Thursday, 13 February 2014

Birmingham to Brewood

Having studied the forecast, we decided to make our escape from Birmingham, on what we thought would be the best day of the week.  So we were up and away early, as we had a long way to go, with 25 locks.  The day started out really nice, bright and sunny, but soon turned to heavy sleet by the time we reached Factory locks.  Looks like it's time to bring out the waterproof gear - we don't usually travel in the rain - and this was supposed to be the best day of the week, weather wise.  Ah well, onwards, and downwards (locks, that is!)  We did get out the GB road map, to find out if there were any rivers which may flood into the canal up the Shroppie (just in case....)  We were aware that we were leaving the safety of Birmingham, being quite high up above sea level, to descend into 'lowlands'.  Wet weather gear on, we descended Wolverhampton 21 locks.  We even saw a kingfisher at lock 12,  I didn't expect to see that!  The thing with wet weather gear, when doing things like locks, you tend to get wetter on the inside than you do on the outside.  Even my boots were leaking.  It was a relief to get to the bottom, and have another change of clothes & get dry.  We pressed on, and managed to get to the 'three mile mark' outside Brewood as it was getting dark.  We'll stay here for a few days, until the weather improves.

Here's a few pics of our trip along the Birmingham Main Line.  They're abit out of sync, as these ones of Coseley Tunnel were taken on our trip into Birmingham, hence the direction of the boat.  There's been a significant landslip on both sides of the tunnel, which will require quite a bit of clearing up.  I notice that there's a stoppage from the 18th February until the 31st March - another reason for leaving Birmingham and getting onto the Shroppie, where it's stoppage free.  I say stoppage free - for now - but with the amount of rain we've had, I wouldn't be surprised if there's another major landslip at Woodseaves.

Towpath blocked at the entrance to Coseley Tunnel

landslips on both sides now.

One of the many toll islands where a fee was collected from passing boats carrying cargo

Galton Tunnel

Here we've got all modes of transport on view:- the railway on the left of the picture runs parallel to the BNC main line , we pass under Stewart  Aqueduct, which carries the old main line canal, with the M5 on top of that.

View of the M5 piers, like huge concrete triffids emerging from the water

Spon Lane junction which takes you up onto the old main line (or Wolverhampton Level)

Toll island

one of the many now disused arms leading off the main line

... and another one

Junction off to the right onto the Walsall Canal (which we must do sometime)
Ah yes, the misleading sign posts along the way.  Near Bamford Stop, it's apparently 8 miles into Birmingham, when it is actually 5 miles.

Then a mile further on, it says 5 miles.  A mile later it's back up to 6 miles. 

Workers refurbishing the bridge at Albion Junction, leading to Brades locks.
The corner shop that is no more, at Lock 16 on the Wolverhampton flight.  It was very handy for a quick snack stop up or down the flight, whose home made samosas were particularly tasty.

Stone says it was laid 1862

The lovely row of cottages at Wolverhampton top lock
We heard about the imminent stoppage at Hampton Bank/Bettisfield.  Apparently, a breach has been averted, but the canal will be closed while emergency piling work is carried out.  We toyed with the idea of sprinting back up the Llangollen to be the other side of the planned stoppage on 17th Feb.  This would mean being back on our mooring 4-6 weeks earlier than planned, and having a such a short distance in which to cruise.  We decided to 'stuff it' and carry on cruising.  This means we won't be able to get back up the Llangollen till after the 4th April.

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