It was fine when we set off this morning about 1015 hrs. I had to back up to the junction before I could turn to follow the New Main Line.
As I started to back up the CRT waterwombles were just starting picking up floating rubbish in the area.
As we went round Old Turn Junction the sun reflecting off the Barclaycard Arena (I think that's its name at the moment) onto the side of my face was quite warm.
We continued North along the main line only seeing the odd boat until we got to Smethwick Junction where there was an ex working boat almost in the middle of the cut, a private pleasure craft had also just backed out of the junction as well as another working boat with a third just coming out. The steerer of the first one said that Smethwick locks were closed. The private boat went ahead and then the three ex working boats went back down the junction. Following the private boat along such a deep wide canal was not the fastest we have ever done this route. As we went through the toll island I nipped ashore and walked up to Smethwick Top Lock where CRT had just completed repairs and another ex working boat was being locked up. he had phoned back to the other three to say the way was now clear and they could follow. The chap we were following carried on as far as Gower Branch and then rejoined the Old Main Line there.
I think this is Spon Lane Bridge where they have had to brace the columns to give them strength.
We in turn carried on to Dudley Port Junction the next one and turned left to go through Netherton Tunnel, also known as the Dudley No.2 Tunnel. We were to meet 2 boats before we reached the far end. When the tunnels were built the builders sunk a number of shaft to the depth of the tunnel and then tunnelled out from them in both directions until they met up, so a tunnel is actually a number of connected small tunnels. When the tunnel was complete some of the shafts would be filled in, but others left open for ventilation.
Over the years Netherton tunnel has seen several repairs including the installation of a number of ground anchors in one part to stabilise the sides .
Once through the tunnel it was hard left again, passed where we were moored for the Windmill End festival down towards Hawne Basin, after a couple of miles we came to another tunnel, the dimensions of this one were somewhat different to the last. This one is only about 8ft wide and the height the roof changes twice as you go through it with the very far end being very uneven brickwork so I suspect this is the original bit along with the low bit in the middle and the North end and the other middle bit being new.
About half a mile south of the tunnel is Hawne Basin part of the Coombeswood Canal Trust. The provide moorings and general services for boaters, one of which is the cheapest diesel on the canal system. I bought 150 lts.
About half way between the tunnel and Hawne Basin on the off side I spotted these three ramps and I suspect they were used to haul boats out sideways for repair.
As we have friends who have a residential mooring here we are staying in the basin overnight. Having said that even if we didn't have friends here we would be quite welcome to stay for the night.
You may have noticed that we have now travelled for over two days without passing through a lock, in fact that last lock was the top of the Lapworth flight some 31 miles away.