Dudley Port Basin to New Inns Road Bridge, BCN Titford Canal
Four years ago we had an early start, my brother Andrew and family were visiting and the four of us drove to Burton Joyce outside Nottingham to pick up a small bundle of black and white fur. Gosh Tilly was small. After a few hours of hiding behind the sofa she ventured out, once my brothers noisy family had left!
Since then she has become a dab paw at travelling the canals passing through thousands of locks and travelling the full length of the country (well navigable bits) by boat. She still has to reach the furthest east we can get, so the breadth is still to conquer. To celebrate her fourth anniversary she had to endure still having a wet neck from the flea treatment and being stuck in doors all day, not one tree climbed! Later on in the day I was allowed to put her collar back on, no more silent cat appearing at our heels as if by magic.
Shortly after 10 am a Sainsburys van arrived and backed up ready to off load our shopping. Everything was in order just a large punnet of Blueberries with a sell by date of tomorrow. No way could we get through so many before they go off, so we handed them back to the driver. Before he left he handed them back to us to keep for free. I’ll have to make some muffins I think.
As soon as we untied we were blown off from our mooring, just a bit of engine required to help us turn towards the entrance of the basin before we got blown there. Then more was needed to turn back onto the canal and head eastwards.
A white box had attracted our attention yesterday as we’d crossed over the canal leading to Netherton Tunnel. Was this a water point not on our map? I had a vague remembrance of it being marked in Nicholsons, or having checked it before. I hopped off at the next bridge and walked up to look.
A newish coat of white paint made the box stand out. It must have been a water point at some time, but most probably got turned off when the cottages below the aqueduct were done up, they possibly shared the same water main and would be charged for boaters filling up. But it seems it is now used for something else, a collection area for dog pooh bags!
Approaching Oldbury Locks Junction we confused the horn blower below the M5. Mick signalled we were turning right but until our bow started to turn you could see he was poised to press his air horn.
Now in front of us were the six Oldbury Locks which climb 38 ft up Tat Bank to the highest level of the BCN at 511 ft. The bottom of the locks was decidedly stinky, diesel on the surface and as Mick manoeuvred Oleanna around blobs rose from the depths and spread out on the surface. After a couple of locks the surface cleared up and the smell dissipated.
You get very used to keeping an eye where you tread around locks, but today there was something unusual lurking in the grass for us. Mick picked it up to add to our mountain of rubbish.
One lock was empty, which was strange as I could make out someone in a red coat ahead who looked like they were working the locks. Were they going up or coming down? It didn’t take long to realise they were also heading up.
The wind was a touch keen so I’d set the next lock, raising the level just enough to get over the cills before heading back down to close the gate behind Mick. Once up the last lock we had reached our destination of a week ago, Titford Pump House, but storm Dennis had kept us in Birmingham.
Two familiar faces walked towards us, it was Tim and Tracey Clark from NB Sola Gratia. We’d been following them up the locks, thankfully they had done most of the filling of the pounds as some had been very empty. We chatted for a while before they headed off to catch a train.
Next rubbish. At the end of the railings of the Pump House there is a gate, so we ferried our rubbish, waste and the iron round to the big skip. The wind was really quite strong now and anyhow we wanted some lunch. We pootled on to opposite the wonderfully atmospheric ruins of Langley Maltings before we pulled in and tied to some rings.
We’d soon made the decision to stop for the day as we seemed to be in the middle of another storm. So instead of exploring the Titford Pools and avoiding getting stuck in the narrows we sat in front of the stove and watched an old episode of Lewis before I jointed a large chicken for the freezer.
6 locks, 3.05 miles, 1 windy wind, 3 straights, 2 rights, 2 seater sofa, 1 iron, 3 coconuts, 5 years since our last chat, 1 chicken now 5 meals, 6 boxes of wine, 2 many boaters jumping to conclusions, 1 episode of Lewis, 1 unnamed storm, 4 years of our second mate ruling our lives.