Thursday, 17 May 2018

Into Rural Warwickshire

We did come through the outskirts of Birmingham but our immediate aim this year is to reach Stratford Upon Avon so we didn't go into the centre of the city.  Instead we went up the Garrison and Camp Hill Locks to follow the Grand Union Canal out of Birmingham. 

On Sunday this meant a longer day than we usually do these days to reach Catherine de Barnes:
Garrison Locks are not pretty with empty factories and warehouses alongside

Unusually the inflow in the Garrison Locks comes in both at the bow (as is usual) and at the stern (see picture).

Once up the 5 Garrison Locks we came to Bordesley Junction where we turned left to reach the bottom of the 6 Camp Hill Locks.  Lots of graffiti and not a place to spend the night.

Above the locks the canal passes through long cuttings, like a tunnel of trees

Summer is here and we've seen quite a few orange tip butterflies, like this one on some bluebells
 Catherine de Barnes is widely recognised as the first safe place to spend the night when coming out of Birmingham this way.  We wondered why it has such a strange name but the only answer we can find comes from the Nicholsons Guide which says the name comes from a 12th century Lord Ketelberne.  Not sure we follow that.

On Monday we moved on just a short way to Knowle.  Although Knowle is a suburb of Birmingham we thought it was a lovely village:
Knowle Church is interesting and has two of these 15th century 'dug out' chests made of oak.

Next to the church is this fine half timbered Guild House

Knowle Library is in a medieval building too and round the back is this excellent knot garden of miniature box hedges

Knowle has some fine cottages, like this one with wisteria and neat hedges
Knowle has five wide locks dropping 40 feet or so.  We went down with a hire boat, Ruby, and moored near Lapworth, spending the afternoon at the National Trust house at Baddesley Clinton:
Here we are going into the second lock

This picture is looking back from the bottom of the locks

Baddesley Clinton is a moated manor house and, in the central courtyard, has a splendid wisteria.

Here is the house sitting in the moat.



Several trees by a path in the estate have been carved into animals.  We particularly liked the rabbit shown here.
On Wednesday morning we negotiated Kingswood Junction to join the Stratford Canal.  At this point the Stratford and Grand Union canals run almost side by side and a short branch connects the two.  It is a fun junction and is often pretty busy with boats, but not on Wednesday.  We are still seeing surprisingly few boats on the move even now we are in more popular areas - not sure why.

Having turned onto the linking branch the canal splits into two as shown here.  If you are going right on the Stratford towards Birmingham you turn right through the lock by the white house.  However we are heading south so the route goes through the narrows under the tiny footbridge and then turns left on the Stratford.

Footbridges on the Stratford were built with a gap in the middle as shown here.  This is to allow a horse drawn boat to pass the tow rope through the gap so that there is no need to detach the rope as the boat goes under the bridge.

Two ducks seem to regard Lock 29 as their own and patrolled up and down while we descended the lock.  Though they looked as if they were going to leap onto the boat they did finally let us go unmolested!
We stopped at Lowsonford opposite the Fleur de Lys pub and what better place to go for lunch?  We both succumbed to pies but no lazy afternoon digesting pies, it was back to Leo to do various jobs.  After the winter we are trying to get the paintwork looking as it should.  Another few days should see Leo looking magnficent!

Today (Thursday) we have come down another 8 locks to the strange sounding place 'Wootton Wawen'. Just how do you pronounce this without sounding like an upper class twit?
Our first lock of the day was Lock 31 at Lowsonford.  With the sun today it looked wonderful.

The 'barrel roofed' houses along this canal are characteristic of the Stratford.  This one by Lock 31 is owned by the Landmark Trust, so you can stay there.  The present visitors are walking the canals round here.

Just before Lock 34 is Yarningale Aqueduct over a small stream.  This is the first of three iron trough aqueducts on the Stratford.  They each have the towpath at a low level giving a very curious view of passing boats.
So now we are moored at Wootton Wawen and Ian is knackered having spent the afternoon painting the side of the boat below the gunwhale and polishing some of the starboard side of the boat.  It is jobs like painting and polishing that make you appreciate just how long Leo is compared to a car.

Tomorrow we may well  stay where we are and finish beautifying the starboard side of Leo before exploring more of the area where we are moored.  So it looks as if it will be the weekend before we arrive in Stratford.

1 comment:

  1. The gates fill at the tail to close the bottom gates, the water comes in behind the gates and push them shut, all saved time in the working days

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