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About Eternal422

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    Aston Marina, Stone

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  1. @Robster - thanks for the comments : sounds like some of the route is typical inner-city, we've seen similar things around Birmingham, although perhaps not quite as bad as your experiences. After all of the comments we are now considering the Four Counties with the Llangollen added on instead of the Cheshire Ring, at least for this year. Thanks everyone for all your comments and advice, very helpful.
  2. Thanks everyone for your advice. I'll have a go with canal plan and work out roughly where to stop. Looking forward to the locks! Nice to hear that things are a better than they were, some of it sounds like the BCN with which we're familiar, so I think it will be a good trip!
  3. We are thinking of combining the Four Counties with the Cheshire Ring for 2 weeks in June this year. Having been on the Four Counties last year I'm quite happy I know about where to overnight, etc. However, the Cheshire Ring is totally new to me so I'm looking for some advice on that. The initial thought is to travel from Aston Marina where we are based, clockwise around the Four Counties and then join up with the Cheshire Ring at Middlewich, returning to the Four Counties ring at Hardings Wood Junction to return to Aston Marina. So this would mean doing the Cheshire Ring clockwise from Middlewich. Having read a bit on here about the Cheshire Ring I was a bit concerned that some sections as well as overnight mooring places, particularly around Manchester, are a bit suspect. However, the thread I was reading was dated 2008, so I'm hoping that things have perhaps improved a bit? I didn't like the thought of one section, through Ashton I think(?), was described as being a good place to collect masonry! Does anyone have any recent experience on this ring along with suggestions for overnight moorings? We are planning on roughly 9 hours of cruising per day so I would expect to get around the ring in a week at most. Many thanks for any and all advice!
  4. You're right! Two one-week holidays this year and already planning next year! And it all started with a day boat hire last August, then that led to an RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman's course in October (great fun and we learned so much from those two days!) and a week in April around our local canals : Worcs & Birmingham, Stratford, Grand Union and BCN, then July for the Four Counties Ring! I admit that I have started looking at shares, just not totally sure whether I would like being tied to a particular week each year, or allocated weeks each year. But, as you say, it would most likely be cheaper than hiring. We also like holidays abroad and would still want to travel as well as having the boating holidays here. But I guess it's a balance and I'm sure I'll keep looking around for now. Must go to one of the boat shares boat shows to see if I can find it it more by talking with syndicate members.
  5. Hi All - now back after an absolutely fantastic week on the Four Counties ! Thank you everyone for your advice and suggestions. We went anti-clockwise from Great Haywood and completed the ring in a week, lots of hard work for the two of us, but thoroughly enjoyable! As with all boating, things were quite fluid and we found ourselves about 2 hours ahead of our rough schedule after the first couple of days - mainly thanks to being able to get away earlier from Great Haywood and my wife's determination to press on to the Harecastle Tunnel and getting through on the last passage at about 4:30pm! We had fantastic weather all week, the hottest day being the day we happened to be going up the Audlem locks! That was fun - the out-washes from a couple of them in the middle of the flight were so strong that it pushed the boat over to the one side, making just getting into the locks hard work ! Talking with a boat owner going ahead of us about this, they said that they had been given the tip of opening one paddle at the top of the lock to lessen the out-wash flow when you take the boat into the lock. With just the two of us, this meant a lot more walking around the lock, but it did actually help a bit. We went through the "Penkridge Rockin" towards the end of the day and didn't meet anyone else coming the other way - I can imagine if that section is busy then it would be fun trying to find the little passing places! Overall, an excellent ring, although we did benefit from having a bit of experience - 94 locks in its 110 miles means you need to know what you're doing. Doing this in a week meant a full-on holiday with an average of 9 hours cruising per day, but then that is why we went on the holiday - for the boating. If we had more time, then we could have done more stops and done some sightseeing along the way, so I guess it depends on what you are looking for in a holiday. Everyone we met and spoke with at the locks along the way were really friendly, making it a great atmosphere and very enjoyable. We only managed to moor near a pub on a couple of nights, on the other days we ended up mid to late afternoon at a pub for food, then carrying on for a few hours afterwards. Two days were around 12 hours cruising, but the latest we moored up for the night wasn't much after 8pm, so all in all it worked out really well. We're now thinking about a 2 week holiday next year to possibly take in most of the Four Counties with the Cheshire Ring added in - my wife actually really loves locks, so this sort of circuit looks ideal ! I felt so proud that at the end of the holiday I was able to reverse the boat back into the boatyard to moor with the stern against the wharf. Always learning, but feeling more confident now !
  6. Sounds good advice! Anti-clockwise it is for us I think then! It would also mean that Harecastle is at the beginning of the week rather than at the end, so if we are delayed going through it we have the rest of the week to catch up.
  7. Well, after really enjoying our last holiday from Tardebigge to Wilmcote and Gas Street we have been well and truly bitten by the bug! So much so that we have booked another boat for July, this time we're starting from Great Haywood and planning on going around the Four Counties Ring. We've got a week, but with the longer days and now some experience I think we'll be OK for time. There will just be the two of us again. I'm looking for some suggestions for overnight stops, maybe 2 or 3 hours on the first day and 1 hour on the last, happy for 9 or 10 hours on the other days for a total of 7 days. Not sure whether to go anti clockwise or clockwise from Great Haywood. I would really welcome some thoughts and advice but feel a lot more relaxed now as far as planning, knowing that we're capable and happy to be flexible if things don't go to plan (like when we had the air con ducting wrapped around the prop that delayed us on the North Stratford for an hour and a half!) Any help and advice would be very much appreciated! Thanks everyone!
  8. Wast Hills tunnel wasn't too bad. Before this trip we had only gone through Shortwood, so this was our first really long tunnel! First time through we didn't meet anyone else and managed to keep in the centre and didn't scrape against any of the walls. Coming back we met one other boat coming the other way, but by then we were well used to handling the boat and after slowing a bit passed each other with inches to spare on our port side with them and about the same clearance on the starboard against the tunnel wall. No scrapes at all! We were taught to use the boat's tunnel light on the tunnel ceiling as a guide rather than getting sucked into the optical illusion of looking straight ahead, however I found that keeping an eye on the port side of the boat (where you'd stand at the tiller next to the throttle) against the tunnel wall and ensure a constant distant from the side worked better for me. My wife looked along the starboard side and warned if I drifted over too much. I'm sure there are some kinks in the tunnel, but that could just be imagination! A tunnel certainly wouldn't put me off, nor locks. All part of the fun of a canal boating holiday!
  9. We only went around Oozells Loop, which was where we had moored for the night, but didn't do any of the other loops - just stayed on the Main Line then up to Winson Green Junction. I must admit, by this part of the holiday we were feeling a little flat in that it was the last day - and no more locks on the way back to Tardebigge! Amazing that we enjoyed the locks so much, but I guess they add a bit of variety (and sometimes excitement!).
  10. Just back from this trip - and what a fantastic time!! Anglo Welsh called us to say we could pick up the boat early on Friday at 11:30, but due to illness we had to delay until the Saturday anyway but were able to get under way by about 9:30am. Didn't have to alter the trip much and ended up with the following : Saturday : Tardebigge - The Wharf, Hockley Heath ( longish day due to getting some wire heating duct wrapped around the prop! (Luckily Anglo Welsh came out to us with cutters and managed to free us up fairly quickly!) Sunday : The Wharf, Hockley Heath - Fleur de Lys, Lowsonford Monday : Fleur de Lys, Lowsonford - Wilmcote, winded here and headed back to moor just south of Preston Bagot between bridge 50 and 49. Tuesday : Preston Bagot - Catherine de Barnes Wednesday : Catherine de Barnes - Gas Street Thursday : Gas Street to Winson Green Junction (to add a bit more to the day!), turned in junction and back to Alvechurch for the night. Friday : Alvechurch to Tardebigge for 9am Had some fun at Preston Bagot bottom lock - the silt and debris prevented the exit gate from opening, just as we were wondering what to do a couple of CRT men turned up to clear the weir / race (?) next to the lock and sorted it the gate for us! Thanks to everyone for the help and suggestions back in February when I was planning this trip!
  11. I've been re-thinking the route, especially after Dave-P's suggestion and now coming round to this : Day 1 : Pick up boat at Tardebigge , to Lyons Boatyard : 4h13 Day 2 : to Lapworth lock 19 : 7h16 / 17 locks Day 3 : to Wilmcote : 7h16 / 20 locks Day 4 : to Kingswood Junction : 6h57 / 18 locks Day 5 : to Catherine de Barnes : 2h56 / 5 locks Day 6 : to Gas Street : 7h12 / 25 locks Day 7 : to Alvechurch or near Tardebigge : 4h Day 8 : to Tardebigge by 9am to return boat I put in an overnight at Catherine de Barnes as I thought this may be a better place to stop rather than going further into Birmingham? I know that Tyseley Wharf or Camp Hill might be better places distance wise to even out the time between the days a bit but not sure they would be OK for mooring?
  12. Wow - thank you everyone for some very useful comments ! Much food for thought. I'm beginning to feel that the first partial day from Tardebigge into Gas Street might be too much - Dave_P : as you say with the Wast Hills tunnel especially the average speed would definitely be a lot lower than 4mph, let alone slowing to go past moored boats -- one of the first things we were taught on the helmsman's course . I also don't really want it to be a race, much better to take the time and enjoy it. Given that, your suggestion of a reverse route might be a better option. I like the idea of only going as far as Wilmcote as well - we live in Rubery, so we get to Stratford fairly often anyway. Turning at Wilmcote gives us some pleasant canal without rushing to get into Bancroft Basin. I only added Stratford because I thought the Birmingham Mini Ring might not be quite enough for the week, but it seems like a little more leisurely pace would still fill the days and give us more of an enjoyable holiday. Of course, if it's raining the thought of having to cruise for 6 or 7 hours is not as appealing! Going from Tardebigge towards Dickens Heath along the North Stratford on the first day is a better use of time, otherwise a short trip to Hopwood on the first day only leaves around 3 hours cruising into Gas Street on the second. Reversing the route means we can make full use of the days without having to race anywhere ! I'll have to play around with options and see what makes sense to us. I'll let you all know what we come up with. Really looking forward to the holiday now as the planning is making it seem closer.
  13. Hello everyone! New member and relatively new to boating - had a day boat from Tardebigge and also myself and my wife have done the RYA Inland Waterways helmsman course over 2 days (great fun and learnt loads!). We are now planning our first canal holiday in April and have hired a boat from Anglowelsh at Tardebigge for 7 days and wanting to cruise to Gas Street on the first day. However, as we won't be picking the boat up until 2pm (and the small print says you may not be away until 3pm) I'm wondering whether it's possible to get to Gas Street basin by around 7pm. reckons on this being 5 hours 22 mins for the roughly 12 miles. As there are no locks I would have thought even averaging 3mph we could do this in 4 hours? Or is this too ambitious and not feasible? The idea is to then go down the Farmer's Bridge locks and out eventually onto the Grand Union to head to Kingswood Junction and then onto the Stratford canal to see if we can get to Stratford before returning to Tardebigge. This holiday will be just the two of us - not afraid of a bit of work throught the locks, but obviously don't want it to be too stressful as the idea of unwinding and enjoying using the journey is more important than getting anywhere specifically. Any thoughts and advice would be very welcome! Thank you.