Sunday, 14 September 2014

Phew! Brummagem.

We decided on an early start, well for us it was!  By 0730 we were off from our moorings at Autherley junction.  A cloudy but fine start and pretty much the same most of the day.

Early morning fishing

High bridges

We were soon at the pleasant leafy junction with the Main line of the Birmingham and Worcester at Aldersley, left turn as a hire boat exited and into the first lock of this flight,  the Wolverhampton 21. The name says's it all really.  The early start was really in the hope of finding the locks set in our favour, empty!  This would mean that we could motor into each successive lock without emptying first.  The exit of the hire boat somewhat confounded us, until we realised they had moored for the night in one of the lower pounds, as had another hire boat on the landing of lock 18. Think we may well have woken them up!

The first nine locks or so were very pleasant, the route still with a rural feel and the water clean. Herons abounded and we did spot the odd Kingfisher.  By lock 10 though, it was getting distinctly more urban, with signs of alcohol abuse and associated litter on the banks and numerous plastic bottles plus the odd traffic cone in the water. Up to this point, all the locks had been in our favour, but after this Ali had to empty the locks to some extent, indicating that there must be a boat ahead of us, possibly starting the day from mid way up the flight. Not unpleasant though and the locks themselves were in good order.  In just under three hours we had reached the top.

We had decided that we would head for Birmingham on the Wolverhampton level, as this was new territory for us, rather than the main line. Our route was less direct and more contoured, but a change from the dead straight we had navigated last time.  So it was past Deepfields junction and through Coseley tunnel. At Factory junction it was right turn and past the arm to the Black Country Museum.  The waters in this area were disappointingly untidy with litter, but again apart from this, the journey was pleasant and meandering.  Passing Dudley Port with its newish housing, we soon passed over the route from Netherton tunnel onto the main line and then passed the Gower branch. Just after Seven stars bridge, the canal passes under the M5, which straddles the canal for some distance. Odd to see an old original bridge now sheltering under this elevated concrete roadway..

Over the Netherton Tunnel Branch (tunnel in the distance - just!)

Under the M5

Over the Birmingham Main Line Canal

The scenery though, as you wind in and out has an almost rural feel, if you don't look up!  The canal crosses the Birmingham level, then dropping down the three Smethwick locks, joins the main line at  Smethwick junction.  The route is now wide and straight into central Birmingham. The waters to appear much more litter free.  Whilst we saw few boats moving during the day, as we neared the centre numbers increased somewhat.

Signposts under the M5

Hard to believe this is about 3 miles from the city centre

By 1600, we were moored just before Old Turn Junction and an easy walk to Gas street.  There are plenty of moorings in this area and whilst overlooked by many a tall block of flats or commercial buildings, it remains very pleasant.  So why do some boaters spoil it by lighting fires in such restricted and built up areas?  Rant over!

So a busy old day.  Day off tomorrow whilst Ali goes shopping after meeting her sister.

Miles 16
Locks 24
Tunnels 360 yds

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