In the summer of 2006 we hired a boat from Alvechurch for a week with our friends Lyn and Barry. We fancied cruising a mini ring taking in Birmingham.
Our 50 mile and 50 lock mini ring
We were very fortunate and had no rain all week and it was t-shirt weather nearly every day. We set off north up the Worcester & Birmingham canal to its junction with the North Stratford canal at Kings Norton where we turned right down the North Stratford towards Lapworth.
Barry and me at one of the top locks at Lapworth making sure we are keeping away from the cill
Looking at the photo above you will see the centre line coiled up on the roof. We’ve learnt a lot since then and always have two centre lines, both running to the stern, one each side. We invariably use a centre line when mooring and it avoids having to traipse down the gunwales to get hold of the line.
The pretty lock cottage near the top of the Lapworth flight
Some of the locks at Lapworth
Lyn looking happy as we’re nearly down the flight – the pipework is eco-friendly and landscape friendly green nowadays
Barry and Karen setting a lock but I can’t remember which one
Lyn cruising along the Grand union
Karen and Lyn discussing Knowle locks or maybe which pub we would be stopping at that evening
The weather was exceedingly calm when we went up the Knowle flight on the Grand Union. Every time we have been up or down since, there has been a breeze or wind and as the lock flight is so exposed it is easy to get blown off course between the locks. The trick is to wait in a lock until the gates of the next one are open and then make a dash for it. We have seen boats spun round by the wind whilst waiting in the open pounds between the locks waiting for gates to open. Many people avoid Knowle locks if they can; however, they are well worth a visit on foot as they are quite remarkable.
Diesel, our previous dog, enjoying the holiday
The locks through Birmingham were pretty dingy compared to today. A lot of tidying up and renovation has been carried out over the last ten years making most canals in Birmingham a pleasant place to visit. As we got close to Birinhgham we joined the Birmigham and Fazeley canal and followed it all the way into the centre.
Karen setting one of the Farmer’s flight locks in Birmingham
Another one of the Farmer’s flight locks
In the centre we joined the start of the Worcester and Birmingham canal and headed south back to our start point at Alvechurch. Karen and I had work the next day so we set off home and left Barry and Lyn on the boat whilst they had a couple more days cruising on their own.