We left Birmingham today, heading for Knowle Hall Wharf.
The descent of Farmers Bridge Locks went as planned and we turned right onto the Digbeth Branch of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
We went down in Ashted Top Lock 1 and started to open the gate. It opened about a foot and stopped. The outer end was firmly wedged against the stonework and nothing would shift the gate, neither open nor closed again.
Close inspection revealed the gate had snapped at the top, close to the heel post.
A phone call to CRT revealed they had just been told about it by someone else and they already had staff on the way.
We considered re-filling the lock, so we could back out. Opening the paddles to let water in would probably force the gate closed but the pressure would be on the bottom of the gate which might twist it and make the problem worse.
If we did start filling the lock and the gate then gave way the damage to the gate and our boat would be considerable.
The option of backing out and continuing our journey with the alternative route going down the 11 Aston Locks and back up the 5 Saltley (Garrison) Locks wasn’t very inviting. That’s 16 locks instead of the planned 6 in the Ashted Flight.
We’d just decided the only safe option was to find a way to open the gate when CRT phoned back to make we weren’t going to try filling the lock and risk damaging the gate further.
A passing cyclist stopped to investigate and, with his help, we managed to gently open the gate. At CRT’s request we left it open with a note tied to the handle saying it was broken and must be left open and that CRT were on the way.
We soon encountered this workboat with an unusual paint job. It looks official but I’m not sure. While I quite like this “graffiti” it also seems to send the message that it’s alright to do this when, in many cases, is isn’t. Any views?
After an hour spent removing a duvet from the prop in one of the Camp Hill Locks the rest of the journey was uneventful.
We didn’t get a chance to speak to the occupants of this boat – the Nailsea Navigators. We live in Nailsea but hadn’t heard of them and Google doesn’t know about them either. Does anybody else know about them?