Thursday, 13 April 2017

Onwards without our secret weapon.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Typical toll island on the New Main Line.
Our Easter trip has not been without its problems.  Other than getting fairly over-tired, (possibly almost burnt out?), things were relatively normal whilst we were still on the wide-locked Grand Union.

Magnificent bridge carrying the "Engine Arm" over New Main Line.
However once we turned off the GU at Kingswood Junction, we then had two very difficult days, battling with very low water throughout the Lapworth lock flight, followed by grinding the bottom much of the way into Birmingham on the Stratford canal, followed by the Worcester and Birmingham canal.  The level is down in the long pound that carries on through massive amounts of Birmingham, but even had it not been, both these canals are full of rubbish and clearly not dredged in very many years.

Galton Bridge is even grander, but 1970's tunnel rules out a better picture.
As a result our son David who is far stronger and more agile than either of us was an almost essential asset, regularly tugging with ropes or pushing on long shafts to get us moving or back on track.  However it was planned for David to get on a train back home this morning.  Cath became so concerned about our ability to operate without him, that he was nearly asked to stay on for a couple more days.  However in the end he was sent for home, and we started off again with some uncertainty about how we might fare.

I'm carrying the "keb".
With David dispatched, we set about the easy part of the day, namely thrashing along the wide New Main line of the BCN.  Here Flamingo could show its legs, and we got along very briskly.  Even so, every so often when right in the middle of the cut the boat would ride over something, often heeling to one side or the other.  Goodness knows what's down there, but som of it is big and solid.

Ryder's Green locks - all pounds well full, fortunately.
Things changed as soon as we turned off at Pudding Green  junction and headed on to the Wednesbury Old Canal,  From the outset it was shallow and sludgy, and the first mile up to Ryder's Green locks was very very slow.  The boat would simply not turn when I wanted it to, and we took some excursions off course.  Near the known high contaminated Ridgeacre branch just above Ryder's Green locks we stirred a thick oily black mass, and I would certainly have hated to go in there.

"Trolley Fest" at Ryder's Green - we managed to avoid the many still in the cut.
Once we started our descent of the 8 locks, we hit trouble almost immediately,  Something solid was behind the recess for the bottom gate to swing into, and the gate would not go far enough back to let Flamingo out.  Another boat was waiting at the top lock mouth, and w were going nowhere.  However by an enormous stroke of good fortune Nick and Liz Grundy turned up on historic boat Beatty.  I knew he had posted the day before that he carried a "keb",  a rake head fitted at 90 degrees to a long pole - exactly what is needed in these situations, but rarely available.  By patient fishing Nick removed various objects, including a brick, but it took quite a long while before the gate would push back enough to let us out.

Helpful girls, but I doubt their fancy long nails were improved.
Thereafter the remaining locks were dealt with without too much delay, but we were treated to some friendly but virtually unintelligible drunk persons near one lock at the bottom, and one lock further on some helpful young girls pulled a railway sleeper from the lock mouth, despite their very long manicured nails.

Often slow, but generally we kept moving.
It has continued to be heavy going most, but not all, of the way to Walsall.  At one point we were at a complete standstill, but not apparently aground, and we sincerely hoped it was one of the worst bits - fortunately, (this far at least!) it was.  I was surprised neither following boat caught us up, but e didn't see another bat until arrival here at Walsall Town Wharf.

All W H Yarwood procuts, but none the same.
Here met three of the other historic boats heading to Brownhills, and all 4 boats in the basin are products of W J Yarwood and sons, the line up being Beatty, Flamingo, Swallow and Enceladus.

Left to Right: Beatty, Flamingo, Swallow and Enceladus
Anyway Alan and Cath are pleased to announce that whilst still quite exhausted, they coped well on the first day without "secret weapon" David.

(Post revised as I was so tired when I wrote iut that I severely mixed up my BCN lock flight names!)

Mailbox Birmingham to Walsall Town Basin
Miles: 14.2, Locks: 8
Total Trip Miles: 70.8, Locks: 87


No comments:

Post a Comment

We have (finally!) been alerted to the fact that many people have been unable to post comments on this blog. (It seemed a bit odd, as people used to, but it has stopped occurring). We have changed some settings, so hopefully now possible again. Comments will be moderated, and you will need to enter word verification.