Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Windmill End in the sunshine

Tuesday 19th September; Black Country Living Museum to Windmill End

When we awoke the rain was gone and it was foggy outside.  I thought a photo into the little basin where the old boats moor would be interesting, but the metal footbridge was across, blocking the view.  Instead I snapped one of the boats moored by the visitor centre, framed by the gauge that is used to see whether a boat is low enough to get through the tunnel.  Chuffed isn’t, unfortunately.

1 misty morning at black country museum

We trickled forward out of the secure mooring arm to moor between the two road bridges, and Dave went up to the nearest convenience store to get milk and a paper – much easier to walk from there than going back to the main gate, which is the only way out from the visitor centre side before the footbridge has been swung across.

Then we pottered gently along back the way we came the day before, trying to spot fish in the clear water.  There were several shoals of small fry and some roach, and quite a few rudd with their beautiful red fins.  Dave saw a perch and also a duck diving to the bottom where it picked up some weed before popping back up again.  By the time we crossed the Tividale aqueduct the water was opaque once more.  Soon we were at the top of the Brades locks on the Gower Branch which leads down to the Main Line.  The top two locks are in the form of a staircase.  Here Dave is just bringing Chuffed into the top lock.  Look at that blue sky!

2 top of brades locksIn a 2-lock staircase like this, the bottom gate of the top lock is also the top gate of the bottom lock. If the bottom lock is not already empty when you start to empty the top lock, you could easily have a flood, unless, as here, there is a bywash or overflow to take the excess water back down into the canal.

3 moving through staircase

Here Dave is moving between the two chambers.  The middle gate was extremely leaky.

4 leaky middle gate

After the Brades locks and the rest of the Gower branch – new waters for us – we turned left onto the Main Line, and then left again into the Netherton Tunnel branch.  We went underneath the Tividale aqueduct we had crossed a little while before and entered the tunnel.

6 under tividale aqueduct

The little cottages on the right have been done up and have canal associated names.  One is ‘Lock-keeper’s Cottage’, which is odd, as the nearest locks are quite some distance away.  It took us 32 minutes to transit the tunnel, with just one boat to pass on the way.  It was very wet in places and we were glad of the brolly!

At Windmill End we had the pick of the moorings, apart from the Boshboil Arm which already had a boat moored up.  Meg was delighted.  It must be one of her favourite spots on the system.  We had some lunch then took her for a walk around the nature reserves, over the tunnel and up the spoil heap behind the Cobb Engine House.

7 cobb engine house

8 top of a spoil heap probably

The second picture looks towards a lake and whatever lies between Halesowen and Netherton.  Rain has eroded the edge and the sides are quite steep, dropping down to the level of the engine house.  We chose a proper path though. 

9 engine house  12 other side of engine house

Opposite ends of the Engine House

The engine was used to pump water from the mines below.  Our way back to the boat took us to the bridge closest to the southern portal of the tunnel where a boat had chosen to moor.

13 tunnel south portal

Then we walked down the east side of the canal so I could take a photo of the iron bridges at the junction of the Dudley No 2 canal, the arm to Halesowen and the Boshboil Arm

14 windmill end junction

and then our lovely mooring.  It was fabulous in the warm sunshine, just perfect for a game of ball.

15 moored at windmill end

In the early evening we walked to Ma Pardoe’s, aka the Old Swan, for a beer.

About 5 miles, 3 locks, Netherton tunnel.

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