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Summer 2005: Birmingham, the river Avon, and back home

After one of the hottest days of the year as we came up through Stourbridge, our alternator had stopped working. We didn't realise until we set off from Merry Hill the next morning, and we made our way through Netherton Tunnel with a rapidly-dimming headlight before stopping at Sherborne Wharf. They were extremely helpful, finding us a mooring with an electric hook-up (so we didn't have to eat a whole fridge-full of food that night) and taking the alternator away to a workshop that rebuilt it for us by the next day.

 

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Stourbridge
A fine collection of boats at Dadford's Wharf
The north end of Dudley Tunnel
What an indignity for a fine old canal

With the alternator repaired we headed West and spent a day at the Black Country Museum. Overnight we reversed back to their secure moorings, and walked up the road for the best value steak and chips (and beer) of the whole trip. We returned via Smethwick where we encountered yet another festival and stopped for the afternoon before returning to the City Centre for a few more days.

 

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Old and New main lines at Smethwick
Aqueduct over the New Main Line on the Engine Arm at Smethwick
Birmingham or Venice?
Stratford on Avon; the chain ferry. Don't pass too close to it!

After making our way down Tardebigge (well done to the Queen's Head pub, when the kitchens ran out of gas they gave people the phone numbers of the local takeaways, telling them to have their food delivered to the pub and to eat it at the tables in their restaurant) we made our way via the Camp House Inn on the Severn (try their cider, I think it's made from a mixture of river water and rocket fuel!) to Gloucester. We spent a week there, filling up with diesel from "Stokie No 1" at Sharpness before returning to Tewkesbury and heading up the Avon to Stratford.

A wonderful week at Stratford included lots of sightseeing and a magnificent performance of "The Comedy of Errors". We went back to Birmingham again and visited the Sea-World with a 2-for-1 voucher we'd picked up in Stratford; while we were there a tornado hit Kings Heath just 2 miles away and the rain was so heavy that the main line rose by 3 inches in a couple of hours.

We headed back to Lapworth and watched the Mikron Theatre Company's excellent performance of "Wheel of Fortune" at the Wood pub, then made our way to Hatton station to take a train into Warwick for the castle before returning via Knowle, Catty B, Camp Hill, and Garrison locks. What a surprise it was; it was easy going the whole way, the canals and locks were all in excellent condition, and all the natives seemed friendly. Last time we'd been along the Saltley Canal was in 1984 when we were the last boat  to make it while they were draining it before closing it for years for repairs.

There was a disaster at Hawkesbury, we were woken early in the morning by the owner of the boat next-but-one to us, who had smelt smoke and only just had time to Abandon Ship with his dog before the whole interior burst into flames. By the time the fire brigade arrived less than half an hour later, the whole boat had been gutted and the fire was already dying out. Luckily nobody was hurt, but it was a terrifying reminder of how dangerous is fire on a boat.

 

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Grass snake cooling off in the Avon
FIRE
Damping things down
The aftermath

Near disasters continued to follow us as the next night at Newbold, three giant round hay-bales decided to roll down the hill at 4am and launch themselves off the high bank into the canal. One missed our stern by only a couple of feet; had it landed on the back deck I suspect we would have been sunk!

We got home mid-August after over 1000 miles and 655 locks, after a wonderful trip and looking forward to the next one (which will probably be back up the Ashby for my birthday in October for the meal at the Horse and Jockey in Congerstone that we promised ourselves earlier in the year).

 

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Go to Allan's Page 2005 to Llangollen and Chester Canals Home Page 2005 Anderton and River Weaver Go to Deb's Page

 

All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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