Thirty four locks and a hand grenade

There’s a fair drop from the Birmingham level down to Fazeley  Junction – thirty eight locks worth in fact and our intention was to do thirty four of them. Our plan was to stop  in the pound above the Dog and Doublet for the night and do the last four the following day.

We started out from Birmingham on a misty morning and the Farmer’s Bridge flight of thirteen locks proved lucky for us. All but the first lock was set in our favour which, along with the cooler weather, made the flight a doddle. The locks are close together so it was fairly straightforward for me to nip down to the next one, open the gate, before coming back to close the gate of the lock above after Gordon had taken the boat out.

Farmers Bridge locks

The Aston Flight of eleven locks was almost as easy. One pound was a bit low but CRT were there and sorted it out before it was an issue for us. It was only just after lunch and we were congratulating ourselves on our speedy progress. Shouldn’t have done that!

Our problem started when, close to the top of the Minworth flight of three locks, a chap came running towards us up the towpath waving and shouting to us to pull in and stop. There wasn’t anything obviously wrong but we took him at his word and pulled in to the side. He explained that there was an unexploded hand grenade in the next bridge hole. He’d apparently ‘magnet fished’ it out of the canal and hammered it a bit to get the crud off the outside before seeing the classic pineapple shape with the pin still in place. We kept a respectful distance back from the bridge and waited. The police were on the scene in no time to assess the situation and told us to expect a long wait for the bomb squad.


In the meantime we were joined by Nick and Liz from nb Beatty, who dragooned the police into helping them secure their boat.


As it turned out the bomb squad arrived in double quick time and removed the offending hand grenade in a bomb proof box, in order to take it to be blown up. They were so quick that I missed them altogether. Still, with just over an hour or so’s delay, we were on our way again.

It always amazes me that, within walking distance of central Birmingham, you can get such rural canal views.


The Curdworth flight is particularly lovely. I think it must be looked after by a local group who keep the locksides looking amazing.


We easily made it to the Dog & Doublet, despite our enforced stop, and headed down for a swift pre-dinner drink. I’d decided that this was to be my last alcohol for a month so treated myself to a nice large gin. It had been a tough day!



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