It’s not all plain sailing

October 30, 2009

I didn’t say yesterday why we set off so late for Brewood. Well as we came up to the junction to the Shroppie, we had a large rattling sound from the prop and then it went quiet. I thought that we must have ran over something and we continued into the lock but when I put the boat in reverse we got a large rattling noise. So the upshot of it was that we moored up a little earlier than planned. I had a quick look into the weed hatch but unfortunately the spectacular sunset meant very poor visibility, so as is my want I thought lets wait until the morning and I can sort it out then.

Come the morning the dreaded dead could be put off no longer so there I am in my normal position up to my upper arms in murk. I am sure that the last time I did this sort of thing I had no problem with accessing the prop, for some reason no matter where I positioned myself my arms were just not long enough, is this an age thing? Anyway with my trousers hooked on to the exhaust hook and my left leg carefully positioned around the grease gland feeder pipe I managed to get to the prop. After extracting the remains of a large black plastic bag I discovered the cause of the loud noise it was a very thick wire wrapped around the shaft, there was absolutely no way of cutting it with the tools that we had. So with some lateral thinking I decided to unwind it after all it was only two revolutions. Easier said than done, I did have several moments when I thought that maybe this was impossible but perseverance and a lump of wood with a slot in the end resulted in the successful removal of the offending article along with several layers of knuckle skin.

We have been quite fortunate as we travel around the system in the surprisingly small amount of debris that we have picked up on the prop.


Nasty wire

Statistics so far:-

1020.86 Miles, 714 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.



October 29, 2009

I can see why a lot of people rate this canal and we have only just entered it, last night we had our first experience of the under water ledge, I will have to find some suitable weights for the fenders so we can keep the boat off the ledge. As it was it wasn’t too bad because we moored up with slack lines as it was a particularly wide section of canal.

We are really looking forward to exploring this canal, we felt that we have rushed the last couple of days to get here and maybe could have stopped at Compton. I don’t know how some boats can speed so quickly through the canal system, but I guess others are at a loss to understand how we can travel so slowly.

Avenue Bridge was made ornamental because the landlord of Chillington Hall wanted the bridge disguised so that the carriages riding to the hall would not have sight of the industrial transport passing through his land. I wonder what he would think of motorways?


Avenue Bridge


Avenue Bridge – looking back


Bridge 11

Today we did 3.39 Miles

Statistics so far:-

1020.86 Miles, 714 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.

On to the Shroppie

October 28, 2009

I could not leave Bratch locks without a picture of the pumping station, this was built in 1895 and it looks like it should be located in Central Europe somewhere not middle England. Unfortunately I took a photo last night when it was too dark and I was out without a tripod but I thought fair enough I will take one in the morning. Well we didn’t have much time as we had planned to travel vast distances today which would also incorporate a laundry wash and dry, we were on a mission. Anyway I walk down to the lock to take a photo of the castle, sorry I mean pumping station and just as I arrive the sun burns a hole through the cloud directly over the castle and the photo was the best I could manage. I have included it as I think that it is something special.

Yesterday was a day of locks and today was a day of junctions with alternative routes, the first junction gave us the option of Birmingham and Wolverhampton or Great Haywood, we had already decided to go on the Shroppie so we ignored the pull of the big cities and pressed on to the next junction with the option of Chester or Great Haywood. We are not sure if we will make it to Chester due to winter closures but we are now on the Shropshire Union Canal and a fine looking canal it is so far. Post Script: Apparently we are going to Chester.


Bratch Pumping Station – Evening


Bratch Pumping Station – Morning


Frog Graffiti


Current Location


Cloud Location

Today we did 8.05 Miles and 7 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1017.47 Miles, 714 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.

Bratch Locks

October 27, 2009

I forgot to say the other day that we had gone over the 1000 mile mark, although it was commented upon by Colin. This works out at a handsome 2 miles per day since June 2008, now you might think that we are getting to know the country that we are travelling through and you would be right. We have come across, discovered and explored some fine English country side which we would have otherwise bypassed and missed travelling in any other form of transport. Oh the glories of narrowboating.

Today was a day of unusual locks, first we had Botterham staircase lock which for those non boating followers is a combination of locks without a pound i.e. the joined locks share a common gate. In this case there was only two conjoined locks, a boater coming the other way was not aware of this and wondered why we were filling the top lock while the bottom lock was still empty. Right I bet you that has confused you, it did me. The top lock water is needed to fill the bottom lock so there you have it.

The second set of locks with a difference was Bratch locks which may look from a distance vaguely staircase in nature, but rest assured they are not. It is not for nothing that these locks are manned by a lock keeper, the instructions are enough to make your eyes bleed and your mind take a long over due sabbatical in some distant desert region like the Sahara, where there is not the remotest chance of coming across still water let alone water that moves down through locks. The locks are separated by about a metre and require some mystic paddle manoeuvres involving the colours Red and Blue.

We are now moored up at the top of these locks at a very picturesque though pictureless location.

I have added a photo of an unusual Phone Base Station location, Frances’ says that there isn’t the remotest chance that anyone would be interested in this; I am of a different opinion.


Botterham Staircase Lock


Coming into Bratch Lock


Bratch Lock second stage


Bratch Lock Keepers hut


Phone Base station Pylon

Today we did 3.45 Miles and 9 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1009.42 Miles, 707 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.

Greensforge Lock

October 26, 2009

Well we are on the move again although the leaves are making it very hard work, particularly at Stewponey Lock. We had to pull the boat out of the lock as we would have still been in there if we had used the propeller only.

Bit of an uneventful day really.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

Today we did 4.46 Miles and 4 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1005.97 Miles, 698 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.

Rock Houses

October 25, 2009

Yesterday we took the bus over to Stourbridge and did a little shop, pity about the rain though. Today was much better and we thought that we would walk up and have a look at the Rock houses; these are houses that were built into the red sand stone that is so prevalent in this area. It turns out that people lived in these places until 1967, the National Trust have restored some of the houses and now look after the site.

Rock house Upper section

Rock house Upper section

Rock house Lower section

Rock house Lower section

Statistics so far:-

1001.51 Miles, 694 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.

A visit from friends

October 23, 2009

Sorry no sooner do I get started again with the blog and then I stop. The reason being we had a visit from David and Ursula, we had a great time despite the heavy rain and made it down past Cookly, winded and came back to Kinver for an evening meal at the Vine. What a friendly pub and the food was good.

This morning we brought the boat up through the two Kinver locks to the visitor moorings near Chance Wood. It was a beautiful morning but it seems to be deteriorating as I write.

Yesterday I had a bit of an accident with my camera I was picking it up to take a ‘lone tree’ picture and the strap got caught snatching it out of my hand and hurling it on to the deck below, fortunately I think that the hood may have saved any serious damage as it took the brunt of the fall. It seems to function correctly and I took the photo below to test it out, it was such a miserable day so not such a good photo.

Staffs and Worcs Canal

Staffs and Worcs Canal

Yesterday we did 10.08 Miles and 11 Locks

Today we did 0.77 Miles and 2 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1001.51 Miles, 694 Locks, 74 Swing Bridges, 48 Lift Bridges, 7 Tunnels.