Wednesday, 17 September 2008

September Cruise - Day Six

Wednesday 17 September

We made an early start this morning, as we had no idea how long our planned route would take. We'd been warned that the Wyrley and Essington Canal could be very slow. So we slipped quietly away from our moorings at 7.20, and had tea and toast on the way. Two hours later, we were at Horseley Fields Junction, turning onto the W&E. The next five miles, to Sneyd Juntion, took three and three-quarter hours. The canal was shallow, weedy, and full of rubbish. At some points, the floating pennywort is almost taking over, leaving just a boat's width of channel.

At one point, we were halted by a huge clump of weed caught across the bow. Adrian also made two trips down the weedhatch: the first revealed a bicycle inner tube; the second a high vis vest and a load of plastic bags. We passed one moving boat, an Anglo Welsh hire boat.At just after 1pm we stopped at Sneyd Wharf for water, made bacon sandwiches for lunch. We also saw our second and final moving boat, a man testing his new gear box.

The next section, to Birchills Junction, was also quite full of rubbish, but we managed to clear the prop each time using blasts of reverse. Just after the junction is Walsall Top Lock. This had been one of our possible mooring places, but it was only 3pm, and the visitor mooring was occupied anyway. The locks are quite attractive. The paddle gear is very clunky, some of it is still, and one didn't work at all. For some reason, Lock 6 has a pair of bottom gates rather than a single one; lock 7 is overlooked by Smiths Flour Mill, which has been converted into flats, with more apartment blocks built alongside (starting price £52,500).

After the bottom lock, we turned into the town arm. The hire boat we'd seen earlier said there was nowhere to turn here, but I think they were fooled by the boom across the basin entrace. It moves to one side when you drive up to it. So we're moored on a pontoon in Walsall town basin, which it has to be said is a work in progress. There's an art gallery and a pub, and a huge site waiting for development. Hoardings say Urban Splash is coming soon, but it'll be a while yet. Adrian and his mum have been into town (it's right next to us), and say it has everything a town should.

13 miles, 8 locks. (Totals: 57 miles, 84 locks)

1 comment:

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

Glad you made it in under 4 hours! The good news is that you're now past the worst. The Walsall Canal has a few bad patches but it's nowhere near as bad as that stretch of the Curly Wurly.

The double gates on one lock are because the lock was shortened a few feet during rebuilding - although nobody I have asked knows why - and you wouldn't be able to open a single gate with a full length boat.