Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lucky, lucky day.

Lucky (1).
It’s been a cracking day, far better than forecast with sun for must of the time, very little wind and no rain.

Lucky (2).
All of the six locks we’ve done today were empty when we arrived. Either a boat had just come down, or was just about to. And three had boats waiting at the top, so I could leave the top gate open. Result! This meant we were able to do the 3 miles and 6 locks to Gailey in just 1½ hours.

We left Penkridge in sunshine at 10:15, with just 5 minutes to go to the first, Filance, lock.

Leaving Penkridge mooringsSAM_6766

Meg and I walked around the corner, so the gates were open ready for Mags to steam straight in. And this set the tone for the day.

Mags comes into Filance Lock

With clear skies last night it turned chilly, down to about 5°, but it didn’t take long to warm up to a very acceptable 16°. Still staying in shorts for a bit, yet.

Out of Penkridge the canal passes Otherton Boat Haven, then through Otherton Lock and parallel to the M6 for just over ½ a mile. Groundwork was going on on the embankment at one point and there were a few cut logs part way up, but there was a lot of activity with earthmovers and other heavy plant around, and I don’t think they’d have wanted me up there liberating firewood. But if you’re passing at the weekend….

At Rodbaston Lock the canal and motorway diverge as the navigation follows a staggered loop out to Gailey around Calf Heath. The heath is just 10 feet higher than the canal above Gailey but the canal sticks stubbornly to the 338 foot contour.

The delightfully named Bogg’s LockSAM_6770
Tug-style NB Persia waits above to take our vacated lock.

Rodbaston, Bogg’s, Brick Kiln and Gailey Locks all occur within just over half a mile, then there’s a long, level pound to and past Autherley Junction. So Gailey Lock was our last for today, and indeed our last on this canal.

Heading towards Gailey Lock, NB Canny Fox having just left.SAM_6771

The almost compulsory shot of Gailey Top Lock, with the Roundhouse behind
The unusual building was the toll house for this stretch. The Staffs and Worcester has some unique architecture, further south the Bratch Locks have an octagonal lock-keepers look-out.

With the hire base above and it now being out of season, it was pretty congested around the lock.

The canal spends the next 4 miles or so describing a wiggly “S”, avoiding the rising ground and passing Hatherton Marina and the entrance to the Hatherton Branch on the left.

Hatherton JunctionSAM_6777
From here the Hatherton Branch ran for 3½ miles through 8 locks to link up with the Wryley and Essington Canal. From here branches ran south to join the Birmingham Canal Navigations and east to join the Coventry Canal via the Lichfield Canal.

The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust is seeking to restore both navigations, creating an east-west link from the Staffs and Worcester and the Coventry, and also re-establishing the connection to Birmingham. It’s an ambitious project with quite a few obstacles to overcome.


We were intending to moor near Coven, but spotted a very pleasant bit of piling near Bridge 74, so pulled in there. It was only about 1 o’clock, but I’ve not wasted the afternoon. I finished the book I was reading (John Grisham’s The Racketeer, a very good read) then chopped up the remaining rounds of wood that were still on the roof. It’s all stacked in the cratch now, and my roof rack is nearly empty, just waiting for some more logs.

Moored near Bridge 74SAM_6784

A change of canal tomorrow, up to Brewood, maybe.

Locks 6, miles 6

1 comment:

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

What a shame we didn't have time for a chat. I hadn't realised it was you Geoff, when you walked past. Still maybe next time.

Irene & Ian Nb Free Spirit.