Sheepcote Street Bridge to Scarfield Hill Bridge 61, Worcester and Birmingham Canal
Mick popped out to stock up on bread and milk after breakfast and was back in time to greet Noel and Carolyn who’d popped over for a cuppa and guided tour of Oleanna before we headed off in different directions. Yesterday was really the first time we’d chatted to Carolyn and today she and I discovered each others crafting habits. Noel had had a look round Oleanna when we’d reached Crick last year, boxes of stuff piled high as we moved boats. Today he got the more homely version still with things piled high in places, but that’s just where those things live now. It was lovely to have met up with them and for Noel not to have been at work. Hopefully our paths will cross again later in the year.
No locks to do today, just a flat run out of Birmingham. My navigation duties would be much less today as we only had one right and one straight on to do. The sun was out to start with but a chilly wind blew down from all the high rise buildings as we made our way through Gas Street.
At Edgbaston Tunnel works on broadening the towpath were on going. The tunnel used to be wide enough for two way traffic, but the towpath was narrow causing problems with cyclists and walkers. So the decision was made to broaden it, reducing the canal to one way traffic. We don’t see a problem with this as you can easily see through the tunnel and when ever we’ve been through we’ve not see another boat, but others have been up in arms about it all.
There were a few more moored boats than I remembered, Sainsburys moorings were full (no need to stop, we’re still okay for wine!), an H2 powered boat. Yet there was only one boat on the secure off side Bournville moorings, a rarity.
At Kings Norton Junction we carried straight on and headed to Wast Hills Tunnel. Another long one at 2493m straight. When we saw a tunnel light near the north portal Mick slowed Oleanna down, the tunnel is two way traffic, but why bother when pausing for a few minutes means we would both have the tunnel to ourselves. Seeing that their roof was a flood of water I quickly bobbed back inside for my waterproof coat, a good job as in some places the drips were hard to avoid.
Sneezing mid tunnel is really quite amazing. The height and length must alter what happens to the sound. My three sneezes were amplified and echoed around our ears for sometime. It’s worth a go if you ever feel the urge.
Coming out into sunshine we hoped to warm up, but the temperatures seemed to be having difficulty reaching double figures. Not far to where we wanted to moor today at Hopwood where there was plenty of space. Despite being the only boat we pulled further along past the pub to where there is a layby on the narrow road. Tomorrow we are due to meet Finesse and here was a possible mooring where they could get the van close.
Tilly went out to roam whilst we had a late lunch. Possibly a good mooring, but there were strange things in the field that I was cautious about. We weren’t worried about the pigs, just the amount of traffic including some very big wagons! The layby was obviously well used because of the wagons. Another look on google earth and I noticed a join between the towpath and road which looked big enough to park a van. But sadly there were large barrels of flowers strategically positioned to discourage such parking. After lunch and lighting the stove we decided to move on to our second choice of mooring. However Tilly was still out!
Coaxing a cat back indoors is hard enough normally, but after weeks of very little shore leave it’s even harder! There’s nothing worse than walking a few paces behind her hoping for that split moment you think you’d be able to catch hold without her sprinting off! Luckily for me a hire boat was just pulling up in front of us. They were hammering in spikes so that they could walk up to see if there was any space on the moorings. I saved them the walk, they pushed off again and had the whole stretch of rings to themselves through the bridge. Their presence had pushed Tilly back towards Oleanna and then the local farmer pulled up to chat, which encouraged her to jump in through the side hatch, which was quickly closed behind her.
All back on board we pushed off again. The fishing pond by Bittell Reservoir looks more established than it did three years ago, only one solitary fisherman sat round the grand prix pond. The M42 got louder and louder until we bobbed under it then the sound almost vanished straight away.
Ricky rang from Finesse. He was needing a measurement from me and then everything would be ready for their visit tomorrow, well except for one thing. Kris their carpenter had called in sick this morning, very unlike him. Ricky could come out on his own to install the batteries, but the other jobs would then necessitate a second trip. Much better if everything could be done in one day, we agreed. It was decided that we would carry on as planned as Kris might be at work in the morning. If not we’d wake to a text message.
Coming into Alvechurch a new marina looked about ready to have it’s stop planks removed. Full of water, electric and water points on the pontoons all that was missing were boats. Withybed Moorings first applied for planning permission back in 2007 and was to have 75 berths. This has obviously taken time and the number of berths has been reduced to 54.
Around the next bend and there was a perfect sized gap for Oleanna. Just before the bridge and Alvechurch Marina there is a track that comes down to the towpath. We checked the gate and we could unlock the padlock, a perfect place for Finesse to meet us, being able to get their van so close. We just have to hope that Kris is well enough in the morning.
It turns out that three years ago Lillian had just been blacked and was put back into the water at Alvechurch. We then headed up to Hopwood where we joined NB Blackbird for the evening. Funny how we find ourselves back in the same places.
Thank you to Tom, Mike and Paul who pointed out that the islands on the BCN are toll islands, where the boats were gauged as to the weight of their cargo and charged a suitable toll. I did know this, I’d just omitted an ! and a .
0 locks, 11.14miles, 1 right, 2 straights, 2 visitors, 1 sofa, 1 tunnel, 3 sneezes, 1 roof washed thoroughly, 2 soaking boaters, 1 mum, 3 baby piggies, 1 noisy mooring, 2 outsides, 3 hours shore leave, 16:54 to Redditch, 1 gate, 2405 long, 59.5 wide, 1 poorly chippie, 2 boaters hopeful for a speedy recovery, 3 batteries sat in Sheffield!
Severn River level at 9am today (at Bewdley a mile upstream from Stourport) 1.44m.