Saturday, January 24, 2009

A fine day’s cruise and a change of plan….

The weather wasn’t as dire over the last couple of days as predicted; but it was still damp and miserable first thing, although brighter later.

I wouldn’t want to be on the M6 in these conditions. This was 9 o’clock in the morning!
BW have 2 large reservoirs at Gailey, Meg and I had a walk around them on a dryish day.

Gailey Upper Reservoir
There’re the remains of a pump house between the two.

The weather changed last evening, with a gap in the fronts allowing an overnight frost and a fine bright day to follow. Mags’ shoulder was feeling better, so we pulled pins and got away about 10:30.

Just 3 locks today, all within the first mile, the last one being Gailey. This is where the A5 (Watling Street) crosses the canal on its way to Wales.

Approaching Gailey
Gailey Lock has awkward angled balance beams on the top gates, modified when the road bridge was widened.

Unusual round Toll House at the lock.
At the wharf we filled the water tank, and emptied rubbish and loos, before plodding on south towards Wolverhampton.

Gailey Marine is based at the wharf, with a Viking Afloat hire fleet also running from here.
I was going to fill with diesel here, so rang to check on their policy regarding splits for domestic and cruising. They only have two rates – 60/40 as proposed by the BMF, and 100% for houseboats only. They would not accept a self declaration which differed from these, so didn’t get our custom. At 60/40, the average litre price was 94p. This breaks down to 111p cruising, 68p domestic. At the rate I want to declare, (20/80) 100 Lt would cost me 20x1.11+ 80x0.68, =£76.60. A 100 Lt fill at an arbitrary 60/40 would be £93.80. So it’s worth asking first….
We’re OK for another week or so, so we can look for another supplier who is prepared to accept our own declaration.

This is an attractive stretch, wooded banks alternating with open views across the fields.

There’re a couple of tight turns near Calf Heath.
After Calf Heath we passed the western stub of the Hatherton Branch, which used to connect to the northern reaches of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. This is another restoration project, and, when both this and the Wryley and Essington Canal are open, will enable a through route back to the Birmingham and Fazeley just south of Fradley Junction. The stub is currently used for moorings.

The Hatherton Branch of the Staffs and Worcs.

Not wanting to go too far into Wolverhampton before stopping, we pulled over near Bridge 71 at Cross Green. Half a mile across the fields (and a dual carriageway!) is Coven, a handy spot for supplies, with butcher, baker, Post Office and a Co-op.

The weather is supposed to be wet and windy again tomorrow, back to normal, so we’ll probably hang on to see what it’s like on Monday. We’ve plenty of time; we don’t need to be up at Chester till the end of March.

Talking of which…..We’ve decided on a diversion for a couple of weeks. Instead of turning right at Autherly Junction onto the Shropshire Union, we’re going to stay on the Staffs and Worcs, and run down to Stourport on the Severn. Should be fun.

Locks 3, miles 6

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