Sunday 17th September; Birmingham to Titford Pool
We were up bright and (quite) early and after I had nipped back to the Spar for the paper we were off before 9 – with woolly hats, fleeces and gloves in the cold wind. By the time we turned off the Main Line and arrived at Smethwick Locks the sun was coming out and the temperature rose. Last time we came this way, a large area above the offside of the bottom lock was being demolished and cleared; now housing is springing up. Dave turned into the Engine Arm as I closed up the top lock
and as soon as I got this pic of him taking Chuffed across the aqueduct over the Main Line I had to run to get aboard before he made the wide turn towards the facilities block.
We winded, emptied a cassette in the excellently maintained sluice and disposed of rubbish and recycling (bins properly used for once, as there are permanent secure moorings here). There isn’t a dedicated water point for visitors – you use one on a permanent mooring and run your hose across to the visitor mooring. They have a hose you can borrow if you need it and there are showers and a washing machine. The water flow is very good.
That BT tower is visible from all sorts of places including the Engine Arm.
It was getting quite warm as we approached the turn back over the aqueduct when suddenly we lost steering. Dave just nursed us into the aqueduct where we tied up and stopped for another trip down the weed hatch. Some thick blue plastic and part of one of those woven nylon sacks, into which, conveniently, I could stuff the blue plastic.
We made our way along to the Spon Lane junction through Summit Tunnel. If you ignore the industry, hidden way up behind the trees on the offside, it feels quite rural.
You approach the junction alongside and underneath the M5. With its little split bridge, you could imagine the top Spon Lane lock was on the Stratford canal ……. if you focused very narrowly.
As you cruise over the Stewart aqueduct, it is difficult to get a picture looking along the Main Line because of the massive pillars holding up the motorway.
The motorway continues above you on the way to Oldbury Junction. Long stretches are festooned with scaffolding. As it’s Sunday, no work was going on, unlike the housing development where work had been continuing apace.
Almost immediately we were at the foot of the Oldbury locks, by the stinking waters of the old tar wharf. I didn’t take photos of our ascent – I’ll take some tomorrow on the way back. The locks were all in our favour, but the bottom gates especially were very heavy. We arrived at the moorings opposite Langley Maltings in warm sunshine and tied up for lunch.
From this distance it looked like posh apartments, but look closer and you see the bricked-up windows and missing slates from the roofs.
Before we moved on we washed and polished the starboard side of the boat. Then we went on to the end of the canal and turned after the last bridge. We didn’t want to go any further as we were on our own and had no idea how deep it was. We have heard that the mud in the pool is so deep you can’t use your pole to free yourself if you get stuck – you need a companion to tow you out. (Though later Dave tested the depth on the cut to the left and it was fine).
There is a sculpture near the bridge which I find rather creepy. It reminds me of the first casualty in Jaws.
We moored again at the Maltings, this time a bit further from the road bridge as what sounded like a stone crusher had started up as we washed the boat. While the sun was out we went back to walk around Titford Pool, which Meg enjoyed though we found the noise from the M5 rather intrusive.
We were glad we hadn’t moored nearer to the Pool as the traffic noise was awful. It started to rain on our way back, and we had to shelter beneath a bridge for a while before getting back to Chuffed just before the rain really set in for the evening.
About 6 miles, 9 locks