Wednesday 15 September 2021


 Today's Canals - Tame Valley, Rushall

After yesterday's late 'drama' (almost as good as Silent Witness that we watched at 9!) we were in no mood for an early start. Mike had come nowhere near completing yesterday's blog so that was the first priority. Whilst he was doing that, Christine followed the advice of one of the Men in Blue last night who told her about a useful nearby Co-Op. She managed enough that should keep us going until the weekend.

We then moved the boat across to the opposite bank to use the services. Whilst we managed what we wanted to do, the elsan unit was not a salubrious experience - it is leaking badly and needs some urgent attention, Given the number (or lack) of boats coming this way, it may be well down the priority list!

It was almost 11 by the time we finally set off properly. There were some straight and wide sections to Rushall Junction. The canal provides a real green corridor once more.

Although quite a bit of today's cruise was well above roof top level on huge embankments, this first part was an equally deep cutting. As a result there are some very high level bridges.

And even higher ones (Chimney Bridge).

Scott Bridge carries a significant A road that is a local éxpressway. An extensive renovation project is underway bout the crew are well organised to open up the navigation as soon as a boat is spied kin te distance. So, apart from slowing to tick over we were not at all delayed.

We are not sure what the graffiti artist was trying to suggest on this wall underneath part of the M5-M6 junction but it looks as if someone thinks that Magic Mushrooms are not in the same league as mere placebos. Much more complicated! But is that after having taken some?

At Rushall Junction we turned right onto the Rushall Canal that will take us up nine locks to Longwood Junction. 

Another set of work boats were arranged so that a channel was left to one side for boats to pass without having to distract the team from their task of repairing part of the towpath with new piling.

It was a little early but we stopped just below the locks for a lunch break. The first of the morning was a bit grey but nevertheless much warmer (and drier!) By now much pleasanter sunshine had arrived and stayed with us for the rest of the afternoon.

The first seven of the nine locks are grouped  closely together so we made steady progress. Initially the flight is in open country but gradually the edge of Daisy Bank (?) starts to encroach.

Another team were at work, painting Birmingham Road Bridge. They too had seen us coming and moved their pontoon out of the way, well ahead of our arrival. This meant that they could at least lend a hand with the lock gates! It looked as if they had only recently started on this bridge - a ;little later we would see the finished result on another similar bridge.

Lock 3 is the top of the main set of locks. It has a lock cottage - slightly different in design from most and at least this one is still in use as a private residence. Leaving the lock we now had well over a mile of straight canal. We were making slow progress - the water level was well down on recent times (judging by the weed hanging from the brambles that dip down into the water) but it felt that there was more. At one of the last couple of locks Mike thought that we had picked up something on the prop but it did then seem to disappear. We now began to suspect a need to visit the weed hatch but coming to the bank was nit an option - the result of clear water is that you can see how shallow it is - so we had to wait until the next bridge hole where we could over and drift through.

It took some time to remove this pile of assorted detritus - nothing special but more dropped away as Mike hacked at it. We think that we removed all that was there but our hope of being able to see the prop in this clear water was frustrated by the quantity of duck weed that had collected in the access hatch. Whilst getting rid of this unnecessary cargo was a good thing, we still made very slow progress up to the final two locks.

Here is the newly painted bridge that we referred to earlier.

At the top lock we had a feeling of deja vu when one of the bottom gates refused to open fully. Would we have to call the out of hours team for a second evening in succession? We would be popular! However, by gently manoeuvring the boat at an angle into the lock we squeezed our way in and thankfully closed the gates behind us.

Longwood Junction, immediately above the top lock, was where Hay Head Branch once linked in. The first part of it is now used by Longwood Boat Club for moorings. This was, before the arrival of the Rushall Canal, the terminal part of the Daw End Canal (which we will be navigating tomorrow) and serviced the limestone mines around Hay Head. Only the first part was rescued by enthusiasts in the 1960s.

We moored just above the locks when we arrived here late afternoon in a hail storm three years ago. Christine has memories of being the target of too much attention from the local youth so she was keen to moor a little further on. Nothing is marked but we did manage to come alongside close enough after a few minutes - with a very pleasant warm and sunny evening to look at outside.

5.6 Miles - 9 Locks

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