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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.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

When an inch or two does matter.

Monday 4th. We said our farewells to Jo and Keith whilst standing in our dressing gown looking out of the side hatch. Yep they were the early birds this morning and the unmistakable sound of Hadar's engine starting up made us leap out of bed. It was good to catch up with them both after all this time (at least two years) Goodness knows when we will see them again but know doubt we will keep in touch by reading each others blogs.

With us now up, we left soon after and made our way back to Tipton. We were told that one of Tipton Green locks could still be seen and were determined to find it. In fact it was dead easy to find, mooring at Tipton Green Bridge on the park side (near the statue of the Boxer) we crossed the bridge, turned left and followed a foot path.

Tipton Green lock

We did walk on towards Caggy's boat yard on the Main line thinking maybe the canal continued even further but no sign of it beyond the boat yard. Walking back I heard the unmistakable cry of a Parrot!! There are a vast number of these birds along the southern corridor, Thames, Brentford etc but this far North in Dudley????? Only the one seen so possibly an escapee???? or a casualty of storm Katie maybe? Anyway did manage a hazy photo even though it was perched high up in a distant tree.

On our return and not wanting to wind and go down the Gower Branch again we decided to continue to the junction and do the 3 Factory locks instead. Often the lock pounds are low but not today and we did the three in record time as a boat had just ascended. The sky looked a bit ominous and we fully expected a soaking. We were lucky, though, with the worse heading off to the right of us.

While we were at Craggy's we happened to enquire the cost of his diesel. At 70p a Ltr thought it outrageously high although still not the most we have encountard. That honour goes to Sheepcoats in Birmingham at 80p Ltr. Anyway having heard the Hawne Basin at the end of Dudley No 2 canal was selling his at 43p Ltr for domestic we decided to brave the notoriously narrow and low Gosty Hill Tunnel. So we ended up turning off the Main line and onto the Netherton Tunnel branch.

Netherton tunnel

Very very wet!

Limestone curtains
Immediately after the tunnel we turned left onto the Dudley No 2 canal. It was at the first narrow section that we stopped to remove all the tall items from the cabin top. This meant chimney, omni aerial and solar panels. Sods law said that no sooner had we stopped than a boat turns up wanting to get through the narrows. We did no more than pull forward to allow them to pass and had a nice surprise when we found out it was one of our blog readers on their boat Down the Hatch. They too were heading for Hawne Basin but without the worry of the 'roof clutter' that we had.

 This canal has some fabulous mile posts and figures with some telling a story.

Graffiti artist

There are loads more of these signs placed all along the Dudley No 2 too many to put on here so I have put a link to my web album The Mile Markers on Dudley No 2 Canal. Some make very good and informative reading.

Reaching Gosty Hill tunnel I at first wondered what all the fuss was about. Looked narrow but hardly deserved the reputation it had been given. Little did we realise until we got inside just how tight and low it got. If you fancy seeing how we got through  click here.

This wasn't the only narrow thing to get through. The bridge into the Basin was equally as narrow and low with the added hazard of being jagged. How we would have coped if it had been windy I hate to think but having been told reversing in for the services was easier then going in forward, Ian did a sterling job of reversing FS through the arch, narrowly missing the hand rail being damaged on the jagged brick work. Just inches to spare and he brought FS in without a scratch.

Winding hole by Burton bridge into the Basin

Ian reversing in

Getting a bit near!!

Filling FS's tank, as well as the 20 litre Jerry can, we were found a berth for the night nestled between two boats. Tomorrow it's a short walk to the Stove and Fireplace shop to purchase more fire rope. Hopefully by replacing it that will stop the smoke pouring into the room when the stove is lit. Having to rely on our diesel central heating is okay when it's not to cold, but with it set to get colder again I would love to have the fire relit.

First butterfly seen this year. A Comma

wings closed

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