Friday 20 October 2023


Today's Canal : Worcester and Birmingham

It had rained substantially overnight and we could see that the level of the canal had definitely risen. This stretch is part of the very long pound that forms the Birmingham Level, so changes in level involve a lot of water!

At first it was still raining heavily but by mid morning it cleared enough to persuade Mike to make a start. It was not far to the entrance to Wast Hill Tunnel - at least we should be just about dry there - little did we know.

All of the channels that drain surface water into the canal were running at max - some were so strong that they pushed the boat sideways even  more than a strong bywash. Others were doing their best to fill the canal to capacity.

We did not notice it at first, but as soon as we were in the tunnel it was obvious that we were going much slower than usual. After about four minutes another boat came into the tunnel behind us.

Juts before the mid point we still could not see the other end - a bit of a surprise as the tunnel is dead straight. However, it soon became apparent that there was a deluge coming down one of the ventilation shafts which was blocking the view. It was so strong that it covered the whole width of the tunnel and so we could not avoid it. Mike was very wet! About 400m from the far end another deluge, if anything even stronger. It was quite some physical sensation being hosed down so effectively, even if for just a few seconds. We cannot recall any other tunnel being anywhere near as wet as these two shafts.

We emerged 32 minutes later and the drain at the southern portal was equally fast flowing and we could see more clearly that there was a definite flow northwards. (That is not the other end of the tunnel, but the head light of the following boat)

The rain had now returned but Mike decided that as his trousers were already wet, he would continue for a while. In fact, the rain soon eased off and was only a light drizzle for the rest of the morning - at least until just as we eventually decided to moor.

There was not enough room for us at Withybed mooring (the towpath in this section is generally not very good for mooring at will) and it was a bit disappointing that the same proved to be the case at the net mooring just before the bridge at Alvechurch. Fortunately we remembered that there is a very short section designated as 2 days, just opposite the Marina base - most is No Mooring - and to our surprise it was entirely empty.

As Mike was tying up, a chap from the marina opposite called to Christine to tell us that the canal was blocked just ahead with a landslip an tree fall. As soon as we could we checked the Stoppage Notices and less than an hour ago CaRT gave out exactly that with, of course, no estimate at this stage of how long we are likely to be delayed. It had also bee announced that the Tardebigge flight was considered not safe to use with the risk that boats descending might flood the towpath, so it too was closed. So it looks pretty definite that we will not be progressing further today. Indeed, if the tree is substantial it can take a day or so to celar and if the landslip has blocked the canal then it is not looking good for a while. In addition, the weather forecast now shows rain every day until the end of the month! Even collecting the car from Droitwich is hampered with flood closing the rail line!

Time to light the stove.

5.8 Miles - 0 Locks

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