Twenty four narrow locks and thirteen miles, lay between us at the centre of Birmingham, so a relatively early start was required and by nine o’clock we were on our way.
During the first eight, lock free miles the surroundings gradually changed from rural to suburban, although shielded from the canals by trees, but eventually the factories, warehouses and railway bridges crowded in and the Camp Hill, down hill, flight of six locks came into view, immediately proceeded by a very smart BW Sanitary Station, laundry, showers, loos, rubbish, water, elsan disposal and lock keepers who advised me that this was a safe place to overnight before doing the locks, however I still feel that Catherine De Barnes was a much pleasant mooring. Immediately after the locks we forked left at Bordesley Junction and after a sharp right turn onto the Digbeth Branch and under the Curzon Tunnel, we rose up the four Ashted Locks, the last one set immediately after the 103 yds Ashted tunnel, all rather dark and gloomy, but some interesting graffiti brightened the way.
We joined the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Aston Junction just after a strange double lock gate arrangement, which must have been to stop the Grand Union Canal Company getting any water benefit from the B & F Canal. Soon the first of the thirteen Farmers Bridge locks loomed up ahead of us. We were back on familiar territory here and soon got into a routine of setting up one or two locks ahead whilst waiting for SKYY to rise up and exit the current lock. Much of this passage is covered by the roots of the high rise buildings and long damp tunnels. The last time we came this way I commented on the huge number of empty cider bottles and tins floating in the cut at Snow Hill Bridge. This time on top of the bridge was a motley crew of the consumers of the cider and one of them decided to join us and offer his expertise in helping us to lock through. A couple of locks and a couple of quid later and he fell back and we happily continued on our own, eventually emerging into the sunshine at Cambrian Wharf.
After eight and bit hours of non stop cruising, we turned towards the Mailbox and the amazingly, to our minds, ugly The Cube before turning round and mooring up in the very quite Oozells Street Loop. A well deserved walk for the patient Duggie was followed by a nap, before dinner and a couple of episodes of 24 and then two healthily exhausted boaters went to bed.