Soaking Curdsworth. 13th April

Hopwas Wood Bridge to Curdworth Visitor Moorings

Not really a drip drip drip this morning, nor a drop drop drop! Hardly a little April shower! More a torrent!

If only!

As we had breakfast NB Freespirit came past, this would the last time we’d leapfrog as we’d be going in different directions today. Once the rain had stopped the covers were rolled back, the forecast suggested the rain had passed, we hoped so as we’d be working through locks today.

Three miles with plenty of moored and moving boats to keep our progress slow before we arrived at Fazeley. Here a share boat had just finished on the water point and was pushing out, a chap clung onto his centre line whilst waiting for the tap, a boat popped it’s bow out from the Coventry Canal and we turned right keeping to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

Tolsons Mill

Tolson’s Mill has new metal windows, being painted today, part of the refurbishment that will see the old mill converted into 50 apartments, other buildings will be town houses. Long gone is the wonderful yarn shop that used to reside here, although my bank account is thankful.

Obligatory photo

The obligatory photo of Drayton Turret Footbridge was taken. Maybe next time I should walk this stretch to try to get a different angle on the bridge.

Swans sitting in the fields, it’s what they do around here

Should we climb a couple of locks before stopping for lunch or have it early? We passed the first mooring spot and very soon regretted not pulling in. The dark cloud that had been looming had caught up with us. The second M on Waterway Routes had some space so we quickly pulled in, the pram hood lifted and coats left to drip dry.

As we had lunch torrential showers came and went. Would the sun stay out for us doing the Curdworth flight. We already knew the forecasts were lying and that we’d get a soaking!

Lock ahead!

The first time we did this flight in October 2014 on NB Lilliyanne (known as Lillian after my Mum). We’d left Birmingham that morning and had aimed to get out of the ‘bad lands’ to either Minsworth or Curdworth that day. As we started the Curdworth flight the heavens opened drenching us to the skin. So today we were prepared for the weather.

Not in use anymore, thank goodness

The locks were just about all set in our favour, just a lift of a paddle to make opening the bottom gate was needed. The bottom lock we remained dry. I walked up the flight with Mick pulling in to the side in the first pound to hand me my waterproof coat. This was just as well as showers started. By the time we reached Lock 9 I shut the gate behind Oleanna and retreated to the shelter of the bridge below, waiting for the rain to ease. My waterproofs were doing their job of resisting the precipitation which was all now collecting inside my left trainer!

Brolly cruising

The rain eased a little, then returned. Despite waterproofs we both got pretty much soaked again. Mick lifted the pram cover whilst in a lock, but with reduced vision it’s not the best thing to cruise with up especially when there are low bridges about, oh to be stood in the cockpit of David’s boat with the windscreen wipers going!

By the time we were about half way up the flight the weather started to brighten up a touch and we could see a boat heading down the locks above. The next lock was opened up for us. HS2 will cross the canal in this short pound. To the north west of the canal traffic cones and fencing mark the route. To the south east earth works have already started and on the far side of the M42 large cranes were being erected, the bridge that crosses the canal will also have to cross the motorway.

Swapping locks

Chance to chat to people at a lock. They were the first of several hirers we’d meet today most doing the Warwickshire ring. These people are awaiting their slot for a new build boat by Ortomarine, an all electric boat, this will coincide with their kids starting to fend for themselves. I wished them luck with the build and we both headed off.

Not far now, through the top lock which was moved when the M6 Toll was built. Not much evidence of where it used to be, but the shadow of a lock on Waterway Routes shows where it once was, most definitely in the way of the motorway!

Red arrow shows where the lock used to be

We now cruised to find a mooring suitable for both us and Tilly. Somewhere we’d be able to dry out. Thankfully we arrived in time to grab a space between Curdworth Tunnel and Curdworth Bridge a tree lined cutting suitable for Tilly to play in for an hour or so.

Curdworth Tunnel, short but full of spiders!

We were soon surrounded and then passed by several more boats, mostly hire boats on the ring arriving a touch too late to get a mooring here, but there was plenty more space further on. I suspect we’ll be passing a few more boats tomorrow finishing their descent from Birmingham aiming for the Dog and Doublet as a reward for doing so many downhill locks in a day.

11 locks, 9.16 miles, 1 right, 2 open swing bridges, HS2, 2 soaked boaters, 1 hour exploration, 2 out of 3 times soaked, 20 years.