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Stratford, summer 1999

stratford basin
Delightful mooring in Stratford (pre-pontoons)

A 1-week trip from Alvechurch to Stratford on Avon via part of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Stratford Canal. Total 63 miles and 106 locks.

Diary extracts:

Mon 1999-09-06
Off to Alvechurch. Quick handover onto Green Woodpecker, and away at 15h15. Hot and sunny. They advise not to stop anywhere near Kings Norton, so make good progress to Stratford br 8, and the Drawbridge pub, a new chain pub, and eat there. Arr here 18h50. No sign of any problems at Kings Norton, except for a crowd of children after tips at the first Stratford swing bridge. Boat has 3-cyl Lister/Petter, water-cooled via hull, and moderate fitting out. Canal fairly scummy between the tunnels. Wast Hill tunnel 2500m long, and can't see exit until a good way through. Today 9.75mi 0l 1sb 3h35m.
Tue 1999-09-07
Mostly sunshine. Walk before breakfast. Start 09h05, lunch at Wharf Tavern, by br 25, 11h45 to 12h45. Then loads of locks, with me on bank, stopping for a break for 20 mins between locks 14 and 15, and for 5 mins for water by lock 19. Flight busy, passing in lots of locks, and waiting turns at some. Stop at 19h15 above lock 30, and to the Fleur de Lys between here and lock 31. Today 9.75mi, 27l and 3 lift bridges, 8h45m. Boat manual is missing, but we've got the emergency numbers from the boatyard. On the clear run before the locks today, the boat would keep slowing down, and needed a burst of reverse to unclog the prop. For a while we pottered behind another Alvechurch boat that was crawling along emitting black smoke, but suddenly the smoke abated and he shot ahead. By the pedometer. I've walked about 12.5km today, nearly as far as the boat moved.
Wed 1999-09-08 {16585}
Dull and windy. Start 09h20, me driving through the locks, not really any queues today. Pause for lunch below lock 39, 13h15 to 14h10, on boat. Then a short potter to br 59 at 15h00. Boat passed our mooring at lunch so fast that it bent our spike. Aft take some pix of Mary Arden's house, and an owl tied to a perch in the grounds. Also a walk on a country footpath. Today 7.5mi, 10l, 4h45m. Eat on the boat, simple fare after two pub meals yesterday. Walk eve, as the gloom deepened with sunset.
Thu 1999-09-09
Mostly hot and sunny. Start 08h00, and make good progress until started to meet other boats about 5 locks out of Stratford. Caff steering. Water 5 min by br 63. Lock 53, near Stratford, has a bottom gate that won't open properly, and we, like all boats, had to use full throttle and push the gate hard to get through. Also, just above this lock, was a hire boat only just fixed after breaking down yesterday. Got to the basin at 12h15, and onto a useable but less than perfect mooring. Walk around town, and lunch in a pub. Back to the boat, and moved to a better mooring. Then walks and watching all the tourists. Eve to the RSC theatre for Antony and Cleopatra. Today 3.25mi, 16l, 4h10m.
Fri 1999-09-10 {16587}
Hot and sunny. Start 08h05, me driving. Single U-turn in the basin, with lots of room to spare. Easily through the third lock, charging in at full throttle and hardly sticking at all, but above this lock the pound is right down, and together with a boat coming down we let some water through from the long pound above. One of the Wilmcote locks was broken yesterday, and there was a big hold up, which we missed. Lots of Stratford Court boats coming down these locks, widely ignorant of the rules, one even closing gates and about to reverse a lock in the face of boats waiting to come up, believing that boats coming down have priority over those going up, whichever way the lock is set. Stop for lunch above br 59 12h45 to 13h45. Aft Caff driving, on to the Fleur de Lys, mooring between brs 41 and 40 at 18h10. Another lock on the Preston Bagot flight had a tight gate, which we had to reverse out of with some difficulty, and waggle the gate and try again. At the eve mooring there was an open steam launch, with pot boiler and 2-cyl compound engine, with condenser, in steam. Eve eat at Fleur de Lys. Today 11mi, 25l, 9h5m. We're a bit up on schedule. Boat appears to have a dodgy thermostat or temperature gauge, as sometimes gauge is rock steady at 80degC, and sometimes it's 40degC.
Sat 1999-09-11
Hot and close. Start 08h40, Caff steering through the locks, up to the rest gap between locks 14 and 15, where lunch 11h45 to 12h45. The rest of the locks shared driving, until moor at the Blue Bell cider house at 16h10. Water 10 min between locks 23 and 22. Note that the lock numbering in Nicholson's is wrong between 19 and 25, it omits 24, in fact 20 is omitted as it is the one on the branch to the Grand Union. Much quieter today with most hire boats on their turn-around, just saw a few Alvechurch boats towards afternoon, presumably the Fridays. Pub has its own jetty. Eve eat on boat, then to pub for a couple, then back to boat for last night of the Proms. Today 5.75mi, 28l, 2br in 7h20m.
Sun 1999-09-12
Cooler day. Potter down to the Drawbridge again, beyond br 8, 09h05 to 10h25. Lunch there. Then Caff steering for the rest of the day, 12h50 to 16h30, stopping by br 61 for Alvechurch, Crown Inn. Swing br 2 was again operated by children, though this time there was no explicit request for money. Missed the good mooring before br 61 as it was infested with anglers, and had to carry out an interesting reversing manoeuver through the bridge hole to get back to it. Today 12.5mi, 0l, 2sb in 5h. Bloke with a rubber dinghy dropped his outboard in the bridgehole, which a passing boat crew got out using their boathook. My mega-magnet couldn't get any purchase on it. Eve eat on boat, then to Crown Inn for a couple of Youngs Specials. More staff than customers in this pub.
Mon 1999-09-13
Another bright morning. Potter down to the boatyard 08h25 to 08h40. Today 15m, 0.5mi, 0l. Moor alongside another boat, rather than have to reverse into the boat's real home. Unload and away by 09h10. Home via A-roads rather than M40, through Stratford; it took us 35 minutes by car to do the whole distance from boatyard to basin. Total boat distance by map milemarks was 62.5 miles, 106 locks and 8 bridges.
Day    Date     Hours   Miles   Locks   SB      morn    aft     Water
Mon    990906   3.58    10      -       1       -       N       -
Tue    990907   8.75    10.25   27      3       C       N+C     lock 19
Wed    990908   4.75    7.75    10      -       N       C       -
Thu    990909   4.17    3.5     16      -       C       -       br 63
Fri    990910   9.08    11.25   25      -       N       C       -
Sat    990911   7.33    6.25    28      2       C       C+N     lock 22
Sun    990912   5.00    13.0    -       2       N       C       -
Mon    990913   0.25    0.5     -       -       N       -       -
Totals          42.9    62.5    106     8  

Day     Lunch                           Evening
Mon     -                               Drawbridge, br 8.
Tue     Wharf Tavern, br 25             Fleur de Lys, lock 31.
Wed     On boat, lock 39.               On boat, br 59.
Thu     Stratford-on Avon, pub          RSC Theatre.
Fri     On boat, br 59.                 Fleur de Lys, lock 31.
Sat     On boat, lock 15.               Blue Bell, br 19.
Sun     Drawbridge, br 8.               Crown Inn, W+B br 61.
Mon     -

©nib 2003-03-22..2003-03-22

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