From Curdworth you’ve got to work 27 locks to get up into the centre of Birmingham. CRT volunteers described the area in between as ‘bandit country’ and recommended that the trip be taken in one go. I’m not particularly ‘lock fit’ at the moment so was looking forward to this trip as a way to get myself back into condition.
Having done the three Minworth locks you get a bit of a break. Passing under Spaghetti Junction gives you the warning that the real climb is about to start!
There are 11 locks in the Aston Flight and more or less all of them were set against us. We don’t really mind that as it just becomes part of the rhythm. It was a sunny day and this was hot work so, choosing what I thought was an opportune time, I removed my fleece. I didn’t spot a young lad just coming up to the lock and I fear he has been traumatised for life as my T Shirt came up with the fleece exposing my somewhat substantial bra. I do hope he recovers.
Aston locks take you through the suburbs. Not overly pretty but with some interesting buildings.
We caught a bit of a break after this flight as the boat in front of us decided to stop for lunch meaning that the locks of the Farmer’s Bridge flight were all set in our favour.
This flight takes you through a bit of an ‘underworld’ both literally and in the cast of characters you meet along the way. You don’t meet many city types or tourists down in this section and those that do venture here seem to scuttle through as fast as possible.
A rather cheery bunch of drunks greeted us at the bottom of the flight which starts by taking you under buildings and through dark tunnel like bridges – very similar in feel to Canal Street in Manchester.
When I went up to open the first lock gates Gordon stayed behind guarding the boat and chatting to the drunks. I was greeted by an older man on his own who proceeded to start to take down his trousers. I thought he was about to expose himself when he got a needle out and injected himself in the stomach. Having fastened himself up again he started to chat quite cheerily asking me about our life on the boat. I never felt threatened but was still relieved when Gordon brought the boat into the lock.
There are some very short pounds between these locks and we managed to meet a boat in the very shortest. It was a bit of a squeeze but we made it – just!
Half way up the flight you emerge from the depths into the heart of the city. What a change!