Sunday, 20 September 2015

Going West: Day 20

The CBSO concert last night was excellent. The programme wasn't perhaps one we would have chosen, consisting of a presenter going through an A to Z, with short works or excerpts. But the players were brilliant, and Symphony Hall itself is a superb venue.

This morning a boat headed off to the locks at around 7am, just as we were getting up. It was the Drayton hire boat who'd been on the BCNS explorer cruise, and whom we followed up the Ryder's Green flight on Friday. We set off just before 8, slipping past Chance.

I had to fill the top lock, and all the others in the Farmer's Bridge flight. This is one of my favourite flights of urban locks, as there's so much of interest -- including locks under road bridges and buildings.

In spite of having to turn all 13 locks, we completed the flight in an hour and a quarter. I was setting the locks two ahead, so while the lock we were in was emptying, I'd walk down two locks and open a paddle, then on the way back up open the top gate of the next lock. With Adrian working the offside paddles, we had a good system going.

At Aston Junction, we headed off down Aston Locks. We think it must be ten years since we did this flight, when we did the Warwickshire ring on a hire boat. The last time we came down Farmer's Bridge we took the alternative route via the Ashted and Garrison locks, and the last time we went up Farmer's Bridge we'd come via Knowle, Camp Hill and Ashted. Anyway, we remembered very little -- but to be honest, there's not much that's very memorable. We caught up with the boat ahead at the bottom lock of the eleven.

Salford Junction is under the M6 at Spaghetti Junction -- although it's not nearly as dramatic arriving from this direction as it is when you come down the Tame Valley. Right under the motorway, where the Grand Union joins, there's a junction bridge and a finger post. A little while later, the canal passes underneath a warehouse.

The next section is fairly uninspiring, but there are lots of new car dealerships on the offside, which I'm sure weren't there when we last came this way. Below the first Minworth Lock we stopped on the water point to fill the tank, start a wash load, and have lunch. We then completed the other two locks and carried on to Wiggins Hill Bridge, where what used to be a restaurant has expanded into a hotel and pub. We're right on the end of the moorings, with the back half on piling, and the front half not. It was about 2.30 when we got here, so we could have carried on, but thought we'd probably done enough locks today.

9 miles, 27 locks. (252 miles, 221 locks)


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