Thursday, 21 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Watford Gap to Thrupp Wharf

Tuesday 12th August 2008
Watford Gap to Thrupp Wharf
Once past Norton Junction we were back onto canal that we have done before, and what for us feels like 'home territory' as we have to go through it to escape from the southern Grand Union. So we didn't want to hang about, we'd already been out longer than we felt we should have done.
Coming down Buckby locks we were joined in the second lock down by a remarkable crew. The owners of the boat were a retired RN officer, who I was told confidentially by one of the crew members, was 84, and his wife who was in her 70s and did all the steering as she has a bad back and finds the locks too difficult. Both seemed as fit as a fiddle, and very game for everything, the gentleman was very happy to stride out on the long lock pounds, as well as seemingly having little difficulty with the paddles and very heavy gates. With them were friends who were visiting for a few days. They stopped at Whilton Marina and we carried on.
BW were doing some of piling of the new edging to the bank - since it seems to be based around wooden pilings rammed into the canal we did wonder at what kind of lifespan it will have. BW pile the dredgings behind the front row of pilings which seems to have some kind of mesh stretched over it, and which is braced by wires to the rear pilings.
Through Blisworth Tunnel, then down the flight at Stoke Bruerne, where David and I watched the clouds piling up rapidly from cumulus into whispy topped cumulo-nimbus as we worked down through the locks. Then I rather stupidly took a tumble down a grassy slope. Having recently removed the elastic bandage from my knee I decided to run towards the next lock to get it ready for the boat - and put my foot down a rabbit hole in the bank. I went head over heels and fell heavily against my arm on my right side, and trapping my arm against my chest. At first I thought that an injured ankle would be the main result of this - in fact that took very little time to recover, the bruising to my ribs was so bad that it disrupted my sleep more than a week - ah well, don't run!
We moored at Thrupp Wharf, Alan and I went for a well deserved pint. If I haven't said so before -David at 19, while he is very welcome to drink with us, doesn't like alcohol, and so tends to stay on the boat and surf the Internet - it certainly means that he has fewer budgeting problems than many students do while at university. We sat in the pub watching the gathering dusk and the panorama of clouds of all shapes and sizes at many layers of the atmosphere as they changed colours in the fading light.
A strange day weather wise, with sunshine mixed with drenching rain, and unfortunately the wind that has dogged this part of the trip.
Daily Total: 22.32 miles, 14 locks & 1 tunnel
Running Total: 311.6 miles, 339 locks and 19 tunnels

Summer Cruise - Foxton to Watford Gap

Monday August 11th 2008
Foxton to Watford Gap
Clear weather, although windy still - many miles of lock free cruising, and perhaps some of the most beautiful quintessentially "English" scenery I've seen for a long time.

Just steering, and passing by distant villages - the canal doesn't pass through any towns or villages, but through two tunnels - Husbands Bosworth Tunnel and Crick Tunnel.

Just to show how dense we can be - we spent ages discussing the Battle of Bosworth Fields. Was it a Civil War battle? What happened? Who won? Would there be any point in looking at it? Isn't the Battlefield Steam Railway nearby - that might be interesting? We couldn't find it in the pages of Nicholsons on Husbands Bosworth. Then we realised that the Bosworth Fields was at Market Bosworth, on the Ashby Canal - several days cruising from where we were. Well History and Geography were never our best subjects - obviously.

Just before Crick tunnel a bloke sitting by the bank said - "It's wet - well the first half is anyway", and it did indeed seem to be wet for the first part. Alan disputes this, but I was sat at the front with an umbrella.

British Waterways were dredging a lot of the pound near to Watford Gap - we've seen a lot of this new restraining edging while on our trip. It seems to be set up in front of a weak and broken up bank, then BW seems to fill it with dredgings. Here there were big 'dumb barges' filled with dredged slurry, as well as the dredger itself, which seems to be propelled by pulling itself along by the dredging arm.

Suddenly we arrived at the top of Watford Locks - the roar of the M1 motorway was absolutely deafening. We went to find the lock-keeper who was painting some paddle gear, and told us that a boat was working up - we could start down as soon as it arrived. Once again, despite warnings of long waits we got going through the flight almost immediately.

Watford Gap flight is one lock, a staircase of four, then two more single locks. Like Foxton, it's red paddles first then white on the staircase.

I said (loudly) to the lock-keeper "It's very attractive here, but the motorway and the railway are very intrusive. "YOU GET USED TO IT," she answered. I'm not sure that I would.
Looking up Watford Gap Staircase - beautiful, looking so peaceful, and ruined by the constant roar of road and rail.

After a refill of water at the bottom lock we passed by the noise and bustle of Watford Gap Motorway Services behind the hedgerow. then looked for a place to moor for the night where we wouldn't be kept awake by the noise. The motorway and railway parallel the canal for several more miles, including Buckby flight of locks - we just wanted to tie up. About a mile past the bottom of the locks, near a small marina, is a section of canal which is somewhat shielded by a slight hill - we moored up overlooking farmland, and with very little noise to disturb us.

Daily Total: 22 miles, 7 locks & 2 tunnels
Running Total: 289.3 miles, 325 locks, and 18 tunnels

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Kilby Bridge to top of Foxton Locks

Sunday 10th August 2008
Kilby Bridge to Foxton Locks
The rain mostly held off today - although there were some short and heavy showers , but the weather made up for it with wind. Wind for narrow boats is not good, making steering and mooring very difficult.
The countryside south of Leicester is very attractive, and really very remote. The canal seems to miss most of the few scattered towns and villages, making getting supplies quite difficult. Being Sunday we needed to get supplies before 4 pm and decided to make a stop near Fleckney and walk across the fields to the town for milk and food.

Foxton - We were quite keen to make Foxton flight before the evening. Several passing boaters had told us that you might have to wait several hours to get a passage up the flight, or even wait until the next day. If we couldn't make it on the Sunday, we at least wanted to be in the list for the Monday. We knew that there would be a lock-keeper to help with understanding how to use the side ponds.

At Fleckney the three of us struggled to moor the boat in the strong winds, then Alan and I set off across the fields to the Co-op in the local town. We managed to get quite a lot of suitable food, but half way back to the boat we realised we had no milk, so I went back into the town.

Saddington tunnel is famous for the bats living in there. Alan remembers being quite disturbed by the bats flying past him when he made a journey through the tunnel with his brothers in the mid 1970's, but we saw nothing of any bats, although there were lots of bat boxes up in the roof of the tunnel.

We arrived at Foxton in bright sunshine sometime after 4 pm. The lock-keeper was standing at the bottom of the flight, so I wandered over to ask how long we would have to wait to go up. "You're ready to go now? OK, flight's ready for you, are you doing the gates?" He explained "You do the paddles red before white, then open the gates, drop the paddles while the boat moves to the next lock, then shut the gates - easy." David found a windlass and we went straight in to the flight.
Near the bottom of the flight, overlooking one of the pubs

Up Foxton - It was enormous fun, David and I raced to be the first to open the Red then the White paddle (it has to be admitted that David managed far more than me), and push open the gates. There were crowds of gongoozlers (onlookers) watching and helping (or sometimes hindering) our progress up the flight. Families blocked the narrow bridges over each lock making it hard to get back to the paddle gear, or stood peering into the lock where we were trying to move the gates and burly men got their shoulders against the lock gates. This was perhaps the most unexpected - having spent two weeks straining against almost impossible gates while onlookers watched bemused we found that just as you leant onto the gate it would be almost snatched from you by eager helpers.

This is from the top chamber of the bottom staircase, just below the middle 'pound' looking up to the top staircase. Cath talks to the lock-keeper on the right. Notice the red colour coded paddle gear on the left.

David watches while the lock fills, the lock keeper has got the next lock ready, and eager helpers are ready to push against the balance beam.

Inside a lock chamber, looking up at the very tall gates that you have in a staircase lock.

A bit of Canal History - Foxton flight is famous, it consists of 10 locks, arranged as two staircases each of five locks. It's only possible for boats to be making the trip up, or down, a staircase at any one time. You can have more than one boat in the same direction, but boats can't 'cross' in a flight. A few boats can cross in the 'pound' in the middle, but it is a notorious 'traffic jam' at busy times. In 1900 the flight was replaced with a steam driven 'inclined plane' as part of the improvements that were supposed to bring far more narrowboat traffic as well as wide boats to the Leicester branch of the Grand Union Canal. However, instead of the theoretical 200 narrow boats a day the average was 8 per day, and the wide locks were never built in other parts of this canal to allow wide boats. After 11 years the expensive and little used inclined plane was abandoned and the 10 narrow locks reinstated. The Foxton Inclined Plane Boat Lift is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument with plans to reinstate it to working order.
It took about 40 minutes to get from the bottom to the top, we moored up thinking we'd go for a walk and a well deserved ice cream, but a sudden downpour drenched everything. Cath and Alan went for a walk to have a look at the inclined plane.
Foxton in a downpour - the red brick building is the museum, where the steam engines were installed. To the side you can see the side ponds which allow saving water while locking through.

Fortunately the rain did not last long, by the time that we had walked to the inclined plane behind the museum the sun was beginning to show. This photo shows the inclined plane where two caissons were hauled up the hillside. The boats at the bottom show the lower level of the canal, and the large ponds are where the caissons for the boats entered the canal.

Looking down an inclined plane towards the canal

Looking up Foxton on our way back from the pub "Bridge 61", where there is a tiny bar and various other things are also on sale from a shelf in the corner (cakes, etc). The tiny shop next to the pub has books, some chandlery and essential supplies - it really felt like the kind of shop I haven't been into for about 30 years.

Daily total: 10 miles and 22 locks (including 10 Foxton) and 1 tunnel
Running total: 267.3 miles, 318 locks, 16 tunnels

Summer Cruise - Mountsorrel to Kilby Bridge

Saturday 9th August 2008
Mountsorrel to Kilby Bridge.
A miserable rainy and windy day. We set off from Mountsorrel and at the first lock a miserable bloke who didn't like the order that I wanted to do the paddles in lectured me while the lock was filling - would he have been so rude to a man I wonder? This put a cloud over the first part of my morning, but I decided that I wasn't going to let him ruin my day long after he'd passed by, so decided that he was just a stupid old fart, and felt much better.

We didn't want to stop early at the secure moorings in the centre of Leicester, and had been told that some parts of Leicester were not great for mooring. We needed to press on and get right through Leicester before the evening - a lot of miles and a lot of locks.

No power to the prop - The first problem we encountered was at about 10 o'clock, when we were approaching a lock. As Alan put the boat into reverse to slow the boat as he approached the landing for the lock nothing happened - it was if the propellor had dropped off (boats don't have brakes - you stop or slow down by going into reverse). So we hit the side hard.

Trousers - Once we were moored Alan opened the weed hatch (which allows you to look at the prop). In our boat this is not an easy thing to do as there is very little room and means lying on your stomach in a very restricted space next to the engine (which was of course, hot). We avoid this if it is at all possible, but with nothing happening there was no alternative.

It turned out that there was some kind of cloth wrapped very tightly around the prop and the prop shaft. David, being very much skinnier and more flexible than either of us crawled into the narrow space with a pair of scissors, and hacked and ripped at the cloth until he emerged triumphant with a pair of jogging bottoms (so what scenario gets a pair of jogging bottoms into the canal?). This took about 40 minutes out of our schedule.
On through Leicester passing various landmarks dimly glimpsed through the persistent rain. The National Space Centre - I long to visit, but doing so would have meant mooring up in Leicester, and another day later home - by this point we really felt that we had pushed leaving an 18 year old (however sensible) on his own far too long.

The roar of a crowd told us that this building was something to do with football. Much of the southern area of Leicester is very attractive, but we found the anti-vandal locks still in use well into the countryside beyond the town. We were surprised at the vigour and energy of anyone who wants to walk that far to leave graffiti or empty locks.

No vandals - It must be said that despite approaching a number of towns with some trepidation as 'bandit towns' we met nothing but courtesy and friendliness from the young people on the towpath.
The weather eased a bit towards the evening, but with the possibility of a shower at any time.
We eventually moored at Kilby Bridge, I was far too tired to head for the pub, so we prepared a quick meal, and went off to bed.

Daily Total: 18.66 miles and 21 locks
Running Total: 257. 3 miles, 296 locks, 15 tunnels (still)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Alrewas to Shardlow to Mountsorrel

Thursday 7th August 2008
Alrewas to Shardlow
An intensive day, with long gaps between the locks. Very attractive countryside, but the presence of nearby roads (A38) and the railway for much of the route was really oppressive.

There were huge numbers of hire boats, in particular Canaltime. One hire boat we came across the steerer had missed the 10 minute 'training video' while he was parking the car, so had very little idea of what was going on as his family tried to get him through the locks.

Through Burton on Trent, home of brewing, unfortunately not spotting the moorings for the supermarket, although we managed to find a small Co-op later.

Later in the day we spotted the boat Squeers which used to belong to a Canal World Forum member, and took photos to let him know the progress of his boat. Then we waited interminably while a couple filled a lock on minimally open paddles, dropping them completely at times. We couldn't really work out what was going on - despite the paddles being only just open the steerer was struggling to hold the boat, and when it was pointed out that it would take the best part of an hour to fill the lock the steerer just nodded and said "yes, it will". I'm all for a laid back attitude but waiting an hour for a lock really messes up my schedule, and if I don't want to moor by a noisy road it means I've got to keep going later into the night. Eventually we managed to persuade them to open a couple of paddles a bit more, at which point the boat became much easier to control.

We moored in Shardlow, by the boatyard, and after dinner David and Cath walked up the canal to the marina to check out the town.
Daily total: 23.87 miles and 11 locks
Running Total: 238.6 miles, 275 locks, 15 tunnels
Friday 8th August 2008
Shardlow to Mountsorrel (River Soar/ GU)
A fill of diesel at 81p a litre (cash and cheques only), the new people have only taken over the boatyard a few weeks ago, then off through the open flood locks by the marina at Shardlow.
Down onto the River Trent, which stunned us by it's size, and then under the M1. Then right at Trent Lock onto the River Soar towards Leicester.
We went through several flood locks that operate as ordinary locks from October to March, but the rest of the year are left open at both ends.

Kegworth Deep Lock AKA Kegworth New Lock took a very long time to fill. We were told that it used to fill faster but that it had been 'got at' - not sure why.

We finally moored at Mountsorrel, where this beautiful 1860 bridge crosses the river. However, being a river there is no towpath to moor at - not something we are used to. We finally banged pins into the edge of a field opposite the weir, where we were pestered by aggressive hissing swans bullying us for food through our side doors.
It's quite strange looking out of the window and seeing the grasses at the edge of a field at eye level.
We went to the pub for a pint (very good), and were kept awake at night by the weir (not possible says David, as it's 'white noise', but he wasn't awake at 5 am trying to shut the windows).

Daily Total: 17.45 miles and 12 locks (although some of these were flood locks)
Running Total: 255 miles 287 locks 15 tunnels (still)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Kingsbury to Alrewas

Wednesday 6th August 2008
Kingsbury (on Birmingham and Fazeley Canal) to Alrewas (Trent and Mersey Canal)
Through just one more lock on the Curdworth Flight in the morning, and then several lock free miles towards Fazeley Junction where we would be turning right and onto the Coventry Canal to be heading home. Alan doesn't like steering miles of canal without locks, so I steered, and as often happens had the opportunity to chat to David about all sorts of ideas as we continued north-east. At Fazeley Junction I limped into the town for some supplies, and another elastic bandage for my knee, as well as some more painkillers. Alan and David refilled the water tank.

Then, instead of heading south-east, as we had planned, and should really have done, we turned left and headed north-west towards Fradley Junction (you can use the link on the right to Jim Shead's canal maps). Michael was expecting us home, but in our phone calls he seemed to be getting on perfectly well without us. Somehow we seemed to be doing "the Leicester Ring".

There are a lot of lock free miles, then you arrive at Fradley Junction, by the Swan Inn, a famous pub, often known as the 'Mucky Duck'.
We worked down through 5 locks and ended up in Alrewas, a charming village. We moored right next to the church, and as the sun was shining we decided to explore the church and churchyard.
The church has some very old parts, and some remains of wall paintings, but what surprised us most was the age of the pulpit (1638) and table (1639) - pre-civil war. The church door seemed to be 1627.
The churchyard had some very old gravestones (about 250 years), and many people seemed to have lived to great ages. But even more surprising was the huge number of gravestones set all around the churchyard - we've seen this before, but never this number of stones. We presume that when space became short the stones were moved and the ground re-used, but we don't know.
Our walk around the churchyard was curtailed by a short sharp shower of rain, so we went back to the boat, and then decided immediately to go to the nearest pub. Walking in Alan asked "What beers have you got?", the reply was "Grolsch", "No thank you", said Alan and we walked out. The next nearest pub was a walk back across town, and my knee was quite painful, we were on the point of turning back when we found the pub. We sat in front of the pub, watching the local women arriving for a fitness class at a local hall.
On the way back to the boat we walked past the pub, and there, in the side garden was a magnificent owl with her owners. She's called Mo, and is an Indian Eagle Owl. She's 7 years old, and may live some considerable time more - that's an interesting inheritance to be left! We passed her again the next day sitting on the back of a boat, so she's presumably a well known 'canal character'. The Post Box in the background is trompe d'oeil.
Daily Total: Kingsbury to Alrewas (Trent & Mersey)16.28 miles, 6 locks
Running Total: 214.7 miles, 264 locks, 15 tunnels

Summer Cruise - Brum to Kingsbury (Curdworth flight)

Tuesday 5th August 2008
Birmingham to Kingsbury
Chalice moored by the National Indoor Arena and the SeaLife Centre - in the rain.
We woke up to a very rainy day, but set off down the 13 Farmer's Bridge locks towards the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.
We were followed down by a British Waterways maintenance crew who were going to make a 'stoppage' for repairs at the second lock down in the Aston flight from 4 pm that afternoon until midnight. Not perhaps the kind of place that you want to be stopped over night, so once out of the Aston flight we began warning other boat crews that they might want to go a different way around if they were not likely to be through there in time.
Halfway down Farmer's Bridge I began to get a serious pain in my right knee, which I tried hard to ignore, but it persisted until I couldn't put much weight on my leg.
We waved the BW crew past, I dug out an instant ice pack and strapped up my knee with an elastic bandage and then took over steering.
It rained continuously for hours, all through the Farmer's Bridge 13, the Aston flight of 11 and the Curdworth flight. We moored up between locks 10 and 11 of the Curdworth flight at Kingsbury, by a huge lake - I believe a gravel pit originally but now a wildlife centre. By this time the rain was mostly done, it was quiet and peaceful, with no-one around.
My knee was very painful, and I had considerable concerns about being able to get the boat home in a sensible time.

Daily Total: 11.93 miles, 37 locks, 1 minor tunnel
Running Total: 198.4 miles 258 locks, 15 tunnels

Summer Cruise - Alvechurch to Brum (again!)

Monday 4th August
Alvechurch to Birmingham
Having worked extremely hard on the Sunday we decided to take it easy today, just a relatively short run into Birmingham, then moor up near the National Indoor Arena.

So no locks, but two tunnels including Wast Hill, which we had been told was very wet, bendy and not possible to see through from one end to the other. No one is wild about doing tunnels, but we approached this one with some apprehensions. It just wasn't true - you can clearly see through it from one end to the other (2726 yards), and it was a bit wet, but so are all tunnels.

We came in through Gas Street Basin again (same route in as last time, from Kings Norton, past the University of Brum).

Once we'd moored up Cath went shopping and viewing the sights (I love Birmingham!), Alan did an oil change on the engine and a bit of fixing to the flush on the loo.

We went for another pizza in the evening, and then spent time wandering around the interesting water features in Brindley Place, and going shopping at a small Sainsbury's before heading off to bed.

We were kept awake by the racket made by the Canada Geese and the seagulls that seem to infest all cities these days all year round.

Daily Total: 12.22 miles, 0 locks, 2 tunnels.
Running Total: 186.5 miles, 221 locks, 14 tunnels

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Tibberton to Alvechurch

Sunday 3rd August 2008

Tibberton to Alvechurch
Today was the day of locks - forty two including the famous 30 lock Tardebigge flight. We set of through the first six, then I jumped off at Stoke Prior with the notorious folding bicycle with only one brake to get supplies. The note in the Nicholsons guide book about getting supplies near the bridge turned out to be a little inaccurate, and I had to cycle a mile or so before I found a small store.
Alan and David were already one or two locks up the six of the Stoke flight, and there was a single hander working ahead of us. This is always likely to slow you down a bit as the lock is full and you need it empty to go up, so I 'lockwheeled' ahead and 'turned' the lock for us as soon as he had left it. Alan was coping well coming out of the locks single handed, so I used some time to cycle ahead of the singlehander to 'turn' a couple of the full locks ahead of him, to speed him on. He responded by starting to open the bottom paddle of his full locks as soon as he had left them, so that they would be ready for us. Working together like this, with me setting locks for him and him emptying them behind him saved us both a considerable amount of time.

The rusty old folding bicycle from the tip. The first time I rode it on this trip it was found to be missing a brake block, than never got replaced through the trip, although it was deemed that it would be better having working front brakes than back brakes.

At the bottom of the 36 locks from Stoke Prior up to the top of Tardebigge I couldn't understand where the hill was - I knew that the locks were there, but the expected flight of locks up a steep hillside just wasn't there. It isn't until you get to the top that you can see how far you have climbed.

The top gate paddles on the Tardebigge flight are extremely difficult to move, they are incredibly stiff. I am not weak and I tend to use a normal windlass most of the time, but there were times that the only way I could get the paddle starting to move was by using a 'long throw' windlass for greater leverage, and then using my foot to get the first quarter turn. The British Waterways lock-keeper we spoke to said the problem was that the plastic paddles that had been installed were beginning to distort.

At the top of the flight we were tired but feeling incredibly good. We weren't ready to moor up yet so headed on through the Tardebigge Tunnel (580 yards) and the Shortwood Tunnel (613 yeards) and moored up at Alvechurch, near to the pub. A quick pint, and it was time to go back, cook, eat and get off to bed.
Daily Total: 15.30 miles, 42 locks, 3 tunnels.

Running Total: 174.3 miles, 221 locks, 12 tunnels

Summer Cruise - Stourport to Tibberton

Saturday 2nd August 2008
Stourport to Tibberton
We turned up at the chandlery at Stourport Basin, only to find that it didn't open until 10 am - so we refilled the water tank and emptied the cassettes. We then went and bought a 15 kg anchor with chain and a long 'warp' to attach it to the boat (not a lot of point in chucking the anchor over if you don't have it tied to the boat). Despite being told on the phone that the chandlery would have lifejackets for adults it only had lifejackets for very small adults (less than 8 stone), and only two buoyancy aids for adults. We bought them anyway and decided that whoever was likely to be on the counter at the back would wear them, as they were most likely to fall in. To be honest, the river was so quiet that we really weren't sure why we were wearing them, many people don't. We couldn't buy a 'man overboard' ladder (it's very hard to get out of the water fully clothed onto a boat), but decided that if we needed to we could use a rope with a loop tied in it (you put your foot in it to help you to climb up).
We placed the anchor onto the hatch at the back of the boat and we set off down through the two sets of narrow staircase locks and onto the Severn.
Compared to the canals the Severn is massively wide - there were loads of boats heading past us upstream. We reckoned our speed was about 6 mph - the usual top speed on the canals being 4 mph, but here we could use a bit more engine power, and there was a slight current too.

The weirs were very tame as there had been very little rain, but we were amused by the 'traffic signs' at every lock and weir.

We went through three large locks - each operated by a lock-keeper, and reached Worcester - some 12 and a half miles in about 3 hours.

Worcester has some very large boats moving about, and it isn't always obvious which way to go

The sun was shining and Worcester itself is very attractive.
We tied up outside Diglis Basin and went to set the lock - at which point a trip boat turned up - making us look very small.

We then headed off through Worcester and up the Worcester and Birmingham as far as Tibberton (avoiding mooring near the noisy motorway), and went for a meal in the pub.
Daily total: 21.95 miles, 24 locks
Running total: 159 miles, 179 locks, 9 tunnels

Friday, 15 August 2008

Summer Cruise - Stourton to Stourport

Friday 1st August
Stourton to Stourport
Having decided to go on the Severn we took advice from members of the Canal World Forum via the Internet - rivers are quite a different beast to canals. The news items you occasionally see of boats being swept over weirs as their crews are winched off by helicopter are always on rivers - canals don't flow, they don't flood - Chalice is not used to rivers. The CWF experts said - an anchor on a long chain, lifejackets, man overboard ladder. Others said - it's summer, it isn't raining - what are you worried about? Anyway we were heading to Stourport Basin (which incidentally Alan and Cath had visited in June to meet some CWF members) to go and visit the chandlery.
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal is beautiful - quite charming, with overhanging sandstone cliffs in many places.

We had a warm, sunny day - so whoever wasn't steering sat on the roof of Chalice and watched the scenery go past.
There is a very short tunnel under some houses.

As well as the 25 metre Dunsley Tunnel - less than twice the length of the boat.

Falling Sands lock, near to Kidderminster. Near here we suddenly had a youth swing across the bows on a rope from the side of the canal - then again as he passed behind the boat on the next swing - quite disturbing, but no 'bandits' - the canal term for stone throwing youths.

At Falling Sands Viaduct we passed under the Severn Valley Railway, but despite hearing the steam whistles we didn't see any trains.

Kidderminster itself was attractive - although the locks needed anti-vandal keys
We eventually moored up in Stourport, and had the chance to meet up with one of the Canal World Forum members for a pint and a chat at the pub, as well as some useful advice for boating on the Severn.

Daily Total: 12.35 miles, 14 locks, 2 minor tunnels

Running Total: 137 miles, 155 locks, 9 tunnels.