We joined the caravan heading for Birmingham. Seven boats long, as far as we could see – everyone held their position as the waters turned murkier and the walls grew more colourful. Having only ever visited in the depths of winter we foolishly discussed which mooring we’d prefer… when we arrived… and were spoilt for choice. Hmmm, dream on.
Turning left at the Mailbox it was pretty clear we’d be lucky to moor at all. Nick wrestled with his conscience, ‘It’s only a little bit bad to wish the hireboat in front onto the trip boat mooring so we can sail by – isn’t it?’ No such luck. Everyone was out in force, walkie talkies deployed, crew sent to walk on ahead – ashamed to admit we joined in too, full on attack, double-handed with the phones. Mobile to mobile communication established two free moorings in Cambrian Wharf, a bit of reversing later, we had a home.
The Flapper is waking up to Tuesday night, perhaps not the quietest Brum mooring but judging by the breasting up going on out on the main line we won’t be moaning.
An epic 42 locks just sort of happened, we’d planned a fairly cushy 12 locks and four miles, but at lunchtime we topped with water and looked at the moorings next to the three wheeler rally, then up at the clear run ahead and thought, ‘Why not?’
Beautiful countryside, the locks are quaint – although the paddles are beyond stiff, according to Nick each one only involves ‘two seconds of pain and then you’re away’…which is true, if you can budge them at all. So it was a pretty long day for Nick who ended up doing practically all the flight of 30 (plus the previous 12). With a fair few Bank Holiday Sunday gongoozlers about we managed to recruit a bit of free lock labour, anyone who came near this boat today had a windlass launched their way.
Up past the Lock Keepers Daughter’s Lock House, setting of the enchanting autobiography by Pat Warner.
Originally a temperamental boat lift, at around 11ft the top lock is deeper than the rest. The weather improved throughout the flight and we finished the afternoon in sunshine. With an incredibly fortunate run of locks in our favour we emerged from Tardebigge Top Lock 3 hrs 18 mins after entering the bottom one.
There’s not much to say about today other than that it was very very wet. Oh and we found ourselves moored on a hireboat hotspot – we’ve been rocked, crashed into and asked which way the tiller needs to be pointed to turn the boat left. Joy.
Here’s hoping for blue sky tomorrow.
We’d got used to the speed of river travel and back on canals it’s shocking to see our slow crawl across the Nicholson pages. It shouldn’t really matter when the destination is nowhere in particular, but somehow it still does. ‘Progress’ wasn’t helped by low pounds and dreary weather today. The creep from Blackpole Lock to Offerton Bottom Lock was a painful slow go, with way too many boats (us included) heading up from Blackpole, the levels had dropped low enough for Canal and River Trust to put in an appearance.
Finally up through Offerton Top Lock the heavy skies closed in and we moored just before it hammered down. Leaving the rest of the day to poor soaked hire-boaters with little option but to push on with their Worcester/Droitwich/River Severn loops.
A fuel filter check as the engine sounded a bit dodgy through the shallow pounds – the filter was clear so we’re hoping the gurgling was due to alarming angles created by mounting bottom of canal debris along the way.
The sound of rain on the roof usually makes bed a lovely place to be, but last night it had us peering out the port hole. Warnings of rain in Wales combined with the deluge in Worcester played all sorts of tricks on our night time brains – flash flooding, rising up above the racecourse moorings etc… With plans to set off at first light we eventually fell asleep and woke again at 7.30.
Out on the stern feeling jetlagged we looked at the water and realised night time had conjured all sorts of horrific river conditions that were nowhere to be seen in daylight. Into Diglis Lock, where four Crayola crayons crossed the bridge, making an even more trippy start to the day.
Son of Henry VII, Prince Arthur”s birth symbolised the end of the Wars of the Roses, by the time he was three his marriage was in the planning and he was formally bethrothed to Catherine of Aragon at the age of 11. Then he died, aged 15, leaving lucky Catherine the job of marrying his brother Henry VIII. One of the most important monastic cathedrals in the country, the monastery continued until 1540 when Henry VIII wasted no time dissolving it, ordering some of the last monks to become Dean and Chapter.
…and we’re back in the room SFR.
Up a lock, pulled over for a quick Asda dash across the bridge. On and out, a stormy Worcester disappeared behind us as we crept up from the urban, out into the greenery.