Sunday, 16 May 2021

Pelsall Common

 Last night or moorings outside the basin were not the most physically secure, there was a nice heavy ring right at the stern but nothing at the bows so I drove a Vine peg into the joint of the bricks, the pin only has a 5mm hole so I had to put a loop of cord through it and secure the bow rope to that. We were fine all night because Christine was moored outside us, her boat is a bit longer than ours, so she was on our stern dolly and her bow to the boat ahead of us stern dolly, so we were trapped in. This morning when she left while I was in the shower the cord snapped and our bows drifted across the cut. The good point was the vine peg held so I think it was probably due to the sharp edges on it. So it was a quick half dry, some cloths on and put matters right, I decided the easiest thing to do would be to move off and reverse back to the C&RT pontoon at the end of the town arm and have breakfast there. Once breakfast was done we set off and joined the queue for the Walsall Locks. The BCNS had a couple of their members helping which speeded things a bit, but one boat breaking down just as he was about to enter the bottom lock didn't help. A couple of us bow hauled him in and also up the second lock while he played with his engine. He then pulled over and let others pass him until he was sorted just in front of us. Everyone mucked in and helped each other and things ran quite smoothly. At the top of the locks I pulled over and spent about half an hour down the weed hatch removing what felt like sail cloth but was probably some garment of sports wear. I couldn't identify it as I had to cut it up under the surface with a Stanly knife, Two chaps on Community Payback who were litter picking walked by just as I finished and added the spoil the their sack of rubbish. At least two other boat and a butty passed while I was doing this but at Birchills Junction they went left to Wolverhampton and we turned right to Pelsall Common. The journey was a bit slow as we caught up with an extremally slow boat and the last two miles were done at 1.8 mph. We had a couple of showers on the way and even met another boat, something I didn't expect before mooring on the Common. It wasn't long after we arrived it really started raining and since then we have also had thunder but its been bright all the time.

 
Finally a big thanks to the BCNS for organising things, this is the

Chairman on his boat and to Dave of the Bradley Arm Restoration
Society for his excellent guided walk up the line of the old navigation.  



Todays Journey 8 locks, 8 miles in 4½ hours

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Walsall Basin

 At 10 am we all gathered for a walk up the Bradley Arm led by the chair of the Bradley Canal Restoration Society, Dave Pearson. We got to the end before it started to rain and walked back to the boat in showers. By the time we arrived back at the moorings some of the boats  had already set off, it just so happened that the people on the boat outside us and the people of Scorpio, the ex-working boat moored on the outside were also walking with us, so we were all able to set off at at 1245hrs. in the now steady rain.


We had a good but slow run with a couple of boats ahead or us getting badly fouled props, one so bad he was towed to Walsall basin and we then spent 2 hours helping him get a mattress off his prop
Last time we visited the route of old Bradley canal are there were lots of ponies tethered  with chains and left to graze the grassland, it seems the local Council have had them all rehomed, there also use to be some on the canal bank, but today we only saw this mare with foal. The canal is subject to graffiti  some  unofficial like this face on a  bridge and some professional which probably cost a lot of money like the one on the wall as you turn into the Walsall Town Arm.


Last time we came down the Walsall canal I sheared a brass hull penetration off the boat, this is what caused the problem, I got too close to the side and this hard steel edge chopped it off like a big chisel.
 The basin is now packed with boats and there are 7 of us outside on the arm.


5¾ miles no locks in 2¾ hours

Friday, 14 May 2021

Moorcroft Junction


 A nice quiet night in Tipton as usual, we were away early for us this mooring at about 8.30am. Sefton followed us and Barley Wine slipped out of the long term moorings between us. A hard right at Factory Junction and down the Factory locks. We chugged along the New Main Line passed Caggys boatyard where this interesting shaped hull was sitting on the hard.

C&RT have put one of their nice big blue signs up opposite Dudley Port railway station for people arriving by train to see. We carried on to Pudding Green junction where it was very sharp left up the Wednesbury Old Canal to the 8 Riders Green locks where we met a boat comming up the flight. A couple of the BCNS members were assisting at the locks which was handy as there were a few single handers coming down later. We passed under the new Meter Link bridge, this was only installed on Wednesday night. and on to Moorcroft Junction, there were already 3 boats there when we arrived  but we got the lucky spot moored to the 4 bollards, everyone else is moored yo a short piece of threaded rod glued into a hole in the masonry. As I write this we have over 20 boats here moored 3 deep.

Now the bad news, the I Pad failed to record the journey and the phone which is 11 months old decided to die so the route is hand drawn.
Todays journey 6 miles 11 locks in 4 hours






Thursday, 13 May 2021

Tipton

 Weather Report, we woke up and it was raining so we were in no rush to get away. It was heading for 11 before we set off, at least it wasn't raining in the tunnel, At the foot of Cobbs Engine Bridge there is this concrete marker, well I am guessing its a marker, but what dose it mark?
The tunnel was reasonably dry until a neared the far end when we encounter a few very heavy drips. Just beyond the tunnel is the Tividale Aqueduct carrying the old main line, we will be crossing that later. At one time Netherton Tunnel was light by electric lights, the power source was a turbine driven generator taking water from the aqueduct and discharging it into the canal by the central aqueduct support. both the supply pipes and the discharge are still present, I wonder it the turbine is still in the building?

Also at the aqueduct are two cast iron pieces, now painted white, one on each channel, would they have been rollers or hinges for barriers to close off the canal if they used the central section as a toll island.

At the end of the tunnel branch we turned right onto the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction and went down as far as Albion Junction where we turned right again up the Gower Branch and up through the three Brades locks, it looks as if someone has decided to dispose of their old cannabis plants and growing medium along here. Up at Brades Hall Junction we turned right yet again to complete the square following the Old Main Line over the Tividale Aqueduct  and on towards Tipton. Since we were last this way some one has pinched Coneygree Railway bridge. 
The Coots around hear look to have had a very good breading season and we saw some sitting on eggs with some very large chicks keeping them company, we also saw lot of very young ones being cared for by their parents.

I was rather taken by the way one of the houses had painted the toilet vent pipe on the back of their house, I have never seen the likes of it before.
In Tipton a couple have boats have set up a small floating Market against the towpath, we stopped for water at the park and then continued through to moor by the Fountain pub, since we have been here we have been joined by several other boats.



Todays Journey 6 miles, 3 locks in 2¾ hours. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Windmill End

 

 Hi nb. Chuffed we moored right at the top of the locks on the left hand side right on the T junction, next time we come this way we will go a bit further and try mooring at Farmers Bridge as there is a Fish and Chip shop there.



Map from Waterways Routes

Well the weather was much better today even if the geese did wake us at 4am with their honking. A couple of boats went by before we set off and we caught up with one of them at Blowers Green Lock and later saw them moored at Windmill End. If you look at the map at the bottom of the page you can see there was once a short cut to save going all the way to Parkhead lock and back highlighted in yellow. The is one end of it, there is a similar bridge at the other end.


  We passed an angler who had caught a good size bream, I could see his taught line and bending  rod so stopped until such time as he could land it. A little further on we passed under this high bridge, It was at one time a tunnel through a large piece of rock known as Brewins Tunnel opened in 1838 to cut off the originally horseshoe loop of canal that they dug when they came up against the rock, this is also visible on the map below.

We chugged on to Windmill End Junction where we turned right down to Hawne Basin as after 12 days with both the engine and heating we needed a bit of diesel and also empty the toilet tank. Not far down the canal you come to a gauging island but as well as boating through the gauging section you can also boat right round it which seems strange, maybe someone can offer more information on it.


As we approached Gosty Hill tunnel when it started to rain so the brolly was put into use for a few hundred yards before entering the under world. There is quite a bit of floating debris in the first quarter of the tunnel but after that it was clear. Needless to say when we came back into daylight it was raining harder, but again after a few hundred meters later it stopped . A goose thought it would be a good idea to lay her eggs on a bricked up doorway, I don't think it really gives her room a nest.



Down at Hawne Basin we turned into the basin through the quite small entrance bridge, I can swing in with our boat but I thing anything much longer would need to back into the winding hole first. Dee saw us arrive and was soon out to look after our needs, filling one tank and emptying the other, I had just paid my dues when Pat and Sheila complete with dog walked round and took up residence on out bench seat so we could catch up on the past 12 months. It was 3pm  before we said our goodbyes and headed back onto the cut, the plan was to moor just outside  the basin, but as it was now blue sky's and bright sunshine we decided to head back to Windmill End, on the way we passed this Black Country cast plaque, this is the best condition one we have seen, most have suffered at the hands of the spray can cowboys 



Back at Windmill Junction we dropped back about 50 Meters to moor on the visitor moorings for the night.



Todays journey 10.2 miles, 1 lock in 4¾ hours

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Merry Hill Shopping Complex

 Thanks Mike for leaving a comment on yesterdays Blog , you are of course right and last night I could only think of the Norfolk name Crome https://www.yourdictionary.com/crome, the name Keb, as used on the canals completely escaped me.

We were all set to get going at 10am this morning and it started to rain so we stayed put a little longer finally leaving at quarter to eleven, I still need a coat on after  a short time as we have had short showers all day. Our luck was in and we met a boat about half a mile below the locks so when we arrived every chamber was empty, just a matter of walking ahead and opening bottom gates before we enter. The whole flight took us just on an hour as I photographed the old BWB signs at both the bottom and the top of the flight I knew how long the assent took.  This resulted in  todays cruise being much shorter than planned at just 2 hours, not enough to recharge the  batteries.


If you look back down the Delph flight from the tail of lock one, standing under the Nine Lock Bridge you can see where the route of the canal use to run to the left rejoining the present navigation just above the bottom lock before the flight was realigned in 1858, doing this removed 7 locks to be replaced by only 6 new ones, hence the nine became eight. What I can't find out is why this was done, a lot of work to save one lock.

 The old line is also visible on the map below. After leaving the flight is was not far to our moorings just above the merry Hill shopping complex.

2.7 miles 8 locks in 2 hours

Monday, 10 May 2021

Leys Junction

 The wind freshened overnight but despite the black clouds we stayed dry. We were away just before 10am but not before another boat had left  some time earlier, needles to say he also went up the locks. The Stourbridge arm seems surprising deep and clean so we made good progress to the junction where it was hard right and the first of 16 locks, first mistake I forgot we needed a handcuff key to work the paddle gear, there wasn't a lock on the bottom gates, but there is on the top. We were soon into the swing of things, the spacing to start with is a bit to much for setting ahead on foot and when they did get a bit closer we caught up with the boat ahead, so sat in lock 11 and had coffee.
Between locks 9 and 10 the hedge has been trimmed and it now possible to see the pound that is remote from the short bit of canal between the two locks. 

Looking round from here you can also see the end of the old pub supporting some old enamelled advertising boards and also a good view down the flight to the glass house. From here on the going was slow I held one lock back so as not to pressurise them, they had just left lock 5 when a biker came down and reopened the top gate, we had a boat coming towards us but we waited a good half hour  for them to arrive. Its good to that this lock beam is still surviving, I am sure I took a similar photo last time we passed, at lock 3 we met another boat. One thing I hadn't noticed before on this flight was the storage tubes for Croomes, these are situated near the locks and the chrome or croome (I can't find a definitive spelling) could be used to remove debris from the lock that may be preventing the gates fully opening or closing. We finally moored for the night just after the top lock at the junction, it's been windy since we have been here but we have only had a few spots of rain.




2.3 miles, 16 lock in 3¾ hours









Sunday, 9 May 2021

Stourbridge

 It finally stopped raining sometime in the early hours of this morning and we woke to bright, warm sunshine, much different to yesterday. We met a couple of boats coming uphill, where as yesterday they all seemed to be going down. Its nice to see the Bluebells out, The Caldon is the best place I know to see these. 
The entrance to the old boat house that BW sealed up a few years ago at Devils Den is now almost totally overgrown. When it was sealed up there was some doubt if BW had the authority to do it, but it has remained that way for quite some time now.
Just before Stourton Junction we passed through a fishing match, they were a cheerful bunch considering they weren't catching anything, all speaking and passing the time of day. At Stourton junction it was hard left and into the 4 Stourton locks, last time we were this way we were stuck here for a couple of hours. 3 or the 4 locks were empty and the only boats we saw moving on this section were two canoes, one with a dog as a passenger who wasn't quite sure if he enjoyed boating or not.
At Wordsley Junction it was hard right up the Stourbridge Arm, here we met another boat, once on the arm the only place to wind id at the very end by the Bonded Warehouse. needless to say as we winded the wind did its bit holding my nose in the winding hole and

Google Maps view of Stourbridge winding hole

 just letting the stern come round against a moored boat receiving a coat of polish. Diana assisted by one of the moorers soon had our snout out and we were on our way to moor  in a gap with rings we spotted on the way up. For the small amount of traffic I have ever seen on the Stourbridge canal I am always surprised by the number of boats on the visitor moorings down this arm. There are at least 9 of us at the moment.
Once moored a quick check of the weed hatch removed a small piece of canvas from the rudder stock and some fibrous stuff from the prop.

6½ Miles, 6 locks in 3½ hours

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Ashwood



Boy did it rain overnight, luckily it eased this morning before we were ready to set off, but even so we have had drizzle all day. As you can see the towpath looked like a miniature canal.

Rather these guys than me working up there in this weather, there were 4 of them on the pylon, 2 half way and 2 at the very top.






We had a Heron accompany us for quite a way, he even managed a small fish as we passed halfway between Dimmingsdale and Ebstree locks, He then continued to follow us along the cut passed the ornate Awbridge bridge with its brick ballast rail.
He even landed on the roof of a boat moored above Awbridge lock and sat there while I passed, only flying off when the occupants came out.


Talking to the Volockie at Bratch Locks he said we were the second boat down today, he said he wasn't expecting much as overall it had been very quite, not the mad rush everyone spoke about. We had to fill the top chamber before we could proceed but then we were away. As we approached Botterham lock we could see the intermediate gates open and then a head appeared at the top of the ladder, it was a single hander coming up, he was happy to work the paddles alone so Diana drained the bottom chamber ready for us to descend. Then a hire boat turned up below, obviously an experienced hire because he new the score exactly and just gave a hand with paddles and gates. As we dropped in the lower chamber he started filling the top one read, this gave a rather impressive umbrella shaped fan of water from a grove worn in the gates. There is a house and some outbuildings a short way below the lock, I had heard they were due for restoration but nothing obvious has happened so far. It still displays this rather historic British Waterways sign. I wonder how many years its been there.

We carried on to stop at Wombourne bridge as its very handy for the shops, as it was lunch time we also decided not to move off until after we had eaten rather than standing out in the rain to eat it. Needless to say it was still raining when we set off down to Greensforge lock to fill with water stopping for the night before the next lock, almost opposite Ashwood Marina.


Todays Journey 6 miles, 13 locks in 4½ hours