Sunday 3rd January 2010
I left Zulu in Brewood on Friday night, hoping somehow that this cold weather would be over within a couple of days, but it rather looks like it could be well over a week before the trip can be resumed with the weather still getting worse in places.
Sadly this means that I will miss my main deadline of reaching Braunston Tunnel cutting before 11th January, after which the canal is closed there until 5th March, unless BW can be persuaded to allow the occasional convoy of stranded boats to pass through. I will call them tomorrow to check if they have even managed to get their own boats in position before giving up totally.
Having left Zulu and headed south by road, I can confirm that the Newbury area Kennet and Avon is currently ice free, and whilst thick in places, the ice is certainly breakable all the way up to Crofton, as a couple of boats have made the trip over the weekend.
Such is the power of blogging though, a quick search of other canal blogs shows me that Great Haywood is mostly iced in according to Caxton’s blog, so I am thankful that I didn’t divert all the way up the Staffs and Worcester just to get stuck there, and Norbury Junction, which I passed through a couple of days earlier, has frozen again yesterday according to Debdale. Worse still, Epiphany tells us (and confimed today by email) that Birmingham centre is more or less impassable with 5 inch thick ice at Rotten Park. So even if I had forced my way to Wolverhampton it now seems likely I would now be stuck somewhere in no mans land instead of relatively cosy at Brewood. There are also a couple of threads running on Canalword.net forums where people are posting ice reports, and then of course there is twitter where Granny Buttons was encouraging the use of a #canalice tag to enable searching of relevant topics. This could form an invaluable facility if more people start using it – particularly useful as it can be checked and updated using mobile phones in real time. It is just as useful if people would also post “no ice” posts as well as reporting thick ice.
But right now on this lovely sunny afternoon down south, I have no way of knowing if conditions on the Birmingham Canal Main Line are changing or even if Brewood is deep in snow.
So if anyone can keep me updated on this I would really appreciate it and if anyone wants an update on the eastern Kennet and Avon then I will be only too happy to report back what I can.