About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Grand Canal Tour 2014. Leaving Brum.

I left the BCLM the following day heading for the centre of Birmingham along the New Main Line, which only had three locks at Factory Junction. The going was very easy along this very wide canal, built by Telford between 1823 and 1838 to straighten up Brindley’s Old Main Line, but in parts is a new canal. It reduced the distance of Brindley’s canal by 7.5 miles.
The old and the new at Spon Lane Junction.
Engine Arm Aqueduct in cast iron - beautiful engineering!

I cruised through Oozells Street Loop and found a convenient mooring surrounded by almost new apartments. The only exit from the city now was down the Farmers Bridge flight, known as
The Old Thirteen, before Aston eleven to Salford Junction. I had heard some years ago that the Aston flight was a hotspot for vandalism, so it was an early start at 6am, even though it was going to take a couple of hours to do Farmers Bridge. I need not have worried, as all was quiet and I had done 19 locks by 10am. Fortunately for me, not only were all the locks at Farmers Bridge in my favour, but the top locks had all the gates left open!
In the bowels of Birmingham at Farmers Bridge.
The gate is open ready for me, as were all the rest.
I did 33 locks that day,(I must be slipping!) before I found a decent mooring close to the bottom of Curdworth, at The Dog and Doublet, where I stayed for two nights to catch up on my blog and a few other things.
The end of 'The Bottom Road' at Fazeley Juction, at last.
My plan was cruise to the Trent and Mersey and possibly go south to Alvecote if anyone was there on the Narrow Boat Trust pair of boats, then maybe visit the Ashby Canal after that. My main objective on this trip is to head north and as there was no one around at Alvecote, I aimed for Fradley junction instead. After the last three locks of Curdworth, it was 11 miles of lock free cruising to Fradley and it was one of the best days out so far, in nice warm sunshine. I almost stopped at Hopwas for a pint, as the village moorings were convenient for the two pubs on offer, but I refrained for some reason. All was going very well, until another boat pulled out right ahead of me – how churlish! Not only that, but he refused to keep up with the other boat now ahead of him. Did he not look behind, or was it just bloody mindedness?

As usual at Fradley, all of the moorings before the junction were full, so I went up through two locks and managed to squeeze my 50ft into a space only 49ft 6ins above Shadehouse Lock. I then set about pumping out the bow locker, which had been under the leaking waterfall at Middle Lock. It was then time for a pint at The Swan (aka The Mucky Duck). I had read about their kitchens being closed for hygiene reasons a while back, but decided that they must have cleaned up their catering act and chanced a lamb casserole there. No bad reactions so far!

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