Thursday, 18 September 2008

September Cruise - Day Seven

Thursday 18 September

The pub by Walsall town basin was still quite noisy when we went to bed, but when I woke up in the early hours there was absolute silence. It's a pity more boats don't use the basin. It seems like a perfectly safe place to moor (even though the pontoons are not secure), and the more boats there are about, the better everything would be.
Adrian was awake early, and decided we should set off. So it was 7am when we slipped out of the basin. It was chilly, misty, but showed the promise of a sunny day. The stretch of the Walsall Canal from just after the town arm to Bughole Bridge was full of weed, meaning that we made very slow progress. It felt as though we were wading uphill through treacle. The weed made the water very shallow, and we needed frequent blasts of reverse to clear the prop. In addition, in places the bullrushes made the channel very narrow.

What did come as a surprise, though, was how green the canal was. Even though there were often factories, houses, or roads nearby, we were surrounded by trees and wildlife. We saw dozens of herons, the occasional kingfisher, and three-inch dragon flies.

We reached Ryders Green Locks at around 10 am. It was busy with BW men mowing and strimming, and one of them went up the flight and set all the locks for us. It was another surprisingly attractive flight, considering that there's industry all around.

At Ryders Green Junction we continued onto the Wednesbury Old Canal, then at Pudding Green Junction we turned onto the Birmingham Main Line. We stayed on the New Main Line all the way into the city, passing under the Stewart Aqueduct that's we'd crossed over the other day. We arrived at Sherborne Wharf at 1.30pm, and filled with diesel, pumped out, replaced a gas bottle, and started some washing. Then we moored at the end of the Oozells Street Loop, and went for a late lunch. The rest of the afternoon wa spent pottering about.

We're glad we did the W&E and the Walsall Canals. They're much more pleasant than we'd expected, and although the rubbish and the weed is a problem, it's not insurmountable. And if more boats used the waterways, surely things would improve.

Tomorrow, we head out of Birmingham on the Worcs and Birmingham Canal, then turn onto the Stratford.

14 miles, 8 locks. (Totals: 71 miles, 92 locks)


Jim said...

I'm following this with interest, Adam as I'm taking Starcross to Norton Canes for some work next week. Walsall Town Arm is a possible stopping point so thanks for the positive report!

Any chance you could post a photo of Lowsonford when you pass, for old times sake!

Keith Lodge said...

Hi Adam.
It is intersting to read about your adventures on the BCN as we have just done it all on the BCN Explorer cruise. It is always nice to see it through other peoples eyes. We would definitely do it again, but making sure we carry plenty of bin liners for all the rubbish on the prop ha ha ha.