Rewind to 23rd August
Lapworth Top to Sheepcote Bridge, Birmingham
We set off at 9am – just as well – it was further into the centre of Birmingham than we remembered!
Today was the first scorchingly hot day of our holiday – it was therefore nice to have a lock-free day, though there were a few lift-bridges
At first we were behind a very slow hire boat, who courteously pulled up to let us pass – after that we didn’t see anyone going into Birmingham, though these was another stampede of boats going towards Lapworth. We hastened through King’s Norton – it has an unsavoury reputation, yet it was quiet and green when we passed through. We noticed that several hire boats had moored at Norton Junction – again, by repute it’s definitely not the place to stay the night and we hope that they were just stopping for lunch.
We enjoyed our trip into Birmingham – it’s a cruise which is replete with memories but the canal and its surroundings are being intensively developed, so we couldn’t just dwell on memory lane – there are plenty of new things to be seen 🙂
As we approached Gas Street Basin we decided to moor up at the waterpoints opposite the Mailbox. This proved to be an adventure as the wind tunnel created by the tall building around Paddington Basin are mere summer zephyrs compared to this stretch! We tried every trick known to boaters but she kept being blown off the moorings – I could either get the bow or the stern in, but not both. It was an epic struggle and it must have taken a good 20 minutes to moor up. We’d stopped there rather than Cambrian Wharf because the water pressure at Cambrian Wharf is so low. The pressure is much better here, but the time we saved at the tap we probably lost in the mooring!
With the water tank full, we set off towards Birmingham’s magnificent town centre and its multitude of moorings. As we were planning to head off along the mainline in the morning, we headed for the moorings around Sheepcote Bridge. It was early afternoon when we arrived, and there were plenty of spaces, though they filled up later. We took a place on the left hand side (looking towards Wolverhampton) nearest to the footbridge (by the end of the Oozells Street Loop). The mooring post by the footbridge stated that the moorings were 14 day; but later, when the hounds and I had a bimble down to Sheepcote Street Bridge, the post at the far end stated that they are 48 hour. It was academic this time, as we were only staying for a night, but it would be interesting to know for the future.
Once we’d moored up, Richard caught a cab back to his car while the dogs and I wandered over to the rubbish point on Cambrian Wharf. It was really very hot, so I dunked them under the tap at the waterpoint – they were extremely unimpressed!
The hounds and I got back to the boat and enjoyed a couple of hours watching the world go by – there was plenty to see – narrowboats to-ing and fro-ing, party boats boogeying, trip boats informing, people passing on the towpath, people on the footbridge looking down and admiring Archie hound snoozing on deck – it was buzzing! Then we had a delightful visitor – Paul Balmer of Waterways Routes popped by – his boat is moored in the Oozell’s Street Loop nearby and he’d spotted us on his way back from the shops. It was great to see him – he’s such a canal enthusiast and always full of interesting tales of his extensive travels round the network.
Richard had a slow journey back, but the car was now ensonced in Paradise Circus car park as it would be needed in the morning.
Memory Lane exerted itself in the evening when we took Henry and Archie to the Handmade Burger Company restaurant canalside at Brindley Place. We found a nice table outside and got the hounds settled on their sheepies. As always, they were impeccable behaved, thought they didn’t attract as much fuss as they usually do – I don’t think they minded too much We then ordered two meals for ourselves, and, as we did for Blue and Lou all those years ago, ordered the hounds a children’s meal. Bargain! The children’s meals were free with our order. Maybe it was inevitable that the food was not as good as we remembered, though Henry and Archie didn’t complain! The canalside ambience was as good as ever, so we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
We got back to the boat relatively early, and despite the extensive foot traffic earlier, the towpath adjacent to the boat was quiet overnight…