Saturday, 11 September 2010

Fazeley to Cuckoo Wharf

Yet another early start.  We moved up from our mooring before 7.30 thinking not many boats would be on the go but unbelievedly a boat pulled out of the moorings onto the water point opposite just as we came up wanting to do the same thing.....Geoff's comments are not printable........
Once round the corner and onto the Birmingham and Fazely navigation we stopped briefly to buy the paper and set off about 3/4 hour behind Epiphany.    They had moored in the vicinity of the bridge below (I think!)
Drayton Foot Bridge which is unusual as the steps up are a spiral inside each tower
A little while later we reached the Curdworth Locks (11 0f them) which gave Geoff and Barney plenty of exercise.  For a large part of the way the M42 kept us company close to the left hand side of the canal.
Just before the top lock we passed under the M6 and then we had Curdworth Tunnel

I don't usually steer through tunnel but since this one was only 57 yards I thought I might cope!!
Still quite offputting especially when there is a slightly submerged ledge on the towpath side.
Originally we had thought we might moor just beyond here for the night but Epiphany decided to carry on and a look at the books persuaded us to do the same.   Cuckoo Wharf was recommended as the last secure stopping place before Birmingham and if we didn't reach there today it meant another 3 hours tomorrow before we tackled the 24 locks into Birmingham.
We passed this team trying to recover a sunken boat
Just before Salford Junction our guide book showed something listed as `Works Overhead`   As we approached it looked like a house over the canal, albeit a large one!

When we entered it was quite eerie
I have no idea what exactly was housed overhead...perhaps someone can enlighten me.
Shorthly afterwards we reached Salford Junction.  The first turn off goes to the Grand Union but ours was the second turn staying on the Birmingham & Fazeley.
It is not just a canal junction hereabouts but also we were approaching the famous Spaghetti Junction
Turning onto the Birmingham & Fazeley
Cuckoo Wharf is just around the corner and we had already heard from Epiphany that we could breast alonside them as there was no other space.  Even more hospitably they allowed us to go on the inside to make it easier for Barnaby to get on and off.
This notice says 24 hour moorings only if no BW boat is there after 6pm.  I was told later that this is just BW's phrasing and in reality it is visitors mooring and BW can use it if there are no visiting boats...........
Petroc & Epiphany at Cuckoo Wharf
Initially, although very secure, it did not seem the best place for dogs as it was on the non towpath side but a little exploration discovered a man in a hut!!!  he was the guard for the weekend and lived on his boat moored adjacent.   He very kindly let me out in the evening and early morning to take Barnaby across the road where there was something of a park and a lake and lots of grass.  It was not the most salubrious park I have ever been in but needs must and all that.
It did give a worms eye view of Spaghetti Junction.

Cuckoo Wharf itself seems a strange place.  Although there were BW facilities there the buildings were commercial and belonging to other people.  There were security notices all over and telling everyone to beware of the guard dogs.  We were behind locked gates but as I discovered we could be let out by the guard.  From him I discovered that the reason for all the security is the local populace.  
In the compound is a partially built edifice and sitting on the ground a vast amount of expensive steel still to be used.  Without security it would apparently disappear............
The guard dogs are a figment of imagination although the company pays for them each month....................  The weekend guard does have a dog but he had left him at home because he is moulting so much!!

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