Time To Explore. 19th January

Cast Iron Roving Bridge to High Bridge, Old Main Line, BCN

The New Main Line straight

Our mooring in the city centre hadn’t been too noisy, just the comings and goings from the Arena and the Sunday morning runners pounding past. But we’ve been here long enough, time to move on and do some exploring. We currently have a plan which may change due to circumstances, so we’ll see how we do.

A Full stop would help this sign make better sence

We’d planned to explore the BCN a couple of years ago, but with temperatures soaring and a panto to design we opted out and headed for trees away from the city. Will we succeed this time? It’s winter and the temperature, at the moment, isn’t conducive to long days at the helm and may well mean we get iced in somewhere. We can take our time and keep a close eye on the weather.

The north entrance to the Soho Loop closed off

With padded trousers on we pushed off and headed north west along the New Main Line. We’ve been along this stretch a few times, but things change. Quite a lot of the graffiti has changed. Long lengths of wall have been painted black and artists and (in my opinion) none artists have made their marks. I like good graffiti and today some stuck out, the best being from Pulp Fiction with John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson pointing their guns at us as we left the city.

The Pink Panther
Pulp Fiction

As navigator around the BCN you have to keep on your toes as their are so many loops and dead ends. But I managed to keep us straight until we reached Smethwick Junction where we turned right to head up Smethwick Locks.

Smethwick Junction

Pulling in below the bottom of the three locks Mick had difficulty pulling Oleanna in. Was there something round the prop? Was the bottom too close to the top? She certainly didn’t want to do as requested, so it took a bit of back and forth. But this was just as well as I spied the bow of a boat coming into the bottom lock from above.

One coming down

I walked up and the chap was just opening up the second paddle to empty the lock, he walked back and climbed on the back of his boat, with only one gate to open at the bottom I could do this for him.

First Lock of the year

Mick brought Oleanna into the lock, our first of the year. She rose up and once I’d dropped the paddles Mick opened the gate and I walked up to the next lock leaving him to close up behind.

The sun cast long shadows, but I was glad of standing in the sunshine as out of it even my well insulated legs were getting cold. No turning down the Engine arm which crosses the New Main line here (link to Lillian’s trip down the arm) we carried straight on.

Entrance to the Engine Arm

We passed through the 103 yards of the Summit Tunnel and then the canal takes the same course as the M5 for a while.

Coming out of Summit Tunnel

The road busy overhead and covered in scaffolding. At Spon Lane Junction three locks take boats down onto the New Main Line, but we veered leftwards and continued under the motorway.

Stewarts Aqueduct

Passing over Stewart Aqueduct we were part of a criss cross of bridges. Below The new Main Line, then us on the aqueduct on the Old Main Line, the railway just ahead and soaring over the lot of us the M5.

The old bridge faring better than the M5

We continued to follow the M5 in the shade. Our route far older than the motorway overhead. Off to the left Oldbury Locks take a branch of the canal up to Titford Pools, but we continued straight on, passing a few moored boats on the off side and pulling in just short of High Bridge where there were bollards to moor to.

After tying up we stopped and had a quick check of the area. Numerous parked cars behind a fence that was bound to have gaps in it. A car sales place, loads of rubbish in amongst the trees and scrub, who knew what loitered there, possibly stuff that would be bad for a cat. Decision made Tilly would be grounded whilst we were here.

More M5

Whist we travel through urban areas we tend to have all the doors locked as a precaution. Unlocking the stern doors I was kack handed and Tilly saw a moment of opportunity and went for it! Damn!! NO sorry I’m busy! Too busy to talk to you! So much to do! She wouldn’t come, so I just followed her with the intention of a rugby tackle should the moment arise. Two crows came and shouted at her which helped, then a chap on the towpath also assisted by just existing. Time to head home! It’s just not safe enough to go to the loo round here.

It being a Sunday it was a touch too late to go to the nearby Sainsburys for a stock up shop. This did have it’s downside. We’d left the hustle and bustle of Birmingham and now found ourselves by a car dealership who blast out a local radio station for all the world to hear.

They’d close soon, it’s Sunday. 

Mick went into their reception and was told that they’d close at 5pm and the music would go off then starting again at 8.30am. That was bearable.

6pm came. It hadn’t stopped. I think we were now upto date with chart music. It continued. A phone call to them, just to check it wouldn’t be going all night. No it would stop in about an hour. 

At 7.30pm finally the thumping noise ceased, we let out a cheer. Thank goodness, but what time will it start again in the morning?

3 locks, 5.49 miles, 7 straight ons, 2 rights, 1 left, 1 escapee, 2 crows, 5hrs of constant thumping repetative music, 1 visit, 1 phone call, 2 boaters about to commit homicide, 1 bored cat, 1 roast chicken, 1 shopping list compiled, 3 coconuts, 1 Countryfile weather forecast looking promising.  

 

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