The moorings at Pelsall Common are some of the most peaceful we've used this trip, so we slept well. What's more, this morning dawned very sunny. We started the washing machine before setting off; we left at around 8.30.
It took only a little over half an hour to get to Brownhills, where we stopped at the convenient Tesco to top up the cupboards for the next few days. Setting off again, we were quickly at the first of today's junctions, Catshill Junction, where we turned left, staying on the main line of the W&E Canal. The next junction is on,y around a mile away, and isn't really a junction any more. Ogley Junction is where the W&E used to continue down many locks to Huddlesford. Nowadays there's just a short stub, but the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Trust would like to restore the link.
Turning left, as we did, took us on to the Anglesea Branch, which leads to Anglesea basin. There the canal widens to look like a lake; behind is the huge dam of the Chasewater Reservoir. We turned and moored up in the feeder arm, where you can see the water trickling into the canal, and the valve house on the top of the dam.
We had a walk around the reservoir, watched someone learning how to wakeboard while being pulled by a wire, saw some kids learning paddle boarding, and walked up to the footbridge over the M6 Toll, which runs very close by.
We had lunch on board, then set off back down the arm. You see different things going the other way, and on this occasion I spotted the briefest glimpse off to the left of the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral. Back at Catshill Junction, we turned left onto the Daw End Branch (pronounced Doe End). The turn was hard work: there's a narrow where tolls would have been taken just before the junction, which means you can't start the turn very soon; then it's tight to get round; then there's another narrow right after the junction, only it's offset.
The Daw End twists and turns, and many of the bridges are on tight S-bends, making them hard work. One I completely failed to get round -- the tiller was hard over, but the bow was still going straight on. In lots of places depth also seems to be severely lacking. In spite of going through Reas of housing and light industry, I still spotted two kingfishers.
We reached the final junction of the day, Longwood Junction, a little before 4 pm. The Daw End originally went a bit further off to the left, but that's now the Longwood Boat Club. The right hand fork is the Rushall Canal. We stopped on the water point and filled the tank to the brim, and then pulled back onto the visitor moorings.
13 miles, 0 locks. (229 miles, 177 locks)