Saturday 23 September 2023

Wending to Wales: Day 27

We had an undisturbed night opposite the Titford Pump House, and all the locals seemed pleased to see a boat.  This morning dawned sunny and still.

We were ready to go just before 8, but as I knew most of the pounds between the locks were low yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to walk down to see what the levels were like.  The pound a couple of locks down was about two feet low, so I ran some water down.  Then the pound between locks 4 and 5 was to all intents and purposes empty.

I ran water down all the way to that pound, but because they’re quite small it didn’t take long to get them reasonably full.  We got into the top lock, and while I was down opened the gates of the next couple of locks one of the residential boaters came to speak to Adrian, to ask if we wanted a brass plaque to mark navigating the Titford Pools.  The BCNS now charges £7.50 for them rather than giving them out for nothing, but we were happy to pay and topped it up with a donation.  I also had a look in the meeting room in the Pump House.

Once we were under way, things went smoothly down the locks.  Strangely, though, all the chambers are right up against the towpath, which seems unusual.

We were both a bit worried about Lock 5, which is where we got stuck on something as we tried to get in yesterday.  We thought it might be worse today, as going downhill the stern would also have to get over the obstruction.  Sure enough, when the lock was empty, the boat came to a halt halfway out the lock.  I had to open both top paddles to provide enough water to flush us out.

We turned right out of Oldbury Junction onto the Old Main Line.  The next major landmark is the Steward Aqueduct, which takes it over the New Main Line, which itself has the columns of the motorway down the middle.

Lots of the M5 still has huge amounts of scaffolding underneath it, but some of it is being removed.  We went under a chap on a platform who was unbolting things.  He waved.

There’s a riot of bridges before the Summit Tunnel, then we passed the Smethwick Pump House.

At Smethwick Locks, the little octagonal building has been rebuilt again.  The top and bottom locks were full, but the middle one was empty.

As we came out of Smethwick Junction, and boat was just turning in from the Birmingham direction.  They said the city centre was pretty empty if boats.  The new housing on the island formed by the Icknield Port Loop is gradually getting closer to the main line.  It’s distinctly modern, and we rather like it.

We turned down the Oozells Loop, meeting a trip boat almost immediately, in the hole our favourite mooring would be free.  However there were already three boats there and no room for us  so we came out and reversed up the main line to a space.

We went into Brindley Place for lunch and to do some shopping, then later in the afternoon we walked into town and went to see Ozzy the Bull at Grand Central.  We just missed him last time we were here.

Helen and Andy coming to dinner, so we are guaranteed a good evening.

6 miles, 9 locks.  (315 miles, 218 locks)

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