Friday, February 22, 2008

Well we knew it was going to be a long day yesterday, but hadn’t anticipated it being quite so long. We moored up at nearly 7 o’clock, the last ¾ hour in the dark!

It started at 08:10, when we got away from our mooring of several days. The ice was melting rapidly, but there were some stretches that were up to an inch thick. Filled up with water at Copt Heath, then met up with Carol at Catherine de Barnes. The next 7 miles or so were lock free, getting more and more built up as we entered the Solihull suburbs. The graftitti artists seem to be particularly active round here, the attitude seems to be – “if it don’t move, tag it!”

These kind gentlemen were cleaning off old designs, ready for repainting by the local youths.
We arrived at the top of the Camp Hill flight of 6 locks at around 11:45, used the facilities and dropped down the flight, ending at the right turn at Bordesley Junction.

The Tidy Camp Hill Locks
Seventh Day Adventist Church at Camp Hill
It was the first lock of the Garrison flight that caused us to have to cruise so late. Carol locked through first and set off to the next one while I refilled the lock for us. After locking down, I couldn’t open one of the bottom gates to let the boat out. It took nearly an hour of poking around with the boat hook attached to the long pole before we managed to open the gate far enough. Without the aid of a local chap called Ben, we’d probably still have been there now!

Through the remainder of the flight without incident, in an area that it is kind to describe as “run down” and on to Salford Junction, almost under Spaghetti Junction where the M5, M6 and several A roads combine to baffle the average motorist in a maze of sliproads. (I know, I’ve been a baffled motorist).

Today’s (and probably this year’s) SBD Award.
Salford Junction. Luckily, only 4 directions to choose from….
It was getting late by this time, and we still had a few miles and 3 locks to do to get past Minworth and towards Curdworth where we planned to stop. So the engines had a good workout on what is now the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. The last lock was passed in the dark, then we carried on until reaching the edge of Curdworth and stopped alongside a pub called The Kingsley. I thought Carol had stopped here too, but neither of the 2 boats moored in the gloom turned out to be Corbiere. She’d pushed on another mile and moored in the middle of the village.
Anyway, we called it a day, even though it was a spot we wouldn’t normally have chosen.

Today we moved down to join Carol in Curdworth, then stayed the day. We’ll move on down through Curdworth Tunnel and the locks tomorrow.

57 yard long Curdworth Tunnel.
Curdworth Top Lock, the M42 and Meg posing.
Locks 14, miles 18½

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