We had a delivery of chutney last night, courtesy of Andy from Wildside. He came in and we chatted for an hour or so about our travels round the northern BCN. This morning we were up early, and set off at 7.20 straight into the top lock of the Rushall flight. It was very misty to start -- the first properly autumnal morning we've had -- but the sun soon came through.
The Rushall locks are rather nice, but the pound between locks 7 and 8 was very short of water. We were amazed to get over the cills and across the pound.
We completed the nine locks in two hours, dropping down 65 ft, then carried on to Rushall Junction where the canal meets the Tame Valley Canal. The direct route home, which was in our original plan, would be to turn left and go down the Perry Barr locks -- but we have time in hand so had decided to go into central Birmingham instead (especially as we did Perry Barr in 2011). So we turned right. Shortly afterwards, a raised section of the M6 is alongside the canal, while an aqueduct takes you over the link between the M5 and the M6.
The next section of the Tame Valley is straight and rather boring. We did the whole three and a half miles in an hour. At Tame Valley Junction we turned left onto the Walsall Canal, and headed for the Ryders Green Locks. We knew a Birmingham Canal Navigation Society explorer cruise would also be going up the locks today, and sure enough we found ourselves in the middle of the twenty or so boats. Although this meant we had to turn every lock, it was also a plus as there were various helpers up the flight, including Charley from the Braidbar boat, Felonius Mongoose. It was also good to see so many boats in the flight. There are eight locks here, taking us up 45 ft to the Birmingham Level.
Towards the top there's a firm called the Pallet Company. Goodness knows what they do.
At the top of the locks the route becomes the Wednesbury Old Canal for half a mile or so, and then we turned onto the New Main Line, the quick route into central Birmingham. This goes under the M5 is fairly spectacular fashion.
There's always plenty to see on the way along the main line, including old arms, bridges, aqueducts, and factories. Things have changed quite a bit since we were last here, not least the restoration of the Roundhouse, and the opening of the Fiddle and Bone pub just along from where we are.
We've moored up on the main line where there was plenty of space, but a few boats have arrived since we got here.
14 miles, 17 locks. (243 miles, 194 locks)