Tuesday 12th September; Fisher’s Mill bridge to Curdworth
It was lovely weather when we got up, not a cloud in the sky. We got going early for us and pulled pins at 8. This was mostly because NB Harrier with butty Lyra (metalwork artists) were moored the other side of the bridge and we didn’t want to be behind them up the Curdworth flight. But there was no sign of life as we passed, and we were alone on the water for the first couple of locks. Above the bottom one there is a now-defunct swivel bridge.
But before I took this photo I had to get Dave to help me close the bottom gate. It was perfectly ok to open, if a bit heavy, but I just couldn’t get it moving when it came to close it. (Grrr. But I blame it on my muscles being cold at the first lock, not me being feeble).
It had been pretty cold when we started, so it was on with the woolly hats and fleeces, and gloves too for a while, at least for me. But by the time we stopped at Bodymoor Heath for water and to dispose of rubbish, it was warming up. There is a stretch of permanent mooring here where we snapped a boat for our daughter Liz…
It was good water pressure so we didn’t have to spend too long filling up. Before long we started meeting boats coming down the flight, most being hire boats doing the Warwickshire ring. We passed a moored boat with a very odd look to it. The photo doesn't show it well (I accidentally turned the camera off instead of pressing the shutter release, so we were a bit far away by the time I took it) but the whole of the side looked as though it had been beaten with a sledgehammer before being painted. What looks like patchy paintwork is actually the effect of light and shade on a very uneven surface.
We soon began to meet boats at every lock, mostly hirers doing the Warwickshire ring. At lock 6 we discovered lockies on duty. They had actually arrived at the buildings at lock 3 to get their mowers and strimmer out but with so many boats going down had spent quite some time helping them. We were assisted by a delightful chap for 3 locks. He had recently retired from a firm of rail consultants, and had worked on HS2. I had a bit of a moan about the havoc it would wreak with the peace of the waterways but he was enthusiastic about the whole thing. He said, just imagine, you can watch a train go by here (this was about lock 5) and by the time you get to the bottom of the flight (lock 11) it will be in London! I quite agree with him about the technological achievement (we have marvelled before at the engineering of Spaghetti Junction and the complicated road junctions you can see from the Tame aqueduct) but what will the effect be on the tranquillity of the waterways we love so much? Not to mention the ecological destruction along the way. Mind you, he did point out that when the canal was first cut, the local populace probably moaned and groaned much as we are doing now …...
Anyway, from lock 3 we were on our own. One nice thing about the Curdworth flight is the little flower gardens at many of the locks. This one has fennel growing. If my plans for our tea tonight could have benefited I would have swiped a bit.
I think the strange lines in the clouds must be power lines. I didn’t notice at the time. On we went under the M6 Toll bridge and up the top lock. Our original plan had been to stop just before the bridge – it is surprisingly quiet here in spite of the proximity of the motorway and feeder road to the M42 – but we had made unexpectedly good time up the flight so we went through the tunnel and moored up to go to the village shop in Curdworth. I left Dave repairing the radio aerial which had become separated from its magnetic base, and on my way to the shop passed this magnificent sunflower.
I got milk and the paper, but they only had large loaves of Kingsmill. We are not keen on thin sliced mass-produced loaves so I passed on that and made a small loaf of soda bread instead. Quick, easy, and yum.
As it was cooking we moved the short distance through the two Curdworth bridges and moored for the day just past Curdworth Church bridge. We reckoned there would be less road noise than further on in Minworth. After lunch, between us we washed, rinsed, dried, waxed and polished the port side of the boat. Then we went off for Meg’s walk. We crossed the canal at the strangely named Broad Bulk bridge and walked through a huge field of some kind of bean which we guessed would be harvested for animal feed. The tower blocks of Birmingham were visible beyond the huge sewage works on the far side of the A4097 on the towpath side of the canal.
The wind was blowing strongly from the sewage works so the pong accompanied us for much of our walk. The footpath only led to rush-hour roads so we turned round and went back the way we came. Our mooring spot was quite sheltered, which turned out to be quite lucky. We didn’t hear the forecast this evening so didn’t realise storm Aileen was on the way ……
It started to rain during the evening but we were well tucked up by then.
4½ miles, 11 locks, Curdworth tunnel