Sunday, 9 October 2016

Back to Perry Barr and not a moving boat to be seen

Thursday 6th October; Anglesea basin to Perry Barr top lock 

It’s getting chillier in the mornings but I suppose that’s autumn for you.  ‘Sunny spells’ the met office would have called today, and it was lovely when that happened; if you were in the shade though, or the cloud came over, it was woolly hat time and no mistake.

On our way to Catshill junction we passed this boat which is used by a school and featured in the canal press this summer.

1 school boat anglesey branch

Once on the Daw End branch we wound our way around to Longwood Junction and the top of Rushall locks.  There must be millions of these engineering bricks along the canals in this area – how long must it have taken to lay them all?  And how long will it take to repair all the damaged bits?

2 millions of bricks

At Longwood junction we saw two well-known boats – Wand’ring Bark and the Jam Butty.

4 wandrin bark and jam butty

There were two boards displayed by the facilities block with interesting distance info on them.

5 distances  6 distances

The top two locks were the ones having new gates fitted during the recent stoppage.

7 new gates

We tried to moor near Sutton Road bridge for lunch, as we needed some milk, but the edges were either clogged with weed like this

9 very weedy

or too shallow, so Dave hovered in the bridge hole while I went up to the shop.  Then we were very naughty and stopped on the next lock landing while we had lunch, in the near-certainty that we would not be disturbed.  There was just a little boy with his Nan, wanting to know how locks worked.  He was so pleased to be able to help with the gates that he gave me a present – a lovely shiny conker from the bagful they had collected.  I love conkers so I was very pleased.

Meg enjoyed running between the locks in the sunshine carrying a silly bit of twig.  Picture by Dave.

11a meg helps between locks

This flight had a kind of pawl catch I had not seen before.  (For non-boaty readers, this is the catch that holds the paddle open so that the lock can fill or empty).  I was nonplussed to start with as the catch did not align with the vertical toothed rack.  Instead it engages with the cog that turns when you wind the windlass.  It only took me one (whole) lock to work it out …..

10 different kind of pawl catch

On one of the locks I had a bit of a problem with the bottom gates.  They just would not stay open!  There was no point in Dave climbing up to help, as then there would be no-one to bring the boat out.  So he passed me up the long boat pole, and I held one gate open with my legs and pushed and held the other one open with the pole.  It must have looked rather strange, as I got a very odd look from a lady in a floaty dress walking her dog.  She looked far too delicate to ask for assistance.  Nearer the bottom some of the water levels were pretty low too, as you can see from the marks on the lock wall.

11 water levels very low

We reached Rushall junction, passing under the M6 which had some workmen on the hard shoulder.

12 worker on the M6

Then we were back on the Tame Valley canal with its deep cuttings and high embankments.  Chimney bridge was presumably named after its chimney-like pillars.

14 chimney bridge

From the embankments we could see right across to Birmingham and the Post Office tower.

15 post office tower in distance

We moored for the night above the top of Perry Barr locks, where we were some time last week.  Shortly before we stopped we passed a designated CRT Winter Mooring.  There is a path all along the offside, but it is completely overshadowed by trees and much more gloomy than the photo makes it appear.  The path is muddy too.  Not a place I would really want to spend the night, let alone five months.

16 winter mooring here - no thanks

Dave took Meg for a good long walk and I made a pie for tea.

11and a half miles, 9 locks

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