This time our starting point was Worcester (a city very special to me as it's where I spent my student years) and we had plans to set off northwards along the River Severn before joining the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. However, due to the large amount of recent rain, we were told on arrival that this wouldn't be possible. Pilots were being sent out to boats already on the river to guide them safely back to the marina so a complete change of plan was needed and we set off up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal instead.
This turned out to be a fascinating route, mostly involving travelling (slowly - max 4mph) through beautiful scenery, and also visiting Birmingham city centre. I haven't been to Birmingham for many, many years, and I was delighted to see what a pleasant city centre it has become. I used to work on New Street when it was choked with traffic but now it's a very pleasant pedestrianised area. I kept thinking how Aberdeen could do with taking a leaf out of Birmingham's book. It was great to see the redeveloped Bull Ring and I even visited the Rag Market and bought some fabric - so pleased to see it's still thriving.
Our 60 ft narrowboat, Magnus.
Equipped with a small kitchen, 2 toilets, shower, seating area and plenty of sleeping accommodation.
Lovely countryside - this was taken from the Tardebigge Reservoir.
Some of the winding mechanisms were a bit stiff!
We moored by canalside pubs overnight and ate out in the evenings - such a treat!
We went through several tunnels, the longest being Wasts Hill Tunnel (also known as King's Norton Tunnel) at a mile and a half in length!
We moored right beside the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.
The city centre was a huge contrast with the mainly leafy rural canal.
Following lots of overnight rain, on our return journey many of the locks on the Tardebigge flight of 30 were very full. Water was gushing over the top of the lock gates which made walking across impossible.
In 6 days we travelled through a total of 112 locks! That's about ten more than last year, but they weren't so stiff and heavy as the nightmare locks we'd experienced in central Manchester (never again!).
So, where do we go next year...?