Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Three flights

Two possible routes were available to reach our planned destination of Warwick.  We could cruise via the Worcs & Birmingham and the Stratford on Avon Canals to Kingswood Junction which involves completing the 20 locks of the Lapworth flight immediately before Kingswood Junction.  The alternative route is via the Birmingham & Fazeley and Grand Union Canals.  This involves 30 locks, five of which are broad.  In the end we opted for the latter route.  Primarily because it would enable us to stop at the top of the Camp Hill flight and walk to the JR Footwear shop in Small Heath.  This is where Ray and Diane (nb Ferndale) purchased their Northwest Territory boots for winter boating.

The weather was slightly misty as we departed our mooring outside the NIA.  Morning joggers were out along with office workers using the towpath to get to work.  The was no sun which made it rather dull.

The first set of locks is the Farmers Bridge Flight (13 locks).  Immediately above the top lock is the old Tollhouse.

For much of the flight the locks were against us and then we met a CRT employee coming up the locks who informed Jan there were two boats going down the flight in front of us.  We had just passed the halfway point when a working boat appeared from the opposite direction.  I was confident the steerer would know what to do in the confined space between the two locks but apparently my confidence was misplaced because Jan started shouting “Stop!” The working boat had come too far out of the lock preventing me from slipping to port.  If I hadn’t stopped we would have had a head on collision.  Eventually everything got sorted and we managed to pass.

Yesterday I took a photo of the BT Tower from the top of the library.

Today I managed to take a quick photo from the opposite direction.

Thirteen locks done, we cruised past the Ashton Junction heading to the second set of locks, the Ashted Flight of 6.

Ashton Junction with the Ashted Locks straight ahead

The flight includes two tunnels, one of which is rather tight.  The tunnel roof slowly started to get lower and I didn’t notice it until a grinding sound could be heard.  It took several seconds for me to realise the sound was the top of the external mobile phone aerial dragging along the roof of the tunnel.  I pulled it lower but in doing so got my eyes splattered with brick grit.

Jan didn’t get much sleep last night and was quite tired so we settled into a locking routine where I would go forward to set up the next lock whilst she finished the lock and watched Waiouru. 

There is some extensive redevelopment being done on both sides of the canal.  Jan believes it’s an extension to Birmingham University.

New and old

There is a sharp left turn at Digbeth Junction. 

If you go straight ahead it’s a dead end in Typhoo Basin.  Immediately around the corner are a couple of stop locks that are usually open with an adjacent former loading bay covered by a dilapidated building.

Entering the stop locks

We arrived at the bottom of Camp Hill Locks (six locks) to find it in our favour only to see a lady appear at the far end of the lock and turn it against us! <Oh well… we’re not in a hurry!>  Jan walked up to the lock to help the lady by closing the top gate and then emptying the lock.  The lady then walked off leaving Jan to open both lower gates so their boat could exit the lock.  Jan then politely asked “Are you going to help me open the gates?”  The lady then returned and help.  Their boat exited the lock and the lady then proceeded to start closing the gate in my face.  <???????>  No…… It was not a hire boat!

It was well past lunch time when we reached the CRT facilities block at the top of the flight.  One boat was moored on the water point with his water tank overflowing and two other boats were moored on the opposite side.  We managed to half fit Waiouru onto the last piece of vacant wharf with her bow sticking out into the winding hole.  These are 24 hour moorings but I don’t think we’ll create any problems for the other two boats moored here because they told Jan they had been moored on the facilities for the last three months.

After lunch we walked a kilometre into Small Heath to visit JR Footwear.  This is where Ray and Diane (nb Ferndale) went to buy their Northwest Territory boaters leather boots.  Joneses luck for us.  They only had one pair of men’s size 7 boots with steel toecaps in stock!  The local Morrisons was just around the corner so we seized the opportunity to top up the pantry.  Opposite the supermarket was an interesting old building.

Above the main door are inscribed the words “Free Library”.  However after looking it up on wikipedia it’s now a mosque. Ray had mentioned in their blog that the area is very Islamic.  What he didn’t mention was the huge amount of litter.  The locals must like living on a rubbish dump!  It reminded me of my various trips to the Third World.

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