Day 76 now back in Wigrams

Thursday, 19 June 2008

We had a very nice last few days- warm sunshine but chilly evenings and therefore no BBQ - going up the remaining 25 wide locks to our marina and sailed onto our berth at 15.15 on Monday 16 June after 76 days, 29 lift bridges, 297 narrow locks, 46 wide locks, 5 river locks and 468 miles.

Memorable events increased to 15 the last two being:-

1. The people we have met on our travels have been from all sorts of backgrounds, interest, countries and they all have great stories to tell and show what a friendly group of people use the canals- we only met a few grumpy ones!
2. The small shops that we have visited on the trip have provided some wonderfull meat, pies, vegetables, cakes and chutneys .

Cappuccinos - I only managed to have 20 which reflects that we still have a long way to go to get excellent coffee around the country. There are some very large areas in which there is no good coffee available!

Its now time to spend the summer ( hopefully) at home with our next trip planned for a visit to Berkhampstead in September 08. So come back to check out whats happening. I will keep my quest for cappuccinos and will come up with something else!

I hope you enjoyed following our trip as much as I did doing the blog posts.

On way back to Wigrams

The locks that take the Grand Union out of the River Avon valley and back towards Napton and our marina are very modern in canal terms being built in the mid 1930's when the Grand Union Canal Company widened the single locks on the route from London to Birmingham and installed hydraulic paddles (the large black and white things) that are now very hard work. The plan was to eventually make them automatic but the money ran out.

Anne multi tasking on our way up the locks.

Another view of the impressive Bascote staircase locks with a group of 8th year school children from Northumberland coming down.

Our final nights mooring Sunday near Long Itchington on the Grand Union

A narrowboat with a large collection of old tyres to ensure that the many hire boats that pass this way do not get near to it

Day 74 in and around Warwick

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Totals to day 74 which includes our day in Warwick and our trip down the Hatton flight yesterday- Friday;-

Memorable events now 13 latest being "breasted up" down the Hatton flight - see below
Cappuccino's now 20 following our visit to Warwick a mecca compared to the last week - latest being Caffe Nero, Kozi Bar, Caffe Vergnano 1882 and Il Piccolino
Lift bridges 29 ,locks 323 and 452 miles

After Thursday rain Friday was sunny/cloudy for our trip down Hatton flight. NB Gwch (Welsh for boat or in South Wales a cuddle) came along after a 30 minute wait (without cappuccino as the cafe has changed hands). We started down the flight with the four of us making good progress but we decided to "breast up". This invloved roping the two boats together which then requires only one helmsman/woman. This worked very well but I have now great respect for the old working boatmen who would do this with fully loaded 70ft boats.They are like steering large slabs of concrete, they must have been real pigs when it was windy. We did the 21 locks in 3 hours.

We have now spent two days in Warwick which is a lovely city courtsey of the Saltisford Canal Centre. Its run by a voluntary organisation and provides excellent facilities in a tranquil environment less than 10 minutes from the centre.

We are leaving tomorrow morning for our last few days on the way back to base at Wigrams Turn Marina.

An eagle at the Warwick Caste falconary display

A building of the old gasworks that is now being restored. The towers at each end hide the gas holding tanks.

The excellent coffee at Caffe Vergnano

Coming down the Hatton flight or "the gate way to heaven" as the old boatmen used to call it

Quirky pictures

Another daft duck picture - at least this one doesn't run up and down the roof at 5am with hob nail boots on. How about this for a department of silly names, is it another name for stop smoking- saw it in Warwick

Spied this narrow boat towing a caravan on the way to the Hatton flight on the Grand Union canalSpotted at the bottom of the Hatton flight -A house for sale with an added something- a possible selling feature in the hard market!

Day 72 a wet journey down Lapworth flight

Thursday, 12 June 2008

We went down Lapworth flight in drizzle and heavy rain showers today in 4 hours - todays total is 19 locks and 3 miles. Although our rule is not to go if its raining , the forecast for today was sunny with a few showers!!!!! ah well as they say "a bad day boating is still better than a good day working.

Looking through the log our two other busy days have been Day 70 -Tardebigge 30 locks and 6 miles and Day 50 with Richard and Pip on the Llangollen 10 locks and 16 miles.

Totals now to Day 72 Thursday are
Memorable events 12, cappuccino's 16 ( oh would I like one soon - I wonder if the cafe at the top of Hatton flight is still open as 3 years ago they did a good capp)
Lift bridges 29, locks 302 and 446 miles

We are now 3 miles from the Hatton flight on the Grand Union canal and are back on ground we have covered before. Our final 3/4 days before we are back to our Marina and the end of our first big cruise.

Our mooring tonight near The Tom O'the Wood pub at Shrewley. The name comes from one of three old windmills that used to stand nearby. Although it looks nice it doesn't reflect the noise pollution from the M40 which is about half a mile away, although when we are inside you cannot hear it.

Anne steering part way down the Lapworth flight - it wasn't raining at the time

Another duck moment-Anne was sure she was going to eat the violas

Day 71 now at the top of the Lapworth flight

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

No 3g signal on our way up the Worcs & B'ham canal but some real sunshine which caused the engine to overheat as we entered Stoke Bottom Lock - after a bit of TLC and a good talking to it now seems to be behaving itself.

Totals to day 71 (Wednesday 11 June) are
Memorable events 12 and Cappucinno's 16 no recent changes to either
Lift bridges 28, wide river locks 5, narrow locks 278 and 443 miles

We left Worcester last Saturday and started our way up the W&B and towards its lock flights and tunnels. Our latest visitors were Ray and Lesley who are kindly looking after the house and came to join us as we went up the 5 Astwood locks in glorious sunshine on Monday.

Tuesday was the big one, we left Stoke Pound at 09.00 to go up the Tardebigge 30 arriving at the very top at 13.00 - the weather was sunny but not as warm as the previous day. Anne did marvellously developing her muscles as she did all the lock gates and paddles- while I just did the easy bit of getting the boat into the very very narrow lock chambers!

Today we left at 07.00 to complete the W&B last little gem the Wast Hill Tunnel (2726yards) around the outskirts of Kings Norton and then onto the Stratford Canal.

We just have the Lapworth 19 , the Hatton 21 ,the Stockton 8 plus a few others and we are back to our marina at Wigrams and home probably by the end of next week.

The defunct guillotine stop lock that separated the waters of the W&B from the Stratford's.

The top of the Tardebigge flight has a very special relationship with our current waterways. Its where in 1945 Mr Aickman met the author of "Narrowboat" Tom Rolt and founded the Inland Waterways Association. Without their foresight we would not have the system we have today- thank you both very much. ( if you enlarge the picture it states 1946 which Mr Aickman thought it was- it was in fact 1945 which was only corrected in August 2005 its 60th anniversary)

I was sitting in the cratch writing up the ships log when Daffy Duck appeared

The Tardebigge flight raises the canal over 250ft - this is the view part way up looking back over Worcestershire. You never really aprreciate the number of locks you are going up as you never see more than 5/6 at any one time.

Day 66 trip to Bridgenorth by train

Friday, 6 June 2008

Day 65 -Thursday was our trip down the River Severn where we entered the Worcester & B'ham canal and made our way up through 4 locks to the Viking Afloat marina where we have stayed for 2 nights. This enabled me to take Anne for a trip on the Severn Valley Railway from Kidderminster to Bridgenorth today.

Totals to Day 66(Friday) are:-

Memorable events now up to 12 latest being see below
Cappuccinos now 16 with Worcester being a mecca, I included Costa Coffee and The Quay Restaurant in which we had an excellent meal on Thursday watching the dragon boats training on the River.
Lift bridges 27, narrow locks 224, wide river locks 5 and 408 miles.

We have had 2 days ashore and therefore plan to start making our way up the Worcs & B'ham canal and the Tardebigge 36 on Saturday.

Earlstoke Manor no 7812 which took us on our journey which was fantastic as the trip to Bridgenorth involved the loco working very hard indeed.

We made our way from the station to Bridgenorth town via the cliff railway. The coaches were replaced by the very art deco style in 1954.

Bridgenorth town hall
The view along the Severn valley from the walk around town

Now this is a sight you don't often see from a steam train - an elephant in Kidderminster Safari Park which is my memorable event no12!!!

A better picture of the flood levels

The large grey plaque records the flood of 1672

Down the River Severn to Worcester

As we approached Worcester the Cathedral comes into view.

On the wall near the Cathedral are the flood levels with the river in the background. July 2007 was not as high as those in March 1947, March 1886 and 1672.

How about this for a building its in the shopping area and is Worcester Guildhall

The Tontine Hotel - Grade 1 listed built by the canal company in 1788 - which now is being converted to flats over looks the River Severn at Stourport.

Holt lock on the River Severn - rather larger than the narrow canal locks

A rather lovely house on the river

Day 64 now at Stourport

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The famous Clock Warehouse which strikes the quarter hour in Brindleys upper basin which is now used by the Stourport Yacht club

We have now finished our travels down the Staffs & Worcs and are now moored above York Street lock where I have an excellent 3g signal. Stourport is an inland harbour on the River Severn with very large motor cruisers in the basins. Its a very picturesque canal expecially around Kinver although 200 years ago it was a hive of activity with huge iron works of which only a few remnants remain.

Totals to day 64 Wednesday are now

Memorable events still only 11

Cappuccinos to date still only 14- nothing to add for either Kinver or Stourport - here's to Worcester.

Lift bridges 27, locks 217 and 394 miles.

The river looks like a pussy cat today so hopefully we shall run down to Worcester tomorrow morning and spend a few days in a marina to explore the area before starting our trip up the Worcs & B'ham canal which includes the Tardebigge flight of 36 narrow locks in 4 miles!!!!!!

The narrow staircase locks that we will need to go down to enter the Severn from the Clock basin tomorrow.

Towards Stourport

Today Wednesday was a really nice summer day after yesterdays rain and the Staffs & Worcs is really nice as we get near the Severn.

How about these houses at Cookley that have a canal in a tunnel running through their basement!

Caldwell Lock south of Kidderminster is a Lock with a very big Rock

This is 06.50 Wednesday morning with the sun burning off the early dew and creating a mist across the canal

A classic picture of Kidderminster lock and church

Just by chance we happened to go under the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster just as the 11.11 train went over- pulled by an 0-6-0 GWR pannier tank, although I got the picture Anne didn't get the number-can't get the staff

Day 61 above Bratch lock

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Totals to Day 61
Memorable events still only 11
Cappuccinos to date now 14 the latest being in The Mess at Brewood
Lift bridges 27, Locks 196 and 376 miles

We have only moved 2 miles and 3 locks today and have moored above Bratch locks pictured above. They are a group of 3 locks like a staircase but there is a small gap between each one so they have to be treated as separate locks( there is no room to pass another boat). Water passes between the locks into side pounds which controls the levels between each lock as you go up or down- very good piece of simple engineering.
We walked a half mile to the Old Station Tea Shoppe in Wombourne which served an excellent filter coffee and toasted bath bun (unfortunately no cappuccino). The station is ex South Staffordshire Railway/Great Western which is now on a long distance footpath.

We have decided to stay here tonight as I have an excellent Orange 3g signal so that I can post this entry, the last week has been very bad for a 3g signal. It is cloudy and warm but we have just had a heavy shower which has now stopped so I think its time to do a few jobs around the boat.

On our way down the Staffs & worcs

Our second NT house we have walked to from the boat. Wightwick Manor to the west of Wolverhampton on the Staffs & Worcs canal. Built by the Mander family at the end of the Victorian era and passed to the NT in the 1930s. It has a recognised collection of Wm Morris furnishings and pre Raphaelite art. Brewood (pronounced Brood) is alovely village with some great buildings. This is in the Market Square, Speedwell Castle a Gothic fantasy erected in the 1800's. They also have a coffee shop called The Mess which does good capps.

The old Cadbury milk wharf at High Onn has now been converted into a rather handsome house

Saw this narrow beam dutch barge at Wheaton Aston with an interesting figure head at the bow!