We set out at nine on Friday morning which was early for us but we had 16 miles and 11 locks to cover which would probably take about nine hours. Soon after leaving we bought some free range eggs from a bench on the tow path – we love it when we come across honesty boxes in this day and age; so refreshing. I can't beleive it is nearly 18 months since I used to sell our chicken eggs at work as it feels like we have only just started living on the water.
We stopped for fuel and gas at Streethay wharf but had to wait for half an hour or so as they were busy with other boats.
We spent the time coming up with ideas about what we are going to do over the next few years. Two important ideas come up when we do this so we must start to act on them. Firstly, we want to carry on with the boating lifestyle, so have agreed that we must downsize by 12 feet so we can reach the parts of the country that we cannot currently reach. Secondly, we need to seriously look at renting out our house and buying a flat as it is such a hassle maintaining a large old house when living on a boat at the other end of the country.
We were going down the Coventry canal until it becomes the Birmingham & Fazeley. This is where the Wyrley & Essington canal used to run from the right down to Birmingham at Ogley. Although it is derelict for the most part it is actively being restored.
The towpaths look completely different to when we came up this way in December – the canal is often completely hidden.
Once we joined the Birmingham & Fazeley we were reminded of how efficiently built the bridges were as this is the only canal we have been on where the stanking plank stores are built into the bridges. It is also the only canal we have seen where the bridges have no numbers - just names.
We both laughed when we saw the name and words on this boat – shame the picture wasn’t clearer.
After about four hours we reached Fazeley junction where we are heading right onto the stretch we have not been down before.
I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry that we were hoping to get to Curdworth to moor for the night as it is just before the built up part of Birmingham. A friend of ours, Wendy, who we met in Solihull in the winter, kindly left a message for us on the blog telling us where it was safe to moor. Poor Wendy cannot cruise in her boat at present as she has broken her leg. It’s lovely when people keep in touch like this – we had met as Wendy was one of the many helpful people in the Birmingham area who gave us advice about travelling the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the winter.
We have no idea and cannot find out what these hooks are for in the underside of the bridge.
The cratch on this tiny boat is longer than the main cabin.
This old mill is all we really saw of Fazeley other than people in a couple of pub gardens telling us how nice our flowers are.
The oddest looking footbridge we have ever seen.
The Curdworth flight were the first locks we have been through on this canal and we immediately noticed differences, e.g. each has its own lifebelt hut, reminiscent of river locks.
This one had a tiny brick hut.
And this one had a swing bridge at its head called a swivel bridge – elsewhere in the country they are called swing bridges.
Each lock also has its own triangular nettle garden.
The locks run alongside the M42 and ripening cornfields.
The canal runs in a cutting for the most part here so we couldn’t hear the sound of the M42.
This is the A446 road bridge which used to be a normal humped back bridge but has been widened several times over the years.
This is looking back from the top lock to the M6 toll road bridge – very nondescript. We moored for the night here and couldn’t hear the traffic as I suspect there isn’t much need to use the toll road during the night.
Buddy has taken to playing with discarded plastic bottles at each lock rather than sticks – it’s such a shame there is so much litter here as it is really quite a pretty area.
These are the 11 new locks we went up today; they are known as the Curdworth flight.