Thursday, 19 June 2014

Into Birmingham and out again

We've now travelled up the Grand Union Canal into Birmingham and today we set off out of Birmingham on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.  We are presently moored in Alvechurch back in Worcestershire.

Monday was a shortish day going up the five wide Knowle Locks and as far as Catherine de Barnes which is reckoned to be the last safe place to moor before Birmingham.

Leo is sharing with Pas Mèche in the bottom lock of the five.  There were lots of boats here both going up and coming down.

And this is taken from the top lock looking down:

 We set off from Catherine de Barnes on Tuesday morning at 7 am and soon came into the black water strewn with rubbish bags that characterised the journey into Birmingham.  This was our longest day ever on the canals being nearly 35 lock-miles with two flights of six locks each and one of 13.

There are warnings about leaving your boat around Solihull and this one shows what might happen.  It had clearly been burned out and then sunk.

Here we are getting a bit closer to the city with the BT Tower visible in the distance.

After 7 miles we came to the six locks of the Camp Hill flight and we are waiting here while Pas Mèche descends the first lock.

Graffiti like this is common here.  The photo is taken at the bottom of the Camp Hill flight at Bordesley Junction where the canal to the right under the bridge goes to Salford Junction under the motorways at Spaghetti Junction.

This is art work rather  than graffiti and rather good it is too.  This sparked some discussion as to where graffiti becomes art.

A right turn here shows our way towards Birmingham.  Left there is just a short branch that ends in Typhoo Basin.  Presumably they used to load or unload tea there.

Beware the Ashted Tunnel on the Digbeth Branch seen here just below the top lock of the Ashted flight of six.  The towpath is so wide that this forces the boat over to the low side of the arch and we scratched the side rails of Leo going through.

And finally you come to the Farmers Bridge flight of 13 locks into the city.  This photo is taken near the bottom of the flight.

This is further up the flight with the canal slotted in between modern buildings.

After all the hard work it was good to find some comfortable moorings on the Oozells Street Loop close to the centre but not too noisy and with fewer people walking past us.  You can see Leo close to and Pas Mèche moored two boats in front.

We stayed a couple of nights in the city and found some different sights to see than last time we were here.

Perrott's Tower was built by Mr Perrott in 1758 supposedly to enable him to see his wife's grave some ten miles away!

And a little further from the canal basin is Edgbaston Reservoir which is a large stretch of water to find so near the middle of a large city.  It was built to supply water to the Birmingham Canal Network.

And how about this Land Rover merged with a boat to form the wheelhouse for a narrowboat.  This strange vessel was in Gas Street Basin.

We even managed a theatre trip while we were in Birmingham.  We went to the Crescent Theatre which was only a few yards from our mooring to see The House of Bernarda Alba by Lorca.  A bit batty was Ian's view but perhaps the play would repay further study to understand it better.

Today we've left the city behind following the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Alvechurch.

The route through the city is a delight.  Here we are passing the Waterbus and heading for the bridge under Gas Street.
 This is the basin at Gas Street with Worcester Bar just under the bridge.  When the Worcester and Birmingham Canal was built it was not allowed to connect with the rest of the network in Birmingham but goods were transhipped. This nonsensical arrangement was changed by Act of Parliament to allow a stop lock between the two.

The tower is the prominent campanile of Birmingham University.

Wast Hills Tunnel is a long and a pretty wet one!  It is about a mile and a half long.  You go in one side in the city and come out the other in the countryside.

Tomorrow Pas Mèche is booked in to a boatyard here to have a new rudder bearing fitted and we plan to look round Alvechurch.  We have the Tardebigge Flight of locks ahead of us, one of the longest on the system, so we'll probably leave that delight until Saturday.  The next few days will see us descending back towards the Severn Valley and ultimately to Worcester which we visited on the Severn in mid May.

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