Thursday, 28 December 2017

Back to the Marina

Today's Canals - Worcester and Birmingham, Droitwich

It was a bright blue sky that greeted us as we awoke and which stayed with us all until nightfall.

However, this also meant that everything overnight had frozen and, somewhat to our surprise, we had to break ice almost all day. There were some gaps in the more sheltered spots and it was only a few millimetres thick so broke reasonably easily.

First came the two single locks, starting with Blackpole and followed by Tolladine.

At the edges of the canal the ice is caught in the grass or reeds and cannot go up and down as the water level changes - either in short pounds when locks are filled or emptied, or in longer pounds where the effect of the boat is to create a wave as the prop pulls water from under the boat and pushes it out behind.

After a gap we reached the bottom of the Offerton flight of six locks, all close together. With the sun still low in the sky, there were still icy patches alongside the locks to catch the unwary.

Alongside Lock 12 we could see this odd looking building and were unable to work out why it was there, unusually tall and thin. Later, looking at modern and older maps a hydraulic pump is marked here.

Unusually, the lock house is alongside the next lock to the top of the flight - normally it is found at one end of a flight or the other - sometimes both.

Once through the top lock and immediately under the motorway we had a level four miles until Hanbury Junction.

Along the way we passed through Dunhampstead Tunnel. As it is a comparatively large bore and only a couple of hundred metres in length, there is plenty of light - so much that we forgot to turn on the headlight until half way! We only passed one moving boat all day - typically that was as we both reached a bridge hole.

By the time we arrived at Hanbury Junction it was almost lunch time so we stopped on the landing above the top lock.

After lunch - the second part of yesterday's soup - we worked down the three remaining locks before turning into the marina. The ice on the canal here seemed not to have been broken at all today and so the turn was unusually difficult - the boat turning sideways does not break the ice easily, unlike when taking it head on. The marina itself was free of ice and so before long we were snugly tucked up on our berth and reconnected to the services.

After a cup of tea we drove into town to do some food shopping at Morrisons.

7.0 Miles - 11 Locks

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