Sunday, 23 October 2016

Autumn Cruise 2016 - Week 2

Sunday 16th October - Compton to Dudley Black Country Museum

Today we are heading back along the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal to Aldersley Junction where we turn right and begin our ascent of the Wolverhampton 21 locks.

We set off at 7.45am as the locks can take between 3 and 4 hours to complete and everyone advises you to do them early in the morning.
I'm afraid it was very heavy rain for the first hour of our trip and we both got rather wet!

We passed a boat at the top of Compton Lock who was also going up through the locks so we felt much happier having someone else with us.

Dave dressed for the rain!  We tried cruising with the pram hood up but it soon had to come down as many of the bridges are rather low and it wouldn't fit under.  We resorted to using an umbrella!

Once we arrived at the junction there were two boats waiting so I hovered on the left hand bank.  Dave went to find out what was happening and discovered that a lone boater had been waiting for another boat to arrive as he didn't have a water conservation key to open the locks.  This hire boat (pictured here) lent him a key and 40 minutes later he was able to get into the lock after the sole boater.

Eventually the canal and river trust sent out a volunteer to open all the locks for the lone boater in order to help him along.

As we climbed up the locks we passed under a railway bridge with a Virgin train crossing it.  Where ever there are canals the railways follow very closely.

The paddle on this lock had no safety catch and kept dropping down as soon as I took the windlass off.  So here I am holding it up with the windlass!

Lock 13, half way up the flight, still enjoying myself and yes the sun has come out, so sunglasses on!!

We are almost at the top, lock 3, and the railway is now running alongside the canal heading into Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton Top Lock - we made it!!  
21 locks in 4 hours 10 minutes, thoroughly enjoyed it but it is relentless - no stopping, lots of walking, but fortunately the weather was brilliant for us!  
We needed to pull over at the top as the propeller had got jammed and we weren't making much headway.

Dave investigated the weedhatch and pulled out various scraps of plastic bag which had got itself wound around the propeller, not too bad but enough to slow the boat down.

Soon after this pipe bridge we caught up with the lone boater from first thing this morning.  Unfortunately he was having problems with his engine and after travelling at a snails pace he eventually pulled over to try and sort it out.

Coseley Tunnel is 360yds long and is wide enough to pass another narrowboat but we didn't have to do that, thankfully!  It also has a towpath on both sides of the canal which made the tunnel feel very wide and high.

Approaching Factory Junction we turn right to head towards Dudley tunnel and the Black Country Museum.  It is only a short cruise down to the mouth of the tunnel and the museum.

Our greeting as we approached the museum was not very pleasant as a group of young children, 7-8 year olds were under the bridge throwing things at the boat and using appalling language.  Fortunately the moorings are secure as there is a padlocked gate before the bridge.  However another boat had to move as the children upset her so much!!

We winded the boat in the stubby arm that is now the museum waterways and moored up beside the museum.  As it was nearly 5pm we decided to shut up for the night and reflect on our adventures of the day.

Monday 17th October - Visit to the Black Country Museum

Another glorious sunny day and after walking Toby we left him on the boat and went into the museum. 

Transport around the museum is usually by tram but today they were undergoing essential maintenance.

Instead they were using an open sided bus driven by Bob!

We saw the mine, many of the buildings in the area suffer from subsidence owing to the mining which went on in the past.

We called in to the school and watched a lesson being conducted, then ate fish and chips cooked in the traditional 1930's way using beef fat.  They were delicious but no good for vegetarians!!

We found the old working boats and marvelled at how the family used to live in such small living spaces.

One of the characters told us about the boat and how they managed to live on it.  He was very convincing!!  Well done Simon!
We finally visited the local pub, The Bottle and Glass, and chatted to more of the characters, they were all brilliant and very well informed.

From here you can take a trip into the tunnel in special boats.  Passage through the tunnel in powered craft is not allowed as there is no ventilation.  However, you can choose to leg your boat through or have it towed through.  These children looked as though they had enjoyed their visit! 

The rest of this week has been very busy and full of very exciting adventures.

We made our way to Birmingham and spent a day exploring the city.

We then left Birmingham and continued down to the junction with the Stratford Canal and turned left onto that canal.

We worked our way down through the Lapworth Locks and the Wilmcote Locks and finally arrived in Stratford on Sunday evening.

I would like to thank the canal and river trust volunteers who helped out on the Wilmcote Locks, thank you Paul and Richard.

Unfortunately the Blogger program has failed to save the work I have done, so I am having to post a truncated version of this weeks adventures.  Many apologies for this and hopefully normal service will resume next week. 

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