Yesterday morning we were off early, looking at a long day around the fringes of Birmingham. Little did we know it would turn out to a bit longer than planned...
Leaving Catherine de Barnes
Considering we're running into England's second city it's a surprisingly rural green corridor, at least until then first of the locks are encountered.
Leaving the big houses of the affluent 'burbs behind, the canal enters the light industrial zone, with light industry and affordable housing mixed together.
Aha, getting nearer, floating furniture!
Heavier industry, now gone, has left it's bones in the form of several now redundant factory arms which must have once bustled with boats loading and unloading.
Camp Hill Top Lock, seven miles and 2¼ hours after leaving "Catny".
With two boats having left ahead of us I expected to have to turn each lock, but they're pretty quick and having left the last of the broad, upgraded locks behind at Knowle, these are narrow.
Lock 53, a bit the worse for wear...
I worked steadily down the next couple then - what's this, I've caught with with boats ahead at Camp Hill Bottom Lock, No 6!
The lock wouldn't fill, a bottom gate paddle had failed and there was no way to pass the lock.
Initial examination and much sucking of teeth resulted us being advised that it could take several days to fix. Not wanting to hang around in this less salubrious area of the city I reversed back up two locks, turned around and toddled back to Catherine de Barnes, followed by the other two.
At least the locks were all set for me now! I lifted a bottom paddle as I left each lock to help the following boat.
Today I decided to head back to Lapworth. We could have waited at C de B to see what the outcome was but I wasn't confident it would be a good one, so reconciled myself reluctantly to the longer, heavier locked route up and over, through the city centre.
As it was it was the right move...
Grand Union Canal
Location: Camp Hill Lock Flight, Grand Union Canal
Starts At: Lock 1, Camp Hill Top Lock (Lock 52)
Ends At: Lock 6, Camp Hill (Lock 57)
Up Stream Winding Hole: Camp hill Services
Down Stream Winding Hole: Saltley Junction
Tuesday 5 July 2022 14:00 until further notice
Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Structure failure
Update on 06/07/2022:
We've now assessed the damage, and unfortunately it's not something we've been able to quickly fix. The good news is that our reactive response team have a clear plan for repair, and are working to get this done and the locks reopen as quickly as possible. We expect this to take a few working days, and will provide an update on the works and an expected reopening date by the morning of Friday 8th July.
For those looking to reach or leave Birmingham from the south, we recommend a route via Kingswood Junction on the North Stratford and Worcester & Birmingham Canals.
I'm not holding my breath for a rapid resolution...
So we left at around half nine this morning, heading back to drop down the five locks at Knowle that we'd come up two days before.
Back at Knowle, unfortunately no helpful hire boat crew today. But I did have a lady CRT volunteer who set the locks ahead for me, a big help.
Leaving the locks behind I had a steady hour and a bit back to Kingswood Junction and the turn onto the North Stratford.
Having not seen a boat all morning it was suddenly busy, a boat coming out from under the bridge without warning, and another wanting to turn in from the opposite direction!
All accomplished without incident, just a bit of manoeuvring, then we got tied up in pretty much the same place we'd left on Saturday morning.
Now we know what's what we'll be heading up Lapworth Locks and towards Brum tomorrow.
Locks 15, miles 22¼
Sorry about the weird background effect on some paragraphs, can't seem to get rid!