Thursday, 30 September 2010

Anniversary cruise.

We left Warwick down the two Cape Locks, stopping for victuals in Leamington’s Tesco's which is conveniently located next to the canal with mooring bollards provided. Continuing on we moored just below Bascote Locks in a nice quiet spot. The next day we ascended the locks, one of which is a staircase one. We shared Stockton Locks with another boat and it’s very energetic owner, so we were at the top sooner than expected.  IMG_0020 Boat Inn Bar  We then moored at Birdingberry Wharf and went for a celebratory drink in the Boat Inn before cooking our favourite evening meal aboard. Flirty nine years married, a bit of an achievement these days, how on earth have we managed that I ask myself? I was surprised when Bottle broke with a long tradition of not buying me a present, to give me a beautiful necklace he had bought at Gloucester Docks.

IMG_0021 Calcutt Marina The next days cruise took us up Calcutt Locks to turn left passed the old wooden sunken boat which is still managing to block half the canal. Our friends on nb Tranquility had spotted a space near them and invited us in for coffee and catch-up chat on arrival. IMG_0026 Belly Button I liked this unusual boat called Belly Button which had a Ruston Hornsby engine. We also spotted another Fernwood boat called Oggi. Betty and I bussed into Daventry for a mooch about on Tuesday while the boys did boaty things. Yesterday Betty and I travelled to Rugby to meet Lynne for lunch and girlie chatter. Their boat Piston Broke is in the process of being stretched, ie it is having an extra eight feet welded into its length.

IMG_0034Braunston boatyard was busy when I took our recycling items along and visited the book exchange. So after an enjoyable few days with our friends they kindly helped us trundle off up the locks, once through the tunnel we have moored near Norton Junction overnight.

IMG_0035 Norton Junction This evenings sky was all shades of purpley blue and we have a 3G signal for posting, hooray!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lapworth, via Hatton to Warwick.

Tuesday we descended the 15 locks of the Lapworth flight passing under the hydraulically operated lift bridge at Hockley Heath. This was easy to operate, unlike the next one which required Bottles muscles to pump it up fast. We were surprised to encounter a helmsman wearing his kilt, very nice it was too!


IMG_0017 Lift Bridge Hockley Heath

We arrived at Kingswood Junction/Lapworth to make full use of the services there. The Severn and Thames boat ‘Sabrina’ fired up his lovely Kelvin engine and kindly made room for us by sliding back to turn to go on his way north. This is one of our favourite places to moor, but it is rather noisy with the trains thundering over the nearby bridge. We visited the local shop and Post Office which is unusually situated in an Off Licence! We also saw the Boot Inn, although it looked nice, we saved a great deal of money by not going in there.

IMG_0006  This is the holiday boat ‘Jameson’ waiting for our little convoy of three boats to emerge from Shrewley Tunnel before he enters. We had another lovely sunny day cruising along to Hatton Top Lock where we moored overnight. Of course we had to pop down to the busy little cafe there for our lunch as the food is mostly locally sourced, freshly made and also very delicious.

IMG_0010 Hatton signpostHatton signpost stands by bridge 55 along with another sign informing cyclists to give way to pedestrians along the towpath and give two tings of their bell, warning of their approach.

IMG_0011 Ashling Oakfield going down Hatton

We decided to make an early start this morning as rain was forecast for later in the day. To our surprise we were greeted at the top lock by Alan and Pauline who were waiting to help their friends Keith and Bernie on their boat going down the locks. This was absolutely great to have a team of six to lock down the boats together as there are 21 locks in all.

IMG_0013 Keith Keith Rufus the dog Rufus the black Labrador looked keen to help, but sat and watched the proceedings in safety from his seat of the semi trad. We set up a cracking pace between us and completed the locks in 2 1/4 hours, spurred on with tea and coffee made by Bernie half way down. Thank you for all your help, it was nice to chat as we went along and made the time whiz by.

IMG_0016 Saltisford Arm B51

How lucky can we be, although it rained quite heavily during the night we had a dry run down, then the sun showed itself. We passed B51 which is the entrance to the Saltisford Arm, to moor up further down near The Cape, Warwick.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Alvechurch via Earlswood to Lapworth Locks.

IMG_0001 Kings Norton JunctionOnce through Kings Norton Tunnel we turned right at the Junction onto the Stratford on Avon Canal.

IMG_0006 Brandwood Tunnel EntranceThrough Brandwood Tunnel 322 metres long passing three boats.

IMG_0005 Fishing matchWe chugged slowly by a fishing match in progress, a happy lot they were too!  It was a lovely bright day for cruising with no locks. We moored near  Earlswood Yacht Club, although, we didn’t see any yachts moored there. The next day we embarked on a 3 1/2 mile circular walk up to Earlswood Reservoir finding a post-box en-route. The Craft Centre was very busy, the ‘Buttons and Beads’ workshop was in full swing with excited children making necklaces. Then we went round the reservoir where George had caught a very big Carp on his small rod. It was rather like being at the seaside as the wind was whipping up waves.

IMG_0011 George lands a Carp









IMG_0008 Earlswood Enginehouse b1821 The Earlswood Steam Engine House was built in 1821 to pump water from the lakes into the canal, but these days an electric pump is used. The above milestone has ‘SONAGS’ on it, anyone know what these letters stand for?

IMG_0015 Wedges Bakery

Today we called in to the excellent Wedges Bakery (bridge 20) at Illshaw Heath. We could see them working away in the bake house on the right and the smell was just wonderful. Anyway, we bought a couple of crusty loaves, some cakes and Cornish pasties. After coffee and cake aboard we washed the other side of the boat and carried on towards Lapworth Locks. We have done four of them and will do the rest tomorrow.

Friday, 17 September 2010


Nothing much happened today. We walked into town for our poste restante which hadn’t arrived, so we went to the pub for a giant sandwich and a pint. We also did boaty jobs, the weather was nice, but I won’t bore you with that.


I only managed one photo today which depicted the wrong image it, should of course, been a stripy camel!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Tardibigge and Alvechurch.

IMG_0011 Tardebigge churchWe climbed up the hill on the zig-zag footpath through the grazing sheep to Tardibigge Church. Although it had a tall carved stone spire it was quite plain inside and out. There were a couple of nice stained glass windows and the rest were clear glass. The pew seats however had lovely tapestry cushions on them, some were of the canal. There was also a booklet on sale, George Bate’s memories about the building of the Worcester + Birmingham Canal, so we bought one. He said that the official opening of the canal was in 1815 and alltogether it took 24 years to construct. The uphill boat traffic was mainly from Avonmouth, Sharpness and Gloucester Docks. Commodities carried were salt (from Stoke Works), sugar, wheat, corn, fats, pitch in bulk and barrels, tinned foods, boxed tea, spices, boxed foreign fruits, flour, chocolate crumb, matches, deal timber planks and round timber, mahogany for furniture making, box making timber, glass jars/bottles, copper ingots, sheet iron, pig iron, gunpowder in sealed containers, rubber, building bricks/drain pipes, board paper, road stone, ashes, manure, coal and coke. Tar from the gas works and fuel oil would be conveyed in special boats. The Severn and Canal Carrying Co had the largest fleet of 130 horse drawn boats. The next large fleets of boats, about 50 in each belonged to, Jacob Rice, James Waldron, Chadburn Son and Taylor, both of Gloucester District, and James Smart Stroud District. Cadbury’s had 6 motorboats in WW1 carrying foodstuffs day and night between their two factory's at Bournville and Frampton on Severn. There were over 100 No1’s in 1911-12. On one day in August 1911 George recorded seeing 75 mostly loaded boats passing by Stoke Prior. On leaving we passed through Tardebigge Tunnel which was cut through solid sandstone and has wonderful markings through the grain of the stone. As it was a grey, rainy day I made some boat cake while cruising, to jolly things up.


IMG_0002 Bird box on a cottage








Today is much brighter, Bottle has made bread and I am drying the washing in the sunshine. We went for a long walkabout and returned down Withybed Lane. The ‘ER’ post-box looked freshly painted, and the one on the right is a pretend one mounted on a cottage wall as a birds nesting box.

IMG  0006 Crown Inn built late 18th centAll this walking was thirsty work, so we popped into the Crown Inn for a drink and a bite to eat. The pub was built about the same time as the canal and we noticed a fire-insurance plaque above the door outside. The right half used to be stables and a pig sty!                            IMG_0012 Yew in Tardibigge churchyard

IMG_0001 Firemark above Crown Inn         

A building with one of these plaques would mean that the annual fire insurance had been paid, so if there was a fire it would be put out by the local brigade. The ancient hollow yew tree was still just about surviving in Tardibigge graveyard.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Tardebigge Locks - going up.

IMG_0001 Landmark Trust Holiday Cottage

This lock side Cottage now belongs the The Landmark Trust who rent it out for holidays.           IMG_0008 Lock gate paddle gearing

IMG_0003 Paddle gear is right   left handed

The paddle-gearing on the lock sides can be used right or left handed. Although some of it is rather hard to turn it is all kept in tip-top condition. The rounded beam handles are on the ends of the beams, just where all beam handles should be really.

IMG_0005 Big aerial

This cottage had a big aerial, with an even bigger one just being installed in the field nearby.

IMG_0011 Lock Cottage with the most aerials

But this one had the most aerials, four in all!

IMG_0013 Gongoozlers who helped with locks

These are our ‘gongoozlers’ who helped us by opening some of the lock gates for us. One of the ladies asked us if our boat had a name! Although she was wearing glasses, we didn’t think that she had been to Specsavers recently!

IMG_0018 BW 1995=96

There were some more interesting impressed lock side edging bricks here. British Waterways 1995-98.

IMG_0021 Hereford Worcester CC 1974-97

Hereford and Worcester County Council 1974-97.

IMG_0014 Tylers Lock on the Water

‘Tylers Lock on the Water’ seemed to be uninhabited.

IMG_0029 chicken walk winner

                 IMG_0024 Lock beam stile








I liked the re-use of the old lock beam ends on this chicken stile.

How lucky are we, all the locks except one, were in our favour. We only met two boats going down and one of them was nb Bendibedig who also run a blog. So, with Bottle on the tiller and me doing the 28 locks we completed the run up in just four hours, lovely jubbly! No doubt we may be a bit creaky tomorrow, but we have an easy day with only one 14’ deep lock and two tunnels.

Avoncroft Museum

Our next mooring was by Bridge 48, and yesterday we walked to see all the old buildings that have been brought, restored, and re-built at Avoncroft.


IMG_0071 Ice House








This lovely old Windmill can be seen from the canal as it sits upon the hill. It’s cloth sails are still attached, but are furled. Icehouses became popular with wealthy families in the eighteenth century. They were usually buried under a small hillock, ice was collected from ponds in the winter and shovelled inside to keep all kinds of food cool and preserve it. It was rather like a well drained ice well which allowed the melt water to trickle out.


IMG_0058 Blacksmith    IMG_0070







The resident Blacksmith was busy making lances for a re-enactment group. Nearby was a chain making workshop where several blacksmiths would have be sweating away at their forges putting all the links together. There was a posh three holed earth closet as used by the rich people and this one-holed one that cottage dwellers had at the bottom of their garden. Our friends who had a smallholding in Wales had one of these and the view through the door across the valley was spectacular. It was a joy to sit there, during the summer months, at least!IMG_0065 Merchants House 1400

IMG_0063 Merchants House








The 14 century Merchants House was rescued from a street in Bromsgrove, now it is looking good in it’s small orchard.IMG_0079

IMG_0080 Turnpike Cottage

We walked through the Turnpike Cottage with all it’s authentic furnishings. It had a bread oven and a little wash house with a mangle. These would have been built beside the Turnpike Roads to collect the tolls from travellers passing by in order to upkeep the road.


This old pillared barn was one of my favourites.


IMG_0094 Sparkford, Derry Hill

The Co-operative Society shop housed an Edwardian Tea Room serving home made cakes. There was also a very large collection of telephone boxes of all descriptions.



This is how we felt after strolling around the fifteen acre site when we had walked back to the boat!