Coven Heath

A rather frustrating day today with much queueing, but with lots of opportunity to chat with other boaters.

The day started off OK with good weather so we made an earlyish start at seven thirty. All was going well until just after the Bratch. The queues were begining to build up at each lock. We then heard from a boater coming the other way that a loaded coal boat had become stuck in Ebstree lock. As we went on through the next few locks we gathered more of the story from other boaters. It seems that the coal boat and butty had become stuck as they were very heavily loaded. In order to get over the cill they had to transfer some of the load from one end of the boat to the other. This together with their very slow progress was causing the queues.

We got chatting to the crew of NB Phoenix, they were next ahead of us in the queues. They were also heading for Stafford Boat Club as that is their home mooring. Though they were in no hurry as they didnt need to be there until Sunday.

Phoenix moored up for the night at Compton, but we decided to carry on past Wolverhampton to Coven as we were now a bit behind our schedule. Soo after leaving Compton lock we came up behind the coal boat and butty. They were going very slowly, only about 1mph. They were towing on a long line, so to pass them we needed a long, straight, wide section. There aren’t many of them of the Staffs & Worcs! We did eventually manage to pass them in cutting leading up to Aldersley junction.

The crew of Phoenix had told us that a good overnight stop would be between bridges 69 & 70. We stopped there for a while but decided that the motorway noise was too obtrusive. We went a little further and moored up just before br. 71, by the target golf range.

We were just having our supper when the coal pair came past again. We didnt want to be behind them the next day, so thought that we’d make an early start and hope to pass them before they were up.

After supper we went for a walk along the towpath past the ‘Hope & Anchor’. There was the coal pair, with the crew in the pub garden eating. We could see plenty of mooring space ahead of them so went back to the boat and moved the half mile or so in the dark to moor up again about 200 yds ahead of them!

A really good thing about getting up early is you get to see more wildlife. This morning we had a kingfisher flying along skimming the water infront of us for about half a mile. Each time he stopped on an overhanging branch I tried to get a photo.

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