Monday, 15 September 2008

September Cruise - Day Four

Monday 15 September

After a quick visit to the village shop, we left our moorings at Catherine de Barnes just before 8am. I was at the tiller; limited movement from the rest of the crew! The canal follows a cutting through the Solihull, so there's not much to see. Two and a half hours brought us to the top of the Camp Hill Locks, where we reversed into the little basin to fill with water at the BW facilities block. Then it was down the locks, (back to narrow ones, thank goodness), crossing with a couple of hire boats coming up.

The takes a strange loop, the result of a road scheme, which puts the two forms of transport right next to each other. There's also lots of graffitti all over the place. The bottom lock is next to Bordesley Junction, where the Saltley Cut goes off to the right. We continued on the Grand Union, through Warwick Bar, and took a quick spin into Typhoo Basin (there's not much to see!). Then it was on to the Digbeth Branch, and up the six Ashted Locks. These had the advantage of single gates at both ends, and there are attractive reedy pounds. The problem is that none of the locks are on the same line, so lining up properly is almost impossible.

We stopped for lunch at the top of the locks, then made the short journey to Aston Junction, to turn onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal towards the Farmer's Bridge Flight. A boat was just going into the bottom lock, and apparently hadn't enjoyed their trip down the locks. I told them it was one of my favourite flights!

A little way up the flight, I could hear paddles being wound, but couldn't see a boat. Then I spotted a man in a suit, carrying a windlass. "Are you Paul?", I asked. And it was: Paul Balmer, from Waterway Routes, who'd been reading the blog and came to help us up the flight! There are some unusual locks, with some under bridges and a couple under a tower block.

Paul was also helping a couple of New Zealanders, readers of his blog, who were on their way down. We crossed in one of the smallest pounds of the flight. Thanks to Paul's help, we completed the thirteen locks of the Farmer's Bridge in just an hour and a quarter, and were soon at the top.

After a quick cuppa, Paul then took me for a look at his boat, and we were for a cruise round the Icknield Port Loop so I could experience electric powered boating. The silence and smoothness make it ideal for the filming Paul does.

In the evening, Adrian and I went to pick up take away burgers from the Gourmet Burger Company, which we took back to the boat. No TV signal here, so we've been watching the DVD of the Llangollen Canal, which Paul kindly gave us. All in all, a fascinating day, through some interesting industrial heritage, with the added excitement of meeting a fellow blogger!

11 miles, 25 locks. (Totals: 36 miles, 73 locks)


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

Great to meet you at last.

I could hardly resist the challenge you set in the comments on the No Problem blog at

I just hope Sue & Vic don't expect me to wear a suit and tie for helping them back up Rothersthorpe.

I'm glad the Llangollen Canal DVD is proving useful already.

I'll have to catch up on my blogging tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear that your cruise is going well. Our paths well and truly won't cross now - we've gone south (down the tidal Severn) and you've gone north! Hopefully we'll see you next September...
Sue, Indigo Dream