About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Stuck in the 21

Although windy it was dry so after Ian had nipped to Morrisons for Pomegranate juice (tip from Jaq) we travelled the short distance to Aldersley Junction and the start of the 21.

Railway bridges which have some interesting graffiti.


Turning into the junction to the first lock. Autumn has arrived with a vengeance.

Twenty-one locks rising two miles to Wolverhampton and joy of joy, everyone bar one was with us. Took a smidgen over 3 hours and we could have done it quicker if I hadn't got FS stuck between lock 3 and 4!  Not that I could have done much about it as nearly all the pounds were low but between those two locks it was particularly bad.




I find this a lovely flight and not too strenuous. Mind you I only did eight while Ian did the rest.


Between lock 4 and 3 and pound down by a couple of feet.

Lock fully filled.

Pound very low.


FS stuck

Ian letting down water to get FS afloat.

Paddle. Not something you usually see when there is plenty of water.

At lock 1 and the only lock we had to turn around. The deduction was two boats must have passed each other between lock 2 and 1, hence the full lock. Strange that we did the whole flight without seening another boat but ready to exit the top lock and a boat appeared. That boater will be dead pleased when he realises all the locks will be with him on the way down.





Pulled into the facilities for loo emptying and water filling. One hour allowed here and with not a sign of another boat, we stayed and had lunch.



What a change cruising the Wolverhampton level. Full of reeds, debris and rubbish. Only 5 minutes after leaving the facilities Ian was down the weed hatch.


This wasn't the only time we had to stop. Through a thick reed bed across a narrow channel and the engine all but cut out. We lost all drive and reverse just didn't happen. The prop was clogged solid with reeds and blanket weed. The wind here was also a b**ger and to stop FS from ending up in the trees opposite I had to tie the rope across the towpath. Luckily, no one came along the towpath, not even a cyclist (mores the pity) might have slowed them down!!! A new racing cycle track path has been laid along the towpath. Now we are even more in peril from these lycra glad menaces!



At Tipton Junction, we turned right. Wanted to sample the fish and chips from the Black Country Dudley Trust Museum. Shame we arrived too late as the place closed at 4pm. Never mind, we got a mooring (just) and Ian found a chip shop about a quarter mile away so that's alright then.

Top L, Coseley Tunnel, Top R Factory Junction with the locks, Bottom L Tipton Junction and Bottom R Black Country Museum moorings
 Still unsure as to where we will go tomorrow. A couple of options open to us. Back to do the three factory locks or down the Gower Branch and the Brades staircase locks instead. The destination is Gas Street Basin and all two canals lead there. To be decided tomorrow.

And seen on route,

Dabchick


Monday, 17 September 2018

Sideswiped!

Through the bridge at Norbury and more of the hire fleet in. It's a Monday change over with the short breakers (Friday to Monday) returning.



It's been a bit of a monotonous journey to Autherley Junction. Shroppie canal is my least favourite due to those dark cuttings, long boring straights and miles of linear moorings, oh and those vicious bywashes..... The offside overgrowth is pretty bad as well although this can be said for most of the canals today. No more 'veg pledge' so trees and shrubs are left to go wild. This was oh so true earlier today when a boat was coming toward us in a narrow bit. I'm keeping right, I had the sun in my eyes, tree branches stretched out well into the canal and instead of continuing blind and ploughing through those branches I stopped. That approaching boat came at such a pace and sucked me out toward the middle. This time though and this is purely down to his speed, his stern dug into the silt by the bank, his front swung out and FS was sideswiped hard enough for my photos and plates to end up on the floor!. And all I got from him was 'Did you have a problem?. Yes mate, you were the problem...for goodness sake slow down when boats have deliberately stopped to allow you to pass!

This made me and Ian laugh though. These bullocks had managed to get on the wrong side of the fence and were precariously close to the water. Not sure how they were going to get back to the field. Turning space was non-existent so the only way would be to back up. Are they that intelligent??? Wonder what the outcome was???



Never going to get past that fence post????

How did it manage that? Looks like the gate on its side. Must be where they got through.
 Only two locks today and one doesn't really count in my book. Autherley stop lock at the junction has a drop of just 6".Below is Wheaton Aston lock which leaks like a sieve from the bottom gate. We did stop at Turners for diesel again and was pleased that his price was still the same at 70.9p ltr
.

How many recognise this boat. The author Terry Darlington owned it and one of his most famous books, Narrow dogs to Carcassonne was a must-read for canal enthusiasts of the time. The boat was badly damaged by fire in 2009. Looks like it may be being refurbished by Stretton boatyard


Stretton Aqueduct

A5 beneath
 Arrived at Autherley junction a tad before 4pm. If the predicted wet weather and high winds arrive tomorrow we may well stay. I don't fancy doing the Wolverhampton 21 in driving rain and gale force conditions.

Moored Autherley Junction
And seen on route,

Love the didi narrowboat.

Having a spot of trouble???

Right by the lock totally oblivious of what was going on.

One of the very MANY spiders we have on FS.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

How close!

No sooner had we set off than the rain started. Typical so we did no more than travel about 300 yards and moor up again. 90 minutes later we tried again and this time it stayed dry. Got to Tyrley locks and unlucky again as a boat was going up in front. No paddles lifted this time for us but on the third lock a boat coming down. It was at this lock that strange happenings were occurring. One man with head buried in the hedge, one large piece of wood and a plastic container. Hmmmm....what was he up to? Trying to get to the Damsons right on top of the tree, that's what.



The woodeves cutting seemed even more oppressive than normal. Without the sun to lighten the gloom we wanted to get through as soon as possible and what we didn't want was to meet any boats. But two came past, one with a pram top up. With this cutting being so overgrown and narrow you would think the last thing to have up was a pram top. Lucky for him we met at a wider bit. Further along and the top would have been well into the trees.


 Following us was a day boat and behind him was a Norbury hire boat. Gosh, they were travelling fast. Managed to catch on camera the day boat suddenly veering off to one side, right in front of the hire boat. Oh, how I wished I got the outcome!

Day boat veering off

Hire boat evasive manoeuvres.
Before we reached that long length of moorings we were caught up by that Norbury hire boat. Obviously managed to pass the day boat and he must have been travelling at some speed to catch us up. With us doing the 2mph speed limit passing those boats, I'm almost sure we would have been called some pretty strong names. He stayed almost right on our stern until we cleared all those boats then he pulled over and moored!! Doh!!!


 Arrived at Norbury amongst chaos with the day boats returning. Didn't help that a boat was also trying to reverse through the bridge 'ole. We got moored in time before the rain came again and won't be moving until tomorrow.



Norbury moorings



And seen on route.

This Swan with Angel wing



Not sure what type of moth this is but it could be a Vapourer.


Got to go sometime!



Barn Owl at Norbury.

 

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