The mooring by Lyons Boat Yard proved to be very quiet. This morning we set off at around 8am, and the first major feature was Brandwood Tunnel -- the first of four tunnels today. The others were Wast Hill (the longest at 2726 yards), Shortwood, and Tardebigge.
Just before the end of the Stratford Canal is the old guillotine stop lock. Quiet a lot of money was spent on cleaning it up recently, but all the graffiti is back.
Then comes King's Norton Junction, with its junction house. We turned left towards Worcester.
A hire boat in front of us stopped at the water point. As we wanted to do the same, we pulled in and Adrian got off to see if there were two. There were so we tied up. I started a wash load while Adrian sorted out the hose pipe. Then there was a problem. Each water point has two taps, and as he attached the hose to one, the other fell off, sending out a jet of water. As he tried to put the tap back on, he was getting soaked. Eventually I got s pair of pliers and we were able to put the tap back and tighten it enough to stop the water flowing. Adrian went for a hot shower!
Once through the Wast Hill tunnel we had moved from the West Midlands into Worcestershire. We passed Hopwood, the Bittell reservoirs, and Alvechurch, with its busy hire base. We thought we should top up with diesel, but Anglo Welsh at Tardebigge is 13p a litre cheaper than ABC at Alvechurch -- so we went for the cheaper option.
From there it's just a short run through the tunnel to the top of the Tardebigge flight of locks. The guy at Anglo Welsh had told us it usually takes about three and a half hours to do the flight. We decided we'd go down today, before the hire bases release their Friday boats. So Adrian quickly made some lunch, which we ate as we went down the top lock. This is one of the deepest narrow locks in the country, at 14 feet. From it, there's a great view of Tardebigge church; below it there's quite a long pound, which includes the old pump house.
We entered the top lock at 12.30. The first ten took us an hour and ten minutes. The second ten took an hour and five minutes. We'd got into a very efficient rhythm, with Adrian doing the offside paddles, then getting back on the boat, while I did the towpath side and then walking down to set the next lock. We crossed with a couple of boats on the way, meaning a few locks were in our favour. After twenty locks we caught up with a boat in front, who weren't quite as efficient as us, so setting the next lock often included closing up after them. Consequently, the final ten locks took an hour and a quarter. However, three and a half hours for all thirty locks really isn't bad at all.
Tardebigge is a lovely flight, very picturesque with wide ranging views of the distant Malvern hills. If there's one reason not to get a widebeam, it's flights like this! We moored at the bottom, where there was plenty of room, at just after 4pm.
13 miles, 30 locks. (44 miles, 92 locks)