Day 16 – Worra lorra locks

Left Catherine de Barnes around 8.30 or so for a nice lock-free stretch to Camp Hill locks in Birmingham. Two of our grandchildren (Milly and Georgie) comment on ‘Tree Tunnels’ whenever trees meet over a road. They’d have loved the canal through Solihull which was a tree tunnel almost all the way. It would have been nicer with dappled sunlight instead of occasional glimpses of a grey sky but you can’t have everything.

What looks like 4 locks at Camp Hill on my map turned out to be 6 but they are easily operated narrow locks. Unlike those on the Northants Arm the bottom pair of gates have their walkways on the downhill side so when one is open it isn’t too big a stretch even for me to walk across which saves a lot of walking.

Lock 12 Farmer's Bridge
Lock 12 Farmer’s Bridge, waiting for a key

After lunch I did 6 more on the Digbeth Branch. Then a dilemma, the next flight of locks is Farmers Bridge down to the CRT facilities at Cambrian Wharf. But there are 13 of them. It was early afternoon, too early to stop so on I went. At the second one (#12, they start from the bottom) I got in but the bottom gate was secured by something CRT calls a Handcuff Key, or anti-vandal key. Not the same as the Yale-type CRT that opens the Northampton gates and CRT facilities nationwide. I didn’t have one.

I phoned CRT and a member of staff from Cambrian Wharf brought one within a few minute and charged me a fiver for it. Good service but it’d been nice to know beforehand.

So only slightly delayed I pressed on. This section of the canal is interesting if you like seeing the underneath of modern architecture. There’s a lot of flats and commercial buildings lining the canal and many of overhang the water and are supported on piles into the wider areas of water. I think maybe the locks were doubled once but aren’t now there are just weirs.

13 locks after 12 earlier in the day is a slog, but worth it. Cambrian Wharf has facilities I need and a nice pace to moor overnight and do some shopping in the morning.

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