Today was supposed to be a lovely warm sunny day but it started with mizzle and hence we did not make an early start. The canal here is surrounded by lovely trees which together with the bends make it seem more like a river than canal although it is very shallow in places.
The bridges on the northern Stratford Canal are much wider than the southern section making it much easier to navigate.
We soon reached Hockley Heath with the Wharf Inn and a very short arm which was used for unloading coal. From here it is possible to catch the X20 bus to Stratford or Birmingham or a short hop down to a very large Tesco at M42 junction at Monkspath. There is a village shop, butchers, and fish and chip shop in addition to the inn.
a mile and a half beyond Hockley Heath the canal goes under the busy M42 with cars rushing in either direction as we serenely pass below.
At bridge 20 is a sign indicating Wedges Bakery. This is well worth a stop if you like good local produce including Bread, Cakes, Fruit and Veg, Cooked Meats, Pies etc, as well as local jams and honey. The bakery which has stone based ovens built over 80 years ago changed hands about 4 months ago and Russell and his wife, the new owners, are trying to update the bakery without spoiling the quality of the food they provide. Already they have put in an outside seating area to serve coffee and teas and a path has been laid to enable boaters to walk from the canal. He intends to make the bakery area visible for visitors as an attraction. He invited us into the bakery so that he could tell us about it and see what we thought of it.
When we were having our boat built we would call in Wedges on the way to see the progress of the boat build and would take a cake for Mark and Gary.
Outside on the wall of the bakery is a old poster of the monies for the Prosecution of Felons in the Tanworth Association. All the fines are in the old £.s.d. The Association made funds available for paying the rewards, charges, and expenses of advertising, searching for, pursuing, apprehending, indicting, and prosecuting to conviction, all and every such person or persons as may committed the listed crimes.
Returning to the boat we moved on to Warings Green where we passed the Blue Bell Cider House which still serves real draught cider and is a well know local hostelry.
On the other side of the bridge are the Stephen Goldsborough moorings where they offer diesel at £1.19/ltr on a 60/40 split and Pump out at £18 as well as water at £1.
Soon we approached the Earlswood Motor Yacht Club with its club house and the arm, under a white foot bridge, which joins the canal to the Earlswood Reservoirs a short walk away which supply the water to the Stratford Canal. The arm is also used for moorings. Near to the reservoir is a craft centre.
The canal now winds its way through the new development of Dickens Heath with a large apartment block reaching down to the canal followed by some large houses. the centre of the development has a few shops and restaurants.
Next came the Shirley Drawbridge where we caught up another boat and held the traffic up whilst all three of us negotiated the bridge. Although we all got through quickly one lady car driver came out to see what was happening.
I know what it is like as I travel across this bridge several times a week when I am at home on the way to the golf club. If I get held up however, I always like to see what boat is going through. We decided to moor up for the day in a nice spot on the other side of the bridge.
After lunch we walked up towards Shirley Station and caught the No49 bus a short hop to a large Sainsbury’s store at the Maypole to do some serious food shopping. The buses run every 10 minutes and will also take you into Solihull.
On the way back we caught the S3 bus which dropped us off the other side of the drawbridge, a much shorter walk but this bus only runs hourly.
A couple stopped to chat, David and Georgina, when I was outside the boat. They lived locally but used to build boats themselves (D & G Boats). They also knew the owners of another Sandhills Boat, Nb Fair fa who we met up with in Birmingham last year.
Later the Autumn Years crew joined us for a meal.