Sunday, 23 September 2012

30 locks and 4 tunnels

We'd decided on an early start, so as to be first up the Tardebigge flight, the longest in the country at 30 locks.  So it was 7.20 when we set off, me driving Chance, Doug doing the locks, and James in the shower!  It wasn't long before James was back at the usual place on the tiller.  The locks were all in our favour, and Doug and I got a good rhythm going, always setting a lock ahead.  The only time we were delayed (but even then only very slightly) was when we met a boat coming down -- the only one in the whole flight.  It's a very pretty area, and it was dry if a little chilly.

The top lock is very deep.  We completed it at 10.05 -- so we'd taken two and three quarter hours to do the flight, which means we averaged five and a half minutes a lock.

Immediately following the lock is Tardebigge Tunnel, which is hewn out of the rock.

Shortwood Tunnel is next, and then we were at Alvechurch.  This has been our original target for the day (as that's where my car is), but there was no way we were stopping now.  The forecast for tomorrow is terrible, so Doug and James were keen to get to Birmingham.  Wast Hill Tunnel is very long, and we met a couple of boats.  Doug noticed that the tunnel must once have had telephone wires running through it, as there are the remains of the carriers on the ceiling.  I failed to get a decent picture of them, but I did get one that's no too bad of one of the air shafts.

At King's Norton Junction, there was one day boat trying to wind, and another coming through the bridge.  We also came across two Anglo Welsh boats: one had stopped to clear its prop, but decided that as we approached was the perfect time to push the bow across the canal;  the second mis-steered, and veered across the cut in front of us.  By then we'd also got something round the prop, and had to get into the side.

It had started raining as we left Wast Hill Tunnel, and times it was quite heavy.  Still, the view from the new aqueduct of Birmingham University still looked good.

The fourth tunnel of the day was at Edgbaston, but it's only 100 yards long, and even has lights.  We arrived in the centre of Birmingham and moored on the main line, opposite the NIA.  We were moored up by 3pm, so we'd made decent progress all day.  I think we'll make us of Birmingham's choice of restaurants later, and then I'll be heading back to my car tomorrow.

17 miles, 30 locks.  (41 miles, 67 locks)

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