Rewind a LONG WAY back to Friday 23rd May
Knowle (above the locks) to Typhoo Basin
In the excitement of the BCN Challenge, I’d forgotten to record how we actually got to the start point from the top of the Knowle flight! It’s worth recording, because I think this is an under-used route which has some unexpectedly charming stretches – who could believe that Solihull would look so good 🙂
We arrived at the boat Friday lunchtime, having rejected the option of the late-night drive on Thursday. It wasn’t a long cruise to Typhoo Basin and largely lock-free so we had plenty of time for a restful morning at home, followed by a leisurely drive up. Indigo Dream had been fine – I’d had some misgivings about the integrity of our pins in soft ground, but it’s quite possible that no-one had been past, let alone at speed. We loaded the hounds on and reversed back to the end of the lane that leads down to the locks – I got the car to the side of the canal and we loaded on the essential supplies that we’d need to fuel the BCN Challenge (mainly carbohydrates!).
We set off at noon and enjoyed the pastoral run up to Catherine De Barnes and beyond. It’s lock-free and quiet – it was cool and overcast at first, yet the towpath was deserted and we even saw a Kingfisher. At one time, Archie hound had an urgent need – we pulled over and let the three hounds have an off-lead bimble – even Herbie! It was peaceful and lovely – a perfect mooring for hounds. I had to check the map to realise that we were, in fact, passing through the heart of Solihull and not far from the kennels used by Perry Barr RGT, one of the beneficiaries of the BCN Challenge money.
We were approaching the Camp Hill Locks when the rain started in earnest – oh my, it was a real rehearsal for the Challenge itself! We stopped at the excellent services offside at Camp Hill – neat, clean and secure, this was a great place to stock up with water before our descent into Birmingham. As we got to the top of the flight, we found the first of our crew. Sarah, Andy and greyhound Rosie had been visiting Henry H and they joined us just in time to assist us down the flight. Rosie’s still very excited by boating, so I had to lock all of the hounds indoors for the locking – I was practising my narrow lock entries (at speed) and couldn’t supervise deck hounds as well. Besides, the rain was now torrential and they were better off inside!
As I entered the first lock, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually been in a narrow lock since 2011 – oh well, a good time to get my tiller-hand calibrated then!
We got to the last but one lock of the Camp Hill flight, near to where Sarah’s car was parked. We left the men to it and went off to do a car shuffle. Sarah drove me back to Knowle, then we dropped my car off near to Hawne Basin (canalside parking on Chancel Way) and took Sarah’s back to her pre-booked space in Brindley Place.
The last part of the day got a bit complicated – we knew that the boat was moored just outside Typhoo Basin and we knew that the final member of the crew, Christine, had found the boat. Sarah and I were in charge of finding a takeaway for supper but we had no idea how difficult it would be to find a decent chinese in the vicinity of the boat. We caught a cab down to the Bullring (within walking distance of the boat) and eventually ended up in Pizza Hut – we walked to the boat laden with five HUGE pizza boxes. Luckily it had stopped raining by then or they’d have been very soggy pizzas! There was the added complication that both of our phones had run out of charge so we couldn’t liaise with the boat crew, but we got there in the end.
The towpath to Typhoo Basin is locked at dusk, making it a very secure mooring spot, once we got the crew on board. We had our dinner on the towpath just outside, walked the hounds, then reversed into the basin for the night. I’m sure the towpath just outside would have been fine, it seemed very quiet, but why take the risk – we definitely needed our rest ready for the big challenge in the morning 🙂
Note: I’m not that woefully behind on the blog – for complicated dog-sitting reasons we’re having a few weekends off boating after the Challenge – Indigo Dream is safely tucked up with the good folk of the Coombeswood Cruising Club in Hawne Basin. Our next odyssey cruises will put a bit more money into our favourite charity’s coffers 🙂
Here’s a selection of canalscapes from Knowle to Camp Hill – who knew that Solihull could be so rural 🙂