Friday, 19 June 2015

Alrewas to Hopwas

Wed 17th June

Alrewas to King’s Orchard

We had a leisurely departure, with many other boats having left from the moorings around us.

We had to wait for one boat at Bagnall Lock as we left Alrewas.  After that it was one boat up, one boat down at all the locks.  We met BCF member Vic Mortimer on Connie’s Gift.

At the water point it was so slow that we had time for an ice cream from the café.  We would have had time for breakfast!

 Aylesbury Duck

Most of the locks had a C&RT volunteer to help boaters through.  We turned left onto the Coventry Canal at Fradley Junction, using the small swing bridge.

Fradley Junction

We wanted to get past the busy A38 road, which runs alongside the canal in places.  After Streethay Wharf we found a good mooring place just after King’s Orchard marina, before bridge 84. 

We put the hood up as rain was forecast. In the end it was only a light shower.

A boat went past at 10.15pm

5 locks, 6 miles, 1 swing bridge

Thu 18th June

Kings Orchard to Hopwas

A boat went past at 5.30am.

We got up somewhat later, and we had a phone call from Simon (nb Daedalus). “Hi, we’re at Fazeley, and I understand you are not far away” We told home where we were, and that we were heading for Hopwas, and he said they would walk up to meet us.  They are friends we first met on the Weaver in 2009, again on the Wey in 2012, and on the Severn and Gloucester and Sharpness Canal in 2013.

We set off 30 minutes later, and headed south past the Lichfield Cruising Club base at the Eastern end of the Wyrley and Essington Canal at Huddlesford Junction.

 Huddlesford Junction

We cruised through Whittington, where there are several houses with long moorings, and then past the polytunnels, where they were growing strawberries last time. This time the tunnels were on the ground rolled up, and the crop was asparagus.

We had just passed the badger setts at Hademore when the phone rang again. “We are in Whittington. Where are you?”  They were cycling, and had diverted off the towpath for a short distance, and we had missed each other.

We came upon a Canal Club hire boat moored opposite the winding hole by Tamhorn Farm Bridge. They were peering into the engine bay, and we asked if they were OK. No, they weren’t.  They had tried to turn in the winding hole by putting their stern in, and the engine had died.  They said they had checked in the weedhatch and couldn’t see anything.  We asked if they had checked the propeller, and they looked over the stern. We told them that the weedhatch was for checking the propeller, so they opened it again, and one of the guys reached in to feel the prop, and discovered a car tyre wrapped round it.

We tied up behind them, and lent them a bread knife, a hack saw, some bolt cutters, and Bargee Bill’s Prop Cleaner. Simon and Pat meanwhile arrived on their bikes, which we put in the bows. One of the hire boaters suggested taking a cup and bailing out the water from the weedhatch, so we could see more clearly. We had to point out that the water went right down to the bottom of the canal, so we would have to drain the whole length of canal.

After a lot of cutting, pulling, sawing and rope work, the tyre was finally off, and there were smiles all round.  The hire crew gave us a bottle of Kentish wine as a Thankyou for stopping.

Tyring work


Simon and Pat

After a cup of tea on board, we set off once again through the beautiful Hopwas Woods, and found Gospel Belle, Remus and Essence on the visitor moorings.

We went on a little further to the Tame Otter where we moored up. Simon and Pat left us (lovely to see them) and we had lunch in the pub as we didn’t want to eat later on as we were singing.

We had a snooze before Jubilee arrived at about 4pm, and we had a music practice on Gabriel.  We prepared four songs with one in reserve.

Moored by the Tame Otter

We walked the short distance back to the Social Club where the folk club was being held.  We had a warm welcome from the organisers, and were delighted to find Rosie’s Pig cider on tap, left over from a recent beer festival.

There were quite a few acts, and the lady organising it was also in the resident band, who were to start it off, so the kick off time of 8.30pm was delayed until after 9pm, while she got the acts in order.  There was a lot of variety, with traditional songs, morris tunes, and Americana as well as some home-written material.

We followed the interval and raffle draw, so they could set up four mics and get the PA balanced. We sang Long Way Down, Waterloo Road, Well, Jesus was a man, and Banks of the Ohio.  We were able to give out the leaflets promoting the mission and explain what we were doing.  We were well received and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

In action at Chequemates Folk Club in Hopwas

0 Locks, 4 miles

Tomorrow the mission starts with visits to the boat by school children.  Singing in the Three Tuns, Fazeley on Saturday. Lots of events the following week.

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