As it was forecast to be hot today we rose early and were away before 7.30. We needed to wind and we took this opportunity to work our way round the Icknield Loop to view this quiet haven from the water, before heading east and turning onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
We’d hoped to fill up with water at the service point just above the locks but even at that early hour we were beaten to the tap by two other boats and there was nearly ‘water rage’ as the water pressure here is poor when only one boat is filling up, never mind two. We dipped the tank and found we had sufficient water to do a load of washing and so we headed down the 13 Farmers Bridge Locks. A volunteer lock keeper appeared and walked ahead of us opening the top gate so I could steer straight in while Storm closed up the lock behind me. After six locks we started meeting boats coming up the flight and we just worked our way round them. We turned right onto the Digbeth Branch and down another six locks that all needed filling first before turning onto the Grand Union.
There were two hire boats just working their way down the last two locks of the Grand Union and here we learnt that we’d missed the excitement of Tim West & Pru Scales filming their next canal adventure around the Birmingham Canal Network last week in an Elite class narrowboat from Napton Narrowboats. We don’t know whether they were filiming as they passed Blackbird while she was moored up near the Fiddle & Bone so we’ll just have to watch the programme to find out.
Apparently the filming involves using two hire boats (one for Tim & Pru) and one for the crew, and today the owners were returning the two boats back to their base after everyone involved in filming had abandoned ship. We went up another five locks to Camp Hill and here we filled up with water where the water pressure was excellent.
Mooring on the service jetty was quite awkward though as there was a decrepit plastic boat already permanently moored there, much to the consternation of the CRT employee who was cleaning the service block. He stopped his cleaning for a while to share gossip with us about the CRT and how this Trust is apparently wasting money. The service block was nice and clean though!
We finally made our excuses and motored on another five miles of lock-free cruising to Catherine de Barnes. The last part of our journey was through a leafy cutting that provided very welcome shade from the strong sunshine. We moored up at about 3pm having covered 10 miles and 24 locks.
We plan to stay here for 48 hours and we’ve placed an online grocery order with ASDA which is due to arrive at tea-time tomorrow.
After a cold shower we headed out to The Boat Inn for something to eat. The pub was clearly popular, or at least very busy as we had to wait almost an hour for a table. We were in good company as ‘All the President’s Men’ were at the next table as the historic narrowboat President was moored just round the corner from us. Unfortunately we were all very disappointed with the service and food offering when it finally arrived and one or two other diners had walked out, clearly displeased, at the length of time it was taking to prepare their meals.
I don’t think we’ll visit this pub again.