Sunday 16th September; Dickens Heath to Birmingham
It was so chilly, even at 9.30 when we set off, that we needed woolly hats and fleeces to start with. There were no other boats on the move and not much traffic on the towpath either, just a few dog-walkers and runners. They must all sleep in round here on a Sunday. At Shirley drawbridge I only managed to catch 3 cars and a bike.
The new bridge controls seem to be reliable and work well. There wasn’t much going on as we cruised, though the sun did come out and it was 2 hours before we saw our first boat on the move. We topped up the water tank at the water point near bridge 5, as the water pressure is so good. The Brasso boat was out on the hardstanding at Lyons Boatyard.
It is definitely autumnal now – not only are the mornings cooler and the evenings shorter, but leaves are beginning to fall – it won’t be long before they are clogging our propellers again.
We were making the turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham at King’s Norton by late morning – no pictures, as I was steering and I’m nowhere near practiced enough to do both at the same time. We haven’t seen any kingfishers yet this trip, but there are plenty of herons. This one was high up in the trees.
At Bournville station, where the fencing and so on is tricked out in Dairy Milk Purple, I noticed for the first time the decoration above the archway over the path from the towpath to the road. It’s hard to see against the trees, but it shows the railway on the right and canal on the left, complete with narrowboat.
As we came through the railway bridge at Selly Oak we could see a boat on the Sainsbury’s moorings; with no way to tell if there was room for us too, we pulled in on the Armco near the bridge. I power-walked up to get a few essentials before we had lunch – it’s only 3 minutes longer.
We carried on after lunch to the city centre, still passing very few boats. We pulled in at Holliday Wharf to empty the cassette, so we wouldn’t need to go down to Cambrian Wharf, then found ourselves waiting for the trip boat to turn in the Mailbox before we could move off – with the way the wind funnels down the cut near the Mailbox it was hard for us both. Then as we made the turn the Water Taxi came along just as a gust whipped across – everything was ok, they must be very well used to the local conditions.
The was another wait while the trip boat got tied up beyond Worcester Bar. It gave us the opportunity to admire some of the planting – the planters are in the new CRT colour (with that silly logo) but look good with attractive and mostly insect-friendly flowers.
There is even a small fruit tree. I hope it gets properly watered by someone.
We moored on the left round past the Sea Life Centre, opposite the Arena’s car park. There was an Arctic Monkeys gig about to happen – when we went off to get a burger at the Handmade Burger Co, the merchandise vendors had their wares all laid out by the bridge. The evening was not quiet – we weren’t sure if the booming noise was bass guitar or extractor fans. It was even noisier by about 10.30 – the cars were queueing to leave the car park and tooting cheerily as they went. Eventually they had all gone home and we had a quiet night – apart from the usual noisy group strolling by at 2.30am!
11 miles, 1 guillotine stop lock (open), 1 powered drawbridge (Shirley), 2 tunnels (Brandwood and Edgbaston), 2 junctions (King’s Norton and Old Turn).