The grandchildren were collected at the end of the half term week, and it was suddenly remarkably quiet again. Although the canal has been quiet we have seen a few more boats than when we started. We moved from the Black Country Museum moorings on Monday 5th June and stopped at Tipton for the night. Tuesday we descended 3 locks on the new main line and headed for Caggy’s boatyard for diesel and gas. Charlie also needed engine oil as it was that time again to service the engine and change the filters. The boatyard only had a tiny pontoon to moor against so it was a bit of fun getting the boat into position. We eventually managed it and filled the tank with diesel, also needed a replacement gas bottle, 10 litres of engine oil and some stern tube grease. What an exciting shop that was. At least the oil and gas were the cheapest we had paid since cruising. We cruised back up the 3 locks we had descended and headed back toward Wolverhampton. A little dog wasn’t so lucky as we saw it’s body floating around the lock gate with it’s red harness still attached. We couldn’t reach it to get it out, but we both felt upset at someone having lost their pet. Glad that Izzy has her life jacket. We took a detour at Deepfields junction and cruised along the Bradley arm. There are C&Rt workshops at the end (we would be visiting them later); but we turned halfway as there was really nowhere suitable to moor. At least we can say we have been there. We moored after we had turned at the junction for 2 nights and Charlie was happy that he got the engine oil and filter changed, and also the gearbox oil (though his battery powered oilpump broke so he now needs a new one). Thursday we set off again and headed for Wolverhampton as we were meeting the other boats in the cruise on Friday. There is a sanitary station there at the top of the locks so we topped up with water and emptied the waste cassettes. All ready now for the cruise.
We had a walk round Wolverhampton on Friday, and after all the boats had arrived (19 in total) had an informal meeting to hand out the itinerary and discuss the cruise; followed by a beer in one of the local pubs.
And we are off on Saturday….
The weather so far has been overcast, apart from one day the previous week when it rained heavily and the local news reported flooding to properties and shops in Birmingham. The long range forecast isn’t looking good either.
We left the Wolverhampton moorings and turned left at Horseley junction onto the Wyrley and Essington canal, through Wednesfield (stopped for shopping), Bloxwich, Sneyd Wharf, Birchills junction, Little Bloxwich and finally stopping at Pelsall Common (0 locks, 12.77miles, 5hours).
Although we had stopped for lunch we decided to have an early eve meal at the Fingerpost pub on the common. The rain decided to give us a visit that evening, so we sat inside and had a homemade beefburger and chips; of course washed down with an alcoholic beverage.
Sunday…We were off again towards Brownhills where we decided to stay for the night, as the cruise were heading up the Anglesey branch and we had spent 10 days there previously. I also wanted to visit the butchers in Brownhills to top up the freezer. A little excitement that afternoon; some lovely local youths untied the boat moored in front of us; luckily we managed to retrieve it before it headed along the canal.(0locks, 2.18miles, 2hours)
Monday..after visiting the butchers we set off again on to the Daw end canal through Walsall wood and finishing at Longwood Boat club for the night.
There was a social evening with a fish and chip supper, followed by a historical talk on the BCN.(0locks, 5.71miles, 3hrs 20mins)
Tuesday…time to descend the locks in the Rushall flight (or so we thought). Everyone staggered their leaving time and the boat club supplied volunteer lock wheelers to help us all through. Another bit of excitement (though not for the boater concerned), they had a log caught under their bow which pushed them against the lock wall and made the stern sink below the water. Luckily they had noticed in time and tragedy was averted. We descended through 2 locks and it was about a mile to the 3rd one when we got a message to stop as there was a problem at lock 8 and C&Rt operatives were on hand to sort it out. It was a piece of an old paddle that had got lodged under the new paddle and the pound had to be drained to sort it out. That put us on hold for approx 2 hours in which time we had our lunch. So far the rain had held off, and we were the last of 7 boats to get through the rest of the 9 lock flight. Once the problem had been sorted we were off again, but the weather certainly went off with us. We were lock wheeling in torrential rain, thunder and lightening. By the time we were through our rain wear wasn’t holding any more water and we were soaked through (not the most pleasant of afternoons). Once through the locks I managed to shower on the go and got quite warm until Charlie summoned me to take over the tiller as he was freezing and wet through. On we went in the rain turning at Newton Junction onto the Tame valley canal, crossing and running parallel with the M6/M5 junction; the traffic was at a standstill on both motorways, it seemed we were travelling faster on the boat!). We turned right at the junction with the Walsall canal at Ocker Hill, and moored just before Moorcroft junction which is now derelict. A raffle was held later that eve when there was a break in the weather. I won a bottle of white wine that went into my ham hock stewpot! Yummy. (9locks, 7.42miles, 6hours 51mins)
Wednesday…..still raining, and reports again of localised flooding in the Birmingham area. A walk to the Bradley workshops was in order in the rain, with a local historian telling us the history of the area.
After the walk (still raining) we were off again along the Walsall canal through Moxley, Darlaston and Pleck, then turning right into the Walsall town arm. This stretch of canal has been the worst we have seen for litter and rubbish in the canal. Many boats have had to clear their weed hatches regularly; we have been lucky. We did manage to retrieve an Adidas football in good condition.
Once moored we had interested teenagers wondering if they could look inside the boats. An explanation on why they couldn’t as they were our homes. At least this time there was no trouble with them. (0locks, 5.08miles, 2hours 50mins).
Thursday…We had a quick look around Walsall and were impressed by the range of shops. This was the home town of Jerome K. Jerome, and it was also famous for making leather goods. There is a leather museum locally but we didn’t have time to visit. Leaving the moorings we were near the back of the convoy as had to wait till the others departed, we ascended the Walsall locks, being told to enter by drifting in and not using any fast propulsion on leaving, so as not to stir up any bricks that may have been at the bottom. All went smoothly this time. We turned left at Birchills junction and back on to the Wyrley and Essington, through Sneyd and Lane Head and moored at Wednesfield. We had a meal in the boat as I had made the ham hock stew extravaganza. It had been a dry afternoon, but the rain soon returned in the evening. (8locks, 8.23miles, 6hours 5mins).
Today is Friday…we left Wednesfield very early in order to get to Tipton first, as we were fed up at being in the back of the queue. I thought it was 07.45 when we left, but it turned out it was 06.45. No wonder we are now feeling more tired than usual. We were the first to arrive at Tipton and now at the front of the boat queue moored outside a very posh doctors surgery). We had a rather nice lunch in the Fountain Inn (lamb shanks, mash and peas followed by apple and rhubarb crumble). The other boaters are heading to the Pie Factory this evening, but Charlie didn’t fancy eating a heavy meal that late, so we are not joining them. (0locks, 6miles, 2hours 40minutes).
Tomorrow is our final day and we will be heading for Oldbury junction to our final destination at the top of the Titford canal. More to come in next blog on these last 2 days. Hopefully won’t leave it so late next time!