Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Wednesday 3rd October

Had a bit of a lie in today and then set off for the North Stratford Canal passing the Lower Bittell Reservoir which I have walked around with my walking group ORGASM (Old Retired GAS Men) and on through Hopwood to the Wast Hills Tunnel.

* Lower Bittell Reservoir
Although the tunnel is 2726 yds (1.54 miles) long you can see the other end and it was a delight to travel through with only the slightest variation in height and direction and very few drips.

* North Portal of the Wast Hills Tunnel.
A short distance from the north end of the tunnel comes the Kings Norton Junction of the North Stratford and the Worcester and B’ham canals with the roving bridge just beyond

* Kings Norton Junction
* Sign Post
It is a nice wide Junction making turning easy and as we approached a Canal Time boat came out of the Stratford, apparently they had moored at the junction overnight.
Looking back as we made the turn we could see the Old Canal Toll House which is sadly not used today.

* Toll House
A short distance into the Stratford Canal we encountered the well known Guillotine Stop Lock which has wooden guillotine gates mounted in iron frames at both ends and is being considered for preservation in the near future.
We were watched through this very narrow lock by several gongoozlers whose hobby seemed to be to mark the efforts of boats out of ten. They gave us 10 out of 10 so we were well chuffed.

* Guillotine Stop Lock
We have walked this stretch of canal a couple of times over the years and have seen many changes particularly with increased new housing developments. We soon reached Brandwood Tunnel which has the well photographed head of Shakespeare on a plaque above the west portal.

* Brandwood Tunnel
There is no towpath through the tunnel and you have to walk over the top but because of the new housing it is easy to get lost as the old route has been transformed by new roads and houses.
We stopped at Lyons Boatyard to buy some coal and fill up with diesel (not such a good price as Wheaton Aston) but at least it is self declaration. At bridge 5 we filled up with water; there are two taps and they fill very fast.
Soon on our way we reached Shirley Drawbridge and moored up for lunch having only seen one boat on the move all morning.

* Shirley Drawbridge
After lunch we took the No.49 bus to the large Sainsbury’s at the Maypole to replenish our larder. On our return we were surprised to find we were surrounded by hire boats going in both directions and one negotiating the bridge. They must have stopped for a late lunch at the pub as by late afternoon they had all gone.

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