Friday, 27 April 2018

Making a start

Making a start
April 2018

We have been out for a week now and the only blog posts I have published are out of sequence! Time to put that right.

We set off last Thursday in the midst of a mini heat wave, our arms and necks going a sensitive red under wall to wall sunshine. Whilst Longwood Boat Club offers a number of more direct cruising options, we elected to take the long way round via the Wyrley and Essington Canal.

Govenor on the Daw End Canal

As normal, we had the 25 miles of BCN backwater to ourselves, only encountering Govenor, a converted BCN icebreaker, as we left the moorings and were making very slow progress along the shallow Daw End Canal to Aldridge. After Govenor we were left to our own devices, mooring at Pelsall Common, a regular stopping place where the echoes of long dead industry mingle with wildlife and the distant A5.

Litter covering the Wyrley and Essington Canal at Harden

The Wyrley and Essington enters its "bad patch" through Bloxwich, Harden and Leamore. The housing crowds in on the canal which becomes strewn with litter, blown into huge rafts of floating debris which block bridge holes for up to one hundred yards. You try all the tricks in the book but inevitably you end up with a blade full from time to time. With all the floating debris you just know you will pick up something nasty, and this was no exception. You will remember that a month ago we had to cut a duvet off in freezing temperatures? Well this time it was a small tent, complete with poles. To be fair, the "dodgey" area around Coalpool is much improved with extensive new housing being built on brownfield sites and shiny new cars outside pristine townhouses replacing burnt out shells and boarded slums.

 Birchills Junction

I have a theory that nearly everything can be removed from  the prop fairly quickly if you select the right tools and use them effectively. In this instance the tools of choice were bolt cutters (small) for the poles and a serrated knife to slice the covering.This obstruction involved a 30 minute session in the weed hatch but the water was altogether more comfortable. 

Then we were on past Walsall and using the facilities at Sneyd Junction. I am pretty chilled about most things but I tend to take the view that if you get stuff on the prop it becomes yours to dispose of responsibly. However, not everyone thinks along the same lines because alongside the waterpoint was a big pile of prop debris, just dumped for "someone else to sort out". I therefore made two trips to the skip at the back of the building blessing the last water point user.

Firing up at Black Country Living Museum, Tipton

Then is was on through Wednesbury, site of the recent BCN clean up a couple of weeks ago. The surface rubbish was far better but it was annoying to find shiny new shopping trolleys in each bridge hole. 

Dudley Tunnel, Tipton end.

We spent the night at the BCLM creating a mooring for ourselves using the handily placed ring on the bridge wall to secure the butty. The BCLM mooring was as lovely as ever, and we woke late to the smell of the coal fires being lit ready for a new day at this popular attraction.

First lock of the trip at Brades.

With Factory Locks unusable due to ongoing channel work we dropped to the New Main Line via Brades, discovering that the addition of a new fender at the back of the butty and a new uncompacted front fender on the motor make us a tiny bit too long. With a bit of shoving and twisting we extracted the boats and made steady progress into the moorings at Symphony Court, ready for the wedding taxi service I have already reported on.

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