We have really enjoyed having Bryn with us, hearing about his new job, his enthusiasm to do locks, help out with the boat in every way and to solve problems. He loves nature and is good at making the most of things whatever the weather. I was glad of his help on the lock flights, but quite sad that on the last day , he worked a lock ahead so well, that I hardly saw him when he was about to leave. We walked him to the station and got back as it was getting dark. Just after we heard the rain battering. Perfect timing! 

I was still feeling a bit bereft, but we had a plan to have an early start today to beat the approaching storm. As I was eating breakfast Shane said the forecast had changed and there was going to be earlier rain. We decided to go a short walk to see the lie ahead of the remaining 5 locks to the bottom of the Wolverhampton flight to see if they were set for us. They looked further apart than the previous ones had been so would take slightly longer to do.

We got good views of a heron. It was wading through the canal –  I knew from getting stuck yesterday that it is shallow on that side but it was less than knee high on a heron in parts, I now see! It flew away but came down again not far ahead and  we saw it a couple more times.  At the bottom of the flight was a junction and a turnover bridge. The area has had benches added to make it a spot to visit but was very quiet today. A wet bench was not appealing.


Shane on the turnover bridge, a bright splash of colour on an overcast day

Through the arch there was a path to the wood and evidence that there had been more here before, perhaps a shelter for someone collecting a fee to go on to the next canal.


Shane emerging from the arch.

We headed back and waited for the storm to pass. We were next to a trainline and sometimes a small train sounded like a wild gust of wind, before we got the hang of it. The rain started in earnest. It seemed that it came later than expected and perhaps we would have had time to go down the locks in the morning. Anyway I busied myself knitting and Shane met up with ex work colleagues in the virtual coffee room. The wind and rain certainly came and ruffled the ducks feathers. From the chat I could hear that Scotland was getting snow, so not so cold here.

When the rain eased , the sun shone and we were able to have a pleasant trip down the locks. At first I tried locking and was surprised the first one was not set our way but completely empty. I got stuck with the anti vandal bolt and couldn’t open one of the paddles. Shane swapped places with me and was able to sort it. I carried on with the driving and from the looks of it the gates were quite heavy, so driving was probably the easy option, even if some of the exits and entrances were not an easy shape to steer around. Shane was certainly warm enough. I had an excellent view of our heron again, as it never moved from its patch of rushes as I drove past. No access to a camera and though I did watch it, I had to keep half an eye on steering into a lock and letting go of the tiller was not an option!

Our plan was only to do those locks as we could see mooring was possible and we could moor up at the junction, having reconnoitred earlier and found there were plenty of bollards there. The sign post at the junction is broken and missing a destination to the left. Coincidentally, the smart system on Bartimaeus has lost sight of where it is giving its latitude and longitude coordinates as a long row of zeros.  Sometime in the afternoon it seems to have found itself and it is working again. I haven’t checked , so I don’t know our coordinates but we are moored here.






Junction of Birmingham Mainline with the Staffs and Worcester.

We had a very short walk before dark and followed a small path that joined up with the tow path and , although it had moved again , we did catch up one more time with our heron. This time Shane did get a picture.

Heron in the shallows

We warmed up before more rain arrived and Shane has made an “advent calendar” as a basic route plan of distances to cover per day to get to Marple before Christmas where we get to meet up again with Bryn and also Nye and David. I have knitted a Christmas tree, of sorts. We have been experimenting with where to display it. Fortunately it is eminently portable.


Collapsible knitted Christmas tree.