Monday 31 August 2020

Walsall Basin

Well it was quite pleasant last night with most music from the 60s to 80s, we rather missed it when they stopped about 10pm and everything quietened down by 11 pm so not a bad night, the only down side is it seems to be the main route to the hospital or ambulance station and they sound their sirens when crossing the bridge.

Just before we set off there was a boat come by and we wondered if they wanted to moor, but they were going a bit further to wind before returning to Sneyd Junction where they moor. We carried on to Sneyd Junction and stopped for water when they returned and struggled to reverse back into their mooring due to silt and weed.By now we were pushing a good raft of floating Penny Wort which came off the bows when we stopped. We pushed on again to Birchills Junction were we had moored about 3 weeks ago. This is a very handy mooring for Sainsbury’s, you can even bring the trolley to the boat. While we were there we had lunch and I removed some more of the cable sheathing from the prop.
After lunch it was down to the Birchills Locks. By the top lock is the old Boatman’s Rest, one of only two DSCF4156in the Blackcountry. Its rather a fine building but I don’t know what it is used for today if anything.DSCF4155The Walsall flight of 8 locks are in very good condition and easy to work, even if they were all against us. The strange thing is they all have a single top and single bottom gate except on which has mitre gates at the bottom. It is ether original of it was changed a long time ago for some reason. At the bottom of the flight this chimney on the corner of the junction of the Walsall Arm made a fine sightDSCF4158
you can just imagine how it was 200 years ago belching out smoke. We turned left up the Walsall arm into Walsall basin, needless to say it was DSCF4159empty. There is a floating spring loaded barrier across the entrance to the basin to stop flotsam entering the basin. There was nothing there today and its easily pushed to one side as the boat passes through. We winded and dropped in alongside the long pontoon, I thought it best not to rest the bow fender against the window while I drove the stern round, I didn’t think it would be appreciated. Since we have been here I have already had a pair of young ladies stand on the front deck and then ask very nicely if they could take a photo on our bench seat, It will probably be somewhere on Facebook or Twitter  by now.

Todays Journey 5.6 miles, 8 locks in 3.5 hours.map 29Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Sunday 30 August 2020

Short Heath

Very quiet last night, I have my doubts tonight will be so peaceful. I took some photos this morning ofDSCF4145 the canal to show how clear the water is here at Tipton, its like looking into an aquarium watching all the fish swimming about.DSCF4144We had to go to Tipton Junction to wind before returning past last nights mooring and on to Factory Junction where we turned left towards Wolverhampton. The amount of water coming through the roof of Coseley Tunnel was something else, just like a waterfall in one spot.
I can report that the C&RT towpath barricades are still standing, the C&RT guy we saw painting lastDSCF4146 time we passed was only painting the edges and joints, I guess its anti climb paint.
We moored at Wolverhampton for lunch and then I changed the engine oil and filter as well as the hydraulic filter before we winded at the services. Yet again a boater things the water point is a good place to moor, we only need to drop rubbish off and no it wasn’t the old oil and filter. Once winded we returned to Horseley Fields Junction and tuned left yet again for a second bash at the Wyrley and Essington canal. After a short time we passed the Urban Mooring DSCF4147project with the piece of waste land they have transformed.
Just after the junction we met a boater who warned us that a tree was down across the canal a little further along. The tree didn’t cause a problem but the big black throw round the prop did, I had to cut it off in bits. We passed under the mirror bridge, I DSCF4148don’t know if it actually carries anything or is just a “work of art” but its stainless steel and shaped so that you see your reflection as you pass under it.DSCF4152
There appears to be what looks like a lot of floating moss growing on the canal, we didn’t notice any when we came round here 3 weeks ago so its growing fast.DSCF4154We are into shopping trolley country now, there was on in the canal opposite where we are moored tonight, but to my surprise about half a dozen DSCF4153youngsters, around 14 years old actually pulled it out and left it on the side, I expect it will be in again in the morning.
I said earlier that I didn’t expect tonight’s mooring to be so quiet. The mooring is a gated mooring requiring a C&RT key on the off side, this didn’t stop a couple of kids come and look through the window. The mooring is right at the bottom of The United Kingdom Inn carpark/garden and they have a disco, burger van and kids amusements going on outside. I don’t think we will visit. First ting I did when we arrived was another weed hatch visit, this time it was a meter of earth wire sheathing, I guess someone else got the copper.

Today’s Journey 12.6 miles in 5 hours with no locks map28Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Saturday 29 August 2020


ell the Indian delivery work well last night but I picked a bad tome to order and we had to wait over an hour and a half for it. It turned out there is no road access to the Bumble Hole visitor centre so we got the driver to ring me from the carpark at the back of the “Old Dry Dock” pub, now flats and I walked down to meet him. The food was nice and hot with a very generous portion size. The girl I spoke to was over the moon we were on a boat and chatted for ages. I would suggest if you do use them ring very early and book a time.

It was a quiet night with about 4 or 5 other boats moored in the area.This morning we set of about half ten, reversed back and went down the Dudley No.2 canal to Hawne Basin, about half way through Gosty Tunnel I spotted a light behind us as another boat came down to fill with diesel. We filled with diesel and had a pump out before retracing our steps to Windmill Junction, then reversed back to the water point. This is one of the few water points with a smaller threaded connection than standard,luckily I carry an adaptor.Whilst filling we managed to eat dinner and followed another boat into Netherton tunnel giving him a good lead. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as shortly after entering the tunnel I saw a dim light on the left. my immediate thought was the boat ahead had crossed with another boat coming towards us and I could now see his headlight, which didn’t seem to be moving, as I closed on the light I was convinced it was stationary and waiting for me to cross with them, as I got closer I realised it was the stern light of the boat ahead on the wrong side and hardly moving. We did the rest of the tunnel at ether tickover or fast tickover.
For some reason in the tunnel Memory Maps reset its self, I probably touched the screen somewhere in the dark. so up to leaving Netherton tunnel the distance and route is calculated.

When we exited the tunnel we looked for the rubbish disposal at Tividale as instructed by the C&RT sign at the Bumble Hole, but no sign of any bins. We carried on, the boat ahead tried to turn right at Dudley Port Junction but found a Black Prince boat across the Main Line just through the bridge so we turned left and up Factory Locks before turning left again to moor for the night at Tipton on John the Lock moorings.

Todays Journey 10 miles, 3 locks in 4.75 hours.map27Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Friday 28 August 2020

Windmill End

Lovely quiet mooring last night, I don’t think I have seen Birmingham so quiet even in the winter.
We set off round the loops, first the Oozells Loop where we were moored then out onto the main line as far as Icknield Square Junction to do the Icknield Port Loop. They are really getting on with the new


housing in this area now, but they have left a bit of open space between the canal side flats and the old buildings.DSCF4123It looks a lot different as soon as you get past that green corrugate wall.

C&RT have had one of their rubbish clearance boats DSCF4124given a make over so it looks more like some of the walls around the canals. On the point of rubbish, DSCF4127some time ago I am sure  C&RT said they were reducing the number of rubbish bins around the system to reduce the amount of rubbish about. I saw a couple of these concrete basses along the DSCF4131Main Line and wondered what they were for, guess what, more rubbish bins, we saw them along the main line and around the Soho Loop. I wonder if DSCF4132they have made arrangements to have them emptied regularly or if they will overflow like the dog poo bins. I have never been down the Soho Branch as I thought it was private mooring only, but I mayDSCF4130 look on my way back as there is nothing to say “No entry”.
After the Soho Loop it was back on the main line to Dudley Port Junction, the old toll islands are getting very overgrown with saplings, so it wont be long before their roots destroy the brickwork and that will be the end of the islands.DSCF4134Our original plan was to go to Tipton for the night and then Hawne Basin tomorrow for diesel and pump out, on reflection this seemed a silly idea as we would need to come back to Dudley Port Junction to go through Netherton Tunnel. so we decided to go through the tunnel today and moor at Windmill End for the night and run down for a pump out in the morning. Did I mention it started raining on the main line. I steered holding a brolly and didn’t get too wet, we stopped for lunch at the entrance to the tunnel and it was fine as we entered the tunnel, but by the time we reached the other end it was raining again.

Tonight we are attempting to get an Indian meal delivered to the boat, we will see how it goes.

11.5 miles in 3.5 hours with no locks.map 26Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Thursday 27 August 2020


Yesterday evening was so nice we had a BBQ and we woke to a cool but pleasant morning. The plan was to cross the canal to fill with water and empty the rubbish, but a boat pulled in there just before we were about to set off, so we settled with just dumping the rubbish, then it was straight into Tardebigge Tunnel, this is mainly unlined rock and quite dry. This is a shot of the roof.DSCF4102Its not a very long tunnel and we were soon going past the Anglo Welch hire company, they had all their boats except one out on hire. A wasp decided it would devour some fellow insect on our roof, its the first time I have seen a wasp bring another insect down.

As we approached Shortwood Tunnel a boat was just coming out, it turned out to be a day hire boat from Alvechurch Marina, as you can see its fitted with twin LED lights as tunnel lights beaming straight ahead. You couldn’t even look straight towards it in DSCF4108daylight, let alone if you meet it in a tunnel. In my opinion they really are not fit for purpose and could be dangerous.
I am not a lover of slow down signs on boats but this one requesting dead slow made me smile.DSCF4110 The next tunnel was a bit longer at nearly 2.5 Kilometres  long. This is a brick lined tunnel with air vents that let the rain fall on you. I forgot to mention it was now raining heavily. Along the length of the tunnel on the roof there are electrical insulators. I don’t know if these were for anDSCF4114 electrical overhead supply or maybe telephone wires.

As it was raining so hard when we left the tunnel we decided to moor for lunch just before Kings Norton Junction, you can see the letter M on the map indicating its a good mooring spot and even has rings. Somewhere between the tunnel and Kings Norton junction we passed this fence, I think it is to honour our NHS workers.DSCF4115In early 2019 there was a fire in the Toll house at Kingswood Junction and since then the building has been made weatherproof and hopefully secure, but there is still no sign of any refurbishment taking place.DSCF4116

Or initial plan was to stop at the Bournville moorings but it was just as well we didn’t carry on till there as one small cruiser and one Narrowboat  had managed to take up all the space. As we had now had lunch it was on to Birmingham, I was hoping to see some activity on the restoration of the Lapal Canal but all that is visible is this new footbridge across the canal. DSCF4117On a positive note you can now access Sainsbury’s from the towpath via their covered carpark. We stopped for water at Granville Wharf but the tap was so slow we only took on a small amount and will fill tomorrow at Tipton. Emerging from Broad Street Tunnel the establishment on the right has installed dinning pods in their outside seating area, so youDSCF4118 can be sure you are social distancing in one of them. Birmingham, canal wise is very quiet with very few moored boats, loads of spaced in Gas Street, Deepcut Junction and behind the Sea Life Centre which is one of our favourite moorings.

Todays Journey 16.75 miles, 3 tunnels in 5.25 hours map 25Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Wednesday 26 August 2020


The wind last night was at its worst at about midnight last night and then slowly died away. There were several boats waiting to go up the flight so we made a late start. Things went well at first with the first two locks draining themselves, but it didnt last and they were soon against us and the last of the boats to enter the flight were in view.
C&RT have re-edged the canal with traditional stone on top of the steel piling in some of the pounds and also lockside.DSCF4091In the distance I could see hi vis vests and lifejackets and thought maybe they were working a boat down, in the end it turned out to be theDSCF4093 Wednesday volunteer team working on the locks, the were trying to clear the bywashes of weeds but with the amount of traffic there was a lot of water coming down. One of the other jobs they had beenDSCF4094 doing was weeding and cutting back the edges of the brickwork.
C&RT have carried out a temporary repair to none of the lock beams, by the look of the flight there may be a few more to do.DSCF4095The water level in the reservoir looked well down to me with the fishing platforms well back from the waters edge, I don’t know what is normal for this time of the year.DSCF4096We met I think 3 boats around the area of the volunteer's so the boat ahead should have had bit of a good run, so when we caught them up again we stopped for lunch in a lock. to let them get ahead, but were soon with them again. At lock 54 we could see a hire boat entering lock 57 so we not only sat and waited for them but Diana walked ahead and opened the top gates the boat ahead had closed, while I walked back and set the lock below. We had heard about this boat, they had gone up the flight this morning by mistake. They were out for 4 nights and should have winded at Stoke Prior but didn’t think there was room, so carried on to the next winding hole, the top of Tardebigge . Not many hires do Tardebigge twice in a day so they deserved all the help they could get.
The old Engine House was looking grand in the afternoon sunshine. This is now a private dwelling but was onetime was a restaurant, long after it was a pump engine house.DSCF4099Not far now to the top lock, this is quite a deep lock with only one top paddle working, when we arrived it was empty, we then saw the notice on the lock requesting its left empty, a bonus for us. The second bonus was when the chap from the boat moored above the lock came along and said he was going down when he had finished his coffee. There is a plaque beside the lock saying the length of the flight and the original boat lift.DSCF4101

We didn’t travel far today only 2.7 miles but that did include 30 locks and it took us 5.5 hours.map 24Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Stoke Pound

Boy did rain last night, over 15mm. thankfully it had rained its self out by this morning and we have only had the lightest of showers, however as the day has progressed the wind has freshened.  Just as I was untying at 10am a hire boat came by, his steering was not the best I have seen but I didn’t crowed him although I did gain rapidly on him in Dunhampstead tunnel so as we left the tunnel he pulled over and waved me by. Several of the bridges along here are covered in mesh to catch the falling render.DSCF4079DSCF4080

We had a very light shower and I put my waterproofs on expecting more, but nothing materialised. We met a boat just before Ashwood locks so thought they may be with us, but no such luck. At Ashwood Top Lock we passed this metal DSCF4082bench with an inscription cut into the back rail. The name may well be familiar to some of you that knew Eric.DSCF4081

We arrived at the waterpoint at Stoke Works just as a boat was leaving as we haven’t taken water on for a few days and the gauge is playing up a bit. There is a large house building project going on at Stoke Works, I wonder if it will be the end of the visitor moorings.DSCF4085

We had more luck with the Stoke Locks finding them empty. As we were coming up in lock 25 a boat coming down turned lock 27, I had already set 26. so we left 25 open for them and they left 27 for us, but of course we passed after 26. As they went into 26 I could see someone opening the bottom paddles on 25 with the top gates still wide open. The young chap from the boat going down shot off down there shouting as he went. We carried on and cleared the flight and much to our surprise found plenty of space to moor at the bottom of the Tardebigge flight opposite the pub ready for tomorrows assault.

Maintenance carried out, stern greaser refilled.

Today’s Journey 7.5 miles, 12 locks in 4.25 hours.map 23Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/

Monday 24 August 2020


Bit of a late start this morning and a slow journey, The Black Prince chaps arrived to rescue the hire boat moored behind us, it had a 1” steel hawser attached to its propeller. They got it free quite quickly but lost it on the bed of the canal on the visitor moorings.

We only went as far as Bridge 5 where we stopped to do a shop in Asda. When we set off we met a steady stream of boats at first. It would appear there was an empty pound somewhere this morning so they had all bunched up, we found the levels much better than when we came down yesterday. Once we hit the Offerton flight our luck changed and the locks were all full. On the way down we saw Oddingley Church so thought we would stop there DSCF4074tonight for a look round, of course we couldn’t get in for a look round.

Lock 16, Offerton top lock still has its original number carved into the stone. Note the white paint to show where the steps are up to the lock side, DSCF4071these ones are well painted but most have almost have almost faded away.

On one of the lock beams there is a notice that looks as its from C&RT but I can’t imagine anyone in C&RT still having access to the old logo, let alone using it. DSCF4073My grandson got berated yesterday by some elderly lady( that’s the best I could print) from some Swan Rescue organisation for opening the top lock gates to early for me coming in. She then ranted at her male accomplice until he put food down for the swans right in the lock mouth. I did point out the error of his ways when he tried to justify her words to my Grandson. I pointed out, if it had been possible I would have done the length of the entire pound with the gates open and if she didn’t want swans in the locks it might be a good idea to feed them elsewhere, or words to that effect.

Today’s Travels 7 miles, 14 locks in 5 hours.map 22

Map courtesy of Waterway Routes https://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/