Tuesday 22 May 2007

BCN North - Tipton to Autherley

Tipton to Autherley Junction Day 3
The last day and a late start at 8.30 (I have a crew that cant sleep). The trip via the Coseley tunnel passes through a post industrial wasteland made good by covering of mature trees. It is getting hard to remember what this area looked like in the 1960’s when I started travelling through it. But the trip had one last surprise in store for the arm baggers: The Wednesbury Oak Loop.
This is a two mile arm which is maintained to provide access to the BW works at Bradley and couldn’t be missed. It won’t win any beauty prizes but you should get an award if you manage to reach the winding hole at the end. The main historical interest is the abandoned works half way along. There aren’t many of these sites left and this one looks like it isn’t long for this world. Don’t go this way unless you are happy to get up close and personal with your weedhatch. This stretch gets progressively more silted, bag infested and weedy as you go. Even in May, weed covered the entire width of the canal and forced prop cleaning trips every 400 yards. Our arrival at the Bradley works resulted in a mass welcome from the staff, who emerged from their workshops to witness the rare arrival of two weed spattered but happy boaters.

After all the excitement of the remaindered canals the final run back to Wolverhampton was very straightforward and uneventful. Our ambition to beat our previous time through the Wolverhampton 21 was foiled by the number of other boats going our way. Well actually there were two but that seemed like a lot after the previous days of isolation.
The final tally:

3 days
76 locks
70 miles
14 arms
2 mattresses
10 trips down the weedhatch
2 instances of minor “inbound”
42 hours of glorious sunshine
3 happy boaters

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