Monday 2 April 2018


Today's Canals - Worcester and Birmingham, BCN

The weather forecast for today given a couple of days ago included a yellow warning of snow. We awoke wondering what we might see outside but by the time we awoke it had all been downgraded to a simple wet and chilly day, very grey and overcast!

Very quickly after we set off the surrounding land became much higher than the canal so that the construction entailed cutting quite deeply into the ground.

As a result there are several places where ground water enters the canal - a bonus for the original company as it meant a saving on the water they needed to produce (expensively) from reservoirs. The number of inflows and outflows must make the water supply computer model so very much more complex than most people realise. This particular torrent of water looked very mu h as if it was an 'unofficial' source and quite recently formed, judging by the look of the ground it was running over.

However, the similar inflow just before the Wast Hill tunnel portal comes down a solidly constructed channel.

Before long we passed through Kings Norton Junction - where the Stratford Canal goes off to the right.

Shortly after the junction we spotted this once-splendid industrial building. We have not found out much about it but it seems that there were once several mills on this site. This may well have been Sherborne Paper Mill.

The route into Birmingham continues on the same level - so we had no locks to negotiate today. We had to follow much slower boats several times, the first one in the long Wast Hill tunnel. However, this boat appeared to change steerer half way through after running into the tunnel wall. The new steerer took a rather faster pace - which is how to travel through a tunnel best: too slow and the boat frequently goes off line. Somewhat later they did kindly pull to one side to allow us to pass. However we then caught up a hire boat which after quite a distance pulled in to moor.

Edgbaston Tunnel is the site of what were controversial works when first announced. Previously the tunnel was two-way with a narrow towpath. However, the number of boats using this route is not high (today may well have been a record!) but the towpath is well used by walkers and cyclists. As a result a scheme was devised to widen the towpath meaning that the tunnel (which takes all of just over a minute to pass through) is now one-way working. During the construction the towpath has had to be closed for quite a length but notices were posted at various places from some way back.

Finally we followed a boat towing a short cruiser. They were not greatly skilled and, as they were using a single long line with no steerer on the towed boat, the cruiser frequently went well off course.

We stopped at the Mailbox service facility just long enough to fill up with water and to empty the elsan - the towing boat had gone a little ahead and then turned around and was now waiting to use the water point so we did not stay longer than necessary.

Next came Worcester Bar, a former transshipment point between the two canals that met here - as signs still record.

In front of the ICC we rounded the main junction - variously named but more often today called Farmers Bridge - with some trepidation about finding a mooring as the section between the Mailbox and the Bar was pretty much full.

However we soon saw, to our amazement only one other boat already there! However, by the end of the cruising day almost all of the space was filled up.

After lunch we walked into the city centre, firstly to buy a replacement rapid charger which was also left behind at the hotel, and then for Christine to get Andrew' advice regarding a replacement for her aging iPad, which like others of us is gradually slowing down. After looking in PCWorld at the choice between another iPad and an Android or other alternative, she was not totally convinced but the consensus was that another Apple was possibly he way to go. However, the choice here was not straightforward. As a result we went on to New Street and the Apple Store, housed in a cavernous space once a major bank building. Here she found more in depth help from a salesman and also that there was a newer model more suited to her needs and budget. After a short adjournment to debate the issues, she soon returned and found the same salesman to complete a purchase. However, we then went back to PCWorld for a wireless keyboard.

Back at the boat it took her and Andrew some little while to sort how to start up and transfer stuff from the old tablet.

9.32 Miles - 0 Locks

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