Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Three Canal in a Day - Monday 11th May

After a great social night in the Manor Arms when we swapped boating stories and many others we made an early start and followed Stuart and Marie through the very rural aspects of the Daw End Branch.IMG_6172

Just a short distance brought us to Longwood Junction with its charming canal side cottages and buildings where we filled up with water. This is the start of the Rushall Canal which leads onto the Tame Valley canal.1

Disaster however as the long pound below the first two locks was virtually dry. Now this pound is over a mile in length so would take some filling. Fortunately Stuart had already advised C&RT and was letting some water down to give enough depth for a central channel to take the boats on. The C& RT man arrived and let water into the pound from below the 2nd lock and after a short wait we followed Stuart down the locks and gingerly edged our way down the pound.IMG_6178

The C&RT man was at the second lock controlling the water down to the rest of the flight and let us into the the lock as we would not have been able to get to the bank. However, once we had negotiated the the next lock we found Stuart leaning at an unusual angle stuck in the next lock as the pound beyond was again virtually dry. It was again a case of let more water down and with a bit of luck he was soon afloat and able to proceed to the bottom of the flight.IMG_6183

We left Stuart there to oversee the remainder of the boats coming down and headed off in deep water at last. It had taken us over 3 hours to do 9 locks when on Friday we had done 21 in the same time.

It was interesting to see how the towing ropes from the old horse drawn boats had worn almost through the metal bridge protectors, showing how busy this canal must have been in the hay day of the coal transportation.IMG_6180

Today, however, the canal looks decidedly rural even though we are not far from the city. Nature has reclaimed the industrial heartland of the midlands making it a delight to travel through.2

We soon reached Rushall Junction where the Tame Valley Canal heads to Salford to the left and Ocker Hill to the right, both locations for major Power Stations of the past.3

This stretch of canal was the Motorway of its day and is 3.5 miles of virtual straight canal with a towpath either side indicating how busy the wide canal was at its peak. Most of it is open but there are still signs of the old factories which must have lined its edges in the past. We even spotted the Midland Metro passing overhead part of the new transport system for Birmingham and Wolverhampton.4

The canal passes over the lovely River Tame valley on a high aqueduct and at some parts we are level with the tops of the adjacent blocks of flats on one side and the M6 on the other.5

There is a new aqueduct which takes us over the M5 where it joins the M6 and with a strong blowing across it makes steering difficult but give spectacular  views of the motorways of today from those of the past.6

We were stunned to look in the distance and see a Church Spire with next to it a Windmill. It is in fact a Folly built in the 1980`s by Mr Humphries of Monway Building Supplies.IMG_6205

We had made good progress along the straight and were soon at Ocker Hill Junction where we made a right turn at the modern C&RT Offices and Facilities block onto the Walsall Canal.7

Roughly a mile further on we moored up at a nice paved area just after Monway Bridge and waited for the other boats to join us.8

Later that evening we had a d.i.y. BBQ and then we were treated to Stuarts daughter playing her guitar and singing the songs of our era which we could all join in with the words. Then it was time for the raffle with some great prizes which had been donated by the group and other organisations. It raised a total of £99 for the BCNS.9

As darkness came on and the warmth of the day died away we all retired to bed for a well earned rest.

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