Thursday, 25 August 2011

A Much Less Hard Work Day.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Tardebigge Top - our only lock of the day.
We had hoped throughout the whole of this trip that we might spend at least a night tied up in Birmingham - it has become somewhat of a tradition on our big summer trips.  However, we had already "borrowed" some time, both to visit the Severn valley Railway, then to stop at Droitwich where we had not actually planned to spend the night, until unexpectedly met Dave and Jan.

Inside Tardebigge Tunnel.
We still wanted to go to Birmingham, although were aware that plenty awaits us back home, and we can't e out too much longer.  We decided we would push on from Tardebigge, and make the decision before Kings Norton, where the Northern Stratford canal could have provided a route home that didn't take in Birmingham.

Truly stunningly decorated narrow boat.

"Seaford" - Another Northwich boat in similar colours to "Sickle".
We had just a single lock, (Tardebigge Top), to start the day, if Birmingham was to be the destination.  Almost immediately after that you enter Tardebigge Tunnel.  I had been through this before, but had forgotten how much of it is unlined.  IUt is very uneven, and although it is a tunnel where boats can enter from both ends at the same time, and you can pass, I wasn't really sorry not to have to do so.

The similar length tunnel at Shortwood is a more conventional arrangement, lined throughout.  Again nobody else was about.

The slow moving boats finally exit Wast Hill Tunnel.
The much longer Wast Hill Tunnel, (or is it Wast Hills - both forms are used), proved a different prospect.  We passed several boats coming the other way, which wasn't really the problem, but quickly caught up another boat going slowly and zig-zagging. This boat was in turn queued up eventually behind another.  I hate being forced to travel slowly in the tunnels, but here we often had to take the boat out of gear, when even tick-over meant we were still catching up.

Outside the tunnel the first boat moved over, and waved the followers past - in my view the correct ehaviour if you want to move very slowly, (or your boat has a probblem, and can't move at normal speed).  The boat still in front of us, having passed it, then speeded a little, but was still not travelling at a normal pace.  It seemed that whilst he was happy to pass someone who offered, he did not see the need to offer the same courtesy to others.

Eventually he decided to stop, after which we completed the remaining lockless miles into Birmingham rather more quickly. (You can work out at this stage that we had decided not to forgo a trip into the city after all!).

Moored up in Birmingham.
We moored initially just to discuss intentions with Dave and Jan, but they quickly decided to stop at the same point too, which became our overnight mooring.  They had already decided to meet up with some other members of the Canal World Forum, that they knew, but we had yet to meet.  It was agreed an arrangement would be made for the evening, but that we would do our own things until then.

Not the best employment in the world ?
I'll not go into the mix-up that had Cath setting off to the shops without me, when I thought I was joining her, or the fact she had failed to take a mobile with her to sort it out!  I was truly amazed to find her in Brum with no mental map, but a bookshop is always a good bet, so guess where I found her!

When we got back we went for an early meal with David, who wanted to be free for something else that evening.  We found by then another boat tied up near us, which we knew to be further members of the Canal World Forum.  Although Dave and Jan had helped them tie up, they had not realised this.  They were not there then, but we left a note, before departing for a pub, where Dave and Jan had agreed to meet their friends.  The others turned up too, eventually so we officially declared it a Canal World "Banter".

I was not aware of drinking more than usual that evening, but the following morning my head suggested I may have done.  Cracking good company, anyway!

Top of Tardebigge flight to Birmingham
Miles: 14.5, Locks: 1

Total Miles: 316.7, Total Locks: 274

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