We motored to Alverchurch (two miles). We’d considered staying there for a few days, but arrived to find that there were major engineering works taking place on the railway line beside the canal and the normally quiet village was a hub of noise and activity. After a walk around the village we returned to the peaceful mooring at Hopwood where we’d stayed the last two nights.
Very foggy first thing but it broke up quickly giving another warm sunny day. Took Max for a walk back to the tunnel entrance. The small white dot in the tunnel is the headlight of a boat approaching.
No motoring today. Wash Day!
There are lots of buzzards in the area and we spotted these two perched about six hundred yards away, which I took with my camera on full zoom .
We left Gas Street today after 11 enjoyable days in the area and headed out along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal towards Selly Oak where we replenished food stocks at Sainsburys and motored on past Bournville. It took enormous will power to resist the temptation to stop at Cadbury’s for chocolate supplies at discounted prices.
We stopped briefly at King’s Norton to admire the historic green, surrounded by the church, the old grammar school and the medieval merchant venturer’s hall .
We later travelled through Wast Halls Tunnel, one of the longest on the canals at 2726 yards. Passage took half an hour and we moored up just south of there for the night, near the village of Hopwood.
A trip to Birmingham wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Jewellery Quarter and the museum there. We spent a couple of hours at the museum, hearing how the building had effectively been mothballed for years before Birmingham Council discovered that that the occupiers had simply locked the door and walked away when their lease expired in 1981, leaving literally everything behind except the silver and gold!
We caught a bus to Tat Bank and went to explore the Titford Canal and the pump house there which is now the headquarters of the BCN Society. There are moorings there with electric hook up available and we were advised that they have visitor moorings where it would be possible to stay for up to two weeks at no charge – well worth remembering for the future.
In the evening we went to see The Book Thief which we really enjoyed; a nice film about people and relationships.
Gloriously sunny and warm today. We let the stove go out for the first time in months and used our ‘sweep’s brush’ on the chimney. After this quick burst of activity we took it easy for the rest of the day.
We’d moored overnight at Brompton Junction, at the bottom of the three Spon Lane Locks, at West Bromwich. This junction is at the start of a kind of siding as it is possible to rejoins Brindley’s canal from Telford’s new line or carry straight on and through the three Smethick Locks and back onto the new line. As the Smethick Locks are closed as part of the winter stoppages we headed off on foot along Brindley’s canal and towards the Titford Canal.
Our walk took us under the M5. Two hundred years between the two different ‘motorways’. It was quite atmospheric under the enormous columns supporting the modern motorway above us.
After our walk, we cast off and headed for the Smethick Pumping Station and canal museum which was holding its bi-monthly open day today. This building sits in between the old and main line canals and was designed to pump water up to the old line to replenish water for boaters using the locks on Brindley’s canal.
Here we learnt that the average navvy could dig out enough soil in a day to fill a double decker bus and this was something they did day after day. Burke & Hare were apparently navvies who found it more lucrative to become body snatchers.
From the pump house we walked along the higher canal and walked along the Engine Arm which crosses the new line at high level and which provides a safe haven for a number of residential narrowboats. The aqueduct over the new line has a nice cast iron fence in which you can see the rope marks left from the horse drawn days of boating.
We left here after lunch and returned to Gas Street basin and this is the view out of our cabin window.