Monday, 28 May 2018

The challenge of Brum

After Fradley we headed south to yet another junction (Fazely), where we met up with our 'Scurvy Crew' Matt and Penny for the next adventure.  This was the Birmingham Canal Navigation 24 hour marathon.  The idea is that you cruise various parts of the Birmingham system and get awarded points for distance, locks, photos of certain places and answering treasure hunt type clues.  Despite intending to start out at Fazeley junction which would have given us maximum points for distance on our chosen route, we opted instead to move a bit further to where there was a rather good pub, which sort of summed up our approach.  There are 120 miles of canal in the system and it was obvious we weren't going to only do part of it but some canals were worth more points so we made an effort to go up these.  It started at 0800 and finished at 1400 the next day.  You are required to have at least 6 hours rest - we managed 15!  Partly because we had no intention of traveling at night and partly because of the mother of all thunderstorms overnight and nothing to do with wanting to stop and have few beers and a good sleep.  In the end 36 boats competed although one of them never finished as he sank in a lock!!  He was the only 'yogurt pot'  otherwise known as a fibre glass cabin cruiser and the only one on the event.  Apparently he hit something going in to a lock and punctured his hull.
We had some fun talking to other boats as they passed the other way although the fleeting look of horror on one ladies face as I shouted that the they were going the wrong way was a bit cruel (but quite funny).   One thing I found out is that the M5/M6 junction heading north has an aqueduct over it and it was quite a sight to look down on all the traffic.  I must have been up that road hundreds of times and not realised that narrow boats were passing overhead.  Another section goes completely underneath the raised section of the M5 as you pass through the city.
The finish was at the highest part of the system at Titford although I wasn't really sure whether we were floating in water or neat engine oil by that stage.  In fact many of the canals were pretty polluted and I need to have a session through my weed hatch soon to see what I've collected on my prop.  However the organisers were great as was the beer and the Blues band that evening.
We will be back to just two tomorrow and will head out back into the countryside. although one little bijou challengette will be the trip down the Tardebigge Flight of locks to the river Severn.  A mere 53 locks and 30 of them in one flight, oh and another 2 mile tunnel - can't wait.
The scurvy crew at the start looking far too happy.

One of the regular delights of the Birmingham system

One of our regular views of the M5 from a decidedly odd vantage point

Despite being less than 2 miles from the town center, this is the view as you approach via the water

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