So a mile later, we were out in the open; nice and peaceful still; more light; and the TV signal was much better.

With no particular plans of how far we would travel on Sunday we set off about our usual time.
I must say that the 4 locks leading down to the junction with the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal are in about the prettiest setting we have seen.
It's all new to us, so we didn't know what would be next.
down through the Stourton locks...

...and to the junction

Heading northwards, the canal gets a bit covered in by the foliage and with mooring a bit difficult because of the uncut towpath edges, it would make it a bit unfriendly here - still it was nice to be cruising.

we moored up for water at Greensforge and boy did it suddenly
get very busy and little room to move

Onwards we continued until we decided to call it time just before Swindon Lock where we moored up for the afternoon and the night.

The new BBQ came out later on for its first tryout - if my fire-lighting skills get any better then we should manage to eat a great deal sooner, but in the end it all worked out well and we didn't starve.
the end of the barbie - just chucked a couple of spuds on to
slow cook in their jackets
we were being watched very closely by these three - hoping
for some of the leftovers

Monday - if only we had been 15 minutes earlier in leaving - we would not have been caught behind the boat from hell.
Two people on board who in essence didn't give a s__t about anyone else behind them.
Talk about taking it completely easy.
- Only used the gate paddle (going up the locks) - we are pretty sure that she couldn't or wouldn't use the ground paddles - so the locks filled very slowly.
- Actually stated that they were in no hurry at all
- Didn't bother to go forward to help anyone
- In the staircase lock at Botterham, we finally arrived to find their boat at the top of the bottom lock of the two; gate opened to the next lock; where were they - both off the boat chatting away to someone who had strolled by; not even when I approached did they seem at all concerned that we were waiting for them to move their boat along.
- At the bottom of the Bratch Locks, they were the third of the group of boats in front of us to be going up the locks; the 2nd boat had long gone and were almost at the top - they were chatting away at the bottom, not even untied - it looked exactly as though they were waiting for the volunteer lockie to set the lock for them - at least it was that way until the CaRT lockkeeper yelled at them to get a move on and get themselves sorted out quickly. (a bit of chuckling at this from those of us behind them)
The name of the boat - Bubbles and Squeak - commiserations to you if you get stuck behind them.

Eventually it was our turn and we all moved through the locks without any problems at all - and as it should be we helped each other through.
Bratch Locks

the blue gate paddle let water into the lock with the usual force
that you would expect

the procedure involved opening the blue paddle and then the
red paddle on the gate above. The short gap in between was
the scene of some rough water as it tried to even itself out with
the lock below and the side storage pound

she has made it to the top lock!

Enough was enough for the day and we stopped on the 5-day moorings at the top - after all it was the start of Wimbledon and nothing comes between that and my lovely wife.

We wandered down to the locks later in the day to have a more relaxed look at them - very interesting indeed - although they are described as staircase locks, there is very short pound between each of the three locks.
now quite peaceful - the top of the Bratch Locks

and the village of The Bratch

Another lovely day of sunshine and a distant memory of real a__eholes.

We weren't sure exactly what we would do on Tuesday - there was a National Trust house at Wightwick that we thought we might like to see, but not open on Tuesdays - so do we cruise to there and spend an extra day there or do we miss it - not sure.

The day started well with the first two locks being our way; the weather was a bit cooler that for the previous few days but it was still better than not being where we were.

Met a lovely old guy from a boat moored up at Dimmingsdale bridge who was telling me about all of the boats that were mooring up for too long around there and CaRT were coming down and putting Patrol Notices on them - I couldn't make out half of what he was saying sometimes, but I suspect that he knew who was ringing CaRT to complain about the overstayers.

Further along the locks went from being empty to full - we were catching up to a boat, which we did at the last lock for us for the day - we had done enough and Wightwick Mill Lock was the last one.

She who must be obeyed had been a bit concerned (read as on the way to frantic) about the milk supply situation - down to the last litre - but she is smiling again, the Sainsbury Local at bridge 59 came through and we have supplies again.

Now decided that we will visit the NT property; the worry of the milk has passed.

11 Miles, 21 Locks

Totals: 2607 Miles, 1999 Locks, 90 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges


  1. Wightwick Manor is well worth a visit -- nice house, lovely gardens, decent pub nearby. And the moorings right there are pretty good too.

    1. Have to agree with you Adam. See next blog. We had a great day out there and the inside of the house was simply superb.