Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wilmcote -Closer to Stratford June 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014 - Day 19
Completed 5 miles and 12 locks

After sorting our services at the Anglo-Welsh Base at Wootton Wawen Basin, we headed south-east, ever closer to Stratford.
After the Bearley Lock No.39, we approached the amazing Edstone (or Bearley) Aqueduct.
At 230m long, constructed of cast iron, you look over the edge down to the road, fields and the railway!

Looking back

Looking over

Looking down! Right over the cast iron edge and the 28 foot drop.
Engineered by William Whitmore, it is the 2nd longest aqueduct in England

This unusual house intrigues me? Still not quite finished?

This photo shows the top of the lower gate paddle that lets the water out

A view down the Wilmcote Flight of Locks towards Stratford

The boat emerging from a lock with the by-weir cascade

Passing another boat in a short pound

A lock-wheeler happy in his work!

Being passed by a steam powered BCN Tug
Tug 'Lapander' glides past
We have being sharing our route to Stratford with this very fine Hudson Trad 'Eclipse No.2', with Mike at the helm

Cruising down the Southern Stratford Canal June 2104

Our Summer Cruise 2014 - Day 17
Completed 6 miles and 14 Locks

Today it simply poured with rain to start the day - and finish the day! In between we carried on cruising down this delightful part of the 1815 Southern Stratford Canal.
Apparently, it was only really in operation as a canal company until 1856 when taken over by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway which in 1863 was absorbed into the Great Western Railway. Although traffic gradually decreased and the canal was near derelict in the 1930's, the water supply was kept by the Railway to provide water for it's steam engine shed at Stratford.
See this link for more history.

With the interest and public demand to retain the country's unique canal system, the National Trust took over the Southern Stratford in 1960 and due to the heroic efforts of a group of volunteers, army and prison personnel and many others, the canal was operational again in 1964.
It is this 50th Anniversary that we are travelling to celebrate in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In 1964, I was a school boy of 13 years, living in London and knew nothing of this?!
Now at 63 years old - 50 years later, I have the pleasure of enjoying the results of the vision, determination and achievements of those enthusiasts - to whom we owe much appreciation!

This photo shows the classic barrel-roofed lock keeper's house - here substantially extended. In the foreground is a split bridge, clearly showing the 1" gap in the cast iron floor and the railings for the horse drawn pulling line to drop through - thus speeding up their travel

This photo shows the depth of the bottom single gate - these are quite heavy and some (not well balanced) are extremely difficult to open/close. Also note that they only have a single gate paddle which results in quite a slow emptying of the lock.

Under the M40! I know where I'd rather be!

Lock maintenance work - anything to do with the interest in the 50th Anniversary?

I spotted this original National Trust plaque

Here Chris steers the boat across the short Yarningale Aqueduct - it is made of cast iron and uniquely has the towing path at the level of the bottom of the canal trough

Another of the barrel-roofed 'cottages' - this one extended in 'Italianate style'?
It is a holiday cottage for the discerning customer!

Leaving Lock No. 38, Preston Bagot Bottom Lock, where the local road squeezes the canal for a short section. Note the cast iron road bridge
Just after this the heavens opened and there was an almighty deluge! Chris went inside to make a cup of tea whilst I cruised with the umbrella up - to arrive at the busy moorings at Wootton Wawen. Narrowboat 'Jappa' that had overtaken us earlier (when we stopped for for lunch!) kindly offered for us to breast up as all other places were taken.
We enjoyed a great meal in the Navigation and went to bed early!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Painting and Progress Downhill! June 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014 - Day 16
Completed 1.5 miles and 17 locks!

The weather forecast was favourable for a 'painting day' and I was awake early as 2 boats, moored either side of us last night, set off before 6 am!
Up and out on the bank so as to get the job done before the sun got too hot?

Masking up the panels

Painting done - but lots of flies!!

Decided to set off at 1.00pm as a very smoky bonfire was lit directly over the hedge!
This photo of Lock No. 7 shows the cotton reel pulley wheel for the horse-drawn boats pulling lines to be lifted over the bridge and around the corner as the towpath changes sides

Looking back at Lock No.7 - see the tight turn out which Chris did really well and the classic Lock Keepers Cottage (and classic Porsche!)

The by-weirs on this section are waterfalls - the lock depth (drop) is about 6' 6"
Working the locks running downhill

The bottom gates on these North Stratford Locks have double gates.
One technique for opening them is to hang on one and push the other one open with a hard  push - it should then swing open if it is balanced correctly - then opening the gate on  your side! All this to avoid walking around!
Here I am looking down about 10' at the tail of the lock waiting for all the water to equalise before the big shove!

This holds the boat in Lock No. 21 where we get rid of our rubbish and re-cycled bottles.
See the classic Southern Stratford split lock bridge and the narrowness of the abutments - we are running with the short exhaust chimney to get under some of them!
This lock marks the transition from the 1803 completed Northern Stratford Canal to the Southern part, not open down to Stratford-upon-Avon until 1816

Our last lock (of  17) for the day - we pulled over in a long pound before the next lock.
Having moored up, out came the bbq and a beer!
This section had taken us 3 hours of engine running though longer in time as we had filled up with water and done the services

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Approaching Lapworth June 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014 - Day 15
Completed 4.5 miles, 2 lift bridges and 4 locks

In glorious sunshine, we continued heading east on the level pound that is the same level as the Birmingham Main Line at Factory Locks!
We were in no hurry today and enjoyed the wooded areas and passing moored boats.
There were two lift bridges of the mechanical hydraulic type. Chris did these - the second one was in poor repair and we only just crept through under it.

Soon we were at the top of Lapworth Locks and easily went down 4 locks to our mooring for the night - on the right towpath - ready for painting tomorrow!

Chris continues her sewing marathon on the front hold cushion covers!
Crew hard at work on the stiff lift bridge
Chris at the helm below lock 3 of the Lapworth Flight
There are many fine houses and gardens along the canal


Leaving lock 5
Our mooring spot for tomorrow's painting!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

1 Hour down the Weed Hatch - June 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014 - Day 13
Completed 14 miles, 3 tunnels and 1 weed hatch visit

In glorious sun, we headed out of Birmingham - or rather back - as we followed the old Brindley 1772 contour twists around the Oozell Street Loop and then the Icknield Port Loop.

Then it was through the very splendid Brindley Place next to the Symphony Hall, Worcester Bar and round the turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Passing Sherborne St. Wharf in Oozell St. Loop - modern apartments hemming in the canal now, rather than warehouses and factories!

Leaving the Loop on the 'angle' - we have turned our 60' boat here but the angle is so tight - instead opting for a run north

Entering the Icknield Port Loop

Scarce water supply enters from the Edgbaston Reservoir
The Canal Trust's Yard
BW Tug 'Mansen II' next to the 1935 Star Class Yarwood Butty 'Leo' - here in BW colours

Originally the course of the 'old' Brindley Canal, we twist and turn

Back on the Main Line, facing south along the wonderful Brindley Place by the ICC

Really a road bridge - now wide enough to be a tunnel!

Approaching the famous Worcester Bar - now an open lock.
When the Worcester and Birmingham Canal got it's Bill in 1791, it was opposed by the Birmingham Canal Company who got a clause preventing the new Navigation coming within 7ft of their water. The famous Bar resulted with goods being transhipped across from one canal to another - it was eventually opened as a stop-lock in 1815!
There is an excellent café/bar on the waterfront here - I tested the Sharp's Doombar on several occasions over the weekend!

Now heading south on the Worcester and Birmingham, we made good time with a reasonable depth - despite the level being down a 2 or 3 inches after the weekend.
Don't go too close to the edge!

Over the new aqueduct for the link road to the new prestigious Alexandra Hospital

The original junction with the Dudley No.2 Canal through from the collapsed Lapal Tunnel - ever optimistic, I understand there are plans for reinstatement?!

On an historical note - our children may remember our first ever trip along here on our first boat 'Alcantara'  in 1992 - we rolled over a submerged car that had obviously come down the path!

The BANG - we stalled! Managing to get over to the towpath - I spent an hour down the weed hatch cutting out a hardwood stake that was just the right (wrong) size to get caught between the propeller and the counter. The propeller was absolutely wedged solid.
Fortunately, I carry a selection of tools on the boat - here not your usual weedhatch ones!
All seemed well as we set off again!

A bad case of rising damp? An old settee is carefully avoided!

After the sharp left turn eastwards - we negotiate the old guillotine stop lock which originally  held back an inch of the Worcester and Birmingham water!

Completed in 1803, the northern Stratford canal has a level pound for 10 miles or so and hence this Brandwood Tunnel and many cuttings

322 metres long - looking ahead!
We cruised into the early evening and made the moorings opposite the Earlswood Motor Yacht Club around 6.30pm. As the sun set, it was good to be out in the country again - and with fine weather forecast, more painting is scheduled!