New Blog Started

After several attempt to integrate the blog with my website I’ve decided to revert to a standard WordPress blog.  That should make publishing a little easier and, perhaps, a little more frequent.

We’re our home mooring at Sherborne Wharf for a week or two, before setting off again to the north Oxford Canal – but more of that nearer the time.

Waterway Routes moored on our Home Mooring at Sherborne Wharf
Home Mooring at Sherborne Wharf

We’ve finished our main summer cruise and we’re busy updating the maps with the changes found during the past month and starting to edit the DVDs filmed during the summer.

Into Birmingham

We continued along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal into Birmingham.

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The winter sunshine wasn’t producing much warmth and we were glad of the locks to work to keep us warm.

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We weren’t the only ones hoping for warmth in the sunshine.  This dead tree makes a handy perching place where you can be on your own, or in groups.

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It still surprises me how green the grass is when almost everything else has turned brown near the end of autumn.

Looking back as we approached Salford Junction I spotted a new sign, requiring boaters to come up from the left and merge with the motorway traffic.

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We’re moored outside Star City, on the 24 hour moorings at the start of the Grand Union Canal.  Tomorrow I will reverse back to Salford Junction, using the bow thruster to steer, then we’ll head up the Aston and Farmers Bridge flights to our home mooring in the centre of Birmingham.

Kennet & Avon Canal DVDs

I am pleased to say our Kennet & Avon Canal DVDs have just been released.

Kennet & Avon Canal DVD Cover (combined version)

The Kennet & Avon Canal DVDs are available in our usual three formats:-

  • Popular – like a television programme showing the highlights of the canal
  • Bowcam – a forward facing camera, speeded up for a little fun, showing the whole canal
  • Combined – both Popular and Bowcam in one box for the best of both worlds, saving money and postage.
Kennet & Avon Canal DVDsPopular, Bowcam and Combined (left to right)

Starting at Kennet Mouth, the junction with the River Thames, we’ll cruise through Reading as we climb through the valley of the River Kennet.  We’re soon into lovely countryside then passing through smaller settlements on our way to Thatcham, Newbury and Hungerford.

We reach the summit level at Crofton, pass through Bruce Tunnel, and start our descent.  The 16 broad locks of the Caen Hill flight provide spectacular views.

Continuing through Bradford on Avon we reach Bath and join the River Avon for our cruise into Bristol where we finish our cruise in the docks.

Route covered by the Kennet & Avon Canal DVDs

The Popular and Combined DVDs each include an information booklet and a fold-out map.

Contents of the Kennet & Avon Canal Combined DVD. Includes both Popular and Bowcam discs, a fold-out map and an information booklet.

Enjoy these waterways from the comfort of your armchair. These Kennet & Avon Canal DVDs, or any others from our range of waterway DVDs, are great for planning your cruise, or just for fun.

We also have the Kennet & Avon Canal Maps which are available to download in both Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.

Extract from Kennet & Avon Canal Maps

The Kennet & Avon Canal Maps are also available on CD in a presentation box which makes them ideal for giving as a present.

Kennet & Avon Canal Map presentation box (thin DVD size)
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You can save 10% by purchasing a Kennet & Avon Canal DVD and Map in the same transaction.

Lawton Locks

Having recovered from a very busy Crick Boat Show where we met lots of lovely customers, we were ready to set off for our summer cruise this morning.  We’ve travelled a long distance if you add total the up and down movements and the side to side swaying as we stayed on our home mooring at Sherborne Wharf in Birmingham.  With torrential rain and strong winds we weren’t going cruising.

I’m not sure about tomorrow, but we’ll be heading towards Lapworth when the weather improves.  We’re filming the River Nene, the Middle Level Navigations, and the River Great Ouse and tributaries this summer, as well as checking all the information on our maps is up to date.

While moored up I took the time to investigate information sent  a few weeks ago by Brian on Harnser who is one of several kind boaters who contribute updates to my maps.  Brian has identified a former route of the Trent & Mersey Canal at Lawton Locks which I can add to my maps.

Lawton Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal on 1882 OS map.

The current route is clearly shown on this 1882 OS map extract.  An alternative route, passing further north, seems to be identifiable on the map, although the details, such as the lock positions aren’t shown.

Google Maps satellite photo of Lawton Locks on Trent & Mersey Canal.

Google Maps satellite photo suggests the alternative route to the north was there, with the three Lawton Locks visible on the open route.  These were all paired, although the middle lock is no longer paired.

Extract from Waterway Routes Trent & Mersey Canal Map for Lawton Locks.

My maps show winding points above and below Lawton Locks at the points where the routes diverge.  I’d like to add the former route but I’ve been unable to find any further details.

I’m hoping a blog reader will be help me out with a little extra information, particularly:-

  • Is there an old map which shows the former route, particularly the position of the locks?
  • When was the route changed?
  • Why was the route changed?

Any extra information, left as a comment or emailed to paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk, will be greatly appreciated.

How Big Is Your Bridge?

On the way back from seeing progress with repainting our boat in the autumn I took up an invitation to visit Willow Wren Training. They are excavating the arm at their training centre which had been filled in many years ago.  The short arm they had previously excavated had been stopped off, the fish removed, and the water pumped out.

The drained arm under restoration at Nelson’s Wharf.

Looking the other way, the excavation is progressing.  The original walls have been found and it’s not known exactly how far the arm used to go, although old plans suggest there’s a little further to go. Careful digging will eventually reveal the end.

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The drained arm under restoration at Nelson’s Wharf.

A public footpath crossed the arm on the level before the excavation started and the right of way has been maintained by providing a new footbridge.

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Steve & Izzie Vaughan, standing on their new bridge.

Here’s Steve & Izzie Vaughan wondering how long the arm will  be when the excavation reaches the end.

Willow Wren Training's Bridge
Willow Wren Training’s Bridge

The style of the bridge looked familiar and Steve reminded me where I had seen it before.

Chesterfield Canal - Constitution Hill Bridge 11
Chesterfield Canal – Constitution Hill Bridge 11

It was on the Chesterfield Canal, near Staveley Basin, as Constitution Hill Bridge 11 on the open section from Chesterfield.

With Willow Wren’s bridge having six pairs of panels and Constitution Hill Bridge having four pairs of panels it looked like Willow Wren had the larger bridge, until I remembered another bridge.

Chesterfield Canal - Renishaw Foundry Footbridge 18B
Chesterfield Canal – Renishaw Foundry Footbridge 18B

On the section of the Chesterfield Canal which is still to be restored, where some work has already been undertaken, stands Renishaw Foundry Footbridge 18B.  This also has six pairs of panels, the same as Willow Wren Training’s bridge, so it looks like a draw.

You can see more about the excavation and progress to see how long the arm is on Willow Wren Training’s website.

Chesterfield Canal DVDs

I am pleased to say our Chesterfield Canal DVDs have just been released and they will make great Christmas presents.

Chesterfield Canal Combined DVD Cover.

The Chesterfield Canal DVDs are available in our usual three formats:-

  • Popular – like a television programme showing the highlights of the canal
  • Bowcam – a forward facing camera, speeded up for a little fun, showing the whole canal
  • Combined – both Popular and Bowcam in one box for the best of both worlds, saving money and postage.
Chesterfield Canal DVDs
(Popular, Bowcam and Combined)

The DVDs follow the navigable canal from the River Trent at West Stockwith to the limit of navigation at Kiveton Park.  We follow the section proposed for restoration from Kiveton park to Staveley on foot.  Then, with kind permission from the Chesterfield Canal Trust, we follow one of their trip boats from Staveley into Chesterfield.

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Map showing the route covered by the Chesterfield Canal DVDs.

The Popular and Combined DVDs each include an information booklet and a fold-out map.

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Contents of the Chesterfield Canal Combined DVD.

Enjoy this lovely canal from the comfort of your armchair.  These Chesterfield Canal DVDs, or any others from our great range of waterway DVDs, will make a great Christmas present.  Why not treat your family and friends, or start dropping hints about what you would like for Christmas.

We also have the Chesterfield Canal Maps which are available to download in both Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats..

Chesterfield Canal Map
Extract from the Chesterfield Canal Map

The Chesterfield Canal Maps are also available on CD in a presentation box which makes them another great Christmas present idea.

Chesterfield Canal Map Cover.

A big thank you to the members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust who helped on their trip boat and with proof watching the DVDs.

Homewards along the Coventry Canal

We’re heading home with our repainted Waterway Routes Narrowboat.

> Atherstone Locks
Atherstone Locks

The sunshine looks nice but it was bitterly cold. There was a sprinkling of snow on the boat this morning and it took until nearly lunchtime for that to melt.  There are lots of marks appearing on the boat but they are all reflections – well nearly all – we did touch the side in a few locks.

We passed through Atherstone and Glascote Locks on the Coventry Canal and turned left at Fazeley Junction onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal where we are moored near Fisher’s Mill Bridge.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we will be heading into Birmingham, although we don’t expect to make it all the way home, and will probably moor outside Star City for the night.

Level Access

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) issued an email this morning saying that the River Severn was now navigable after being in flood for several days.

The water levels were very raised when cycled there a few days ago, including the Droitwich Barge Canal and part of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal as I checked the data for my maps.

The recently installed sign at Droitwich Barge Canal’s Lock 2 had two flashing red lights in the “Do Not Proceed” indications although, despite numerous attempts, I couldn’t get them to show in the photos.

Strong Stream Information at Droitwich Barge Canal Lock 2.
Strong Stream Information at Droitwich Barge Canal Lock 2.

At Lock 1 of the Droitwich Barge Canal, which leads to Hawford Junction and the River Severn, the water was level across the lock and anyone foolish enough to try navigating could have opened both sets of gates and cruised straight through.

Raised water levels at Droitwich Barge Canal Lock 1.

I doubt they would have had enough power to navigate upstream and they would have been travelling at more than ten miles per hour when they hit the first obstruction or low bridge downstream.

At Worcester, the water was level with the “towpath” and well over it in places.

Raised water levels in Worcester.

You wouldn’t have been able to get a narrowboat under that bridge.

Raised water levels in Worcester.

At Diglis Junction, where the Worcester & Birmingham Canal meets the River Severn, the water was near the top of the walls which are usually high above boaters.

Raised water levels at Diglis Junction.

That swing bridge would have needed opening for any boats to pass through but it’s normally so high that even vessels with short masts can pass under.

As with the Barge Canal, foolish boaters could have opened both sets of gates at the same time at Lock 1 on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to cruise onto the River Severn.

Raised water levels at Worcester & Birmingham Canal Lock 1.

The map updates discovered on this trip are now on the master map ready for publication in the April 2018 monthly update for my cruising maps.

Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals

The Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals are derelict, with plans for restoration.  Together they will form a through route between the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

Overview map of the Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals
Overview map of the Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals

There are two branches, the Elsecar Branch and the Worsbrough Branch, both from the Dearne & Dove Canal. With help from members of the Barnsley, Dearne & Dove Canals Trust I’ve produced the next maps in my series, covering these canals.  Like all my maps for restoration projects, these are free to download.

Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals detailed map
Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals detailed map

The maps show the original route with the proposed restoration route clearly marked to show where they differ.  Much of the Barnsley Canal route is still available, but it will require some new sections such as at Walton (shown above) where the original route has been built over. Much of the route of the Dearne & Dove Canal has been lost to modern developments, meaning most of the route will be on new alignments, although the Elsecar and Worsbrough Branches are largely intact.

Barnsley and Dearne & Dove maps front cover
Barnsley and Dearne & Dove maps front cover

I’ve produced one map covering both the Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals.  It’s available to download in the usual Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.  There’s a choice for the Acrobat (pdf) format

  • Single page Great for viewing on screen but too large to print
  • Seven individual pages Great for printing A4 (or A5 if your eyesight is good enough)

Visit the Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals map page on my website to download the free maps. Eagle-eyed readers may spot there are discrepancies in the levels, particularly for the Elsecar and Worsbrough Branches between the old and new alignments as the old and new lock depths don’t match.  I’m waiting for clarification about this.

Lapal Canal

The Lapal Canal is the name now associated with the restoration of the Dudley No 2 Canal using an alternative route in places.

History

The Dudley No 2 Canal once ran from Parkhead Junction , where it meets the Dudley No 1 Canal, to Selly Oak Junction where it met the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  It opened in 1798 and carried significant traffic once the Worcester & Birmingham Canal was completed in 1802.

The route included Lapal Tunnel, some 3461 metres (3785 yards) long, the second longest canal tunnel at the time, just 20m (22 yards) shorter than Sapperton Tunnel on the Thames & Severn Canal.  The tunnel suffered many collapses, mostly caused by mining subsidence, and was abandoned after a major collapse in 1917.

Lapal Canal alignment
Lapal Canal alignment

The section of the Dudley No 2 Canal to the east of the abandoned tunnel remained navigable to a brick works at California until 1953 when it was drained and filled in.  To the the west of tunnel the navigation was effectively terminated at Hawne Basin, with a short length beyond being used for moorings.

In 1990 the Lapal Canal Trust was formed to support the restoration of the Dudley No 2 Canal, or Lapal Canal as the restoration section was becoming know.

Restoration

Restored Lapal Canal
Restored Lapal Canal at Leasowes

In 1997, Dudley Council restored a section of the canal at Leasowes (not far from Hawne Basin).

A study, commissioned from Atkins in 2007, confirmed that re-opening Lapal Tunnel was not practicable and recommended an alternative route using locks to take the canal over the top of the hill instead of through it.

In 2013, planning permission was granted  for development of a site alongside the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak which would block the line of the Lapal Canal and prevent restoration.  Fortunately, after considerable pressure from the public, the plans included provision for reinstatement of the canal, on a new alignment a little further south.  The developers will make provision for the canal but it’s not clear if they will finish construction and and open the route without additional external funding.  The development is expected to finish in 2017.

In late 2015 the next 100 metres of canal after the Selly Oak development was dug out and will become connected to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal by the new channel through the development, probably during 2017.

There are no more active plans for completing the Lapal Canal, although there is much local enthusiasm.

Further Information

Selly Oak Junction
Selly Oak Junction

You can view a virtual cruise along the canal, just choose your starting point and click the “Next” links:-

Extract from Lapal Canal Map
Extract from Lapal Canal Map

You can download free Lapal Canal maps in a choice of Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.  These show both the original route of the Dudley No 2 Canal and the proposed route of the Lapal Canal.