Mooring at Cambrian Wharf overnight was fine. It was a bit noisy during the evening but once the pub closed it quietened down and didn’t hear anything overnight. In the early evening it started to drizzle and was still at it this morning when we got up.
After leaving the wharf at 10 o’clock the first job was to take on a bit of water, the CaRT volunteers where gathering by the office before setting off down the locks. There were a few boats going down the flight and we met a couple during the day, but they have all been hire boats, a final flurry at half term perhaps.
One thing did puzzle my, what is so special about Albion Junction where the Gower Branch joins the Main Line that it was felt necessary to put notices up telling you to sound your horn, are the boats coming out fired from a catapult or something, can’t the just look like at every other junction?
Do to all the junctions on the New Main Line and the possibility or boats joining and leaving it there are a number of toll islands. Loaded boats would stop here and their cargo weighed by displacement and so charged the going toll rate per ton. This island is slightly different in that it had a centre channel. Most were just an island with a channel each side. This one would have had a roof and gantry over it and would have been used to gauge the boats by adding know weights to empty boats and measuring their displacement. This would be recorded in a register so that when loaded the displacement could be converted to weight carried.
At Dudley port junction we turned left onto the Netherton Tunnel Branch and through Netherton Tunnel.
Netherton tunnel is quite large with a towpath running through on both sides and wide enough for meeting boats to pass. At one time there were over a dozen air/construction vents in the roof, but a majority have been sealed up. Tunnels were constructed but sinking a shaft to the level of the tunnel floor and then excavating the tunnel to meet up with the next shaft with the spoil being winched to the surface. When the tunnel was complete most shafts were sealed over, but some were left open for ventilation.
Looking up a ventilation shaft
Although the tunnel has a tow path through it on both sides, it was needed for the horse to tow the boats through as at over 3000 yards long it was to long to efficiently leg them through, the tow path on the north side has been gated off.
Once clear of the tunnel we decided to visit Hawne Basin so it was hard left again onto the Dudley No.2 canal where we stopped for lunch in steady rain. While we have been here Atlas and Malus have been passed in both directions, the second with a load of youngsters onboard. We ended up following them all the way to Hawne basin, a somewhat slow trip. It turned out that the youngsters are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award and will be staying at Halesowen tonight.
At Hawne Basin Atlas and Malus breasted up and winded in the entrance to the basin, while I was waiting for them a boater from the basin told me what they were doing, which was handy or I would have been right in the way when they came back breasted. He asked if I was staying overnight and suggested I might like to spend the night in the basin which was very kind of him, so as the pair winded I slid round beside them and popped through the bridge into the basin for the night.
Today’s journey 12 miles, 3 canal, 3 junctions and 3 tunnels