Monday 25 September 2023

Wending to Wales: Day 29

It lashed it down with rain and blew a hoolie yesterday evening and into the night, but by this morning conditions were much better.  We set off just before 8, which turned out to be just after a boat coming out of the Oozells Loop, and we followed them down to the locks.

Last time we left Birmingham we used the North Stratford route, so we were going a route today that we haven’t done for a while — starting with Farmer’s Bridge Locks.  It’s really urban, but remains one of my favourite flights.  The boat ahead had a crew of three, so lifted a paddle to fill each lock for us as they left, which was very good of them.

We got to the bottom of the 13 locks in an hour and a half, which is pretty good.  Then at Aston Junction we turned right onto the Digbeth Branch.

Ashted Locks go through the campus of the Birmingham City University.  When I did my postgrad there, the campus was up at Perry Barr, but one of my lecturers is now a professor there, and was watching for us from the fifth floor of the Curzon Building.  I got a message to look up and there was Diane, and she also sent me a photo from us there!

The bottom Ashted lock is surrounded by HS2 works.

Camp Hill locks are uphill, undoing some of the day’s downhill work.  There is graffiti aplenty, and the locks are without doubt the shonkiest we’ve been through this trip, with plenty of paddles not working, and some of the rest in a questionable state.

We got to the top at around 12 noon, so all 25 locks had taken four hours, which was the same as last time we did them.  Camp Hill top lock was also our final narrow lock of the trip (and we have done 223 of them); they’re all wide from here back to base.  We carried on to Catherine de Barnes, passing just a couple of boats going the other way, and moored on the end of the rings.  We’re going to The Boat this evening with Bob and June.

11 miles, 25 locks.  (326 miles, 243 locks)

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