The Midlands March, looping the loops

If we had a penny from everyone who told us that Birmingham has more canal than Venice, we’d be very happy. I wonder how many Venetian’s would claim something different. I think the truth depends upon where you draw the boundary line. Certainly the Birmingham Canal Network has well over 100 navigable miles, with about 35miles within the city itself. We were currently moored on the Old Line, built by Brindley c1770. It follows the contours and for the commercial barges has time consuming locks, but we were enjoying our journey so with the sun shining we set off down the 3 Smethwick locks.

Smethwick locks

Under Popes Bridge. We had to wonder who this warning sign was aimed at, or perhaps it’s an instruction

No thanks

And shortly after we merged the New Main line.

The old and the new

As the sun was shining we decided on a short detour around the Soho Loop, which served the prison, lunatic asylum and sanitorium. Thankfully we weren’t detained although it was slow going, shallow and full of debris. I don’t think we’ll bother with any of the other loops on this trip.


We had also lost the sun, which doesn’t make for enjoyable cruising. We were unsure what mooring would be available in the centre of town, and whether it would be noisy or safe.

Ladywood wharf

But we struck gold and spotted the rings at Ladywood wharf, right on the edge of the central hub. We had arrived. The middle of the Midlands March.

The BCN