Wednesday 14 September 2022

Curdworth to Hawkesbury Junction

 Tuesday 13 September Kingsbury Water Park, Curdworth, to Atherstone (12 miles, 8 locks)

After a look over the lakeside view, we set off the few miles to Tamworth. The day improved steadily. This stretch of canal is rural and quite pretty. We passed the Drayton Manor theme park on the way.

 Creeping out at Fazeley Junction, we turned South under the tight little bridge and soon arrived at the two Glascote locks, passing over the River Tame on the way. We passed up these by ourselves.

Liana left Annie to retrieve the car from Stourport-on-Severn. John took Annie along the long pound through Glascote, where he attacked a weeping willow which threatened to sweep our flowers off the roof. He continued on past Alvecote Marina and Polesworth to moor for lunch in a peaceful and pretty oak lined glade half a mile before the M42 underpass.

Past Pooley Hall, hiding above in the trees, we spotted a ruined swing bridge in the brambles. A farmer was doing a good job, hedge trimming.

Annie passed Grendon boatyard, which has a good dry dock, although the yard, house and an ancient narrowboat have seen better days.

Once he reached the bottom Atherstone locks. John took Annie up by himself, with some help from oncoming boat crews passing down the locks. Thank you!

Reaching Baddesley Basin, Liana appeared to help us up lock 6 to moor just above, near the Kings Head pub. Despite nearby trains, we slept well.

Wednesday 14 September South from Atherstone to Nuneaton (6 miles, 5 locks)

After a dry night, we did the online word game Wordle, a recent interest, and proceeded up the locks to the services at the top, crossing over with a couple of boats, making life easier. A Volunteer helped at lock 2, where the top gate had been left open by the boat ahead of us. As Annie moved into lock 1, which had its bottom gates open, There were no Volunteers until Liana rousted them out of their bothy  - we had sneaked up on them, they said!

After using the services for Elsan and water, we moored nearby, opposite the vandalised old factory, and walked into town for a coffee and sandwiches with chips. Atherstone is a pleasant enough little town, once the home of hatters and snobs (cobblers). There is still one there!

The Coventry Canal heads SE on a terrace above the Anker valley, past the Alpaca farm and moorings. We passed plenty of boats moored with good views. The newish Mancetter Marina looks to be full, but there is still half a mile of boats moored on line before it.

We moored in the sun at 1630, opposite the recreation ground  after bridge 22.

Thursday 15 September Nuneaton to Hawkesbury Junction (6 miles, 1 lock)

Today Liana travelled all the way back to Stourport- on - Severn by bus and train, then brought the car back to Sutton Stop (aka Hawkesbury Junction). Quite a trip! 

Meanwhile, John took Annie past gardens and under many bridges out of Nuneaton, past the site of the old Griff Arm. 

This is now being redeveloped, with a huge warehouse, so it may not survive to be restored one day.Nuneaton and Bedworth are growing closer, eating up countryside. There were lots of boats moored before Marston Junction. Charity Dock was colourful! Along a long overgrown cutting, Newdigate Colliery Arm junction was still there, overgrown. 

Reaching a quiet Sutton Stop, John opted to make the turn, mooring outside the Greyhound Inn while a boat came out of the shallow stop lock. There was a CRT Volunteer assisting. The little office nearby had a CRT publicity display outside. John moored around the corner once through, on 14 day moorings, with six pins, two at bow and stern, plus one each from front side cleat and centre T stud, as we were leaving her there while we travelled to Wales to babysit our lovely grandchild Hope. Au Revoir!

Saturday 10 September 2022

Stourport to Stourbridge and Birmingham HEADINGS SOME TEXT

 Sunday 4 September back to Annie

Monday 5 September Stourport to Whittington Lock near Kinver

Sunday night was torrential rain and thunder. Liana finished offloading the car in the morning, while John readied Annie. We stopped outside Aldi for one or two bits before leaving the town and enjoy the countryside for over two miles before Falling Sands lock.

Tuesday 6 September Whittington Lock through Kinver to Stourton and Stourbridge

After a rainy and thundery night, the flowers looked windblown. This pretty canal looks damp but very green, compared to a few weeks ago. Whittington, Kinver and Hyde locks are all picturesque. We were lucky to arrive as oncoming boats were leaving, twice. The offside is rather overgrown in places, with red sandstone outcrops looming overhead, notably near the short 25 yard long Dunsley Tunnel.

Once through Stewponey lock, with its adjacent octagonal toll house, we reached Stourton Junction in the sun, turning right to drop Liana off at the newish lock landing before moving into the bottom lock. The four Stourton Locks are close, in a “thick”, so John could “finish off” the top gates and paddles while Liana went ahead to set the next lock for Annie.

The two miles to Wordsley Junction were very quiet, rather overgrown but lovely, quite autumnal. We met no moving boats, which was maybe a good thing! Once past moorings at Newtown, the River Stour is close by, and the canal crosses it just before the junction.

Approaching Stourbridge, John winded Annie at the 70' winding hole, backed around the corner and moored a couple of hundred yards before the basin. When we walked into town, we saw there was room to wind in the basin, which is now fenced off with coded gate locks at the bonded warehouse. You need to contact the Stourbridge Navigation Trust to book moorings and get access. You use an underpass to cross the ring road and reach the town centre up the hill. We visited charity shops and had a Costa coffee. Later, we had a tasty, spicy sausage and lentil casserole which Liana cooked up – definitely one to have again.

Wednesday 7 September Stourbridge to Merryhill (4 miles, 24 locks)

Thursday 8 September Merryhill to the Black Country Museum (9 miles, 4 locks)

After a modest two slices of bacon and an egg with no toast, John felt equipped to brave the Merryhill Shopping Centre here in Brierley Hill. Down many steps from the embankment, we enjoyed the comfort of shopping indoors. We bought baby clothes, books, a hot glue gun for Liana, coffee and an iphone hdmi lead to link it to the tv.

Setting off after lunch, we passed through the eyecatching Waterfront area, before passing the services into darkest Dudley, along the No 2 canal, contouring around the hill, with many twists and turns. The channel was reedy and overgrown by trees in places. Thankfully, we only met one oncoming boat. The weather worsened, and rain teemed down. John got wet despite his coat and umbrella. Reaching the deep Blowers Green lock, with ex-stables and services nearby, we turned left for Netherton. Ahead lay three locks and the western end of the Dudley Tunnel, out of bounds to us. Past numerous Dudley back gardens, we reached the Bumblehole before Netherton Tunnel. Twenty or more boats were moored ready for the event this coming weekend there.

We had forgotten how very long Netherton Tunnel is, about 3000 yards, like Blisworth Tunnel. It has towpaths both sides but no light, We passed two oncoming boats slowly and carefully. The sun met us as we emerged, thankfully.

At Dudley Port Junction we turned left, passed Caggy's Boatyard to find boats at the three Factory Locks. We followed one up and crossed over with another in the second pound. Busy! We passed through Tipton and arrived at the Black Country Museum before 6pm, too late to see our nephew Ted Adams, who works on the tunnel trip boat.

The nation was told that The Queen has passed away peacefully at Balmoral. May She Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.

Friday 9 September Black Country Museum to Old Turn Junction, Birmingham

The Black Country Museum is closed today as a mark of respect to the late Queen. Back home, my fellow bell ringers are ringing around noon today, with bells half muffled. God Bless Her. God Save our new King Charles III.

We decided to head towards Birmingham along Brindley's old main line. Two boats had left before us, but we never met a moving boat all day on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN). The water all the way to Dudley Port is crystal clear, although John saw few fish, surprisingly. This green corridor takes you to the M5, where the canal is often below the teeming road traffic, surrounded by a forest of massive concrete columns.

Reaching Smethwick Locks, we found them closed due to a gate failure yesterday. Ho hum, we should have checked. CRT advised using Spon Lane locks to Bromford Junction with Telford's Main Line lower down. to reach Birmingham.  

Retracing our steps, we descended Spon Lane locks, which need a grass and towpath maintenance team badly. The towpath is overgrown, with a large bush/tree toppled over it on this very overgrown unmaintained section including the bottom and middle locks. Get a grip, CRT!

We saw the waterbus as we were mooring by the Oozells Loop, near the Old Turn to the Farmers Bridge flight of locks. After a rest and a walk, our old friend Michael came to take us out for a meal at 

Saturday 10 September in Birmingham (0 miles)

At 11am we watched King Charles III proclaimed as King at St James' Palace. Later, we walked around the city centre, recently modernised for the Commonwealth Games. It was very striking, with large public spaces and pedestrianised streets, plus the new tram system.

Up the Severn to Worcester and the Droitwich canals JUST HEADINGS

 Saturday 20 August Tewkesbury to Worcester

Sunday 21 August Worcester to the Eagle & Sun, Hanley

Monday 22 August The Eagle & Sun to Vines Park moorings, Droitwich

Tuesday 23 August Vines Park , the Barge Canal and up the Severn to Stourport

Wednesday 24 August at Stourport

Up the River Avon and down again with Min and Angela JUST HEADINGS


Monday 8 August Tewkesbury to Pershore (12 miles, 3 locks)

Tuesday 9 August Pershore to Evesham (11 miles, 3 locks)

We moored opposite Abbey Park, before Workman Bridge.

Wednesday 10 August Evesham to Bidford-on-Avon (7 miles, 4 locks)

We moored on The Frog Inn mooring, as the recreation ground moorings opposite were full. This mooring was fine!

Thursday 11 August Bidford-on-Avon to Stratford-on-Avon (10 miles, 6 locks)

We spotted a shady mooring under trees opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and next to the hand-winched passenger chain ferry, ideal in this very hot weather.

Friday 12 - Monday 15 August at Stratford, sheltering from the sun

Tuesday 16 August Stratford-on-Avon to Bidford-on-Avon (10 miles, 6 locks)

Wednesday 17 August Bidford-on-Avon to Evesham (7 miles, 4 locks)

Thursday 18 August Evesham to Pershore (11 miles, 3 locks)

Friday 19 August Pershore to Tewkesbury (12 miles, 3 locks)

Thursday 4 August 2022

Down the River Severn with Karen and Nick

 Wednesday 20 July Stourport-on-Severn to Worcester (9 locks, 13 miles)

Up at 5.45am, we reached Stourport at 9.30am. John’s flowers had survived the heat wave, miraculously. Did some unknown person water them? If so, thank you! The three extra replacement planters were added to the roof display.

We moved Annie down York Street lock to use the services in the basin and water the plants using our bucket. Nick and Karen had set off at 8am, but their Sat Nav took them a funny way. We had breakfasts at The Windlass Cafe (close to the Tontine hotel/flats). They arrived just in time to do the same!

Once LIDL had been visited and car unloaded, Liana walked to the narrow staircase locks where Nick tried his hand at steering, negotiating the first double staircase and avoiding a boat coming up the other staircase, in the curved pound between  - not easy in a wind! We descended the second staircase and Nick took Annie onto the river.

John helped a bit at the huge Lincomb River Lock, where you need to secure ropes at bow and stern around vertical wire “risers” set into the lock side walls about every twenty feet.

We cruised this beautiful day through Holt Lock, past the Droitwich Barge Canal to Bevere Lock, and on the last few miles to Worcester, where John turned Annie and let Liana off at the lock pontoon before we went up the two locks into Diglis Basin at Worcester.

We moored after the water point, just off the basin.

Thursday 21 July Worcester to Tewkesbury (17 miles, 4 locks)

We had a pleasant morning walking around the town, ending up with coffee at  the Diglis Hotel riverside.

Volunteers helped us down the two locks, then we soon reached Diglis River Locks. After this, it is a straight run downriver to Tewkesbury, passing working aggregate barges on the way. Upton moorings were full, so we didn't stop this time.

Passing up the Avon Navigation Trust lock at Tewkesbury, we moored just above, paying the £5 overnight fee.

Friday 22 July Tewkesbury to Gloucester (14 miles, 3 locks)

After breakfast we all headed into town to enjoy the tudoresque buildings, the ancient Abbey and finished at Cafe Chocolat for a  treat!

Saturday 23 July in Gloucester

Sunday 24 July Gloucester to Saul Junction (8 miles, 0 locks)

Monday 25 July Saul Junction to Slimbridge (4 miles, 0 locks)

Tuesday 26 July Slimbridge Wetlands Centre

Wednesday 27 July at Slimbridge

Thursday 28 July back to Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Friday 29 - Sunday 31 July visiting the family

Monday 1 August Slimbridge to Sharpness (4 miles, 0 locks)

Tuesday 2 August Sharpness to Slimbridge (4 miles, 0 locks)

Wednesday 3 August Slimbridge to Saul Junction (4 miles, 0 locks)

Thursday 4 August Saul junction to Gloucester (8 miles, 0 locks)

Friday 5 August in Gloucester Docks

Saturday 6 July Gloucester to Haw Tree Inn mooring (8.5 miles, 1 lock)

Sunday 7 July Haw Tree Inn to Tewkesbury (5.5 miles, 2 locks)

A week away from Annie

 Tuesday 12 July - Tuesday 19 July away from Annie

Leaving Annie moored above York Street Lock and Stourport Basin, we walked, bussed to Kidderminster, by train to Birmingham Moor Street station, walked to New Street station,, train to Rugby and walk to car at Tesco’s. Had a McDonalds for lunch, then visited  the newish North Kilworth Marina on our way to Foxton  Locks. Later we spent the evening at Rachel’s, where she made us a delicious meal (Sarah was at her leaving do). Liana won (just) at Settlers of Catan before we drove home.

The next few days saw us catching up with gardening at home, plus bell ringing for John.

Saturday 16 July

Retford & Worksop Boat Club work day. It was hot, but John spent his time strimming long grass while Liana was making bacon butties, which were very well received!! Popped into McDonalds for a drink and ice cream on the way back.

Sunday 17 July 

Liana walked early with Honeypie while it was cool. John rang at Claxby church before attending the service at our local church, where visiting ringers rang a tidy quarter peal. As the next two days are forecast scorching, we decided to stay at home with Honeypie. John got a mooring extension from CRT.

Monday 18 July

Ridiculously hot. All doors, windows and curtains closed, but it still reached 28 degrees in the hall.

John drove to doctors at 2pm. He may have a kidney infection.

Tuesday 19 July 

Lianas finished Hope’s dress and braved the heat to post it.

Coningsby, Lincolnshire reached 40.3 degrees!

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Shugborough Hall visit Monday 5 July

Shugborough Hall

 This is a National Trust property, once owned by the Anson family, famous for Admiral George Anson and, latterly, the photographer Patrick Lichfield.  It is a short walk from Haywood Lock. We crossed the River Trent to the hall by the ancient pack horse bridge. As NT members, entry was free.

We queued for the house tour, limited to 16 people. The house was otherwise mostly closed due to lack of volunteers to supervise, sadly. However, our guide was excellent and informative, plus she let us take pictures. The main rooms are impressive, as you can see below.

The NT experts discovered that these classical ruins were painted using distemper by theatre set painters!

There were two librarians / restorers working on the books.

Here is some information.

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

Tuesday 5 July Deptmore Lock to Penkridge (4.5 miles, 5 locks)

A beautiful view of Canada Geese, ducks and cattle greeted us at breakfast, as we ate pains chocolat below Deptmore Lock. An Andersen Boats hire boat passed us as we were readying to leave, so Liana popped up to the lock to help them. A hire boat crew above came to help. Liana had to remind them not to open all the top paddles without checking with the skipper of the boat in the lock (a good point as I did get pulled towards the top gate even with half raised paddles).

Acton Trussell (our friend Angela’s favourite place) had less beautiful gardens full of flowers than we expected.

At Teddesley Lock and wharf, there is a chandlers again. 

We crossed over with more hire boats up Shutt Hill, Park Gate (the chandlers is open again), Broom and Penkridge locks.

 After using the Elsan at the services just above the last lock, we moored on the right and walked into town as the sun shone. After visiting a few of the decent shops there, we sat outside at the Littleton Arms. Liana had good coffee and John had a couple of the excellent Dystopian beer brewed locally.

After watching Djokovic beat Sinner after being two sets down, we went for another walk before returning to Annie for  beef teriyaki and rice, followed by more Wimbledon. John started reading Inkheart, having seen the film some time ago.

Wednesday 6 July Penkridge Market and on to Gailey and The Anchor Inn, Coven

Today is the day for Penkridge’s large market, held largely under cover. We had a good look around before having a coffee on the way back to the boat. 

Setting off uphill, we passed Filance lock and Otherton Boat Haven. 

The noisy M6 keeps close company for a mile. Four more locks bring you to the relative calm of Gailey lock and it’s Roundhouse. 

Here we had arranged to meet our splendid nephew Ted, who works  as a qualified boat driver on the canals, here and at Dudley Tunnel. We had a good chat and catch-up around lunchtime.

Thursday 7 July Coven to The Bratch and on to The Round Oak, Wombourne ( 10 miles, 10 locks)

Cloudy skies started the day, as we left the Anchor. The six boats that arrived later last night all left quite early. 

From Coven, we soon passed under the M45 into countryside,  to the narrow through sandstone rock, called Pendeford Rockin’ by the old boatmen. At nine feet wide, apart from one or two passing places, we were lucky not to meet oncoming traffic!

Once past Autherley Junction, the end of the Shropshire Union Canal, we stopped at Oxley’s boatyard and filled up with 120 litres of diesel at £1.40. We left a bit of expansion room, as it is supposed to get hot this weekend.

The overgrown canal passes Aldersley Junction, with its flight of 21 locks up to Wolverhampton, to Compton Lock, where you can moor and shop nearby.

We crossed over with boats at the Wightwick locks. We have visited the NT Wightwick Manor here before.

After Dimmingsdale and Ebstree locks, we passed at idling speed our biggest fishing competition, 64 Wolverhampton Angling Club members at their annual event, all the way past Awntidge lock to The Bratch locks! We got lots of thumbs up and a few brief chats from appreciative anglers.

The Bratch was our biggest surly today - no supervising CRT lock keepers at all! We stopped the boater ahead of us flooding the flight. He told us he was dyslexic and couldn’t read the CRT instructions. We read them together and descended the flight carefully, helping each other. John rang Andy at West Midlands CRT to report the lack of staff. He was aware, and said simply that some days they couldn’t cover The Bratch with volunteers. John explained how these locks are very different to other lock flights, similar but not the same as this at Foxton and Watford, and how they are potentially lethal without expert guidance. He said he would report  my comments to a higher level, so maybe something will be done before a serious incident occurs. Plus, a swarm of bees passed over us!

Once past the bee hives at the scenic Bumblehole Lock, we moored at The Round Oak to have a meal with our niece Tebecca, John and their family Annabelle and Dougie.

Friday 8 July Wombourne to Stewponey Wharf lock (6 miles, 8 locks)

Soon after setting out, we stopped by the Waggon and Horses pub for Liana to shop in nearby Sainsbury’s, while John added the last oil to the engine.

Swindon had some pretty gardens. Some locks have interesting ornamental bywashes.

All this section of the canal is quite scenic, if rather overgrown in places. John stopped Annie and gave one or two weeping willows haircuts to help boaters navigate and avoid losing stuff from the roof!

We followed NB Hodmadod ( which is snail in Norfolk dialect!) down the Botterham double staircase locks.

Just after the quiet and pretty Stourton Junction up to Stourbridge, we moored above Stewponey lock to see family.

We were delighted to have a visit from Liana’s brother David and wife Ashleigh at Stewponey lock, with their little Jack Russell, Danny.

Saturday 9 July Stewponey Wharf to Kidderminster (7 miles, 7 locks, 2 short tunnels)

We were up and at ‘em today! John had added oil to engine and gear box, and we were through two locks by 0815. 

Dunsley tunnel is only 25 yards long!

We have forgotten how this whole length to Kidderminster is a rocky terrace close to the river Stour, much of it narrow.

We hardly met a boat until past Cookley. Hyde lock has a lovely setting, improved by two friendly horse riders passing. 

Kinver lock is right next to the Vine pub, and we have moored just below it before. 

Debdale lock is on a sharp corner, just after the 65 yard long Cooley tunnel.

 Wolverley lock has the Lock pub one side and a little cafe on the other. Once through Wolverley Court lock the valley broadened out as we approached Kidderminster.

The towpath here is being improved with asphalt.

We moored Annie in our favoured spot, on the green below the church, close to Kidderminster lock.

We had a walk in the sun around the town centre, where there are lots of charity shops, fast food places and shopping centres, but we only bought a large Costa cappuccino to share. We did find a statue of Rowland Hill, initiator of the penny post in about 1840.

Back on Annie, we watched the Russian/Kazakhstan girl beat Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian.

Sunday 10 July at Kidderminster. The Severn Valley Railway 

Today is John’s brother Phillip’s Birthday. Happy Birthday, Bro! We FaceTimed Phil and sang Happy Birthday.
This sunny day we walked the half mile across town to the railway stations to catch the first steam train at 1000. Two £25  Day Rover tickets allowed us to stop and get off anywhere. We decided to head for Bridgenorth and visit the town first. The trip up the Severn Valley is very scenic, with one long tunnel near Kidderminster and pretty stations at Arles and Highley, where there is the Engine Shed Museum.
At Bridgenorth, we walked into town over a high pedestrian walkway and had a decent lunch in Wetherspoons. Later, we stopped at Highley where John visited the museum and photographed engines.

Back at Kidderminster, we chilled and watched tv, including the Wimbledon mens final, F1 Grand Prix and womens international football.

Monday 11 July Kidderminster to Stourport (4.5 miles, 3 locks)
Awake about 0830, John got Annie sorted outside and we were through Kidderminster lock by about 0900, once an oncoming boat had passed by.

Followed by another boat, we passed through windy and fairly overgrown shady cuttings, cooler than in the bright sunshine. We moored on the five day moorings above York Street Lock, which give shade morning and early afternoon. 
 Walking to the basins, we had breakfast and coffee at The Windlass cafe, by the Tontine apartments, which dominate the basins. A Tontine was an arrangement where a number of people own a building, and the eventual sole surviving owner gets sole ownership rights! Potential there for murderous acts?

We enjoyed watching the noise and excitement of a schools canoe regatta on the river, with keenly contested races.

Later, we returned to Annie for shade, reading, cups of tea, plus a cold beer for John!