Saturday, 29 July 2017

Across Birmingham.

Saturday 29th July 2017 at The Dudley Black Country Museum.
M had been a trifle uneasy about  being moored under a pedestrian bridge in the middle of Birmingham; however, we passed a peaceful night, no doubt the heavy rain kept the yobbos at bay.
A sunny morning dawned so we ran the washing machine and then pegged out the washing before going out for a stroll.
The east end of Gas Street Basin is very buzzy and pleasant now. What a contrast from the same view in the 1970s!
The steps on the right brought happy memories for R as it was here that we all disembarked from a hire boat on Charles' stag night.

This is the night club where we spent the evening with a scantily clad Charles dancing in the window on the right and attracting all the hen parties to join us!
In the centre of Birmingham is this marvellous life-sized gilded trio. Unfortunately, because of the construction work we could not see who they are supposed to represent. R remarked that it was strange that the gilt had not yet been nicked!
There was a huge amount of construction going on all around. We were not sure that all of the new buildings sat comfortably with the old. Some of the architectural styles made strange bedfellows.
We found a breakfast boat! Another treat, we had a super breakfast with a lovely view of one of the floral bridges.
We eventually "let go" at around 2:00pm and set off west in the direction of Wolverhampton. There are two ways to cross Birmingham east to west, Brindley's original wiggly "contour" canal, which was originally 22.5 miles long, and Telford's later "New Main Line" that goes in a direct straight line and is only 15 miles long. In places, you can still see where Brindley's original canal crosses the New Main Line, crossed by a graceful, and rather colourful, bridge. As you can see, the local graffiti artists have decorated it in tasteful style (not!).
Further along, we turned on to Brindley's original line and went up three locks, as this part is higher than the New Line. We had enthusiastic help for the first two locks.
MM got stuck in the pound between the second and third lock as the "bottom was too close to the top". Luckily, there was a trip boat coming down the third lock and so he let some more water in - just enough to float MM.
Above the third lock was a sad sight, the burnt out remains of a reconstructed toll house, which had been targeted by hooligans. How dispiriting for the C&RT, who try so hard to make these canals attractive and interesting.
Much of the canal goes through lovely countryside. It is hard to believe that you are right in the middle of a big city!
But then we came upon the M5, which straddles the canal for about a mile and a half. Nothing grows under this concrete carbuncle - just scaffolding!
At one point, Brindley's old line crosses above Telford's New Line, which you can just see below, while above both runs the railway and above that the M5. A layer cake of transport - canals, then railways then roads - what next?
As we neared the end of the M5's coverage, there was a sad sight of a classic old canal bridge dwarfed by the monstrous M5.
R down the weed hatch again; this time the culprit was a pair of  jogging trousers and a bunch of plastic.
Finally, we arrived at the Dudley Black Country Museum, where paradoxically the water was crystal clear and you could see the bottom - and the fish!
Today: 9 miles, 3 locks and 3.7 hours.
Trip: 132 miles, 141 locks and 109.9 hours.

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