Wednesday 7 September

Last night we had a very pleasant evening with Annis & Dennis in the beer garden of The Boot and they invited us to join them for a meal in the pub there on Thursday night.

We explained that we would need to move the boat a little nearer to Birmingham as we’re meeting friends there over the weekend.   The village of Hockley Heath though is just 2.5 miles, 13 locks and two lift bridges, north west of Lapworth and is also on the route that Annis & Dennis would take to drive there and so they said they’d pick us up.  From Hockley Heath to the centre of Birmingham is an easy day’s cruise that we could do on Friday.

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With another warm and sunny day forecast today we set off early to climb through the 13 locks that remained of the Lapworth flight.  In total there are 21 locks in just two miles, north of Kingswood Junction.  We set the washing machine going as we left.

We passed two boats coming down and so all locks were set in our favour.  We had a bit of a problem with the bottom gates refusing to stay closed and to save both of us being on the tow path, Storm began opening a top paddle slightly to create a flow through the lock before closing the gate so that as he closed the gate, the water was already starting to fill the lock.

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Awkward bend

There are also a couple of locks on a bend that seem designed to remove paint as it is impossible to manoeuvre the boat without scraping the brick wall on the outer curve.

We made good time up through the locks and then had the two lift bridges to open with the windlass before we reached Hockley Heath.  The moorings here are in a cutting overlooked by housing and mature trees and we managed to moor with our stern in the sunshine so that the washing would dry on the rotary airer.

The village of Hockley Heath is an unusual village in that the first shops you see as you first come up off the towpath is a McLaren show room selling some very expensive cars, a shop that announces it is a ‘Cleaner of Fine Clothes’, and a shop selling Swimming Pools.  We had to walk a little further to find a shop within range of our budget.

We popped to the village shop for some bread and passed a bike shop called ‘Dynamic Rides’.   Storm popped back later, once he’d checked exactly what he needed, to see if they had a gear cable for my bike.  Success, so that kept Storm busy during the afternoon.   I now have a bike back in full working order.

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