Sunday 17th June; into Birmingham
Pip (NB Oleanna) suggested I look in ‘Comments awaiting moderation’ on Blogger for my missing comments. Result! I had no idea that was a thing– thanks Pip! So if you sent a comment and thought I was ignoring you, I do apologise – it should be published now.
We had the long trek into Birmingham planned for today, so when we woke at 7 we didn’t linger – though we didn’t forgo breakfast, not likely! and were on our way by 8. It wasn’t raining, but was jolly cold and we were back to long trousers and fleeces. The wild roses didn’t seem to mind.
The long lines of moored boats at Waring’s Green and Earlswood slowed us down rather. The canal feeder snaking across the fields from the Earlswood Lakes is used for moorings.
As we passed the newly built settlement around Dickens Heath and bridges 11 to 13 the dog walkers and runners were out and about. We walked up to the new village centre and shop on our last time here and found the place weirdly bland and soulless. But although they mostly seem to take no interest in the canal, someone has planted a small-flowered double rose, cascading down over the water, with its sweet scent wafting through the chilly air.
By 10 we were through Shirley Drawbridge. I didn’t count the number of cars we held up, not expecting there to be many on a Sunday, but it must have been at least 12.
I always find powered lift bridges quite stressful – we have had two fail on us, including this one. But there is now a brand new control panel and everything worked perfectly.
The bank has collapsed on the offside in the Shirley area; a large tree was brought down and there is still a lot of it in the canal. The main trunk is lying on part of the bank, now mostly underwater. It looks like a big job to get it completely cleared.
The cottage near the water point at bridge 5 has been restored. Next to it is a plaque commemorating the restoration of the towpath, which was completed in 1998. Some of the money came from Europe – yet someone (who clearly takes advantage of the towpath) doesn’t seem to appreciate their help.
We were through the guillotine stop lock (which nowadays stops nothing, certainly not the graffiti writers)
and round King’s Norton Junction by midday.
It’s not a particularly exciting stretch of canal into Birmingham. We really fancied a bacon sandwich but the ‘Barge-thru’ was shut as it’s Sunday. The undergrowth has been cut back a bit, so we could have stopped, but no point today.
The railway line follows the canal through Bourneville, where the station is painted in Cadbury purple. The old offside visitor moorings now seem to be a depot for CRT workboats and dredgers. ‘Dignity’ is rather an odd name for a work boat, don’t you think?
We were pleased to find the Selly Oak moorings free so we could stop for some lunch – but first it was a trip to the big Sainsbury’s as we had no bread and were running out of other things too. There is a Halfords there too, where Red-ox paint is half the price at B&Q.
The work at Edgbaston tunnel to widen the towpath has been completed and the tunnel is well lit inside. It caused a lot of fuss before it was done, with some people feeling it should have been left as originally built, with room for two boats to pass and a narrow towpath. It certainly looks more comfortable now for pedestrians, though it’s still wet at the Birmingham end. Do you think cyclists will take heed of the notice?
We tied up opposite the Arena near Sheepcote Street bridge to start with. We set off to walk Meg up the towpath and soon discovered that not only does the pub at the wharf have a big screen outside for the World Cup, but there was a space on the 14 day moorings right outside. So back we went to move Chuffed. We went a little further up the Main Line to the Monument Street Basin bridge, where there is a little basin very handy for turning, and came back to moor just before the wharf.
A handy place to wind.
Meg got a trip to the park to play ball before Dave went to check out the footy viewing facilities. Three screens – upstairs, downstairs and outside too. We ate in the Handmade Burger Co which we have been to before. Then it rained again. Dave went for a pint and a bit of football, but I stayed on board.
15½ miles, Shirley Drawbridge, 3 canals (North Stratford, Worcester and Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line).