Monday, 27 March 2017

Lapworth



Here I am Rune
Distance 3.6 miles
Total 2412 Locks  117 Tunnels
Running total mileage 3421.5 miles 

A gentle cruise today, since I can’t be bothered with going down the Lapworth flight until tomorrow. The weather yesterday was positively spring-like, back to winter today with an icy breeze. On the plus side at least there was no rain. 

The next couple of days will be something of a work-out with 19 locks in the Lapworth flight and another 21 in the Hatton flight, so 40 locks to look forward to before we get to Warwick.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Earlswood



Here I am Rune
Distance 12.4 miles
Total 2412 Locks  117 Tunnels
Running total mileage 3417.9 miles 

Today’s trip was, for us, quite substantial although involved no real lock work. Technically we passed through one lock, the stop lock at the start of the Stratford Canal, but that lock is permanently open. It is also a bit of a curiosity since it is one of the few guillotine locks in the area, not sure why they made it different to all the others. Sadly, as a passing shot on leaving Birmingham, we again had a rock thrown at us as we passed through Selly Oak. On this front Birmingham has been a bit of a disappointment since we had none of this nonsense 2 years ago when we were here, doesn’t relect well on the city.
The guillotine stop lock


Included in today’s list was 3 tunnels but only one of which I would regard as a ‘proper’ tunned. Broad Street tunnel is just a long bridge, Edgebaston Tunnel is a slightly longer bridge, it is only Brandwood Tunnel that merits the name, and that is only 352 yards long.
Brandwood tunnel


After 3 weeks in and around the city, it is nice to be moored back out into open countryside again.I think we will probably stay here at Earlswood tomorrow then head on towards the Lapworth and Hatton flight of locks on Monday.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Birmingham City Centre



Here I am Rune
Distance 4 miles
Total 2411 Locks  114 Tunnels
Running total mileage 3404.9 miles 

Since the weather forecast for Monday was rubbish, we remained at Merry Hill until today (Tuesday) and then enjoyed a pleasant, although still very cold, trip from there to Birmingham city centre. Again there were few boats on the move, although interestingly two of the four that we met, were in Netherton Tunnel. Not that it is much of a problem passing in the tunnel as there is plenty of space provided that you move to the right part of the canal. The emphasis on the last bit was because the second boat that we met in the tunnel left it until the very last moment before moving across to the left side of the tunnel so that we could pass left side to left side, as per navigation instructions. My thinking as we approached one another in the tunnel went from,”..it’s OK he’ll move over in a minute…”, through,”…I hope he is going to move over soon…”, to “….for god’s sake will you move over….”. I had to put the boat into neutral and come to an almost stop, partly because I thought that maybe he had a problem with his boat, engine failure, something around the prop or was having to bow haul it from the towpath.  Turns out that there was no noticeable problem other than he just wanted to be on my side of the canal.
Approaching Netherton Tunnel


Not sure how long we will be in the city centre but given the forecast for more rain tomorrow, we won’t be going anywhere until that has passed.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Brierley Hill (Merry Hill)



Here I am Rune
Distance 4 miles
Total 2410 Locks  112 Tunnels
Running total mileage 3404.9 miles 

Bumble Hole Country Park doesn’t seem to be the mooring it once was. Last time we were here we moored for a couple of days in a pleasant country park but now it seems that the local ‘yoof’ have taken an interest in the boats. Following the banging on the outside of the boat at about 9.15pm last night we were woken up this morning by someone re-mooring our boat, having been cast adrift during the night. Not a great problem just an irritation but a couple of incidents on just one overnight stay doesn’t encourage longer stays there. The dog walker who woke us up to tell us we had been cast adrift said that the local idiots had caused problems for other boaters and she wouldn’t recommend mooring there, shame really.

Today was a short trip to Merry Hill, another place we had moored at on a few previous occasions. I did recall last time mooring in the basin only to be kept awake by music from a bar until about 2am. This time we went into the basin, turned around, and reversed out onto the embankment that overlooks the retail park in the hope of a quieter night. Having subsequently walked back to the basin, the Sports Bar that had kept us awake has now gone just leaving a Weatherspoons and a Marstons pub there. I don’t know what the problem is with Merry Hill since it looks as though it has great potential but, as you walk through, most of the units are empty. Even the retail park didn’t seem to be exactly thriving, we’ll see how busy it gets tomorrow, on a Saturday.

Not sure how long the plan is to remain here but it will be Monday at the very least.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bumble Hole Country Park



Here I am Rune
Distance 10.7 miles
Total 2409 Locks  112 Tunnels
Running total mileage 3400.9 miles 

Sadly we failed the gauging test to be allowed through Dudley tunnel. We were OK on height, which had been my concern, but cabin roof was too wide. At least now we know for certain that we cannot do Dudley tunnel.
RUNE failing the gauging process

 That being the case the itinerary then became to go down and through Netherton Tunnel, which pretty much takes you to the same sort of place. We ended out travelling a bit further than I intended having gone to Hawne Basin to refuel we found that there were no moorings so we have had to travel back to Bumble Hole, by the visitor centre for the night. The challenge was going back through Gorsty Tunnel since they have lopped down a load of canalside trees and left the cut logs on the towpath. Kids being what they are, they have clearly been throwing the logs into to canal. As a result of this we came to a dead stop just as we entered the tunnel as a log became trapped between the propeller and the bottom of the boat, stalling the engine. We managed to haul ourselves back out of the tunnel enabling me to knock the log off the propeller through the weed hatch. This was followed by a slow trip through the tunnel trying to avoid any other logs, and collecting up any that we did find. Instead of taking just over an hour to get back to Bumble Hole it took us an hour and a quarter just to get clear of Gorsty Tunnel.
Gorsty Tunnel approach (with lots of crud in the mouth of the tunnel)

Inside Gorsty tunnel

Once back at Bumble hole we moored up outside of the visitor centre, unfortunately we were the only boat here, not always a good sign! So far all we have had is some child bang on the roof of the boat then run off, I hope that is all that we get.

Tomorrow will be a short run to Merry Hill, probably remaining there for the week-end.