Friday, 16 August 2013

And Probably STILL No Real Idea Where We Are Going!

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

"Alphons" an "IdleWomen" boat later owned by Idle Woman Margaret Cornish
Curiously making such good progress yesterday left us with a bit of a quandary about today's plans. We knew we wanted to turn off the Staffs and Worcs canal at Stourton Junction, a few locks beyond last nights stop, and head towards Birmingham on the Stourbridge Canal.  But this route has a flight of 16 locks at Stourbridge, and a further 8 at Black Delph, in addition to the 7 locks we would need to get to these, and there are not really good overnight stopping options once you have commenced the Stourbridge locks, until after the Delph ones.  The Merryhill centre seems to be one people often choose, but it is described as rather soulless, and sometimes noisy.

Planning best way to pass another boat in short pound!
Because we awoke to a downpour we didn't feel like commencing a very long day, so instead I floated a plan to actually do a very short one, and not in fact tackle any of those 24 locks today.  Instead I suggested we actually venture down the arm of the Stourbridge canal that goes into the town itself, which would give us a trip we have not made before.  The downside to ths plan is that we will need an early start tomorow, and a likely long day, if we are not anyway to end up at Merryhill but just one day later!  The other downside is that tomorrows weather forecast is poor, so we may be doing 24 locks in heavy showers.

This makes it look like there was a lot more room than there was, though!
None-the-less that is what we went for, and highly unusually for us we were tied up in Stourbridge by lunchtime, with our boating day finished.  What I had forgotten is just how attractive much of the mainline of the Stourbridge canal is, with crystal clear water, and all detail on the bottom of the canal in clear view.  The branch to Stourbridge is far less picturesque, and in short stretches quite down at heel, but you are treated to a display of water lilies, and I even caught a glimpse of a kingfisher in quite an urbanised stretch.

I very rarely now see a proper split bridge that hasn't been interfered with.
Cath and I spent an extended period just chilling and looking around the town.  As seems sadly to be the case so often now, there are large numbers of charity shops, betting shops and "turn your possessions into cash" shops, although it didn't seem to have as many totally empty shops as some other towns.  Actually, coming from a home town with  too many shops targeted at the "uber-rich", I quite like visiting somewhere that is rather more down to earth.

We are not panicking that we are the solitary visiting boat.......... (Yet!)
Cath once again used our new Cob Oven, turning out an excellent cashew nut paella.  Having written two days worth of historic "blog", however, she went to bed, declaring that at least the next two days were down to me.

And we still don't knoe exactly where we plan to go tomorrow, although a plan is hatching!

Greensforge to Stourbridge
Miles: 6.8 (Chalice), Locks: 7

Total Miles: 246.9, Locks: 107

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