Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Stratford 2011 - Chessetts Wood to Camp Hill

Stratford 2011
Chessetts Wood to Camp Hill
20th May 2011

14 miles - 5 locks - 7 hours

The morning started by retracing our steps back to Kingswood Junction. It would appear that the widened Grand Union had a standard width of 40ft, 2 ft narrower than Wand'ring Bark's 42.5 ft, nearly wide enough to wind, but not quite. Oh well, at least the little diversion meant that Belle had some hot water for a shower.

National Trusts Baddasley Clinton

The entrance to the National Trust's Bad-ass-ley Clinton is about half a mile from bridge 66, but then there is the long tree lined drive which winds on for nearly a mile before you arrive at this classic moated house. We have visited before and whilst the house is nice enough it's the garden we had come to see. The early summer flowers were in bloom, surrounding the house set amid its glittering moat. Well worth a £6.50 charge.

Clock Tower at Baddasley Clinton

We returned to the boat for 1.00pm aiming for a night at Camp Hill, close in to the city centre. This is the "middle road" into Birmingham, part of the 1930's improvements to link Birmingham with London, with enlarged locks and bridge holes. But it was an initiative which failed to deliver the  goods. This scheme did leave a legacy of new locks, and none more impressive than the five at Knowle which replaces six narrow ones whose chambers have been converted into weirs.

Knowle Locks

The canal is pretty enough to Catherine de Barnes at which point it slips over the watershed, one side sending a trickle of water to the Atlantic via the Severn and on the other the droplets heading north via the Trent basin into the distant North Sea. The canal then enters tree lined cuttings which prompted Belle to comment on its attractiveness. This is true but after three hours the same scene starts to wear a bit thin. Its not surprising this rubbish strewn route is the least popular route into the city.

Bordesley Green - Gateway to Birmingham

I last came this way two years ago and noticed the quality mooring at the top of the Camp Hill Locks. Given the remote location I expected to see only a couple of BW workboats but as we approached we spied Edu's Enigma moored across the tap. Like us, they never expected to see another boat and quite reasonably used the tap mooring. We came alongside and refilled before reversing back into the one remaining arm and hunkering down behind the very snazzy service block, the quiet only disturbed by the distant rumble of trains running over the adjacent viaduct.

Camp Hill moorings

If you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods I can vouch for the mooring, and if my word isn't enough, the absence of anti vandal locks on the Camp Hill flight bears testimony to a better than normal area.

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