As far as the canal route is concerned, there are not too many options. The various books and web sites showed the journey to be achievable in the time available – we could start sometime on Friday afternoon and wanted to get to Norbury on Thursday in time to drive back for my car. However most days were fairly full and we’d have to find suitable mooring locations en route. My original plan had us stopping at Warwick on Saturday (good restaurants) and Gas Street, Birmingham, on Monday (even better restaurants!) However, this meant that Sunday and Monday were very long days and the risk of not getting to Gas Street on Monday. Finding secure moorings in the outskirts of Birmingham is difficult: many locks in some urban areas have security locks to stop the vandals and you can imagine how tempting a narrow boat may be. There are two routes from Warwick to Birmingham: the Grand Union and the North Stratford canal. The latter is shorter and has fewer locks but fewer moorings if we failed to do the full distance. The Grand Union route includes going up the Farmers Bridge locks in Birmingham which are wonderful but the total route has more locks 51 instead of 41 in the Stratford route.
I did some research and found a secure mooring at a suitable place on the Grand Union route. However these moorings are so secure there is no access except by boat: so much for a meal out in Birmingham if we had to stop here. So we had two options for this part of the route.
Across Birmingham from Gas Street to Tipton and Wolverhampton there are two alternatives: the Old and New main lines. Each is about the same distance and each has 3 locks. There is an alternative of doing part Old and part New and 9 locks. So we left the decision on this until we got to Gas Street.
Other parts were fairly straightforward and we were confident we’d find good moorings. We also planned to eat on board other nights.
So the big adventure was about to start. We were hoping for some Autumn colours on the cut...