Back from Pelsall
Its a long road back from Pelsall, four hours to Wolverhampton, three on the "21" and another two on the Staffs and Worcester.
Dawn breaks over Pelsall Common
So an early start was planned and with Helen still asleep in bed I wound up the engine and was off at 5.30am, casting off simultaneously with Mike Rolfe ahead of me and we proceeded in tandem all the way to Sneyd. It was a glorious start to the day with an orange sun rising behind us transforming the Wyrley and Essington into a place of real beauty.
An early escape in Mike Rolfe's wake
I know that I have referred to the ever present suburbia along this canal, but its defining characteristics (apart from being twisting) are the profusion of water lilies and wild irises which line its margins. You don't get that on the much used staffs and Worcester!
The mirror arch in Wolverhampton
A self portrait in the mirror arch
Miles passed beneath our base plate and by 9.30 am we emerged at Broad St Wolverhampton where the constituent elements of the Explorer B cruise were assembling. We made our way down the 21 passing at least half a dozen Explorer boats on the way up, crews I will see again on Friday when I meet them for a walk around the lost canals of Ridgeacre.
Ghostly side bridges on the Wyrley Essington in Wolverhampton
We were in idling mode when we stopped at Lock 10 to have a bacon butty from the Crown Cafe stall - just below the incinerator. There we were, siting in the lock munching on mounds of fluffy white bread laced with crunchy bacon when another crew showed up behind us. We zipped on down the rest of the flight unsuccessfully looking for some late wild garlic but were more successful in finding some new growth nettles to make nettle cordial, which has proved to be very popular.
Along the way I tried to resolve an emerging problem with the boat. At very low revs the engine shakes and rattles and whilst I did find and fix loose engine mount, I suspect that the rubbers are failing and new mounts are a job for the coming winter.