Friday, 25 February 2011

Dudley to Birmingham

10 am on Tuesday 22nd Feb we upped-sticks and set off for Brum via the Wolverhamton Level ...
it was to be a day of many contrasts!
 Everything you need to repel all boarder!
 A mooring basin near Kier's Bridge - note - lots of mooring rings, but no boats! 
 Looking over the parapet of Tividale Aquaduct down to the northern portal of the Netherton Tunnel, and what looks to be a fishing match.
 Brades Hill Junction Locks descend to the Gower Branch and to Albion Junction on the Birmingham Level Main Line 
 The red and yellow Dog Wood is starting to regain its colour
 if it's big enough .. moor in it!
 Chemical Arm
 Entering the bowels of the M5 - tight bends, marching columns and lots of watery offshoots.
 Looking off to our right at Oldbury Junction Locks
 You don't expect to see signposts underneath a motorway!
 Under the very low Anchor Bridge built in 1994 ...
 We come out from under for a short stretch and surprised these two Canada Geese who did a lovely jig trying to get away in front of us ...
 ... but gave up in the end and decided to stop, turn and wait for us to pass!
 Back under we go ....
 Blakeley Hall Bridge - motorway columns still marching on the right
 View over the Stewart Aquaduct ....
 ... and over the other side.
 First time we've seen Seyella since we left Dudley! 
 Spon Lane Junction as we keep right onto the Wolverhampton Level
 Motorway maintenance overhangs the canal
Measuring any movement of the motorway
It makes you wonder what kind of an area this is that needs CCTV cameras under the motorway onto the canal.
 Sandwell Park Colliery Wharf
A nice succession of Arches - Railway Arch, Summit Bridge and Summit Tunnel.
The tunnel is just 103 yards long and was built in MDCCXC (1790)
 Getting closer to Birmingham now - an interesting skyline ...
 ... and pretty gables too.
 Engine Branch Aquaduct at ...
 Smethwick Locks
 These 3 locks are the only ones on today's journey - a hexagonal Toll House above the top lock

 Bottom Lock - and here we run into trouble !!
 A lot of effort was needed to open the bottom gate - when Geoff came through on Seyella he could see that there was a large branch stuck in the sluice preventing it from closing properly.
It was just about now that the engine died and the alarms sounded ... oh no, not again! I floated out of the lock chamber and George picked up my middle line and pulled me free of the lock; when I could I stepped off with the stern rope and we bow-hauled RnR about 50 yards ... 
 ... through the worst crap (sorry) that I've seen so far on any canal.  We pulled her over and George bared his arms and put them down the weed hatch (horrible), he dragged out the ubiquitous plastic bags etc., but there was something else wrapped around the propeller too and inside he went for a knife, but to no avail whatever it was wasn't for cutting - I had picked up a tyre!  George was eventually able to remove it, it was too heavy to lift out so I'm afraid it's still lurking there on the bottom of the canal waiting perhaps for another unsuspecting boater to pick it up on his propeller (again, sorry!)
 On our way again now with Seyella in front - Smethwick Junction's beautiful ornate bridges built at the Horseley Iron Works in Staffordshire in 1828 (Engine Arm Aqueduct was built by the same company) 
 Looking back at Smethwick Junction - we've come from the right of the picture and are now on the Birmingham Main Line.
 Signs of old industry and another fretwork bridge over another short arm.
 Wrong archway Geoff! Well it would be if there wasn't a maintenance boat in the right-hand one of the railway bridge!
 Can't see what they're doing and they didn't even acknowledge our passing!
 Sorry, can't resist these lovely bridges.
 Don't go there!
 The Soho Loop goes off to the left  -  the area between here and where it rejoins the main line is Rotton Park! ...
 ... under Winson Green Bridge - that's Asylum Bridge in the distance.  Apparently the asylum was built adjacent to Winson Green Gaol sometime between 1847 and 1850.
Approaching Lee Bridge built in MDCCCXXVI (1826) Seyella in the lead.
 Attractive fret panels line the road ...
... running atop the embankment ...
 ... and when the occupants want to get rid of their rubbish they heave it over the fence to hang in the trees, burst open on the bank and foul your prop!!!!! 
 The junction where the Soho Loop ...
 ... and the Icknield Loop join the Main Line. 
 Into the centre of Birmingham - our preferred moorings in Sherbourne Wharf are sharp right through the bridge ...
 ... those moorings look ok too ...
 ... into Oozells Street Loop ...
 ... past the Fellows Morton and Clayton building ...
 ... stopping to allow the bright pink waterbus to pass by us ...
 ... and this boat name looks familiar too ...
 Good Health!!!
Sherbourne Wharf is full, not a mooring ring to be had so we moor at those rings we saw earlier ----
--- between St Vincent Street Bridge and Sheepcote Street.
Approximately three and a half hours today, the last hour or so quite tiring I felt - glad to be still at last.