BCN Explorer B
Balls Hill Branch walk
I had a very boaty sort of day in a "not afloat" sort of way.
The day started with a visit to Wand'ring Bark and seeing our friends off for a weekend aboard. They have been out with us before so they know the ropes but they still needed showing around.
Goodbye Wand'ring Bark
My plan was to go with them to the first bridge and then walk back and get out at Misty's. Good plan but Misty's is closed and so is the access. I then had to walk and extra two miles round via the next bridge in high sun and even higher humidity. It wasn't long before the first sighting was noted and reports sent back to us about the boat's progress.
But that wasn't me done with boating for the day. 4.00pm found me at Ocker Hill and meeting up with the Explorer B cruise for a guided walk of the lost canals. The problem was the options open to me - there are so many old canals I could chose from. In the end I settled on the one I recently wrote for the Boundary Post which is approx 6 miles, takes 2.5 hours plus as long in the Ridgeacre Pub as is needed.
Explorer B moorings at Ocker Hill
We walked up the Ryders Green flight of 8 locks and crossed to the Wednedbury Old Canal, the northern end of Brindley's original canal otherwise known as the Ridgeacre or Swan Arm.
There was much speculation about the navigability of this polluted backwater but all plans for an attempt were fitmly squashed when they saw the reed bank mid way along. The reeds are advancing rapidly and it wont be many years till the WOC is covered all the way to Ryders Green Junction.
Crossing the top lock
We had some old photo's with us so we could see how things used to be and then made a welcome stop at the Ridgeacre Pub where pints of Doom Bar were downed and thirsts slaked. Then it was off along what became the Balls Hill Branch to Golds Hill, picking out the line of the canal wherever possible before dropping down to the moorings next to the Danks Branch.
Charlie - I got through there in 2009!
This is a good walk as it covers navigable canals, a canal which is just being lost and a couple of completely in filled ones where the route is only identifiable by the tell tale clues left behind. There is the added benefit of the number of pubs en route - The Eight Locks, The Ridgeacre, The Beehive and the Miners Arms.
Rope marks on the Walsall Canal
The explorers seemed to enjoy the walk and for my part it was a great excuse to revisit a favourite area of the BCN and meet some great people along the way.
Not a bad "then and now" pair at the foot of the Ryders Green Locks