It is now Thursday April 2nd. We moored overnight near the town of Alvechurch, and in the morning we walked back into town to explore the local church, graveyard and butcher shop. Rob managed to score a beautifully aged spring lamb shoulder and then we returned to the boat. Or pace was much more leisurely than the first day, only 4 locks in the whole morning. Then I noticed Wast Hill tunnel on the map. I had to do a double take at the length ~ more than 2400 metres!!! That means 40 minutes underground, in the dark with only a weak headlamp and your interior lights to illuminate the situation. It was probably the least fun part of the whole trip. The ceiling constantly drips on you, the air is a little hazy from the diesel fumes of boats that were there before you...
Once we cleared the tunnel, we were on the distant suburbs of Birmingham. The canal was full of garbage, the occasional shopping cart and the views were none too picturesque. We waited until we were well away from the city before we stopped for a lunch of ham and mature cheddar sandwiches and beer looking out over the horses on Dickens Heath.
On with the day, we completed a few more locks before mooring for the day. Dinner was slow roasted lamb shoulder, minted potatoes and fresh peas.
The next morning, we decided we were going to change our plans slightly and veer off the Avon Ring briefly and onto the Grand Union, just for a few days. We tied up around lunchtime and walked into the village of Lapworth to get supplies. Everyone was so friendly; the owner of the village shop wanted to emigrate to Victoria, the woman working at the post office had to show me pictures of Grizzly bears from her recent trip to BC. We also scoped out the train station as our plan was to take the train the next morning to Warwick and visit the castle. Errands finished, we had a delicious lunch at the Navigation Inn, which featured a cozy fireplace. I had a ploughmans lunch and Rob had Fish and Chips.
After the hearty lunch, we needed some exercise, so I gambled a bit and used my canal map book to plan a trek to a local National Trust site, Baddesley Clinton.
We walked on a part of the Heart of England Way, a public right of way footpath that took us through farmers fields. The manor house and grounds were beautiful and the walk invigorating. Back to the boat and a simple supper of roast chicken legs, salad and potatoes.
Next time, Warwick Castle, missed trains and the ever exciting Laundrette....