Thursday, 6 August 2015

Dickens Heath to Kingswood Junction

Tue 4th August

Dickens Heath to Packwood
Our mooring at Dickens Heath

The wet steps from the canal

Just over 2 miles took just over an hour, due to lines of moored boats, and a shallow canal.  We stopped at bridge 20 to visit Wedges, a bakers and delicatessen.  We had breakfast there, but we were a little disappointed as it was not very good value, the mushrooms were overdone, the toast was dropped on the floor by the staff and it took 20 minutes to bring a replacement.  We did buy lots of goodies like a pork pie, samosas, two rolls, and an assortment of vegetables, some bacon and some cheese.

Wedges breakfast

Another 40 minutes brought us to Hockley Heath where we moored on bollards to visit the shops. We noticed that Jolokia, the Indian Restaurant we enjoyed a few years ago, has changed hands and is now called Tagore.

Under the M42

Back on the boat, we were about to leave when a boat came towards us. We offered them our mooring, which they accepted. Then another boat appeared behind us as we pulled out and it all got complicated. We moved off, and the other boat followed us.

We arrived at bridge 26, and James got off with a windlass to operate the lift bridge (they call them draw bridges on this canal). Gabriel went through, and James beckoned the other boat through as well, so they passed us.  Bridge 28 is another lift bridge, but this time a hire boat coming the other way had opened the bridge, and both boats were beckoned through.

We followed the other boat down through the first four locks of the Lapworth flight, which are numbered 2 to 5. Lock 1 is the guillotine lock at Kings Norton Junction. They carried on down, but we moored before lock 6, planning to do the main part of the flight the next day.

Lapworth Top Lock - Lock 2

We went without lunch because of the cooked breakfast, and managed to stay awake in the afternoon!  We were very near Packwood House (National Trust) but we have done that before.

Several other boats arrived and moored, including a hire boat at 9.30pm, when it was almost dark. Their crew were already setting the next lock, and James suggested they should call it a day, as there are nine locks in quick succession with nowhere to moor. They took the advice.

4 locks, 5 miles, 2 lift bridges

Wed 5th August

Packwood to Kingswood

A boat went past early, heading for the locks.  We took some time as were in no rush to be second down the flight.  The hire boat had also gone.  There was one boat in front, which turned out to be Hullabaloo.  When we were ready to go (10.10am) we headed for the locks and Hullabaloo decided to follow us.

The locks were close enough for James to walk to the next one to set it and walk back to let Gabriel out of the previous one. After about five locks we spotted some boats on their way up the hill to meet us, accompanied by a CRT volunteer. Thereafter we were meeting boats at most of the locks.
Lapworth Locks

Looking back

Who wants to buy a canal?

We met Lady Grace, from the Wey Navigation, and exchanged a few pleasantries. They have left the Wey and now moor in Calcutt.

Lady Grace

Some of the locks were on a bend, and negotiating the short pound, using the large side pound, proved a challenge for some.

Crossing over

As we neared Kingswood, a lady CRT person opened the next lock for us, at which point we had a heavy rain shower. We then needed to visit the sanitary station to empty a cassette, and a hire boat was there already, so James had to get off at the bows.

Barrel roofed cottage at Kingswood

We went through the Lapworth Link to moor up in the connecting channel at Kingswood Junction.  Hullabaloo went past, heading for Warwick. Hugo was happy, as there were bushes and trees nearby, but there were trains crossing a bridge three boat lengths away. 
Our mooring at Kingswood Junction

Trains a bit too close

James went for a walk later and called in at the Navigation Inn to see what ciders they had. Thatcher’s Gold was the best they had. They use to offer Old Rosie, but they have changed hands and have gone upmarket like a bistro.  It used to be our favourite pub on the canals, but we don’t go there any more.

15 locks, 1 mile

Next: reverse through the narrow link under the bridge, and head for Stratford

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