Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Stourbridge Canal to Merryhill shopping centre, Dudley No 1 canal

Tuesday 30th April, 2013

Stourbridge Canal to Merryhill shopping centre, Dudley No 1 canal.

Within 10 minutes of leaving our quiet, rural spot, we arrived at the bottom of the Stourbridge locks, and were into the outskirts of Stourbridge, with its associated litter in the canal.  Most of the locks were against us unfortunately, but close enough for locking ahead so we made good progress.   

We passed the derelict Stuart Crystal factory near the bottom of the flight; a passer-by told us that it is a listed building owned by the council, and he reckoned they were waiting for vandals to burn it down!  Next to it is a restored bottle kiln, housing the museum.   

In spite of the urban surroundings, there are attractive side ponds, where we saw two small coot families, a moorhen on her nest and some Canada Geese with 3 goslings on the side ponds.  One pair of locks is only a few feet apart but is not a staircase – just like Bratch locks.  

Our lunch stop was shortly after Leys junction at the top of the locks.  There are very few suitable mooring spots round here.  We found an area with enough grass for the dog’s needs, and to get the mooring stakes in, but with two burnt-out benches nearby we would not have wanted to stay overnight. 

After lunch we tackled the attractive Delph locks at the start of Dudley No 1 canal.  It is a flight of 8, all close together, and now a conservation area.  The gates are not all in the best of condition, but they have been painted and apart from the ubiquitous graffiti are very attractive.  The locks are deep and the overflows are built as waterfalls, making an impressive sight looking upwards from the top of the first lock.

Locking ahead was easy as they were so close together, so we were up quite quickly.  This is the view downhill from just above the restored stables at lock 3.

From the top of the locks it was a short cruise to our mooring for the night at Merryhill shopping centre.  We have never been through this way before and were surprised (and pleased) to see that the shopping centre itself is much lower than the canal and a fair distance away, so there is a very open aspect and with plenty of grass the mooring was very pleasant in the evening sunshine.

We strolled up to look at The Waterfront area but we are not really into trendy pubs and were not very impressed.  Neither do we go for huge shopping centres! though we did do some shopping in the Sainsbury's below the mooring.

24 locks today.

Ashwood Marina to Stourbridge Canal.

Monday 29th April, 2013 

Ashwood Marina to Stourbridge Canal.

Chuffed spent the winter at Droitwich Spa marina, and at the beginning of April we began this year’s travels.  We went down the Droitwich canals to join the Severn at Hawford Junction, and cruised the Staffs and Worcester as far as Wightwick before turning back to leave the boat at Ashwood Marina for a couple of weeks.  It is very convenient unloading your car here, but rather tedious getting the boat out, as there is nowhere to turn for a boat our size.  So, as we were moored almost at the end of the marina, we had to reverse out 400 yards, so slowly slowly did it! It was a tight squeeze to turn and point the right way down the cut; the longest boat that can turn here is 56’, and we are 55’. Luckily it was dry and sunny and not too much wind!  We set off towards Stourton Junction.

The rooms carved into the sandstone at Rocky Lock have been swamped by a landslip.  

We had an easy passage up Stourton locks, all in our favour, and moored at a delightful spot halfway to Wordsley Junction.

Dave was lucky enough to see a kingfisher as he turned at Stourton Junction, and we watched a heron flying across to the river, but apart from a few swallows as we moored there has not been much to see on the wildlife front.  

6 locks today.