Thursday 14 July 2011

Droitwich Double 2 - Birmingham to Tardebigge Bottom Lock

Droitwich Double
Birmingham to Tardebigge Bottom Lock
4th July 2011

16 miles - 30 locks - 8 hours

Today was one of those great boating mornings. We were up and away by 9.00am, passing Aquarius and Ilford moored beside Birmingham's futuristic Cube and then we travelled along mile after mile of tree lined waterway, the mirror like surface of the cut only disturbed by our wash and the occasional ripples from the resident ducks.

Birmingham's Cube

Aquarius and Ilford opposite the Cube

Given the lack of traffic I stopped at the new aqueduct by the hospital, scrambling down the bank to get a better view. Modern concrete it may be, but its still an impressive addition to the waterway.

Selly Oak Aqueduct, Birmingham

We passed a particularly smoky boat as we approached Wast Hill tunnel,  but thought no more about it till we saw the northern portal with diesel fumes still rolling out in great plumes of blue. I know the sign says extinguish all open fires, but maybe that should extend to smoky vintage engines too!. The tunnel was freezing in tee shirts and shorts but a few slices of Belle's freshly baked Rose Hip Bread soon put us right again.

Wast Hill Tunnel - north portal

Inside the Wast Hill Tunnel

Shortwood Tunnel

We arrived at Tardebigge top at 3.00pm, completing the flight in three hours ten minutes and  passing a fair contingent of Birmingham boating's great and good along the way - all returning from the festivities at Droitwich. 

Barnet at Tardebigge

First up was Barnet, streered by Laurence Hogg and crewed by Dave Williams of Lichfield and Hatherton Restoration Trust - who recognised me as a an honorary lifetime member (long story). Then along came Phil Clayton in Marsh Harrier (Birmingham Canal Navigations Society) chased by Tony Phillips steering his recently repainted Trent 2. Belle described this bunch of canal desperado's as hardcore canal nerds - pigeon holing me as a soft core nerd I guess!

Messrs Hogg and Williams

Between them they described their exploits in Droitwich and in particular, Barnet's unexpected 35 min delay in the notorious M5 culvert. More of that in a future post in this series.

Tardebigge bottom lock house

We moored near the Queens Head but to our disappointment it was closed for staff interviews, the only day of the year it is closed. As a consolation we broke out our the bank side BBQ and washed the end result down with a few pints of home brew.

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