For the first eighteen months I kept Starcross moored at Lowsonford, just down the Southern Stratford from Kingswood Junction, so the Lapworth flight and the northern Stratford thence to Kings Norton were familiar ground. Although both fans of the BCN, Duncan and I had decided to go via the Northern Stratford rather than the Grand Union as we anticipated another long day (it was actually 11 hours) and wanted to get the lock work done at the start rather than the end.
Lock 8, Lapworth flight
The northern end of the Lapworth flight is a joy to work (unlike the locks south of Kingswood) and I particularly like lock 8 with its old lock-keeper's cottage overlooking the rise, although judging by the car parked outside the lock-keeper doesn't live there any more!
In previous trips along this canal I've never encountered any trouble, but today, just before bridge 9 at Shirley we were the victim of some stone throwing by a group of young lads on the towpath who transferred their attention from attempting to hit floating bottles in the cut to Starcross as we passed. No real harm was done however and we were soon out of sight and therefore out of mind as far as they were concerned.
Kings Norton Junction
We reached Kings Norton Junction by late afternoon and made the awkward right turn (it's much sharper than it looks) on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Shortly afterwards we were at Selly Oak, where extensive engineering work is underway in connection with a commercial development that will require a new swing bridge over the cut and, as a by-product, will see the first few metres of the Lappal Tunnel line of the Dudley Canal re-opened and some moorings provided.
Negotiating the "roadworks" at Selly Oak
The canal here parallels the main line into New Street Station and we were entertained by a constant stream of London Midland electric commuter trains, London Midland diesel units (some heading for Hereford) and Cross-Country "Voyagers" almost all the way in to town. We reached central Birmingham by 19.00 and tied up on the New Main Line, co-incidentally next to a boat with an almost identical livery to Starcross!
Then we went to the pub. Or rather, several pubs, although we did take pay a professional visit to see the new Digbeth Coach Station (we are both ex-busmen) on the way! It was meant to be a "quiet night" but as Duncan and I were both brought up in the restrictive years of eleven o' clock closing (or even half-past-ten in places like Birmingham) when the Old Fox in Hurst Street was still serving at 11.30 we just had to have another (and could have had more) so it wasn't such an early night after all!