The Midlands March, 16 locks

There wasn’t a lot, but we definitely saw a dusting of snow on the towpath this morning.

Yes that’s snow on the towpath


And with a flight of 16 locks to work through I was a bit worried about slipping on ice. But the sun was shining as we entered the first lock on the stourbridge flight at 10am

Wordsley junction, start of the flight


We passed some lovely old buildings, that probably thrived on canal trade


I wanted to stop at the Red House glass works Museum,

The red house glass cone

but word was starting to filter down that there was a problem ahead….. “The canals been dredged” “the canals empty” “there’s a swan stuck in the mud” ….. I think the walkers thought we were mad to keep going on up the flight, but what else where we to do until we’d seen the problem for ourselves.

Mmm Firecrest won’t be going through that quagmire

And sure enough we got to Swan Bridge winding hole to find it impassible. Did we call CRT or walk up and check the paddles first? We opted to check the paddles hadn’t been left open and then draw some water down to refill the pound. There didn’t seem to be much amiss in the section above, and despite it seeming a large area, the levels had risen sufficiently in just over half an hour to be navigable.

That’s more like it

And typically just as we were breathing a huge sigh of relief a well armed CRT man turned up with his rake. I didn’t pick up if he’d been told about the problem by someone else, but he agreed we had done the right thing. And he also identified the cause of the problem. Something was stopping the ground paddle being fully wound down. And he knew that the last boat on the flight before us was the day before, so there had had been plenty of time to drain the pond. He set too with his rake and after quite some effort, he hauled a child’s scooter and some plastic out thus allowing the paddle to close properly.

I hope that wasn’t a Christmas

We all surmised that the scooter looked new, so we think it must have fallen in rather than been discarded thrown in. The current then sucked it into the paddle channel. So not a deliberate act of vandalism, just a consequence of an unfortunate accident. Sadly though, we are now in an urban area, where there are enough morons who think it acceptable to use the canal as a dumping ground or for sport throwing in shopping trolleys and traffic cones. And for some make their “artistic” presence known.

Graffiti country

Thankfully those people are in the minority and plenty more enjoy the benefits of the canal. It’s not always rubbish that gets pulled out as we saw this enormous Pike being landed

What a whopper

We made it through the top lock 4 hours after we set off. And with CRTs permission we moored on the bollards.

Mooring after the top lock

With a clear sky and a crescent moon it’s quite beautiful

Magical

Less than 2 miles and 16+ locks

The Midlands March, a new year and a new adventure.

And so with the new year’s resolution not to neglect our blog still ringing in my ear, we are setting off on a new adventure. We have a plan, a rough route and an excitement for what lies ahead. Yes we know there might be one or two spanners thrown into our works but here goes.
We plan to cruise across the Midlands, through Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. It’s 110 miles to Oxford where we plan join the mighty river Thames for the warmer months.

The map on the right is our planned route, the Google map on the left just gives a rough geographic idea

But in typical boaters fashion our plans had to change from day 1. We had arranged to meet friends in Kinver, but on chatting to another boater we realised our chosen route through the Dudley tunnel was restricted access. And because we had seen a potential restriction on our alternative route we cancelled that reunion in order to get to beyond the stoppage. We also knew the weather was about to turn and proper winter was about to return.
Thankfully the blue skies were promising. And we turned easily onto the Stourbridge canal, the start of this adventure.

Stoughton junction

The Stourbridge canal was completed in 1779, it has a few branches but over its 6 miles it effectively joins the Dudley canal with the Staffs and Worcester canal, and was used for transporting coal, ironstone and lime. It cost around £38, 000 to build and was a profitable venture for its investors, so much so that the company was able to support the mines and other local industries. The railways and road networks gradually took the trade and the canals commercial traffic petered our in the 1930s.
I knew that it wouldn’t be long before we would be cruising in an urban landscape so we moored up just before Wordsley junction for our last look at the countryside.

Between middle bridge and Wordsley junction


Today’s journey about 2 miles and 4 locks