Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fine weather and travelling with friends.

We moved down into Fradley Junction on Tuesday, turning right and mooring up on the Coventry Canal.

Past Kings Bromley Wharf.

Rhododendrons in Ravenshaw Wood.

A boat was ahead of us so we had to turn Woodend Lock, but it’s not deep so didn’t take long.

Mags coming out of Woodend Lock.
The iron straps on the capping stones of the bridge are to protect the masonry from horse-boat ropes. You can see the grooves worn into the metal. Rollers were also used. The towpath doesn’t run through these narrow lock-tail bridges, so the rope would have to be detached from the boat as it drifted into the chamber.

Shade House Lock was next, and we timed it right with a boat just leaving as we arrived.IMG_4673


There were volunteers on Middle and Junction Locks, we had help on the former and didn’t need the latter, turning onto the Coventry just above.

We filled with water then got ourselves moored up.

Dave and Barbara on NB Liberty Bell were a day late getting away from their marina in Burton on Trent, so didn’t arrive until yesterday. I walked down to Hunts Lock to meet them and help them up the last three locks to join us after the junction.

Dave and Barbara in Hunts Lock

By Keepers Lock, this mum and young brood were unconcerned by me working right alongside.

Dave bringing Liberty Bell through the little swing bridge at the junction. The Swan is the white building across the junction.
We had a good afternoon and evening, catching up over drinks and food.

This morning we set off in convoy, and it was already hot when we moved off at 10:00.

Heading off up the Coventry Canal.

As easy as falling off sitting on a log…

…until Dave came along – he’s behind you!
Yes, they did get out of the way but had to abandon the log!

The shady bits were a relief from the sun.IMG_4687
Reminded me of a long-ago Maltese holiday. After a fraught day avoiding seemingly fearless local drivers in our hired Mini, I asked the rep which side of the road are you supposed to drive on? His answer – why, the shady side, of course!

There’s some serious maintenance needed on this stretch, both below and above the water…IMG_4688  

Little-uns -

…and swans

A little history…
The Enabling Act for the Coventry Canal was passed in 1768, and work began immediately, starting at Coventry Basin. The following year construction had reached Atherstone but the money had run out. The shareholders probably weren’t that bothered, the canal had linked the Warwickshire coalfields and quarries with Coventry and points south via the Oxford Canal, so I’m sure they were looking forward to some return on their investments. Construction of the 11 locks at Atherstone would have put a considerable dent in any profits that were generated.
But the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal was under construction, intending to connect Birmingham with the Coventry Canal at Fazeley.
And the Trent and Mersey Canal Company was also looking forward to a lucrative link to Birmingham and the south from Fradley, via the Coventry Canal. So pressure was applied to get the CCC to finish the line as far as Fazeley, while the B&F would follow the route surveyed for the Coventry Canal, heading north, and the T&M would construct the section from Fradley southwards. The link was finally completed in 1789, the two sections joining end-to-end at Whittington Brook.

Just here, in fact
The T&M-constructed bit was later bought and operated by the Coventry Canal, but the 5½ mile B&F bit never was, so the northern 5½ miles from Whittington to Fradley Junction remains an isolated section of the Coventry Canal.

Had they not put their collective hands into their collective pockets, this section could have been known as the Whittington Branch of the Trent and Mersey.

One of the B&F’s idiosyncrasies was their habit of naming bridges rather than numbering them. So from Whittington southwards…IMG_4697

Hopwas Hays Wood rises up the valley side as the canal picks up the course of the River Tame

LB coming under Hopwas School Bridge
It was busy with moored boats at Sutton Road Bridge.IMG_4702
LB is now in front, we having run aground avoiding a Kate Boats hirer who obviously had places to be – yesterday. Rather than have Dave wait while I unstuck us I waved him past.

We finally moored just shy of Peels Wharf in Fazeley, just off the 48 hour moorings. IMG_4704

There’s a canal traders market on the moorings over the Bank Holiday weekend, so they are unavailable anyway for a few days.

We’ll stay here tomorrow, it’s been a long, hot one today, so we need a day off! Moving on again on Saturday – probably.

Since Monday – Locks 3, miles 13½

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