I was woken before 7am this morning with a cup of coffee. The mizzle didn’t encourage an early start but we managed it. We spared a thought for all those whose new school term starts today as it was such a cold damp morning.
We headed first the 5.5 miles and 3 locks to Salford Junction, needing our anti-vandal key for Minworth Locks. We filled up with water at Minworth Top lock, all other services there being ‘out of use’.
Salford Junction sits right under Spaghetti Junction and is relatively quiet given all the traffic that travels overhead. We managed the tight turn onto the Grand Union Canal easily and pulled in briefly at Star City Visitor Moorings to open our weed hatch cover and remove some plastic bags and string that had wrapped itself around our propellor.
Moving off again we headed for the five Garrison Locks. Whilst these locks are narrow, the two bottom gates refused to stay closed without us raising the top ground paddles first to create a water flow. This 2.75 mile stretch of the Birmingham Canal Network (BCN) looked quite uncared for with lots of overhanging shrubs and the towpath looked as though it didn’t see much footfall either. There was a lot of surface graffiti and vandals had even tried to set fire to the balance beams at some time in the past. We didn’t see another soul.
You know you are back in Birmingham when you spot the red doors in the bridges that the Fire Brigade use for their fire hoses.
At Bordesley Junction I managed to put Storm ashore on the short length of quayside so he could prepare the first of the Camp Hill Locks but then ran aground as the water levels were quite low. There was a guy from CRT at the lock above who was busy letting water through and he came and assisted Storm with opening lock gates.
The West Midland Fire Brigade had a team of trainee firefighters standing by Lock 54 who were preparing to learn how to float a boom across the canal. They enjoyed being distracted by Max who was delighted to see so many people keen to make a real fuss of him.
Once clear of Camp Hill we settled down to cover the 7.75 miles to the first recommended mooring at Catherine de Barnes. This stretch of canal is quite boring as it is mainly tree lined and it is hard to see any of the built up area that surrounds the canal, but we were watched!
We had to take it quite steady though as there were a lot of branches floating in the canal. We finally moored up at 3pm, some 7.5 hours after setting out, which is just about spot on time-wise to cover 16 miles and 14 locks at a top speed of 4 mph.