Top O’ The Map. 28th January

Pelsall Junction to Brownhills Colliery Basins to Brownhills Services

Tilly just in the sun

Another beautiful morning despite the wind. We wrapped up warmly and pushed off backwards to the junction. Here Oleanna was turned to face almost due north and onto the Cannock Extension Canal.

What looks like two houses made into one
New or converted?

The cottage at the first bridge looks like it was once two houses, 211 and 212 plaques on the wall. The railings also have a gap in them, presumably where a front door used to be. Across the way is what looks like a new build with a Rayburn and gym on view to the canal.

Straight, then straight some more

The Cannock Extension, well what is left of it is straight and keeps on going straight until it reaches the A5 and M6 Toll. This is now the limit of navigation, but the canal used to turn west and continue up to Cannock Chase to a colliery, it is known locally as Top O’ The Map.

Local wild life
The old side slipway

Today we saw more boats than we’ve seen in weeks. Moorings fill the end of the canal. Norton Canes Boat builders used to be based here before moving to Glascote. You can still see where boats used to be launched sideways into the cut, now parking for moorers.

Winding hole

We pootled up to the winding hole where a sign suggests that 70ft boats should put their stern in towards the dry dock, lift the planks against the door and wind without using their engine. We put Oleanna’s stern in and winded, but using a touch of our engine and bow thruster to help against the breeze.

Tilly would have loved this stretch plenty of trees, but we suspect it would have been hard to get into the side.

Back to the junction

Back at the junction we turned left eastwards. Passing The Fingerpost Pub, under the bridge we could see the big hole that the car accident had left. Good job the car stopped when it did!

That’s a big hole

We now wound our way along past houses and light industry. Evidence of old arms scarce now they have been built over.


Some places were more rural, Mick spied two huge deer in amongst the trees, they were the size of donkeys.

Brownhill Services

The services at Brownhills were clean and very warm. We topped up the water tank and decided what to do. There are plenty of bollards to moor to just outside Tescos, across the way was far more cat friendly. We could moor up, go shopping then move across to moor.

Birdies lined up against the wind

But even if we found somewhere deep enough Tilly still wouldn’t be allowed out as the canal along the next stretch was covered in scummy stuff, making the surface look solid to a cat. With plenty of bird life floating along it was too risky to let her out. So we pulled up infront of another boat. Well we tried to, but things under the scummy surface made this hard.

The chap from the boat behind came out to see if he could lend a hand. We managed to get close enough in the end, perhaps just sitting on the bottom. The chap gave us the basic lie of the land and warned us that the nearest gate into the services has got a none C&RT padlock on it, but you could still get in round the other side. Presumably this is why his stern is tied on the other side of the railings.

Goaty mountain cheese from Vienna

After some of the smelly goats cheese for lunch we headed to Tesco to do a little shop. This ended up being a touch bigger than planned as they had a special offer on barbecue briquettes. Well we had to stock up.

I know it’s still January

0 locks, 4.42 miles, 1 mile one way, 1 mile back again, 1 wind, 1 reverse, 2 straight ons, 1 chilly blowy day, 1 full water tank, 1 bag charcoal, 1 smelly cheese, 0 shore leave, 1 shallow mooring.

5 thoughts on “Top O’ The Map. 28th January

  1. Mike Todd

    Andy Tidy’s recent vlogs, exploring the former canals around here, are definitely worth taking the time to plough through – there is quiet a lot of interesting detail in them.


  2. Anonymous

    I remember going to the end and winding at Norton Canes. Also, if my memory is accurate there is a large stainless steel statue commemorating the local mining history in the middle of the big roundabout at Brownhills?

    Tom & Jan



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