Friday 17 September 2021

Pelsall Junction

 Today's Canal - Wrley and Essington

We were promised a grey day, all day, but although it started that way we did have a good number of warm, sunny spells that were very pleasant.

We set off to complete the short distance to return to Catshill Junction where we came up a few days ago. Many of the junctions on the BCN have the remains of stops, or narrows and at Catshill there is one on each of the canals, Daw End and W and E. They were generally not locks but places to collect tolls and to inspect documentation.

A few hundred metres on from the junction we arrived at the site of the Brownhills Festival that is being held this coming weekend as part of the campaign to maintain awareness of the Hatherton and Lichfield Restoration projects. Each of these would make a tremendous difference to the use2 of the northern BCN canals such as those we have travelled the past few days without so far seeing a single moving boat.

Fortunately we were still able to pull in at the service block, even if a couple of work boats had left slightly less than our length! Whilst Mike did all the usual servicing, Christine popped across the road to a very convenient Tesco supermarket. When she returned and was stowing everything away, Mike had a lengthy conversation with a chap from CaRT who will be on duty on their stand tomorrow. His normal job is looking after the Rushall Canal, everything from water management to greasing lock mechanisms. He only joined CaRT a few months ago after working fro decades in local industry. He thought that it was a job that would give much more satisfaction and customer contact, somewhere that he could make a difference.

As we sett off again we could see the arm that made this once a busy place - a transhipment base with the LMS Railway. That line crosses the canal a little further on - a different line crosses much closer. The arm, now used for permanent moorings, is about its original and the track of the long since abandoned railway is still visible, the transhipment base has all been built over.

And then, after not seeing a single moving boat (and only a very few moored ones) two close together came into view! We understood that they were headed for the festival.

Just under York's Bridge some piling works were underway - the bank in one or two places is beginning to rotate and will eventually fall into the canal. This piece is more heavily trafficked as it is a narrow path next to the Fingerpost pub which is also seeing some renovation.

We moored for lunch just after Pelsall Junction, the start of what remains of the Cannock Extension Canal. the area on the left is called Pelsall Wood but on the right was once a very large iron works. Nature has since reclaimed its rights!

After lunch there was a proposal to stay put for the night as this was a pleasant open space and there did not seem to be much on the rest of today's horizon. The motion was carried 2-0.

Mike did a (very) small number of minor maintenance tasks and also took a walk over the junction bridge to look at Pelsall Stop.

Here there is a toll house on one side and two cottages on the other. Although the latter look quite ordinary from the canal, on the other side they have a much more imposing appearance.

Never a dull moment on the canals: as Mike walked over the junction  ridge, a man with a small with a small dinghy in water beside his car asked for help to get the boat out onto the bank and then onto the roof rack of the car! Getting it out onto the towpath was no problem and then he asked to stand it up on end by the car. OK, so we managed that but Mike was sure that the two of them would have a disaster of they tried to lift it onto the roof of the car! (The man had come prepared with a short ladder) Luckily Mile recruited a walker passing nearby and between them they lifted it up, leaving the owner to tie it firmly down before setting off back home in nearby Bloxwich!

Later Christine also went for a walk, about half way along the Cannock Extension towards Norton canes. She took pix along the way, some of the bridges and the occasional passing cyclist!

Even later: a sunset pic.

3.2 Miles - 0 Locks

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