Back to Wigrams via Warwick

Sunday, 24 June 2012

We arrived back in the marina on Thursday 21 June after a really good trip during which we met some great people. We travelled with nb Shear Maddness crewed by Mervyn and Sophia down the Hatton flight and also up the Stockton flight. Its so muh easier to travel in pairs through the wide locks. We had to wait for half an hour at the top of Hatton for them to turn up. Not wasted time as we had a sausage and a bacon sandwich in the cafe- I also had a cappuchino which was excellent- now that was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

We also introduced them to the Saltisford Arm as we had nb Friendship-Stan and Sheila on our way up to Birmingham-who we also met on our second visit as they returned from Stratford on their way back to Milton Keynes.The six of us all walked into Warwick (only 10minutes away) and had an excellent Italian meal together. We stayed for two nights (first free then £4 per night plus electric if required) during which we visited Stratford upon Avon by bus-first time use of bus passes.The lock keeper on the Lapworth flight had said how crowded it was due to The River Avon being closed- and it was.

We had two really bad days- one in which we boated up the Hatton flight the other we stayed put with the fire alight -in total our short trip to Birmingham entailed - 130 locks and 79 miles

Dredging work on the old narrow lock to improve water flow through the flight at Radford Bottom Lock

There was a lot of water flowing down the 21 Hatton locks

Our mooring just past bridge 62 on the embankment. There are only a few nice moorings between Lapworth and Hatton top  lock.

Entering Shrewley tunnel with the towpath going through above us on the right.

Had to include a picture of the classic barrel roofed cottage on the Stratford upon Avon canal at Kingswood junction
Sign at the basin in Stratford - the average lock/miles for all the above is 3.6 lock/miles per hour. Now that is some going as our average over the last 8 years has only been 2.5 lock/miles per hour.

The start of the canal restoration movement. The canal was first owned by The National Trust but taken over by British Waterways in1988.

Old bridges still mark the entrances to long forgotten wharfs near Gas Street Basin Birmingham

Going past Brindley Place on the right. Through the bridge in the distance is Gas Street Basin

Our mooring was on the right near the NIA. 
A panoramic view of Stratford basin from the bridge over the canal as it enters the basin. The lock down onto the river is behind the boats on the left.

Moored near Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Thursday, 14 June 2012

It was an early start 07.00 on Wednesday morning for our final dash into Gas Street Basin. The BW man on Lapworth flight recommended not to moor past the lift bridge 8 at Major's Green until you reach Gas Street basin. So we covered 15 miles in 6 hours, so to get here we have done in total 65 locks of which 19 were narrow and 41 miles in 6 days. Tomorrow we start our return journey weather permitting.

It was well worth the effort as the centre of the UK canal network is very good although it can be noisy near Worcester Bar. We are moored near The Sea Life Centre just past the entrance to the Oozells Loop. Although subject to a major redevelopment there are a few parts of the old still around, with some of the new buildings trying to recreate the old.

Some images of the trip in

Something you would expect on The Thames near Canary Wharf- this development is at Dickens Heath on the North Stratford canal

I do like junctions as they always have an air of excitement on the journey. This is Kings Norton Juction where the Stratford meets the Worcester & Birmingham Canal with its Junction House.

As you approach Edgbaston you can see the Italian style tower of the University called "Old Joe"

Approaching Worcester Bar which used to be a stop lock protecting the water between two independent canal companies. In the late 1700's all goods used to be transferred between narrow boats of different companies.Gas Street Basin is on the right.

Old Turn Junction or Malt House mini roundabout. We came in from the right and are moored behind me, straight ahead is Farmers Bridge lock flight.
Some of the old buildings are still around

This is at the restored Moor Street Station, closed by Beeching in the late 1960's and reopened by Chiltern Rail in 2003 as it used to be,for which it won several awards. The loco is a GWR 2-8-0 which would have run through the station in BR steam days.

We went to see a most unusual National Trust property. A group of back to back houses giving a glimpse of life from 1830's to 1930's- well worth a visit and only 200 metres from the Bullring Shopping Centre
A view down Farmers Bridge locks which are the start of the Birmingham and Fazely Canal

Hatton and Lapworth lock flights

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

We came up to the boat last Wednesday after the Jubilee but the bad weather kept us tied to the pontoon for a few days.During this time we went to the Bicester Shopping Village, the GWR Society at Didcot and by car to Warwick to meet some friends-it took 30 minutes.We finally left on Saturday and managed a few fine days to get us as far as the Saltisford Arm at Warwick-this took us 2 days!-an excellent place to stay close to the centre. With the help of nb Friendship we went up the Hatton flight of 21 wide locks in the pouring rain on Monday. Tuesday was much improved and we then went our own way up the Lapworth flight towards our destination-Birmingham for the first time.

An interesting piece of history in the GWR museum at Didcot- as they did own the Kennet & Avon Canal

Looking back up the Stockton flight of wide locks with the old narrow lock on the right hand side acting as an over spill now. The large white cylinders are the hydraulics for the paddles which do take some effort - but were originally going to be automatic but they ran out of money in the mid 1930's

Working boats at the Warwickshire Fly Boat yard near the Kays Arm

Our mooring for Saturday evening at Long Itchington
A lovely lock cottage as you approach bridge 32/lock 7 on the Lapworth flight

Mid way up the middle section of the Lapworth flight with two boats coming down

Now it takes all sorts- this is different perhaps a stealth boat

We stopped last night -Tuesday at Hockley Heath-one canal guide described it as featureless-its claim to fame now is that it has a Rolls Royce/McLaren cars garage.

Another one of my pet theories is that caravans are taking over the canals-but the plants do look nice.

Jubilee Thames Pageant

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What a fantastic weekend of television. We watched the Thames Pageant on Sunday and managed to get these photos of the event. They really give a flavour of the day and also shows how bad the weather became towards the end of the day. A really tough and wonderfull day for all those afloat on the river, made easier by the fact that the Thames Barrier was closed all day and therefore they didn't have to fight the tide as well.

The LMS Princess Royal Class loco - Princess Elizabeth which was on Chelsea Railway bridge to start the Pageant

War Horse on the roof of The National Theatre South Bank

The start of the Pageant with Gloriana leading with man powered craft behind and the Royal Barge on the right just about to move off.

A picture on the side of Sea Container House

The weather closes in

The People's Monarch-BBC SE art project

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Really looking forward to watching the Thames Pageant on the television tomorrow and keeping everything crossed that the weather is not to bad for everybody taking part.

The BBC South East has organised a giant artwork made up of 5000 photographs submitted by members of the public to create a unique portrait of the Queen to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. It has been on display in the Towner Art Museum in Eastbourne. It is fantastic and the story's of the people who have submitted the pictures very moving indeed.

Bridge100 Oxford Canal

We have been busy over the last month with visits to the dentist for Anne and hospital for me to finally sort out my prescription for my right eye to stop the double vision following my latest bit of laser surgery. All is now well and looking good for both of us. We did manage to get a few days last week on the boat in the glorious sunshine. During which we did our usual short cruise into Braunston with stops near bridge 100 and 103 for R&R and jobs. In fact we washed, T cut, polished and sealed the boat both sides- that's 8 times 50ft=400ft of boat!

Hotel boats Duke and Duchess passed with a full load of customers

A picture taken from the old LNWR Weedon to Leamington Spa line which marched across the landscape in straight lines. Compare that to how the canal winds its way through the landscape.