Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Telford's New Main Line and a Working Narrowboat Pair.

Tuesday 1st August 2017 at Brindley Place, Birmingham.
Another lovely morning. We left early, having promised our mooring space to a hire boat which had moored up on the water point next to us last night.
The Dudley Black Country Museum is on the old Brindley Main Line and not long after we left, we turned on to Telford's New Main Line, which meant going down through three locks as Telford's canal is some 20ft lower than Brindley's.
Yesterday, we met up with this young coot that had made itself very comfortable on a discarded mattress. As we approached the top lock, we saw the same mattress had found its way to the lock - but this time without the resident coot. R removed the mattress and put it out of harm's way.
Just a few minutes later, coming out of the bottom lock, R was down the weed hatch again to clear the propellor. This time the culprit was a mass of plastic tangled up with weeds.
These concrete island in the middle of the canal were originally guaging stations where tolls were calculated and they appear alongside every junction on the canal.
M decided to walk the towpath for a while. The blackberry crop looks like being a bumper one this year. M tried them and declared them delicious. If she had thought to carry a bowl with her, we would have had blackberry crumble for supper!
MM looked beautiful in the morning sunshine.
A watery grave for a green wheelie-bin. One of the many partly submerged hazards to be avoided.
This is the point where Brindley's Old Main Line crosses above Telford's New Line, with the railway on the left and the M5 above. This time all supervised by a very haughty looking heron perched on the railing of the aqueduct!
This deep cutting is crossed by a number of bridges, but this one is unusual because it is actually a railway station platform!
Closer to the centre of Birmingham, Brindley's Old Main Line drops down to the same level as Telford's. In places, Brindley's twisting contour canal still exists. On this map, Telford's New Line runs in a straight line east west, while the twisty loops are Brindley's Old Line.
We decided to explore these two loops. The first large loop is called the Soho loop and we turned into it.
Almost immediately, we passed alongside HMP Winson Green, which looked very forbidding.
Then we crossed the New Main Line on to the shorter loop, where there is a C&RT base.
It was very overgrown and the land on both sides was just abandonned industrial sites, which could be made into a very attractive waterside housing estate!
Finally we arrived back into our mooring close to Brindley Place. Reversing the engine to back into our mooring we picked up something big on the propellor again. It was a huge mass of heavy plastic, so large that it was clear that it could not be removed up through the weed hatch so R, with M's help, got a rope under the boat and up into the weed hatch so that we could tie the rope on to the plastic and pull it out to the side of the boat. It turned out to be a complete "cratch cover"! Our biggest haul ever - 'haul' being the appropriate word, given the effort to pull it ashore.
After a quiet evening, we retired - only to be woken up at midnight by the arrival of a loaded working boat and butty, which moored up right in front of us. We thought that we had gone through a time warp or were dreaming, but it was real and a beautiful sight to see.
In the morning, we talked to the guys on baord, who are all volunteers but the cargo that they are carrying down to the Thames is real - 30 tons of coal. Wonderful to see real boats doing a real job!
It is now Wednesday morning and we are putting MM into Sherborne Wharf just around the corner and going home for the weekend - so we will be back next week.
Today: 9 miles, 3 hours and 3.9 hours.
Trip: 157 miles, 144 locks and 121.3 hours.

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