Sunday, 24 September 2017

North West Passage: Day 30

It was bright as we left at around 8am, with the sun reflecting off the front of the Arena Birmingham.

We got to the top of the Farmer's Bridge locks, and found a boat going down in front of us. We'd expected that all the locks would be empty anyway, so it didn't make much difference. This flight is one of my favourites. There's a lot going on, they're nice and close together so you can set ahead easily, and they just fly by.

We did the thirteen locks in under an hour and a half. As expected, the boat in front of us, a hire boat probably doing the Warwickshire Ring, turned left at Aston Junction to go down the Aston locks. We turned right onto the Digbeth Branch. The six locks here were in our favour. Ashted Tunnel comes immediately after the first lock, and is tiny. We know from experience that the roof curves in so much that boat hald rails are at severe risk of getting a scrape, so Adrian took the centre line to hold the boat against the towpath.

The next couple of locks run through the new campus of Birmingham City University. When I did my postgrad there, it was based up at Perry Barr. The new buildings look like a big improvement.

We took a sharp left at Warwick Bar to join the Grand Union Canal. The next locks, six of them, are uphill -- undoing some of the downhill work we'd already done!
We reached the top of the Camp Hill Locks at about 12, so all 25 locks had been completed in under four hours. The top lock was our last narrow one of the trip; they're all wide fromm now on. We turned onto the service point to fill the water tank, start the washing machine, and get rid of rubbish. We knew the water would take a while, so we had lunch too.

The next stretch is lock free, starting in industry, going through Solihull, and passing the Land Rover factory. However, much of the length is in tree lined cuttings, and the number of leaves in the canal shows that autumn really is here.

13 miles, 25 locks. (354 miles, 223 locks)

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