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Small Black Country ring, spring 1995

steering practice
I hope that was steering practice

A 1-week P-shaped trip from Severn Valley boats at Stourport via the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, the Stourbridge Canal, the Dudley Number One and Number Two Canals and the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Total 65 miles and 93 locks.

Diary extracts:

Sat 1995-05-27
Arrive at boatyard in Stourport just on time at 14h; others already there. Pretty chaotic at the yard, lots of boats going out and the staff getting a bit flustered. They hadn't pumped out our main loo, and I suspect not the back loo too, but the central one was obvious and smelly. Start at 15h, out of the basin and into the first (12-foot deep) lock onto the Staffs and Worcs. A bit of a basic boat, has BMC engine but it's a bit noisy and smoky. Only 5 or 6 can sit at the table, a small auxiliary table serves for the others. One of the crew's grip failed while winding down a paddle and Caff's favourite windlass flew into the canal. Moor outside Sainsbury's, 100m north of Kidderminster lock and br 16, at 18h. Eat on boat. Walk to town centre (pedestrianised) and to the "Swan", a noisy young pub, but it did have rugby on the TV. 13A (L=+ve12V, N=-ve) for electrics; cellphone charging arrangement set up. Severn Serene Two, 60-foot. By eve it was raining quite hard, but still warm.
Sun 1995-05-28
Start 08h45, running to br 31a by 13h30. Lunch on boat. Lots of boats, and queues for all locks after the first, mostly private, heading for an IWA rally to celebrate the opening of some bridge. Saw mayor (or at least a woman with a chain of office) and several people with ties heading towards it as well. After lunch, water above Stewponey lock (BWB key, fast) then turn into the 4 locks of the Stourbridge canal. Quieter up here. Turned onto the Stourbridge branch and turned in the basin at the end. A bit desolate, can get to the road for grotty pub and Chinese takeaway or a longer walk into town. Moored 17h just outside the basin, surrounded by dead factories.
Mon 1995-05-29
Bank holiday. Day of sunshine and showers. Start 08h40, back onto the main line and start on the 16-lock flight. Stop after four for the Stuart Crystal glass factory. Canal a lot less busy here, though we passed two camping boats in the flight, one sitting for ages in a lock holding us up. Stop again between locks 5 and 4 for Samson and Lion. Pedigree, food, sit outside by the boat, and a water point with a hose. 12h40..13h40. Then finish the flight and turn right. A short run sees the end of the Stourbridge canal, then Delph flight of 8 starting the Dudley #1 canal. Stop for the night above the flight, on an embankment over Merry Hill shopping complex. Find a Big Mac to supplement lunch (which was about the worst beefburger I've ever tasted). Extensive shopping here. Moor 16h, with one other boat. Pizzas from Pizza Hut for supper, so a complete junk food day.
Tue 1995-05-30
Start 09h10, driving up to Park Head Junction, meeting three other boats coming the other way. Water 10m at the junction, after the lock. Turn onto Dudley #2 canal here, and meander round to Netherton tunnel. Pass one boat just after entering and one just before half way. 2768m and can see one end from the other. High roof, towpath on both sides, and quite dry apart from the ventilation shafts. Under the Wolverhampton level and left onto the Birmingham level, stopping for lunch by Tipton station. Pub here, but looks seedy. Re-stock booze from local Co-op and lunch on the boat (13h00..14h25). On through Factory locks, very busy here, we the 3rd in queue to go up and 4 waiting to come down. Only room for two boats to pass between each of the 3 locks. Then left onto the Wolverhampton level, parallel to the way we came up, back through Tipton. Drop half the crew by aqueduct over mouth of Netherton tunnel to walk to Dudley zoo. Last admission 16h30, they got there 16h50, so they got let in for half-an-hour for free. Meanwhile the rest took the boat down to Bradeshall junct, turned it and came back up to the aqueduct to moor for the night at 17h00. Eve walk into the tunnel with the children, we got only 200m, at which point it was too spooky for them. Later to Wagon and Horses, nearby. Cheap beer here, only 1.30GBP for Banks's bitter, and it's metered to give a genuine pint.
Wed 1995-05-31
Start 08h20 after moving up to the water point and filling up. Lots of boats and not much room to moor at the top of the long flight, so go straight down. Industrial all the way until near the bottom of the flight. 21-flight busy, following "Lord Arthur" (2 on) and another boat, with at least 2 queued behind us. Emerge at bottom back onto the Staffs and Worcs and turn for home. Moor (just, in the nettles) for a rest and late lunch by br 61 14h45..16h00, then on again for a little way to stop for the night at br 59 at 16h55. Back on narrow canals with overgrown towpaths, a change from the hard edges and paved paths of the Birmingham Canal Navigation system. One of the crew had put her shoes into a carrier bag, which somehow got placed near the two carrier bags with the rubbish. All three got dumped in the skip half-way down the flight. For a fairly good Chinese meal near canal and afterwards to Oddfellows Hall, a chain restaurant and pub full of young people. Gathering other Severn Valley boats as we get towards the base.
Thu 1995-06-01
Everyone slept badly. It was warmer than previous nights; one of the children made a disturbance about midnight; the shoe-loser had indigestion and read a book all night, then got up early and walked a 6.5mi round trip to the middle of the 21-flight to retrieve her shoes. The middle loo is smelly, but not full, so I walked back to the boatyard supposedly at br 61. It was shut. So walk back without extra chemical; intent on finding another further south. Eventually get away at 09h15. Through the Bratch, where it rained heavily but no congestion, just one leaving as we arrived, and one following us down. Not even many gongoozlers. At br 44 had both loos pumped out. Man rinsed each tank three times until the water was clear and this seems to have cured the niff. He reckons the boatyard hadn't done the job properly and he charged only 10GBP for both toilets. He also sold us a replacement windlass, the same type as Caff lost but unpainted, for 3GBP - the last one he had. 30 mins stop here. Stop for lunch at 13h, br 43, the "Wagon and Horses", which has a children's area, so the first pub lunch of the trip. Away again 14h25, into the staircase pair. Locks quite quiet today, no queues, just pass the occasional boat. Water (15h35..16h05) at Greensforge lock (above), on a very fast tap. Moor below Kinver lock (just below, on the last 5 day max mooring) at 18h50. Half the crew has decided now to leave Friday, originally outside the basin, but now we're to arrange an earlier drop-off. Present estimate is at Sainsbury's in Kidderminster, where we moored Sat night. Eve to "Vine", sitting in the garden (cold) while the children played on the swings and climbing frame.
Fri 1995-06-02
Start 09h. No water points today. Moor at 12h05 opposite Sainsbury's at Kidderminster, to rendezvous with car. Eat pies from the supermarket. Three crew left (including the children) and the remaining four of us went on at 15h20. Peace. Stop on the outskirts of Stourport, just S of the railway viaduct, by the Bird in Hand, at 17h45. Few events. Private boat gave way very reluctantly when we were obviously closest to a bridge and pointedly looked away as we passed (though a vinegar-faced daughter managed a scowl). Severn Valley boats beginning to cluster, but none on this mooring yet (18h30), suspect most are nearer, saw one moored back between brs 10 and 9. Cleaned out boat, but not very enthusiastically, as it wasn't really very clean when we got it. Eve to the Bird in Hand, Pedigree "guest" beer, but still only 1.55GBP. This pub had mild for 1.20GBP/pint.
Sat 1995-06-03
Rain, continuous from about 6h until we got home. Start at 07h30, me driving (badly, touched the outside of the bend after br 6), we the first Severn boat to lock down into the basin, reverse into dock, in time to be the first boat refuelled. 45 litres. Got refund of 61.50GBP from 75GBP deposit, that's about 0.30GBP/l for fuel (that's 1.37GBP/UKgall; some boatyards had it for not much more than half that). Moor 8h. No charge for the cereal bowl I broke and they say they'll fix the loo, but no offer of refund for the extra pump out. This boat was a bit cheap, chosen as only 4 of us actually paying and me most of that, and going later the canals were busier. But generally a good trip. Could do with more distance for me and after lots of 2-week trips, a 1-week one seems a bit short.
Day	Date	Hours	Miles	Locks	Sw. Br.	Water
Sat	950527	3.0	4.5     4	-	-
Sun	950528	6.9	11.0 	11	-	Stewponey lock
Mon	950529	5.7	4.5 	24	-	Samson and Lion
Tue	950530	6.3	11.5	4	-	Park Head Junction
Wed	950531	7.3	11.5	22	-	Tividale aqueduct
Thu	950601	7.5	12	20	-	Greensforge lock
Fri	950602	5.0	9.5	7	-	-
Sat	950603	0.5	0.5	1	-	-
Totals		42.2	65	93	-

Day	Lunch				Evening
Sat	-				Sainsbury's, Kidderminster
Sun	Stewponey bridge		Stourbridge
Mon	Samson & Lion, St'bge flight	Above Merry Hill (pizzas)
Tue	Tipton				Tividale aqueduct
Wed	Newbridge (br 61)		Compton (br 59) (Chinese meal)
Thu	Wagon and Horses (br 43)	Vine, Kinver lock
Fri	Sainsbury's, Kidderminster	Bird in Hand, Stourport
Sat	-				-

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