Ocker Hill to Walsall Town Basin
Opening up the side hatch Mick exclaimed, ‘What a load of crap!’ The gunnel was covered in white splatterings. Something hadn’t agreed with one of our feathered friends last night. It would get sorted the next time we could reach that side.
Oleanna had obviously been a good target as when we came outside the roof was covered in it too. We both looked over head, not an obvious tree branch or cable to shit from! The roof got a scrub down with canal water, well as much as I could reach. This would do for now.
Just as we untied ready to push off a lady from the nearby offices decided that it was a good time to come and have a chat. Mick had just got rid of his rope, luckily it wasn’t too windy! But when it started to sleet she headed back inside to leave us to get on with things.
Back out on the canal we pulled in at the services at the junction to top up the water tank. The tap took a bit of finding hidden away behind fencing. But one thing wasn’t so hard to find, more sh*t on the port side. More scrubbing down as the possible offender watched from on high.
Straight on to new water again and the Walsall Canal. Not the most pleasant day for cruising as sleet wind and rain managed to come and go in between the odd bit of sunshine.
We’d been warned that the Walsall Canal is the least respected in the country with the most amount of rubbish. So we were prepared for our two hour cruise to be a long one.
Plenty of graffiti to look at, not much artistic flair in most, just tags. We were definitely in the area of Ghost EA though. A few weeks ago I’d taken a photo of his tag on a bridge on the Tame Valley Canal, just white spray paint. Today we’d see his progression through the years to silver, then a touch of orange, followed by an array of colours and far more intricate designs the closer we got to Walsall.
The rubbish in the most part clung to the edges in amongst the reeds. Plastic bottles, aerosol cans, beer cans. At most bridge holes the banks were covered with unwanted items just dropped over the wall and out of view. Every now and then a fire extinguisher would bob along. Why, where had they come from? Today the fire extinguishers way outnumbered the coconuts. Most probably stolen, set off and then thrown into the cut once the fun was over.
A chap walking his dog warned us that there were trees down ahead. Not unusual at the moment after all the storms. But he said that it had been kids chopping them down, right across the canal.
Would this impeded our progress? Was the chaps version of ‘right across the canal’ the same as ours would have been, we could only find out.
A few miles on through Porket’s Bridge we knew this is where he’d meant, plenty of branches in the water, but it didn’t look too bad. Under the surface however lurked numerous shopping trolleys. Mick put the engine into neutral and with the wind behind us we coasted through very slowly.
The branches weren’t too bad, coasting meant they didn’t entangle themselves around the prop. A little bit of engine was needed at one point to realign Oleanna to avoid the next felled tree, then we could coast again. Those poor trees. Splintered stumps standing to three four foot the rest pushed into the cut.
A double take as two flat feet drifted past with jewels on their fallen arches. A doll no doubt.
Where the canal narrowed crap would have collected, one such place with a steel overhanging edge and wind. Was the overhang such that it would get the cabin sides as we coasted through? The wind certainly didn’t help! But we managed it in the end.
By one bridge a group of four chatted, two lads ran up onto the bridge and hung over. Here we go! Time to be sitting ducks. No chance to say hello before we might have to duck. But then they dashed back off the bridge to join their mates again. Cheery Hellos, Phew!
As we approached Walsall Junction new buildings rose from the ground, the chimney at Majorfax reminding the area of times gone by.
We followed the canal round to the right, the locks can wait for another day, and headed in towards the basin.
A narrowing with a yellow boom across it to stop the rubbish, as we’d been told the boom just pivoted out of the way and allowed us entrance.
Two pontoons to choose from, no other boats. We pulled into the one furthest out and then battled against the wind to tie up. What should have been around a 2 hour cruise had turned into 3.5 hours. Time for a late lunch as Tilly quickly realised she preferred to explore the inside of her eye lids once more. Soon we’ll be back in the countryside Tilly, I promise.
0 locks, 6.1 miles, 1 reverse, 2 straights, 1 right, 1 boom, 2 lemons (no longer needed after Shrove Tuesday), 3 coconuts, 18 fire extinguishers, 6 broken trees, 5682 trolleys, etc, 1 near miss, 1 huge splattering, 1 resigned cat, 2 Walsall schnitzels.