Sunday 4th and Monday 5th September; Hopwas Woods to Fazeley Mill Marina, and home
Rather cooler this morning, but at least it wasn’t raining. In fact the sun was out to start with, but we could only see it through the trees as we had chosen to moor in the woods rather than the village.
As we weren’t going far today Dave took Meg off for a walk in the woods before we left. In the village is one of those confusing mooring restriction signs. Is there a difference? and what happens if your boat is by this sign and moored in both sections?
Our first stop was at Sutton Road bridge by Ventura retail park so I could whizz up to Sainsbury’s with the trolley and restock the store cupboard. Then we hoped to stop at the Fazeley Junction facilities but someone was already there, so we went on to the junction and after a mis-communication nearly went on down the Coventry! So we had to pull back and then wait for a couple of boats to go by, and chatted to a hire boat taking on water while we waited. They were visiting Birmingham for the first time, and were keen to pick our brains about mooring. The bird murals were still there as we rounded the junction,
but the wool shop and little café in the mill had gone; what a shame. Instead there is a gym. That’s one thing we didn’t need on this trip!
We passed nb Jubilee on the visitor moorings but no-one was home. We were soon getting a warm welcome from Jackie at Fazeley Mill marina, where Chuffed will stay for a few weeks before we move on again. We had some lunch and then took Meg for a walk along the Birmingham and Fazeley for a while, passing the unusual Drayton footbridge. The Drayton swivel bridge can be seen beyond it.
Meg didn’t notice Dave slipping into the tower and up the steps, and was utterly baffled at first when she tried to reach him.
We didn’t take her when we walked up to Tamworth as we didn’t know how busy it would be, and she doesn’t enjoy crowds much. It was a couple of miles from the marina, and once you leave the canal you have to follow a busy road, but after a while you can pick up a cycle track by a lake and eventually, after passing the other side of Ventura Park on your left you come to the river Tame, which we last saw in Hopwas this morning.
The path (and river) go under a major road bridge which has official art on some of the walls, and graffiti on the others but fortunately not together. The Reliant factory was situated in Tamworth and they are clearly proud of it!
As they are of Able Seaman Colin Grazier, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross. He was one of three sailors who recovered the Enigma codebooks from U-boat U-559 during WWII. He and First Lieutenant Tony Fasson swam into the sinking submarine to find the codebooks, and passed them to Canteen Assistant Tommy Brown, but the submarine went down before Grazier and Fasson could get to safety. If you need reminding of the significance of Enigma, look here, where there is more information about their courageous act and the many thousands of lives they must have saved. The reason for their sacrifice was not made public till 1974! There is a memorial to him in town but we didn't see it.
Also linked to Tamworth is Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister from 1834–1835 and 1841–1846. He was born in Lancashire but his father built a factory in Tamworth and subsequently became its MP. Peel senior was one of the industrialists who pressed for reform of the Factory Act to improve working conditions for children. The family home was Drayton Manor, which no longer exists, but its location is now that of the theme park of the same name.
We took a footbridge over the Tame and the parkland became municipal, with mown grass, picnicking families, a children’s fun park and a bowling green with a match in progress.
And there was the castle, up on its motte and surrounded nowadays by brilliantly coloured flower-beds.
The water in the foreground is the river Anker on its way to the confluence with the Tame which it joins a little further along.
It was too late in the day to visit the castle, which looked very interesting in the booklet I picked up in Sainsbury’s this morning. Instead we had a short stroll round the town, which was quiet on a Sunday afternoon. R Peel was here again, looking inscrutable outside the Town Hall.
I do like those bike racks. We also saw the impressive St Editha’s church and a branch of Coates, the Alrewas butcher.
Time was getting on, so we went back through the castle grounds. The bedding plants below the castle looked impressive from a distance but close to the colours are glaring and in-yer-face. I much preferred the Norman soldier and running figure which were covered with sempervivums of various colours, very clever.
Sempervivums are also called Hens-and-Chickens, or houseleeks, and you more often see them in rockeries and on green roofs.
We thought we’d like to come back to Tamworth one day for another visit, as it looked like an interesting town. But we’d moor at the junction or back at Ventura Park which is a much shorter walk.
On Monday Dave did the trip back to Calcutt to pick up the car, while Meg and I enjoyed a lovely walk along the canal. Oh, and did the cleaning and packing. Shame it was drizzling most of the morning. We have to book our winter mooring before we can plan our next trip, but we hope to take in some more of the lesser-used canals round Birmingham.
Trip stats: 151 miles 2 furlongs, nearly 56 miles of that on narrow canals, nearly 66 on broad, 29 and half on rivers. 29 narrow locks, 89 broad locks and 5 moveable bridges (though I can only remember the little one at Foxton).
Two new waters; the Market Harborough Arm and the Erewash Canal.