Sunday, 12 September 2010

24 locks to Birmingham

A modestly early start at 8am to tackle the 24 locks into Birmingham.  First we had the 11 locks of the Aston Flight up to Aston Junction.  Epiphany set off ahead and all went well through the first locks.  The sun was shining and the sky almost completely blue...who could ask for anything more..........well a bit more water would have been nice!!!
As I emerged from the first lock I noticed that the water on my right was very low so did a hasty shimmy to the left.   I think found it very hard going with all sorts of nasty bumps from below.   Geoff appeared around the corner signalling to me to slow down......not sure I could have gone any slower........
The picture above show Epiphany aground trying to get into the lock.     The combination of lack of water and all sorts of unimaginable things on the canal bed made life very difficult.
Just above Lock 9 we passed this interesting garden ornament in the grounds of some big office buildings
Beats Garden Gnomes!
One of the side pounds almost empty (It was completely empty until Geoff let some water through from the next lock but I wasn't quick enough with my camera!) 

Geoff patiently waiting for Lock 8 to fill, John in the background (Fi's picture)
Just entering Lock 5(taken by Fi)
One or two of the pounds were OK but in most I had to stay in the lock until Geoff let water down to fill the pound so I could slowly edge into the next lock.  This solved the problem until the last lock when we met a boat coming down.   I came out and edged over to the side to let the other boat pass and became firmly stuck.  Geoff had to do an almighty leap to get onto the boat to pick up the long pole with which he eventually managed to push my stern out into deeper water.  And so the last lock of this flight was accomplished and we turned right at Aston Junction and a short stretch to reach Farmers Bridge 13 locks.  Just time for a remedial cup of coffee and a piece of my All Bran Cake!   Baking is not my forte but when on Petroc I do make a very easy All Bran Cake and I have never had a failure until yesterday..........instead of rising this one sunk BUT it was still edible and very welcome after 11 locks.

So we reached the start of the 13 Farmers Bridge Locks.   These are in very urban setting and are not the sort of places one would want to be travelling alone on a dark night!!!          
Post Office Tower seen in the distance
The entrance to the next lock is the black hole offset to the right.  It was a very short pound between with that large whit pillar in the way.  There was also a wind so it made negotiations somewhat challenging......

Looking back

Another view looking back
 Moored in Cambrian Wharf (Fi's Photo)
Cambrian Wharf is just by Lock 1 and very conveniently there was space for us and although not seen in this photo there is even a grassed area for Barnaby.
 Soon after we had started up the locks we met a boat coming the other way.  We thought that one of the gentlemen working the locks was with them but a couple of locks further up we realised that he was still helping us.  When questioned by me he said he was not with the other boat but just liked to keep his hand in.....he had his own windlass and seemed to know what he was doing.....after a couple more lock and exchanges of information we found that it was Jim Shead, whose website we have often looked at and found very useful see here
He stayed with us all the way to the top and since John ahead of us was opening the back paddles as he went through and this help Geoff had a wonderfully easy ride!!  It also enabled us to catch up to Epiphany who had   got well ahead when we went aground.  So our grateful thanks to Jim.  He apparently sold his own boat about a year ago so this is what he meant when he said he liked to keep his hand in.

Petroc's Mooring in Cambrian Wharf Birmingham
I have been told (by Geoff so it must be true!) that Birmingham has more canals than Venice.   Since I have never been to Venice I cannot comment on that but Birmingham has certainly done a good job renovating the area of the central canals.  This is our third visit by boat and so far (fingers crossed) we have not had any trouble.  There is a pub just across the water from our mooring called the Flapper and although it seemed quite noisy when we returned last night, once we had gone below we really did not notice it.  Rest day tomorrow............
After a busy morning, a restful afternoon (siesta for Geoff!!) we rounded off the day by eating ashore with John and Fi.  Not quite my Sunday Roast that we try to find on a Sunday but a good evening nonetheless.

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