Saturday 8 August 2020


 Today's Canals - Stratford, Grand Union

At last the promised heatwave arrived but at least we avoided sunburn as the first half of the day was through shaded woodland.

Before setting off. Mike walked up to the main road at Bridge 5 for a paper from the Co-Op. Close by is the Yardley Wood Bus Garage. Much of the frontage looks as if it is a company head office, but what lies behind is betrayed only by the vehicle entrance at one end. Looking at a aerial view it can be seen that the brick building is only a small fraction of the total. It opened in November 1938 it what at the time what a quiet and green area outside Birmingham and surrounded by fields!

We set off by 8:30 for a day with two distinct halves, The first part, taking us close to lunch time, was a level run, mostly shaded by trees which hid the urban sprawl that mostly lay behind the greenery.

About 45 minutes later we arrived at Shirley Drawbridge. A powered lift bride which usually carries significant local traffic, so much that in recent times the immediate approaches were modified so that single handers could work through with much less delay that would otherwise be the case. Even so, most boaters make guesses on how many cars they will hold up. alas for us, the road today was temporarily closed and can only be used by pedestrians and cyclists - and we bagged exactly none! Jess wielded the key of power, following the instructions beside the controls.

This block of apartments was apparently designed by someone or for a developer that wanted to make it look as if it was once a genuine old wharf. Alas, it fools no-one and just looks fake,

A young heron eyed us warily as we passed by.

At Earlswood Motor Yacht Club, the new club house seems to have been finished - last time we passed this way it was still under construction.

At Bridge 20 we stopped long enough for Jess and Christine to pop to Wedges Bakery. They returned with delicious cakes, a loaf of bread and some eggs.

The towpath bridge at Hockley Heath marks a short arm that once served an important coal wharf (the pub still bears its name)

There are two manual lift bridges before Lapworth Locks but the first one was operated by a boat crew just ahead but they were keen to get on with the locks so we let them leave the second one to us. Jess managed to wind it all the way up - no mean achievement for anyone - and most of the way day but Mike lent a hand for the last but as a farmer in his tractor was patiently waiting to cross over.

It was still not quite lunch time when we arrived at the top of the flight - the lock is rather confusing numbered 2 as the number 1 lock is the guillotine stop lock at the start of the canal.

After the second lock the pound is sufficiently long to be considered a mooring spot and we were able to find the one bit of shade, even if hammering in pins was rather an effort!

After lunch we continued down the flight - smooth progress only interrupted by a couple of boats that were a bit confused by passing in the very short pounds. Some of the locks are also strangely aligned as the canal passes in a far from straight line.

Also, the sun was very much in the wrong direction for taking photos - but that at least saves you ,. dear reader, from having to wade through photos of lock after lock!

We were able to buy chilled medication from the small shop two thirds of the way down . chilled because it is iced and medication because it made us feel much better!

Fewer boats around now and we really whizzed down the last part of the flight, working in a well-drilled team, each with their own role to play. Jess is able to make a real contribution to our speed but all three of us found the paddles hard to work, much more so than we recall from last autumn. Also, the heat seemed to have driven the volunteer lockies away!

At the final lock we went straight ahead even though we were aiming to turn left towards the Grand Union. This was so that we could call at the services, empty elsan and fill the water tank (the rubbish bins are at the last lock)

Servicing completed we were then able to pass along the short link to Kingswood Junction where we turned right to travel southwards towards Hatton - but that is for tomorrow. The plan set first thing this morning was to moor as soon as we turned the junction but whilst we were servicing, Christine recalled that one of our favourite moorings at Rowington is not far away so we carried on for another half an hour. This spot was completely deserted - unlike the earlier Tom O' The Wood which was packed.

Time then to turn our attention to preparing the meal - much of it done by Jess who is rapidly becoming a keen cook. A little earlier she started on a mint and lemon tea drink, which then was allowed to mature. But now she turned to a pizza. Cheating a little compared with how they make them at home, we used up a packet pizza base and we had bought a jar of topping at Droitwich. Jess was keen to use a particular cooking tip that she had picked up (heating the pan in the oven before transferring the fully made pizza later) However, we had rolled out the base quite thinly and not thought through what we needed to transfer it. IN the end it turned into a calzone which was actually quite a positive bonus. Mike made a green salad and everything easily disappeared at meal time, accompanied by the completed cordial.

12.5 Miles - 19 Locks

1 comment:

  1. Glad you partook of chilled medication. The only thing to do. We may have to raid the on board stock today as it is so muggy hiding inside with most doors closed keeping Tilly away from the roads in Selby. Stay cool.