Twas raining, Twas Birmingham after all. But it stopped and around 10 ish we pushed off. Another few herberts in the wee hours to wake us up, so we decided to push off for somewhere new. A rather curious day as we cruise along the old route – the original route that Brindley made, a bit twisty with many loops. So they invited Mr Telford to make a new line – dead straight and lower down.
Here’s some snaps of the guide books to illustrate the point:
We’re going right to left, turning right at Smethwick Jn, up 3 locks
Crossing over the new canal, fork right at Oldbury and on . .
Turning left at Tipton, down to the Black Country Living Museum
Once clear of the gentrified centre, things seem to return to post-industrial desolation or re-establishment of greenery. This photo is looking back along the long, wide and deep canal
One of the many ornate entrances to the many loops
The Soho (of foundry not London, fame)
Remnants of a bridge crossing
The Soho foundry itself
Smethwick junction – quick, right turn and into the three rather shabby locks.
I did see a rat spring across the top gate and then I saw a second rat scutter away. Hmm, not over keen on this bit . . . lots of litter too . .
Wolverhampton, the long way round but more interesting?
Maybe time for one of those B&W photos . . the area deserves it
Viv does the locks but comes back on board to wash her hands afterwards (not needed to do that before).
A burnt out toll house and an air of desolation
Plus more than the usual flotsam – oil, bottle, plastic bags and always, just one shoe
After the Smethwick locks – the canal to the “Engine Arm”, carried over the new canal by an aqueduct.
Then it all got a bit rural, quite a change – we are now at the highest point and going through the Summit Tunnel.
And round the corner to say Hello to the M5. In fact four hellos were needed as we threaded our way underneath.
Lots of scaffolding in place with signs saying do not moor to the scaffolding – who, in their right mind would?
And out into the air and immediately over the new canal on the Stewart aqueduct:
Just spotted another narrowboat on the new canal below!
You can tell this route is not traversed much – encroaching weed! Starting to get the African Queen feeling. Will I have to get out and pull us along? Leeches?
We pass over on another aqueduct (we’ve seen 4 in one morning!) with the new canal going down the Netherton branch to the Netherton tunnel (3027 yds!)
I stopped – to clear the prop yet again and to take some pix . . . hmm 56 minute transit time. How lovely.
Meanwhile the surly crew try to jump ship – get back!
On past the delightfully named but swamp infested Tividale Quays – could any boat actually get in there??
Almost missed the turn at Tipton junction – prop full of weed, bowthruster full of weed . . . we limped on through the narrows and on to the Black Country Living Museum moorings – full services here plus a winding hole – bit tricky to wind when your two means of propulsion are slightly hampered but we swing and we park up, for a day or two. Ahead is the portal of the Dudley Tunnel. I think you can pass through but it has to be pre-booked and you get pulled through by an electric tug – no diesel fumes here, as there’s no ventilation. Lots of side caverns and trip boats.
The bridge allows views into the museum which covers 26 acres and this weekend is 1940’s weekend – see https://www.bclm.co.uk/media/events/library/1940s_sun_daytime_prog_2017_1.pdf
Talking of portals – I really did think I had entered a time warp as I peeped in the door of the museum just as the royal car went by with our King & Queen, hotly followed by our amazing general – Monty!
Must go back tomorrow!