Monday, 13 June 2011

Stratford 2011 Alderley to Sherborne Wharf

Stratford May 2011
Alderley to Sherborne Wharf
14 May 2011

Stratford on Avon 2011 - index of posts:

Post 1 - Calf Heath to Birmingham (this page)
Post 2 - Birmingham to Kingswood Junction
Post 3 - Kingswood Junction to Stratford
Post 4 - Statford on Avon
Post 5 - Mad Hatters Tea Party
Post 6 - Stratford to Wilmcote
Post 7 - Wilmcote to Chessetts Wood
Post 8 - Chessetts Wood to Camp Hill, Birmingham
Post 9 - Camp Hill to Tipton

At last with Jeff and Tilly safely ensconced in their respective colleges Belle and I can have a week to ourselves. Bliss. 

I never tire of the early morning view from the hatch.

With Belle only just getting over her third lot of surgery the vague plan has been a relatively easy nine day route, maybe the Four Counties Ring of the Caldon. Then the bombshell - how about a trip to Stratford? I like the Stratford, its a pretty canal and there arnt many locks...... Not many locks! there are about 75 of the things between Calf Heath and Bancroft Basin, and then there is back again. But hey, whatever the lady wants - and her being on light duties (no locks).

With nine days you would assume four days out and four back and a day for faffing around somewhere. Not so on this trip. Belle fancied hosting a tea party for all her academic buddies and this was to take place on the Tuesday, which gave us about three days to make the outward journey. Ok - time to roll those sleeves up and get cracking.

We stated with a short hop to the Fox and Anchor at Coven, a pub which is virtually our regular. We downed some of their particularly fine burgers washed down with a couple of pints of Batemans. Not a bad start to the week.

Belle foraging on the 21

We started the Wolverhampton 21 in the drizzle which annoyed Belle as she has just got into foraging and the book said to pick Elderflower and Dog Rose on a warm sunny day. Patience isnt her strong point and no sooner had the rain eased of than it was deemed "dry enough" and off she went into the undergrowth leaving me to move the boat single handed. Suddenly that hill up to Wolverhampton looked very long indeed.

Belle's energy levels didn't match her enthusiasm and she re-emerged about half way up grasping a bag of flowers and picking assorted prickles fro her legs, reminiscent of Winnie the Poo when he fell into the gorse bush. In the  end we made it to the top in 3 hours which was a creditable result in the circumstances.

Barnes being towed from Tardebigge to Penkridge

The canal from Wolverhampton is weedy and slow, and progress is a steady crawl at best, but picks up after Coseley Tunnel. We were heading for a 7.00pm appt with Nick and Victoria in Sherborne Wharf so we had to press on through the increasing wind and squally rain showers. Fortunately the wind was behind us so I donned my waterproofs, sent Belle below for a kip and let the weather do its worst.

Galton Bridge, Smethwick

We surged down the New Main Line, arriving with 15 mins to spare. N and V are lovely hosts and my glass was constantly replenished in th way that means you have no idea how much you have drunk - till the next day and boy did I suffer!

All this poking around the BCN offered an excellent chance to do some timings and see how long each section of the BCN marathon would take. Not that I take the race seriously of course.

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