Early on Saturday morning we moved the boat to beside the Barclaycard Arena (formerly the NIA) where moorings are quieter than in the Gas Street area and where we would be closer to where our friends were staying. Thankfully the wind of yesterday had disappeared again and we woke to sunny skies.
We’ve had three fun days being tourists in Birmingham which has changed quite a bit since we were last here last year.
The tram system is now finished and you have to look left and right before passing streets that we’d become accustomed to being pedestrian only. Paradise Square has disappeared for the time being behind huge hoardings while the old library opened by Harold Wilson in 1974 is demolished. This is a vast development site and appears to be causing traffic chaos as drivers’ Satnavs are trying to take them down roads that are currently blocked off.
We’ve eaten well and drunk plenty while we’ve been out on the cut and now the time has come to try to tighten our belts again, and resume a more frugal lifestyle and head back to Chester! We’re not going to be hanging around though and hope to be back on our mooring before Friday.
Today we were up early and away by 7.45am. The skies were cloudless and the forecast was for a warm day with possible thunderstorms later in the day.
We travelled along the long and straight Main Line before arriving at Tipton Locks where we climbed up through the three narrow locks before joining the Wolverhampton Level, with the hot sun on our backs. Train lines accompanied us for much of the way.
We arrived into Wolverhampton at lunchtime and as there were boats heading up through the locks towards us we decided to carry on down the locks. There are 21 locks here over a distance of approx 1.5 miles.
Even though most of the locks were set in our favour, they were leaking so badly, that if the top gates had been closed by boats coming up, we had to top them up a foot with water or so before we could enter.
We were about halfway down the flight when it started to rain and while it was heavy, it was a short lived shower thankfully and the sun soon came out again helping us to dry out.
We reached the bottom of the flight by 3.30 pm and carried on towards Autherley Junction, while the skies overhead grew blacker by the minute. We turned onto the Shropshire Union Canal and passed through the Autherley Stop Lock, stopping to empty out our rubbish and pick up some chilled medication before motoring on to the visitor moorings just north of Bridge 4. We were just about to moor up when the heavens opened so we got soaked all over again while we made the boat secure. We’ve travelled 17.5 miles and passed through 24 locks today.
A dramatic thunder storm and torrential rain raged for about an hour and for a while the bangs and almost simultaneous flashes frightened Max who cowered at our feet.
By 6.30pm the sun was shining again helping to dry our wet clothing.