We seemed to spend most of the day dodging the rain. The one time we nearly got caught, we were filling the tank up with water and having a cuppa inside the boat whilst waiting. The cloud formations in England are quite stupendous. Lots of cumulus clouds of great height. You can spend hours making lots of imaginary shapes out of them. It is weird though as we have had it where it is raining on one side of the boat, yet not the other. That is a distance of 6’4”!!
Our distance today was only six miles and eleven locks. The set of locks was called the Curdworth and were spaced relatively close together. Made for very comfortable walking for the lock slave – that being Fraser.
It was extremely quiet on the canal with us only passing one boat!! We came this way last year on our return back to Stone and it was the same quiet canal then. This canal heads into and around Birmingham and in the old days was buzzing with freight boats plying their cargos. It would have been amazing to see but we are not fooled by the romance of it as back then the canals were filthy with sewerage, smog was a big issue and whereas today the canals are lined by magnificent trees and tidy towpaths, back then that was definitely not the case. They use to strip all the trees from the side of the canals to allow freer movement for the horses. The horses hooves also use to turn the towpaths into boggy muddy thoroughfares.
What is good to see today is that the towpaths throughout England are very well utilized by all. You get everything from walkers, to bikers, runners, dogs, kids, fishermen, commuters etc. The Canal and River Trust are continually promoting the use of the towpaths which is only but a good thing. The old Brits are great walkers, so this network gives them lots of opportunities.
Here is a little trivia for you. Birmingham had more canals than Venice. Some might say the canals here are more grubby but from what we remember of Venice, some of those canals were not that pleasant to be around. At least here you don’t get that sinking feeling!
We enjoyed going up these locks as they were quite shallow and filled very quickly. The only problem is that they have one rear gate rather than two which makes them very heavy to push open.
A large portion of the cruise today was through arable farm land with no livestock. Not sure if this is the bread basket of England or not but the soil looks very productive. You get to notice these things when you cruise along at three miles per hour and often at eye level with the soil. Sometimes, you are well below eye level.
Along this stretch of the Birmingham and Fazeley canal is one of the ‘little wonders’ of the inland waterways. The exotic Drayton footbridge, where two Gothic towers encase spiral staircases and support an otherwise pretty ordinary open iron span; a delightful functional folly. We are quoting the Pearsons guide here who can be rather verbose in their descriptions. Our description would be ‘What were they thinking!’
So tomorrow is going to be our most challenging of days. The reason being……
holy s@$#*t Sherlock!
We are circumnavigating the eastern suburbs of Birmingham and going through some rather unpleasant areas. We have been advised to do the entire distance in one day as there are no suitably safe moorings along this portion of the canal. We have a total of eight hours cruising tomorrow with thirteen locks. Not insurmountable by any means but the area is known to have caused previous boaters some grief. The biggest issue is the adolescent Brummies who have nothing better to do than create havoc for you by throwing stones at you or whatever items they can find to clog up the canals. There will be a number of shopping trolleys we will no doubt scrape our way over and not to mention flotsam and jetsam. Our best line of defence is to have our cell phone handy and demonstrate to the thugs that we are taking their picture to show the police should they cause us problems. Sounds like a very effective way to deter them. The other way is to play Mr and Mrs Nice Guys and give them Canadian lapel pins in the shape of the 🍁. This would be a much nicer way to negotiate our way through.
Depending upon what time we finish tomorrow depends whether a blog will get posted. We also have some not so pleasant weather forecast for tomorrow so that always slows us down. If we do not blog within 48 hours, could someone please call out the search and rescue team and let them know that the Brummies have kidnapped us and carried us off to their lairs. Our Wills are with Nick and Dwight.