Friday 4 October 2019

A day to dodge the downpours

Sunday 29th September; King’s Norton to Tardebigge
It didn’t rain all night – I woke during the night and it was very quiet, not even tree-drip.  But it had started again before daybreak.  As we sat having breakfast, and the rain hammered down, an ABC hire boat from Alvechurch pulled in at the water-point near the bridge.  The downpour eased a bit later, so I grabbed the opportunity (and the brolly) to go up to the little shop for the paper.  The hirers were laughing and taking photos in the rain – a merry bunch, taking it all in their stride.  I went on to the shop, only to discover that it didn’t open till 10.  No matter – the rain was heavy again and we weren’t going anywhere!  Didn’t stop the happy hirers though, and off they went with a cheerful wave.

Before we left I took the opportunity to snap our quiet but rather gloomy mooring.

The rain was definitely easing off by 10, so up I went again to the shop for paper and milk.  We kept our waterproofs on and had the brolly at the ready for Wast Hills tunnel – the hirers had said there was a waterfall inside!

It wasn’t too bad to start with, but soon the brolly was deployed.  We met a new and tentative hire boat part way through; they had stopped - not a good idea in a tunnel – but they had bow thrusters, so kept themselves by the side and there was no contact.  Then we came to the waterfall cascading down the southern ventilation shaft.

We got through in less than half an hour.  It wasn’t raining as we left the tunnel, but there was a very strong outflow from the stepped drainiage channel on the west bank, enough to push us around a bit.  My phone was safely in a dry inside pocket, so I couldn’t get it out in time to get a photo.  This more modest one will have to do.

Bittel reservoir permanent moorings were amost empty; a new pipe or cable is being laid along the edge of the roadway and the spoil from the channel is piled quite close to the canal.   It looks as though many owners have opted to go cruising while the work is in progress. 

Rain doesn’t stop fishermen – their brollies had sprouted like mushrooms around the fishing lake opposite.

There are some stretches of offside moorings as you approach Alvechurch.  We were amused by the waving skeletons on the boat with a prominent ‘slow down’ sign.

Slow down - or else!
We unfortunately had to shell out for a set of new batteries;  Alvechurch chandlery stocks the right ones, but we had to float about a bit while a hire boat was moved off the wharf before we could tie up, which the wind made a bit tricky.  Dave’s wallet duly emptied and the batteries cluttering up the well deck, we moved on, getting very hungry by now – all the visitor moorings, where we had hoped to have our lunch, had been taken.  We stopped in the woods before Shortwood Tunnel, where we found a single ring and a little bit of piling so could avoid having to bang in pins in the soft ground.  The wind was blowing straight through the tunnel and it was freezing cold as we went through – glad it’s not as long as Wast Hills!  Tardebigge tunnel has a different orientation and was much warmer less cold.  This one is hewn from the rock and the walls and roof are very uneven.  The headlamp produced some odd effects, making the walls appear to undulate, almost like a hall of mirrors in a fairground.

We were glad to see the facilities mooring empty, and filled and emptied as necessary.  The wind was very strong up here, and it was raining too as we made for the top lock.  But the rain eased, and once down the lock the canal was more sheltered.  The weather was too grotty to go and visit the pretty church.

Leaning tower of Tardebigge - or a n inept photographer?
Tentatrice was moored on the long pound between the top two locks, and we followed suit a little further along.  Jennie had been walking Monty so stopped for a quick chat on their way back.  They are not going down for a couple of days.  The drizzle started as we chatted and then carried on for a while.  Tomorrow’s forecast looks OK for the morning – we’ll try to get an early start to do the locks before the rain comes.

The Mikuni went on this evening.  Thee boat feels damp and cold, and there were were several damp towels to be dried, not all ours – looking at you, Meg, with your wet fur and muddy feet!

8 miles, 1 lock, Wast Hills, Shortwood and Tardebigge tunnels.

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