The Midlands March, Nice Ice

We’ve woken up to frost and ice most days this week

We’re not cruising through that today

And whilst Eric is sensible and stays inside, I can’t resist being outside enjoying the diamond encrusted scenery

The Bumble Hole

I wasn’t the only one out walking, male swans are known as cobs, so quite appropriate that Mr Bumble the resident male, is posing in front of Cobb’s Engine House. (Female swans are known as pens)

We’ve been incredibly lucky, to have had sunshine every day.

although we’ve also had a bit of misty fog, the blue sky was just behind

But what can I say, we probably picked the best week possible to stay here

The scenery speaks for itself

All within 10 minutes of our warm snug boat

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