Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Digital Photography developments

Improving my digital photography
March 2010
Having bought my SLR camera and played areonund with it and the software it came with for about six months, I have decided to raise my game a bit.

For better or worse I have enrolled on the Open University's T189 Digital Photography course which runs from May over the summer months. My problem is that I adopt a lazy approach to technology, finding out just what I need to know to get by, but never really experimenting to discover the full scope the the tools at my disposal.

Whislt part of the course will be about photographic composition, the bulk of it will be about digital image managment and to this end I have just installed Adobe Photoshop Elements 8, which opens up a whole new world of functionality.

Up till now I have used a mix of Digital Photo Professional and, which have given me a general familiarity whith the medium but a quick play with the new software revealed how much more there is to learn. I am sure that half of the work will prove irrelevant, but by being forced out of my comfort zone I am confident that I will grow and sharpen my skills.

The interesting thing about thisacourse is that it is web based and one learns by critically evaluating fellow students work. I suspect that much of my experimental work will be based on watery subject matter so you will be able to view my progress real time.

The sweetest think about this course is that it hasn't cost me a penny. I simply used £45 of my Tesco vouchers which are quadrupled up to cover the charge. What a great way of using our reward points.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Gay Grebe, River Nene 1974

Gay Grebe
River Nene

You would have to be a brave soul to call a business "Gay Enterprise" these days.

We hired Gay Grebe from Gay Enterprise of Oundle Marine in the days when gay meant nothing more than happy. It's amazing how words can change their meaning in such a short space of time.

 Gay Grebe 1974

This was our second successive Fenland trip, this time covering the length of the River Nene, but never venturing into the Middle Levels. To be honest, I can't remember many details of this trip but I am thankful for the few photos that survive, revealing a rapidly maturing Capt Ahab. I seem to have grown no end between 12 and 13, but by the age of 15 I was well over 6ft so I guess that it comes as little surprise. Gone are the short back and sides administered by my father in an come the longer locks which were so fashionable in the era of glam rock and all that. Whilst my hair looks long I distinctly remember it being far shorter than that worn by all my friends and feeling 'square'.

Still a heavy old job

It is apparent that I was again assigned the role of chief lock winder, and task which was as wearysome as the previous year, with all those manually operated guillotine gates.

 No weed hatches on this river boat

It is also apparent that even as such a young age I was becoming edept as a spot of prop clearing - good practice for the BCN in later life!

I remember those Oxford Bags!

Monday, 29 March 2010

A knight on the tiles

A knight on the tiles
or... Belle's unerring instinct to select the most expensive thing in the shop.
29th March 2010

Belle is a quality lady and she seems to have a knack of looking down a row of options and unerringingly homing on the most expensive, without even looking at the price.

As you will know from previous posts, I have spent the winter remodelling Wand'ring Bark's shower room. Things have progressed well with a new basin installed, a new vanity cupboard over it and most recently a new wardrobe squeezed in behind the door. 

The next task is to re do the shower itself, which shouldn't be expensive as we are keeping the shower tray and taps, so we are only talking about a few tiles. To be precise, we are talking about 2.75 metres square.

The finished product

I wouldn't presume to source the finishing touches without my personal style guru, so Belle and I set off for B&Q in search of inspiration. Having looked at big tiles, small tiles, mosaic tiles and everything inbetween we were veering towards the B&Q budget brand when herself laid eyes on these shiny brushed steel tiny tiles, stuck to a mesh backing. "Ohh, I like them" she said, "ohh, I like them a lot - how many boxes do we need?"  Answer - six, but there were only three in stock and they were pretty battered.

We saw an assistant and were told be could go to Redditch who had some in stock, or order them in for collection in a few days. "OK, lets order them"

The assistant duly enetered all our details into the computer and finally got to the total - "That will be £539.94". "What! - you have got a decimal place wrong surely?".  "No sir, they are £89.99 a box and five tiles to a box".
"Wow - thats £18 for a tile no bigger than a sheet of A4 paper! No way!"

If I was a gentleman I would have bought what must have been steel coated gold bullion and to heck with the cost. But I am no knight in brushed steel armour and nor do I have the money of an investment banker. So, it was back to the cheap end of the aisle where we found some rather nice rectangular 'underground' tiles which we bought, along with adhesive, grout and spacers - all for 60% of the price of a single pack of the bullion!

Like I said, Belle is a quality lady with very good taste. Sadly, our lemonade income won't stretch to the champagne lifestyle she unconcuiously leans towards!

Footnote: This entry was bumped by my rant at finding 11 black tiles in one of the boxes, and B&Q's refusal to do anything about it. Of course, they have yet to respond to my complaint.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Loco 5526

Taking photos in the gloom
March 2010

Six months after buying my Canon DSLR I am still marveling at its ability to take good photo's in truly dreadful lighting conditions.

My recent tour of the engine sheds of the South Devon Railway provided an opportunity to try and photograph the inside of a cab with only a glimmer of light filtering in from the soot encrusted skylights above.

The dull orange light played beautifully on the copper pipework and red and black paint.

I have no idea what type of engine this is - it is number  5526.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Rolling Stock, Aitken and Waterman

Rolling Stock, Aitken and Waterman
South Devon Railway
March 2010

Most of you will remember the hit machine known as Stock, Aitken and Waterman - ipresarios who seemed to churn out an endless stream of hugely popular plastic mush back in the early 1990's.

It's good to see that some all that was wealth is being used creatively, by which I am referring to Peter Waterman's fascination with steam engines, and his personal collection which exceeds even the wildest schoolboy fantasy.

Mr Waterman not only collects steam trains, the way some of the rich and famous collect cars,  but he has a works which fixes them up too. 

During my recent visit to the Souuth Devon Railway I noticed a newly repaired boiler out the back, with a temporary smoke box and ash tray being test fitted. The red oxide boiler bore the name of 'L&NWR Heritage' which is the brainchild of Mr Waterman.

Inside the engine shed stood the bogie onto which the boiler will soon to be re-united. You know, trundling around on steam trains may not excite me too much, but the engineering involved is amazing and the urge to get involved, pull on an oily boilersuit and dabble is huge.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Giirl Who Played with Fire
 By Steig Larsson

Sequels can sometines be something of a let down, little more than a rehash of the first book.

It's true that the central characters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander remain from Larsson first book 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', and the characters build on what went before, but the plotline is completely new.

If anything, this second book in the Salander trilogy is better than the first, with the mysterious background of the intriguing Ms Salander forming the core of the plot as it lurches is dark way towards a compelling finale.

This time Lisbeth Salander finds herself accused of a triple murder and the police certain of her guilt. The evidence seems overwhelming but strange links with an expose planned by Blomkvist's Millenium magazine cause some to have doubts about the police's conclusion and they begin their own invesitgation. 

The finale is a spectacular race against time, but there is no way I am going to give the plot away - not even a teeny bit.  Don't be put off by the unfamiliar Sweedish names and places which trip uneasily from the English tongue, you soon get beyond this small stumbling block. This is a classic novel, a must read.
Mind you, it certainly has a dark side and I can see why film version of the previous book carries a certrificate of 18. Not one for Jeff just yet.
This book score a 10:10 on the Ahab scale - and I don't give them out very often.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Can I be excused please?

Skip to the loo my darling!
March 2010

Saturday marked the nautical equivalent of a trip to the loo.

With our first big cruise of the season just around the corner, and the BSC inspection due shortly there has been much activity aboard Wand'ring Bark. I have been fixing all those non compliant faults one lives with for the other 207 weeks of the four year inspection cycle, and removing those things which ought not to be near the exhaust or gas tanks.

Gailey Top Lock March 2010

I consulted the BSC guidelines and drew up a rather long short list of jobs to do and was surprised whan all was complete after a couple of hours, including giving the wardrobe a second coat of varnish. What to do with the rest of the day?

The answer lay within the holding tank, which han't been emptied since last August! My efforts at introducing ventilation into the system has been a total success and even after seven months it remains odour free. Ventilation may kill smell but it does nothing to reduce the level contained, which was getting worryingly close to the top.

With no sign of rain a trip to Gailey was called for, and it was great to get out on the water and have a bit of a cruise.

We were pumped out for £12.00 at Viking Afloat (no rinse and no blue) and then we refilled the water tank on the taps opposite before making our way back down a deserted canal to Calf Heath. I made a spectacular bodge of getting the boat back into the marina entrance due to poor positioning and a very strong northerly wind which pushed me completely off track - its a good job none of the guys were watching.

Wand'ring Bark now stands relieved of her overwintered burden and ready for her BSC inspection next weekend. I dont think there is anything much amiss, but we will see.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

B&Q? - Bugger the Quality more like

B&Q's woeful customer service ethic.
23rd March 2010

Until today I was a fan of B&Q.

I still think that they have the best range of DIY products, but the customer service I received at their Erdington Branch in Birmingham stinks, and will make me think twice about using them again.

B&Q's 'white' tiles - can you spot the difference?

As you all know, I have been renovating the shower room on Wand'ring Bark and we purchased some rather nice not too expensive white tiles from B&Q's 'Underground' range. I spent Sunday sticking them on the walls and you can imagine my shock when mid way down the second box I started to pull out black tiles instead of white! In all there were eleven black tiles out of a pack of thirty which robbed me of all my spares for cutting, and then some.

With the adhesive rapidly drying on the wall I had a choice, scrape off all the mastic and trot off 25 miles to get another pack, or make the best of what I had. Of course, I did what any sane person would and pressed on hoping that there would be enough to finish the job. I did manage to cover the area but only by doing a bit of a mosaic work with the offcuts in a reasonably unobtrusive area - but if you buy a pack of white tiles it's reasonable to expect that they are all the advertised colour.

The label seems quite clear - white

I took the offending tiles back to B&Q today to point out the problem and to seek a measure of redress for the inconvenience caused, and the less than perfect end result which is directly attributable to their products being unfit for purpose. I had in mind a refund for the faulty box which cost the princely sum of £20. Not a big deal but its the principle of the thing. These things should not go unreported.

So you would think that some sort of apology was in order, wouldn't you? 

Well, I spoke with the Complaints Manager who was quick to tell me that it was company policy not to give refunds on open packs, but was also strangely reluctant to apologise.

I insisted on seeing the 'Manager', but whilst she could see the problem with returning the offending pack in the middle of the job, repeated the fact that "there was no way she would / could give any form of refund".

This farce continued when she called the Tiling Manager (they all appear to be a manager of someting at B&Q - nice title but no authority!). He trotted out the same old line but far from apologising for the obvious inconveneince, or offer to take the matter up with the suppliers who were ultimately at fault, he told me that he had never seen a pack containing mismatched tiles in all his time at B&Q, and gave a heavy inference that I was lying to try and reclaim a poxy £20! Having said his peice he turned on heel and just walked away.

I was so tempted to pick up the offending tiles and smash them on the floor there and then, but I didn't because that would be just too childish.

Because I like B&Q's products, I buy most of my supplies from their stores - spending probably £1000 a year, but not any more. 

Sure, if you want something small that you can see and check it before you buy it's a good store. But if you are thinking of buying someting larger, or something which may need a bit of customer service I would suggest you go elsewhere. 

Buying some types of goods calls for a bit of trust, like assuming that a box marked white tiles will indeed contain just white tiles. And if they happen to contain a tile of a different hue, or are broken, it is reasonable to expect that the store will take some responsibility for it.

Sure, they could replace the eleven black tiles with white, but it's a bit late now and I can't see then coming down to WB and removing the 'mosaic' ones and applying replacements.

Whilst some businesses see the provision of good customer service as a black and white issue, B&Q's staff appear to live in the grey zone. I picked up a complaints / feedback ticket to log my iritation and I think I will simply refer them to this blog post. If they take any sort of remedial action I will let you know, but dont hold your breath.

Train Tyres

Train Tyres

March 2010

During my recent visit to the South Devon Railway I was given a peep into the engineering sheds and was introduced to the world of train tyres.

Loco wheels, with new tyres and freshly bored for the con rods.

When you use the word "tyres" one inevitably thinks of the pneumatic variety which adorn cars, lorries and bicycles, but a look at the dictionary reveals an older application: "a steel rim fitted round a wooden  cartwheel". I never realised that train wheels had "tyres" fitted to them but this small engineering workshop operated by a heritage railway in sleepy South Devon specialises in the process.

A train wheel is cast in steel and then turned on a huge lathe to create a perfectly circular disc, at which point a tyre is added. The tyre is also cast in steel and is individually turned inside and out to ensure a perfect match with the wheel it will be attached to. The process of attaching the tyre to the wheel is achieved by heating the tyre to make it expand and then belting the cooling ring into place with subtle application of sledgehammers. A thin "O" ring added to this process, which is rammed into the joint under hundreds of tons of pressure, and finally bent over to create an enduring fix.

The amazing thing is that all locomotive wheels have tyres on them and there are only four machines in the whole UK to do "O" ring process, and two of them were in the workshop I was looking at.
Luckily for train operators, both modern and heritage, these tyres last a bit longer than the rubber variety those on my trusty Mondeo. The mileage you can expect from a pair of locomotive tyres is measured in the millions, and for a heritage steam railway a new set will normally last a generation. And that is just as well because each one will cost considerably more than the original price of my whole car.

South Devon Railway engineering workshop

The good news is that if your train tyre gets a flat (spot) the whole thing can be re-turned several times and made as good as new. And when there is no more tyre left to cut, it's out with the gas axe and on with a new tyre.

Having aroused my curiosity I did a Google search for "railway tyres" and was underwhelmed by the lack of results. The search did however throw up some accounts of experimental rubber tyres which had been applied to small trains and other rail based vehicles to achieve greater traction. Interesting, but I can't see them being adopted on the West Coast Mainline anytime soon.

So, if your train get a flat, don't call E-Tyres. Run on your rims and plan an early trip to Newton Abbot.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Danks Branch Canal (north) BCN

Danks Branch Canal
Northern Section - BCN
March 2010

The northern section of the Danks Branch Canal was by far the longest, extending for just under half a mile from the junction with it's shorter southern arm.

Line of the Danks Branch Canal - heading for the grey building in the distance

In addition to the coal workings along it's route, there were also a number of brick and tile works. As a result the landscape 100 years ago would have been very different to that seen today. The old maps show great water filled quarries where clay was extracted, slag heaps from the mining and esoterically named "Slag Works", which made us of the industrial residue. It seems that one man's industrial waste was another's raw material, and it was all moved by boat.

I can't see that the line of the Danks Branch was ever anything more than utilitarian, surrounded by mines and industry, flanked by the railway and infused with the heady aroma arising from the Tipton Sewage Works.

Access to the line is difficult as it heads straight into a vehicle park after the southern railway bridge, then skirting a major industrial warehouse, before heading due north to recross the railway line further on. As the railway is abandoned, and sporting a good collection of maturing trees between its rusting rails, we used the line to provide a means of access.

Northern railway crossing

The canal was picked up again about half way along, as it passed beneath the railway at an angle before curling round what is now an open meadow occupied by a number of horses and a couple of electricity pylons. The end of the canal is within a stones throw of the Tame Valley Canal at a place called Danksbranch Wharf.

Danksbranch Wharf

This flat and exposed site was home to a small community of modest houses, probably miners cottages now all demolished and swept away. The outline of the wharf is just visible as a depresion in the ground but there are few other clues that the site was ever home to man or industry.

For the canal hunter, there is no need to retrace your steps, as a footpath exists up the hillside through the old mines to Shaw Street, and the northern end of the Wednesbury Old Canal / Balls Hill Branch.

One would assume that the canal was named after a Mr Danks who owned a mine or a brick works along its route. However, having surveyed the damp and dismal location I would prefer to think that it reflects the nature of its surroundings!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Danks Branch BCN - Genetic Distribution

Genetic Distribution
Danks Branch, BCN
March 2010

The spot where the two arms of the Danks Branch met may not be much to look at today, but the spirit of transport infrastructure hangs heavily on the place.

Site of the Danks Branch Canal Junction

This is a peculiar and special spot which goes beyond the almost common juxtaposition of canal / railway / motorway. This location not only bears the scars of the three distribution systems, it has also been used repeatedly for transhipment and storage.

Firstly there is the Walsall Canal, now a little used backwater of the northern BCN, but still just alive none the less.

Secondly you have the infilled Danks Branch giving access to mines, factories and waterhouses, all now lost and obliterated.

Thirdly you have a major twin track railway with associated marshalling yards, now also lost and abandoned.

Fourthly you have the original road system serving the communities and industries of the area, now blocked, torn up or overlaid.

Finally you have the huge Black Country Spine Road system and associated industrial and retail parks, mounted high on its elevated embankment.

Maybe it's fitting that the site of the old Danks Branch hosts a distribution warehouse, and the canal wharfs and have now become home to a huge lorry park. The scene may be very different but the song remains the same. It's as if the area has transport and distribution in it's DNA, which re-occurs afresh with each passing generation.

At the time of our visit a fully laden articulated lorry had arrived from the continent, it's driver hunkering down for a chilly night waiting till he could unload on the Monday. Little did he know that he had 'moored' his lorry on the exact spot where narrowboats used to tie up, or that he was following a 200 year old commercial pilgrimage to this particular spot in the Black Counrty.

Like I said, not a lot to see on the ground, but plenty to ponder.

This post hasn't moved my exploration of the Danks Branch forward one inch, but I will complete my account tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Danks Branch Canal (south) BCN

Danks Branch Canal (south), BCN
March 2010

Index of posts in this series:
1. Southern Section - this post
2. Mid Section
3. Northern Section

The Danks Branch Canal came as something of a surprise. It's wasn't on my list of lost canals and it wasn't mentioned by Eric Richardson in his explorations 20 years ago.

Danks Branch Canal 1904
Sorry about the state of it! - lesson - copy it before you take it into the field!

There I was, quietly casting my eyes over the Great Bridge and Toll End section of The Godfrey Edition of the 1902 OS map as part of my research into the line of the Balls Hill Branch when I spotted it, almost obscured beneath the L&NWR South Staffordshire Line.

Entrance to Danks Branch from the Walsall Canal
This was no small arm, as it extended for nearly three quarters of a mile from it's junction beneath the Ryders Green Locks at Hempole Lane Bridge.

 Railway Interchange at the foot of Ryders Green Locks

Horse Drawn Traffic at Danks Branch Junction (BCC / P Collins)

Southern railway bridge beneath the Spine Road

Today the entrance appears as no more than a reeded up winding hole, but close inspection of Hempole Lane Bridge reveals a towpath descending beneath the mighty colossus of the Black Country Spine Road which roars ceaselessly above.

Litter clogged towpath to the Danks Branch

This mammoth 1990's construction has predicatably obliterated the line of the canal but, with a bit of investigation, the bridge hole carrying the canal beneath the disused railway line remains in place. The western portal is nearly choked with rubbish, but a small gap remains on the eastern side through which we gained access and discovered an intact towpath.

The canal channel beneath the southern railway bridge

This sort of substantial discovery is rare on lost canal hunts, causing Jeff observe wryly that it's about as exciting as it gets!

No sooner had we found the line than it was lost again, submerged beneath a sea of tarmac and hardstanding.

Chimney Road, laid along the line of the southern arm of the Danks Branch Canal

We had a look for the southern end of the arm, concluding that it's line now resides beneath the modern Chimney Road.

I will take a look at the northern end in a future post.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Nottingham Canal, Robinettes Arm

Nottingham Canal
Robinettes Arm
March 2010

One final post on this middle section of the Nottingham Canal. Just south of Cossall the half mile Robinettes Arm reaches out to the east, terminating in and drawing water from Oldmoor Wood.

Robinettes Junction

Any canal junction seems to be endowed with a certain air of mystery, exerting a irresistable pull on me to move in and explore what lies beyond. The wide junction drew me into it's enticing jaws, and the obstacle of the lowered bridge carrying Dead Lane wasn't going to stop me.

Dead Lane Bridge, Robinettes Arm

Whilst the towpath wasn't maintained to cycleable standards, it was trimmed back and a pedestrian incursion was prectical given the lack of vegitation. The canal arm winds on, more or less in water, with a steady flow pulling at the weeds which threaten to choke it. This is the primary water supply to the Nottingham Canal, so maintenance is clearly undertaken on a periodic basis.

Robinettes Arm of the Nottingham Canal

It is impossible to press on right to the end, as the towpath narrows and is eventually blocked by a hedge and a field fence. There are maybe 300 yards left at the end before the water gives way to a reedy scrub, and google earth reveals a kidney shaped grassy area which may have been another small basin, or possibly an industrial site.

Robinettes Arm terminus

The arm may be fairly short, but if you are visiting the canal and wan't to get an idea of its full extent,  an excursion up this little backwater is a "must do".

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Nottingham Canal, Shilo Way Bridge

Nottingham Canal
Shilo Way Bridge A6096
March 2010

The lowered A6096 bridge marked the end of our exploration, about three and a half miles from Trowell and half way to Langley Mill.

View south from Shilo (A6096)  Bridge

This final stretch was once again in water, and this time at full depth. The source of the water supply was unclear but it probably feeds in from the small stream entering at the end of a short basin which branches off to the east. This area was an eara marked on the 1791 map as being rich in coal and ironstone, industries which were probably served by the inlet.

Basin at Cossall Marsh

It would appear that much of the M1 run off is directed into the disconnected stretches of the canal, the modern feeding the ancient.

A moment's reflection before the return journey

A picturesque end to this expedition, leaving just enough time to sit on the conveniently sited bench, catch our breath and then make a swift return to the Festival Inn, including a detour along the remains of the Robinettes Arm.

The next vist to the area will tackle the northern third, starting at Langley Mill and covering the extensive opencast coal workings at Awsworth. The absence of water, or even a dry trough, will necessitate a gread deal more imagination than was required on the lovingly tended stretch.

Broxtowe Municipal Council, I applaud you for your efforts and commitment to this canal line. It has become a beautiful nature reserve and a tourist destination in its own right. It may not have the spectacle of Ambergate, but it is quite lovely in its own way.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Nottingham Canal, Cossall Marsh Aqueduct

Nottingham Canal
Cossall Marsh Aqueduct
March 2010

The Nottingham Canal starts to cough and splutter when it reaches Cossall.

The nature of the modern canal is one of old and vulnerable embankments, but instead of protecting them with the old flood gates which have been much in evidence along the line,
there are now numerous small earth dams which would hold back the waters in the event of a breach.

End of the watered section at Cossall

The embankment between Awsworth and Cossall did give way in the 1970's and, with the nearby scarpyard in danger of being swept away, was replaced by a piped section.

Canal bed pipes

Two large pipes laid along the otherwise dry bed of the canal for several hundred yards before reaching [ ] road which was crossed with the help of a contemporary concrete aqueduct. I dont know if the road it spans was there in the 1930's and was therfore the site of a navigable aqueduct, but I suspect not.


Pipe Aqueduct Cossall Marsh

The northern end of the aqueduct is met with a full canal and an overflow sluice dropping surplus water into the pipes.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Nottingham Canal, Cossall north

Nottingham Canal
Cossall north
March 2010

There is half a mile or so of watered canal to the north of the Robinettes Arm, as the canal winds round to the north into a large wood.

The water is full width, but not full depth. When the canal was cleared out in the 1980's and then refilled, it was plagued with many leaks along it's margins due to the clay lining drying out. To make it watertight it would have needed re puddling, which was beyond the budget allocated to the project.

The expedient approach was therefore to lower the water level by 2 ft, retaining a foot or two of water in the bed, but not asking the weary side walls to retain water. The end result  leaves the water level well down, but quite attractive none the less. What is more, what's above the waterline can't silt up again, preserving the channel for future genarations.

There are more quaint little wooden access bridges in this area, and the advancing woodland provides a dramatic backdrop and a break from a cold northerly wind.

Western end of the watered section

The watered section, which has been a constant companion for over a mile, finally runs out at an earth dam, countering a breach further along. But more of that in my next post.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Nottingham Canal, Cossall south

Nottingham Canal
South of Cossall
March 2010

This next section is about a mile long, spanning the gap between the car park at the end of the infilled Trowell section to the entrance to the curiously named Robinettes Branch.

Winding nature of the Nottingham Canal

The car park marks the start of the main watered section.

The surprising thing about the watered section is the quality of the restoration. The weed which clogged it in the 1980's is all gone and in its place is a broad and deep waterway. The margins are all reedy it is true, but as a canal it appears to offer more scope for cruising than the  north of the remaindered canals in Birmingham.

Footbridge over flood gates nr Robinettes Arm

The canal winds a graceful coutoured route, curve blending into curve. This is a delight to the walker and the photographer as there are always a new view just round the corner, and very few long straights.

Remains of floodgates

One drawback of this canal is the pausity of structures. The locks were all on the initial section near Woolaton and this is a flat canal all the way through to Langley Mill. Not only is it flat but few roads cross its path and hence few bridges.

Footbridge on site of swingbridge

Here and there there are the remains of swing bridges, their recesses still very apparent but now used as a ledge to support one end of wooden footbridges which give access to the many circular walks which are possible in the area.

Robinettes Junction

The length ends with the Robinettes Junction, an attractive wide with big signs proclaiming "no fishing" which must frustrate or inspire the local lads.

More of the Robinettes Arm on our way back.