Sometimes on the canals one needs to make a detour in order to stock up on essentials. Lapworth/Kingswood Junction is a lovely spot, but a bit bereft of serious shops. For logistical reasons (one crew member was nipping home for a couple of nights to sort out matters medical and dental) we needed to be moored close to Lapworth station on the Saturday night in order to catch one of the few Sunday afternoon trains. With serious lock flights in both directions on the Stratford Canal, the best option looked to be to head up to the bottom of the Knowle flight of locks on the GUC where there was room to turn the boat round, then walk up the locks into Knowle, rumoured to be a proper-job shopping town. That was the “plan”.
And it was there that Plan A foundered. Yes there was room to wind the boat round, but there were no moorings apart from a long line of fully occupied permanent ones: not a visitor mooring in sight. We’d have to head back down a mile or more to find anywhere suitable, which didn’t bode well for substantial shopping trip.
It was only noon, and the Knowle flight of 5 wide locks were all close together, so we thought “****er it” and went for Plan B. After all, how long would it take us experienced crew to nip up the flight. An hour? Well, it took about an hour and half, and sure enough, there weren’t any useable moorings at the top, so we continued on around Knowle town to the other side where we eventually found somewhere. It was 15:00 before we got to the shops, 16:15 before we got back to the boat and discovered the nearest winding hole wasn’t big enough for us to turn…
Continuing up the GUC, under the M42, we eventually managed to turn round somewhere near Birmingham Airport, got back to the top of the Knowle flight about 18:15, and – needing to be at the very least below them by Sunday morning – finally moored up at about 19:30.
There’s nothing like a quick shopping expedition to cheer one up. And that was nothing like a quick shopping expedition.