Tuesday 30th May; Alvechurch to Stoke Pound
It was grey and cool when we set off – ideal weather for a long flight of locks. First we stopped at the hire base for some fuel (that was a mistake – it was expensive, won’t go there again) and a replacement piling hook as one (not mine) had inexplicably gone missing. NB Back of the Moon which had been moored opposite the wharf last night had already left and was therefore ahead of us down the flight.
I finally got a snap of some new goslings. My first attempt the other day was thwarted because there were too many adults around; this time the babies were so new that the adults were still shielding them from boats.
Shortwood tunnel was quite wet, but Tardebigge was dry. Apart from the brick-lined ends, the main part seems to be rough-hewn out of the rock and this made the shape look very irregular. The bright bit is the end of the tunnel and the orange blob is the headlamp beam; I think I may have got the wrong setting on the camera!
The Anglo-Welsh hire base had a single boat moored which went in this morning; the rest must be out with half-term holidaymakers but we haven’t found the canals to be particularly busy this trip.
Before we started locking we stopped at the facilities wharf but didn’t bother with water as we will be fine until tomorrow when we can water up at Stoke Works. There is some unusual wildlife in one of the canal-side boat gardens. It looks as though it might have had a previous life as a hot-water cylinder.
The feeder reservoir is not at the top of the flight and an engine house was built to house a pumping engine. It is now a private residence but quite a striking place to live I would think. And quite annoying with people taking pictures.
All the locks were against us for the top third of the flight. By the time we reached the reservoir we were well into our ‘downhill’ routine, and taking it steadily as there were 30 locks to be done, when to our delight two volunteers appeared. It was Jennie and Chris (and Monty the dog) of NB Tentatrice. They were actually litter-picking but Jennie had her windlass – so not only did progress improve markedly, we had a jolly chat too until they had to go off, but by then we were nearly half-way down.
It was lovely to see you both and many thanks for all your help!
Just over half-way down is a house with a variety of large aerials in the garden – and two dogs which bark manically at any passing dogs. We call it the house of the noisy barkers. Meg prefers to stay on the boat for this one.
Today the owner of the house was doing some work on one of his aerials and kept shouting at them to stop them barking so much.
We did meet a few boats coming up, which eased the work, but many of the locks were quite leaky so it was a lot of hard work.
This was a very welcome sight! we finished soon after 2 o’clock, the descent having taken just on four hours.
There was only one boat on the Stoke Pound moorings and we tied up at the end furthest from the pub. After a late but much-appreciated lunch we did some sorting out of the lockers in the bow and well deck, and relocated the anchor to one of the stern lockers where it will be much easier to get out when we go onto rivers. We went to the Queen's Head to eat, taking advantage of their money off offers on food and drinks as we went before 7. But we weren’t terribly impressed – our local chippy does better fried fish and the chef was one of those who thinks your steak should be rarer than what you asked for.
Five and a half miles, 30 locks