Thursday 10th August; Birmingham to Coseley
No rushing this morning; we were up late and by the time I had disposed of the rubbish and got the paper we finally left at 10.15. The sun was shining which was a real bonus after the last couple of days.
The towpath was being repaired at one point; they seem to lay asphalt first, then come along later, spread liquid tar on it and pour gravel over the top.
There was no sign of any roller, and they didn’t close the towpath. There were just notices warning dog walkers of wet tar.
There wasn’t much else of interest to see. There were a couple of cormorants on the Smethwick pumping station chimney;
and we snapped some of the usual landmarks - the rural-looking approach to Galton Tunnel
and the Stewart Aqueduct which carries the Wolverhampton Level above the Main Line and below the M5.
There were stunning ripple reflections under the motorway deck. Unfortunately they look more like smoke.
We haven’t ‘done’ the Gower Branch and Brades Hall locks yet. We missed our opportunity again.
We really wished we had gone that way as we approached Factory Locks at Tipton. There was a queue of two boats at the bottom lock. We hung back, not sure what was going on as the boats were both in strange positions. A hire boat, first-timers, had pulled in so close behind the first boat that she got stuck trying to get out. But all ok in the end.
She was single-handing so I went along to help. And my senior moment occurred. I went ahead to start emptying the next lock, failing to spot that the top gate was open. By the time I realised, I had half-emptied the next pound. Idiot!! As the single-hander was going into the second lock, the hire crew were still sitting on their boat. I had to go and suggest they might like to start locking up too …..
They were a bit slow; having come up from Alvechurch, it was their first lock. I was busy helping the single-hander, but they were ok. A boat started coming down as the first one left, and then another arrived, the trip boat from Dudley Tunnel. Space is tight in the top pound, but there were no problems passing. Eventually we got to the top.
Tired and hungry, we cruised on to Coseley where we moored between the footbridge (which seems to be blocked) and the tunnel.
After a very late lunch, Dave and Meg discovered the way to the shops up and over the tunnel. The view from the top is rather good. The hazy blue hills on the horizon are actually covered with the buildings of Birmingham.
I felt I had to go up to see the view. It was worth the effort of all those steps! As I returned to the boat I noticed mats of weeds floating down from the tunnel. Something to watch out for tomorrow!
Dave was down the weed hatch, pulling a load of plastic and weed off the propeller. Later on he picked a punnet of fabulous large and sweet blackberries.
9 miles, 3 locks, Galton tunnel.