After we arrived at Alvechurch we ran into a problem. They had no room at the inn! Despite advertising on their website that they have visitor moorings available, they’re really full (and look like they will be for a long time!) so it would be advisable to not assume (as we did) and call ahead or just book elsewhere. To their credit, the staff were really helpful and pointed us in the direction of a number of other places with potential moorings within a short cruise:
- Withybed: A new marina due for completion at the beginning of the season 2018. Wasn’t open when we enquired, but may have since been completed.
- Tardebigge Wharf (Anglowelsh)
We ended up with a mooring for two weeks at Anglo Welsh Tardebigge Wharf. We only needed the mooring as we wanted to move our remaining belongings on board and prepare the boat for the further journey to the Shropshire Union without worrying about having left her on a towpath mooring. Anglo Welsh were brilliant in accommodating us and the mooring was very secure, so we were lucky with that one!
Day one of the big move:
Two weeks after settling in at Tardebigge Wharf, we were ready to move off again back through Shortwood Tunnel to Alvechurch. Only the third time we’d done the stretch…I still hunkered down for the tunnel and went through my now ritual of crossing my fingers, my toes, my legs (usually because the sound of dripping water makes you need the loo) and my eyes. What a sight! We moored up on the 48hr moorings at Alvechurch and set up for the night (only after walking back to pick up the car…this is our life now!)
Now here’s a sheepish admission on my part. I had known about Wast Hill Tunnel for about three weeks prior to this part of the journey and I’d tried my hardest to mentally prepare for it, but as we set off in the morning I realised I couldn’t do it and completely bottled out. This meant poor Chris dropped me just before the tunnel and went through by himself (understanding boyfriend of the year award), and I trekked the distance over the hill on foot (not the nicest walk, by the way). What a wimp! I also spent the entire walk stressing that Chris might fall in by himself and I was a terrible girlfriend for letting him do it alone. I’ve always been quite tough on myself with these things, so was frustrated that I just couldn’t face it. I must be a bit claustrophobic! Who knows what I’ll have to do if I ever have to do one singlehanded.
We reconvened on the other side of the tunnel (Chris even beat me there) I’d bought him some sweets as a ‘sorry’ on the way over – so I bet that’s what slowed me down. Had a lovely chat with an encouraging hireboater at the waterpoint further on (past a floating sofa and other miscellaneous debris, a sign of things to come!). It was mid-morning by this point so we pushed on in order to make it to Gas Street Basin by late afternoon.
I did enjoy the change in scenery from before Wast Hill to after, it suddenly becomes very industrial, much noisier and the tone of the water changes to something much greyer. Despite the industrial beauty of it all, it did become monotonous much faster than rolling countryside. I think I’m a countryside boater, more than a city boater…it is just a personal preference! We also found it harder to stop. We wanted to have a quick break near the University train station, but couldn’t moor up because there was either lots of debris along that stretch near the edge, or an underwater ledge (also too murky to tell) so we couldn’t even get near enough! After one particular attempt where we became very nearly solidly grounded, we gave up and decided to keep going until we reached the city centre.
We were so excited to get to central Birmingham. I know mooring there is a bit of a cause for anxiety, depending on day of the week it can be really noisy in parts, and you may make friends with a few inebriated souls shuffling home via your well deck…from the stories I’ve heard! We had no problems at all. We moored on the 14 day moorings just next to the NEC and went out for dinner, did a bit of food shopping and came back to the boat perfectly secure. We even had a quiet nights sleep! Amazing considering we were slap bang in the middle of a large city. Chris pointed out that we’ve now lived in Birmingham, which is kind of funny if you think about it.
In the next post we nearly land in trouble for not checking the stoppages, and make our way through the rest of the Black Country and Wolverhampton Locks.