Category Archives: Wyrley and Essington Canal

Elbow Bumps. 3rd March

Urban Moorings to The Black Country Museum, Dudley No 1 Canal

Everyone talks about how slow water points are around the network, Hillmorton and Cambrian Wharf being especially known for it. Well we now know where the slowest one is. The ladies at Urban Moorings had warned us yesterday, there is a leak in the supply, luckily on the other side of their water meter, but this reduces the pressure, a lot.

Mick set the hose up whilst we had breakfast, the tank carried on filling whilst we did various chores. We handed over spare oil containers for reuse and added our recycling to theirs. Not quite a full tank of water but it would do us.

Recycled pots

Time to say thank you and be on our way. Elbow nudges all round, no-one is shaking hands or hugging at the moment. We left them to continue work on their pumpkin patch and a bench with a glass bottle base. Photos on their facebook page.

Left please

Just a short distance to Horseley Fields Junction where we turned southwards and meandered our way. From out of nowhere came this rather odd noise, I remembered hearing it around this area before. Was it an alarm or a bird call? Looking in the overgrown offside vegetation, Friendly cover! I spotted two birds swimming around. Not Coots or Moorhens, they had orangey brown cheeks and were a touch smaller than other waterbirds. Hunting through Google I came to the conclusion that they were Dabchicks. I’ll keep an eye open when we pass later in the week and try to get a better photo.

They are in there somewhere

By a new housing estate a damn has been erected with buoys around it’s edge. We feel the wrong sign has been put up. Also beware as the white tarpaulin looks like it is quite happily floating around almost mid cut, just waiting to get entangled around an unsuspecting prop.

Don’t go between the buoys!
The white tarp extends out to the buoys

As we had sneaked an extra load of washing in this morning we decided that the Bradley Arm/ Wednesbury Oak Loop would have to wait for the next time we’re up this way, so we sailed on past at Deepfields Junction, through Coseley Tunnel. I was fine inside even though She has put my Escape Pod away! Then at Factory Junction we turned right missing out on the locks.

Factory Locks, we’ll get enough locks in a day or two

Through Tipton we made note of moorings, all free at the moment and continued onwards. At Tipton Junction we stayed straight, onto the Dudley No 1 Canal, what there is that you can navigate on your own boat before reaching Dudley Tunnel. Not far till we reached our destination joining a couple of other boats on the moorings outside The Black Country Museum.

Another misleading instruction

A black corrugated fence surrounds the museum, not much for Tilly. A quick check on the situation deemed it sadly unsuitable. The trees that she would naturally be drawn to are far too close to the busy road, no shore leave again.

Moored up at the back gate, almost

Taking a walk down to the back gate of the museum we planned on crossing over the new swing bridge (well new to us along with the new visitor centre since we were last here on NB Lillyanne) to make use of the boaters facilities on the other side. Except the bridge was swung open to boat traffic, the old route over the top of the tunnel entrance was blocked off, so we’d have to walk all the way round. Through the gate with our key of power, up over the bridge, along the road to the main entrance to the Dudley Canal Trust. All just to go for a pee! We then tried to come back via the swing bridge but were told it was closed now so we’d have to walk round. Good job they weren’t too keen on closing the gates at 4pm!

Bridge closed to boats when we arrived

There is most probably a reason for them closing the bridge to pedestrians, but it didn’t make sense to us. Out of hours it means that to reach the service block we would have to go by boat as the bridge is padlocked. We walked all the way back round!

Up and over this bridge tomorrow

I have perseveared with what I thought was a lost cause of my sour dough starter today, adding in an extra feed to try to pep it back up. I think I have sussed what was wrong. The instructions say to drain off any liquid that forms on the surface, hooch. This I’ve been doing, but because of this it has all become quite thick. So this morning I just stirred it back in, an option given on the full youtube instructions. I then spooned off some to discard and fed it. By late lunchtime it was bubbly again, another feed and things are definitely not dead.

0 locks, 5.47 miles, 1 load washing, 4 elbow bumps, 1 slooooow tap, 1 left, 2 straights, 1 right, 1 tunnel, 0 mysterons, 1 tarp lurking, 1 bridge closed, 0 shore leave, 1 thinner starter rising again, 1 possible solution for Vienna, 2 boaters waiting for the museum to open.

Day 5. Morning

Houch mixed in, 10 dessert spoons discarded then fed

Lunchtime.

Extra feed showing signs of bubbles again

Evening.

Bubbles! Visible bubbling. Some discarded and fed

Urban Oasis. 2nd March

Lane Head Bridge to Urban Moorings, Lycetts Basin Bridge

A day full of sunshine. We soon passed where Vernon (Production Manager in Vienna) used to play as a child on the Short Heath Branch. His grandmothers cottage apparently was demolished and replaced by the current houses in the 1930’s and she moved to a council house. His Grandfather was night watchman on the arm and his uncles were day boat men delivering coal to Wolverhampton till the early 1960s.

Short Heath Branch

Today NB Senior Moment was occupied both by humans and several Pekineses. Maybe they’d just come back from a cruise or were preparing for one.

Mini Woofers and woofer gang plank

We pootled onwards, the canal seeming far cleaner than it had done a month ago. In the bottom of someones garden I spied a curled up mass of fur, could it be alive? It opened it’s eyes to check us out as we passed. A couple of hundred yards later another battered and torn fox walked along the canal edge. They both looked like they’d been in a fight and had seen better days.

Foxy fox

Approaching Rockery Bridge I got ready to hop off and see if this Sainsburys might have some arrowroot. I wizzed round the store and found some with baking powder and baking soda, I just hope my starter perks itself up in the next day or two!

Stop for a cuppa

Mick carried on and moored up on the first set of bollards, lunchtime. As we ate a boat came past, the first boat we’ve seen moving since we left Brindley Place! yes we did see some heads on Tividale Aqueduct, but not the actual boat.

Boat!!!!

Onwards, picking up a big branch which necessitated reversing and changing course before we continued much further. Our original plan had been to head for the offside moorings in Wolverhampton, hopefully stopping at Urban Moorings for some coal on the way.

Urban Moorings

As we came under Swan Garden Bridge we could see the end of the arm where Urban Moorings sits. A bench looks down the canal with Fender Fred watching for boats.

Fred with his cuppa and pipe

Could we see anyone? We slowed and crept our way along. Towards the end was a mooring, by some new looking sheds. A lady was stood by a door and said hello. We asked if they had any coal and if so, what variety. ‘Excell 20kg bags, £10 a bag’. Yes please. We pulled in as more and more people appeared from the sheds all wearing high-vis.

What a welcome, help to moor up too. Conversations about where we were heading turned to them saying that they had a visitors mooring £8 including electric a night. Mick and I were having a similar conversation at different ends of the boat, him saying we’d have a chat about it, me saying ‘We’ll be staying the night then’ images of the washing machine going round round in both our heads.

The gardens made from anything and everything that floats on by

Once tied up we were given guided tours of the moorings. Neither of us had realised just how big the site was. Originally Commercial Wharf the arm and land around it, there were Lime Kilns a wharf and slipway where boats were maintained. The boats, Ampton boats, were used for transporting coal along the flat Wolverhampton level and Wyrely and Essington Canal, no need to descend any locks so they were built longer and a touch wider, their holds could carry 45 to 50 tons of coal.

The site was used as a boat yard until 1992 when the last boat left the dock. Several boats had been restored here including NB Tench.

Miss Scotland had been down to help with the weeding today

Urban Moorings CIC are a group of boaters who are wanting to create mooring sites that boaters actually want, integrating history, ecology, art and volunteering. They redevelop moorings very slowly ‘Slow Regeneration’ without having to spend millions of pounds doing so. The moorers live on site, their aim is to turn derelict and unprofitable sites owned by C&RT into self managed boater run moorings.

These very friendly ladies have been here for three years, built moorings, brought electric and water onto site, made gardens for nature to inhabit where lime kilns used to be. They must have spent years clearing away buddleia and now sheds seem to be taking over. An office, a workshop, a bits and bobs exchange, more moorings planned. Recently they advertised on facebook that they were now selling coal and gas. Today they received 100 bags of Excell and moved their gas cage into position. There had also been a volunteer day to kick start the creation of a community garden. What an Oasis.

Four/five dogs inhabit the area, but they offered to put them all away if Tilly wanted some shore leave. We both looked around. She would absolutely love it here if the scent of woofers wasn’t too much for her. But we decided that the look of underneath the decking on our mooring would be far too interesting and it would be a very soggy and painful extrication for both her and us. Another day kept inside, Saturday isn’t that far off!

Work in progress, coal cage and recycling next to one of the sheds

After all the chatting, oh Kate Saffin was also here having volunteered for the day, we eventually managed to get hooked up, washing machine on, yellow water disposed of. If our solids container had been more advanced it could have been emptied here too. That is something we’ll think about, if we can store our solids during the first stage of composting and deposit it when next we pass then we’ll be using our toilet as fully intended.

They do seem to have thought of everything one could want and have plans for even more here. All profits go back into the project, so any support either through volunteering or purchases will be used to improve what they have to offer. Good luck to them, we’ll certainly be putting them on our map as a good stopping place. More information here Urban Moorings CIC

0 locks, 4.44 miles, 90grams arrowroot, 2 foxes, 5 footballs, 2 coconuts, 1 moving boat, 1 unexpected mooring, 4 bags coal, 3 loads washing, 1 Kate, 0 shore leave, 1 Miss Scotland, 2 possible openings, 1 offer, 1 oasis in Wolverhampton.

Day 4.

Not much to show today, two feeds and no bubbles, no rise. I’ll keep going for a few more days to see if it comes back. 😦

Digging Around In The Deep. 1st March

Operational Mooring, Walsall to Lane Head Bridge, Wyrley and Essington Canal

We’d survived the night and got some sleep. Being moored up to a floating pontoon in a storm has it’s benefits, if the water level rises so do you. But it also has it’s down sides, even though securely moored to the cleats on the pontoon this doesn’t mean that you won’t move. Oleanna and the pontoon were as one in the gusts, bumping around.

The wind tunnel mooring

This morning the wind was still with us but the waves on the canal were half the size. Decision made we’d head for the locks and hope that we had been sat in a wind tunnel and just around the bend all would be calm or at least calmer.

Heading into Lock 8

The covers took a bit to roll back as they whipped round in the wind. I stayed at the bow ready to hop off once we had turned at the junction. It didn’t seem any less windy as Oleanna spun round to face north and the locks but at least the sun was out.

All bar one of the locks were in our favour, hooray! But the top gates gave us problems!

Eeerk!

The first lock was fine apart from the rubbish. I’d list the items in the lock to Mick and we’d see how many he could spot , hopefully not around the prop. Second lock by an old flour mill had a for sale sign in it plus plenty of other rubbish. Once up I opened the gate, except it stopped short. A few open and closes usually gets things dislodged or out of the way, but not this time. Mick brought Oleanna forward but there wasn’t enough room for her to get through. Time to prod about to see what could be moved in the murky deep.

Rather nice conversion

Boat hook didn’t do any good so the pole came out. The gate moved in and out and Mick tried to identify where the problem was. Poking and prodding, digging away at what ever lay down there. Eventually the gate moved just a few more inches, would it be enough? It was just.

Digging around

Paul (Waterway Routes) had told us to look out for a different gate arrangement on one of the locks. Here at Lock 6 there were double gates, the rest as on much of the BCN have single gates. Now why would this be?

Double gates, Hmmm?

A single gate means the lock has to be longer. Double gates save water and length. It had to be something to do with the pound below. There was an arched bridge to what had been the entrance to a wharf, could it be that for a full length boat 70ft 11″ to get in through the bridge the throat of the lock had to be further away from it so as to give enough room to be able to swing round. There is no widening of the pound here to assist with this. Maybe a double gate reduces the length of the lock throat too.

Entrance to a wharf under the bridge on the right

Looking at Google earth later it looked like a full length boat wouldn’t have been able to wind here, so if they’d come down the locks and gone under the bridge they would have to reverse out and remain facing downhill. If coming up the locks they would have to reverse through the bridge and remain facing uphill. Are we correct Paul?

Traffic cone after a tussle with a prop

The next few locks filled, emptying the pounds above from being on the weir to a good few inches below, we only had one pound that was shallow. This along with a traffic cone and a bread crate made for slow progress into the lock, but we got there in the end. Coasting in, steadily filling it and then coasting out. I don’t know whether it was us or another boat that had put a ragged hole in the traffic cone, at least it wasn’t around our prop.

If I pile it high enough and keeping pushing it’ll just disapear

Bright sunshine was intermixed with gusts of wind and hail. Flying high in a garden was a sheet attached to a tree. At the back of someone’s garden the wall had collapsed due tothe amount of rubbish piled up against it. Maybe they think that if they give the pile just a little push every now and then that the contents will eventually become someone elses problem.

Hang on a ,minute!!!

As I walked up to Lock 2, I spied a cat in the friendly cover. It soon turned it’s head so I could see that it wasn’t Tilly. A Tuxedo cat with a white nose. But not just any Tuxedo cat, this was a member of the Tilly Tail Gang, it’s white tip flicked round in annoyance at being disturbed looking for friends. I left it to it and carried on up hill to fill the next lock.

Hello pretty
A member of the Tilly Tail Gang

Deja Vu. The top gate stopped short of opening fully. The gap not wide enough. More digging around in the depths with the pole, gate swung open and closed, more digging. This felt like something really solid down there and it wasn’t shifting. If only we had a long handled Keb, but we didn’t. Only one thing for it call C&RT out.

It took a while for the person on the end of the phone to work out where we were, ‘not Ryders Green, Walsall Locks’, ‘No 2, second from the top’. Could we reverse out of the flight, yes, but that seemed pointless to us when we just needed someone to clear one gate and we were better off just sitting in the lock.

Eventually Mick got put through to a chap called Keith. Ahh! His Sunday team were out helping a stuck boat at Hatton, they wouldn’t be free for at least a couple of hours. He chatted through about what it might be, not the collar the gate was otherwise moving freely.

We nudged Oleanna back so that she was clear of the cill and Mick continued digging away. Keith rang back, his team would be at Hatton for another three to four hours, but he had called someone in who wasn’t working today to come out to us, they’d be an hour.

More digging. Maybe if both of us pushed on the gate? The combination of all our efforts and most probably our joint body weight on the beam got it to open just a few more inches. Was it enough? Mick brought Oleanna forward and managed to clear the gates, we were free.

A call to Keith before we got to the top lock, he said they’d still send someone to clear behind the gate.

The pretty Toll House at the top lock

The top lock was full with a paddle up and gate wide open. Up we rose and some eager gongoozlers loitered to open the gate for us. We then realised we’d need to be in the lock to top up the water tank, so their help wasn’t needed just yet.

The Boatman’s Rest which used to be a museum, it may be converted into a home for someone now

Two hoses and poor water pressure. So I walked up to see what the moorings ahead were like compared to the Visitors Mooring above the lock. I also wanted to see if Sainsburys had any arrowroot. I returned as Mick was packing away after chatting to the C&RT chaps, no arrowroot but a possible mooring where Tilly could stretch her legs and climb trees.

We pushed on and pulled into the side, well not quite. The rings were awkwardly placed and there was something keeping us from getting into the edge. Sorry Tilly. Pah!!!!

Another hour or so cruise to the next mooring. Back onto the Curley Wurley we compared notes on rubbish levels. Both the Walsall and Curley Wurley have a long way to go before reaching Green Flag status! Both are revolting in parts. Vandelism is worst on the Walsall with trolleys, trees and graffiti.

Someone’s pushed the railings out to dump their rubbish

But wanton fly tipping on parts of the Curley and Wurley look more like landfill than a place to relax and enjoy. You wonder what the people in the house right alongside think, or maybe it is caused by them. However Walsall itself has been worth the trip.

Just fling your rubbish over too!

Soon we arrived at The United Kingdom Inn, here the kids playground was busy as adults watched sport and drank. Not suitable for Tilly sadly and she may be cabin bound for a few more days yet, we will make it up to her soon.

Sat behind our locked gate I slow cooked a breast of lamb, braised the remainder of the red cabbage and we listened to people come and go from the pubs either side of the bridge until late.

8 locks, 4.25 miles, 2 canals, 2 coconuts, 1 fire extinguisher, 2 problematic gates, 2 spoons less, 1 cup more, 1 less successful day, 0 arrowroot, 1 full water tank, 6 hail storms, 1 less windy day.

Day 3 Morning.

Before feeding, risen with a dome.

2 spoons discarded then fed

Day 3 Evening.

Before feeding, just about no rise, did it peek far too soon?

2 spoons discarded, then fed.

The Beast. 29th February

Operational Mooring to Town Basin to Operational Mooring, Walsall

In an ideal world we’d have pushed off and headed up the locks today, but with storm Jorge having already buffeted us about last night we weren’t sure we’d be going anywhere . We’d decided to wake earlyish for us, check the forecast for the next few hours and then formulate a plan.

The sun was out and it seemed calmer than last night. Forecast, the winds would build and it would be wet at times. We could make an early start but to get to a mooring we had several hours to cruise and we already know about the amount of rubbish that awaits us on the curleywurley. The thought of getting something major around the prop with strong winds was not a good one.

No help from Tilly today

Should we head back into the basin so we could get off the boat and go somewhere if we wanted to? This would mean we could get a Saturday newspaper. Was the wind on the operational mooring being funneled by the tall buildings? Or would this be worse in the basin? Would the pub have live music on tonight? All these questions and Tilly wasn’t helping us with any answers!

That’s grown!

First it was breakfast time for the sourdough starter. The cabbage had done it’s job and there was a distinct rise in the jar. I removed the leaves, drained off any fluid then added another half cup of flour and the same of water and gave it a really good stir. I then marked the level with an elastic band so I could see easily how well it did during the day.

With the winds set to increase we decided to head to the basin and see what it was like there. Taking care on the slippy pontoon we pushed off up to the junction where the wind whizzed us round. Blimey it was cold, neither of us had prepared well enough for the arctic blast. Back in town we moored up where we’d left yesterday, keeping the Costa customers entertained over their flat whites.

Once a cinema, you’d never guess

As Mick headed off to get a newspaper from WHSmiths I checked out what would be happening at Bar 10 tonight. A tribute band and a DJ starting at 9:30 going on till late! When Mick came back we easily made our minds up that sitting in a wind tunnel would be preferable to not being able to get to sleep due to music and rowdy drinkers.

We backed away from the pontoon, winded (a little bit harder here) and returned to where we’d come from. Once tied up we could relax, break the news to Tilly she wouldn’t be going out again and have a cooked breakfast.

There you go.

Looking up to the proving shelf I could see things were happening to my starter. I could swear it grew everytime I looked away. The level crept up the inside of the glass, had I misread the instructions and bought the wrong sized jar? This was only day two, that cabbage had given it ideas above it’s station, would I need to sit it in a bowl to catch it if it grew over the top? Instead when there was only an inch left of air in the jar I moved it off the shelf onto the table where the cooler temperature should slow it’s growth.

A couple of hours after breakfast
A couple more!

During the afternoon I found my ground plan of the theatre in Vienna. I then made cut outs of sofas, baths, doors etc and started to arrange them on the plan doing my best to keep the important elements within everyone’s sight lines. If only I could grown the downstage area by 1m each side, would a corner bath work better? When were corner baths brought in?

Bedroom door too close to beams

I spent a couple of hours nudging the furniture around trying to find the best solution, then added into the equation the height of their stage and needing to be able to see over the back of a sofa as to what was happening on a balcony US. This would mean having several steps up to the balcony, where could they go. Was there enough room to get a large laundry basket through doors Down Stage? Could I move the balcony Down Stage? What if this went there? Or that there?

Steps to the balcony and the prosc widened

I sent an email to Vernon the Production Manager with a few questions, like could I make their proscenium wider. I’m waiting to hear back, I already know the answer but it’s worth asking.

Almost breaking out of the jar

By 9pm, the beast in the jar was needing feeding again, it had deflated itself so I plucked up the courage to take the lid off and give it a feed. We’ll see if we have to fight our way into the main cabin in the morning.

Jorge has buffeted us about for most of the day and given us some sunshine along with hail stones bouncing in through the mushroom vents. Here’s hoping it calms down enough for us to get up the locks tomorrow.

0 locks, 0.9 miles, 2 winds in the wind, 2 moorings, 1 newspaper, 1 tribute band, 1 inch, 4 inches, 7 inches! 1 beast in a jar, 4 options, 2m extra wide or no space for actors, 2 troublesome balconies, 1 extreamly windy mooring, 59 views from facebook, are we being talked about?

Day 2 Evening.

Reached top of the jar before deflating. Liquid drained off and fed again

A Very Tall Man. 31st January

Angelsey Basin to Riddian Bridge, Daw End Branch BCN

Mick and Oleanna on our mooring

Despite drizzle and a touch more wind than we’d expected we moved onwards today. Retracing ourselves back to Catshill Junction we passed the two Fountains men tidying up the towpath again. One trimming the hedge, the other cutting the grass and then blowing away the cuttings.

Looking much better

Along this stretch is a line of painted stones, done by the local school, I’d wondered what would happen when the chaps arrived at that stretch. It looks like the stones were just driven over by the first tractor which pushed them down so hopefully the second one will just skate over the top not affecting the painting.

Left please

At Catshill we turned left onto the Daw End Branch. For most of our miles today we seemed to be on an embankment above houses and light industry.

Bags of collected rubbish, they were doing a great job

At Walsall Wood Bridge a group of volunteers were hard at work picking up rubbish, scraping the moss of the edging tiles and cutting back trees that were trying to take hold in the brickwork. All the time a very tall fisherman looked down on them. The sculpture is by Luke Perry (the same chap who did the sculptures along the Dudley No2 canal) and is part of a sculpture trail through Walsall Wood. Originally the sculpture had a fish hanging from fishing line, a lucky catch but sadly the fish is long gone.

He’s a very tall man

There is also some heavier industry. Through the trees we could see what could only be a large mound of spoil, was it from the coal industry? Rubbish? A large hole alongside suggested something was being dug up. Further investigation suggests it was a clay quarry used for making bricks.

Spoil of some sort

The large McKechnie Metals Ltd building now stands empty, no glass in the windows, just distorted skeletal metal framework. McKechnie Brass was the last brass extrusion manufacturing company in the country. They used scrap brass to produce brass rods and profiles for alsorts of products including pins for plugs, padlocks, lift tracks and overhead conductive wire for the railway industry. Sadly the firm went out of business in 2013, having accrued millions in debts. The site is set for redevelopment, but the 116 page document I found was going to take too long to read to find out what exactly the site will be used for.

Twisted window frames at McKechnie Brass

We had our eyes set on mooring at Park Lime Pits Nature Reserve. If we found a space away from the car park and railway line Tilly would have a fine time. There are rings here, but there was also a cruiser tied to them. We tried a little further along with no luck.

Not enough space for us

I stood at the bow watching the depth of water as we went, hoping the bottom of the canal would drop out of view suggesting there was enough depth to pull in. We tried several times and eventually after half a mile found one spot that apart from the last foot was okay. Here we were surrounded by fields and not too many woofer walkers.

I really wanted someone to come out and play. I kept coming back to ask them, but they wanted to sit and finish off their smelly cheese!

Thousands of Catkins dripping from trees

A pot of butternut squash goulash was popped on the stove to bubble away all afternoon whilst I tried to do a bit of work collecting reference photos for costume designs for The Garden. Have to say emails from the Viennese English Theatre kept distracting me somewhat. Wonder if anything will come of them?

0 locks, 6.93 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 1 straight, 0 smelly cheese left, 4 Garden emails, 3 Viennese emails,1 very tall man, 6 volunteers, 1 muddy trolley, 1 mooring eventually, 4678354678254 aments, 1 ununderstandable explanation.

Curlywurly Cruising. 30th January

Brownhills Services to Anglesey Basin

Scummy!

At sometime either last night or this morning we were joined by a third boat. The scum around Oleanna had been moving somewhat which suggested boat movement. After a slow start to the day we moved back to the water point, topped up our water, emptied yellow water and Tilly had her pooh box cleaned out, we were all ready to move onwards.

Tilly was very pleased to make it here

After half a mile of scummy cruising we arrived at Catshill Junction, it would be silly to go to the right without taking the detour up to Anglesey Basin first. So we veered left and skirted round the other side of Brownhills.

Ogley Junction, we headed left

At Ogley Junction we passed what may one day be the restored Lichfield Canal which would join the Coventry Canal to the BCN at Huddlesford Junction.

What else could we eat

Most probably not the first boaters to do this, but there was only one thing to eat whilst cruising today and Tesco had come up trumps, Curlywurlys! We’re sure they have shrunk since 1970 when they were first brought out. The internet was trawled for information, one chap collects the wrappers which in 1970 didn’t have to show the weight. Is it just that as you grow bigger everything gets smaller? Or have they shrunk? Certainly the adverts with Terry Scott must have had larger ones made to make him look like a young lad. A couple of years after they were first released the caramel recipe was changed to make it softer so that the chocolate didn’t fall off so easily. Maybe at this time they made the ladder of caramel have smaller holes, therefore making the bar smaller? Sadly they will be reducing their size soon so that they only contain 100 calories per bar.

Chewy caramel covered in chocolate

Anyhow we enjoyed chewing our way along the Crulywyrley canal especially those extra 18 calories!

Chopping back the hedges

Fountains were out cutting back the hedges along the towpath, as the chap turned his mini tractor round we hung back, just incase he didn’t quite judge it right and ended up in the canal. Then under Watling Street, we always wonder how many times the A5 crosses the canal system.

Coal shoots

Next we bobbed under the M6 Toll. Nearly at the end of the arm two old coal shoots still sit along side the canal, now redundant but once would have been filling boats from the local mines. Round a bend and up ahead we could see the bank leading up to the Chasewater Reservoir. Neither of us had thought of it being so high, but there it was towering above the canal.

The top of that hill there’s water, lots of it

We’d been warned that a chain had been put across the very end here. Before the chain two or maybe three boats could moor here side by side, but now only a short amount of hard edge is available. We winded and backed in for a closer look. On the northern side people have obviously pulled in, there is a ring at the stern and a bald patch in the scrub at around about the right position for most bows.

Moored up

Mick hopped off with a spike, pulled us in with the centre rope. At last! somewhere that looked really rather great! Sideways trees, friendly cover (even if it is a touch spikey) and trees! What’s not to like? Well the amount of woofers! She came for a walk with me then left me to my own devices. Woohoo Bunnies too!!!

Tilly at the end
My bench

Tilly was occupied for quite sometime, the number of woofers didn’t seem to bother her, but after about an hour and a half she made a dash back to the boat. This then gave us the opportunity to go and have a nosy at the reservoir.

M6 Toll and the reservoir to the right

Chasewater Reservoir was built in 1797 as a feeder to the canal and the 160 miles of the BCN. In 1799 the eastern dam burst releasing a flood that headed downstream towards Shenstone after a summer storm had caused the reservoir to overtop and erode the bank. By 1800 the dam had been rebuilt, much stronger with a limestone lining.

A Colliery this close to a dam!

In 1848 the feeder canal was made navigable due to the coal deposits in the area. In 1849 a colliery was opened right below the dam, would this be allowed today? The colliery only lasted to 1857 as it proved hard to contend with the local geology, but other collieries opened in the area and remained working into the 20th Century.

The station platform

A railway was built to link the collieries, this is now Chasewater Railway, which is run as a heritage railway.

Excuse me, you shouldn’t be walking along the lines!

We walked along the banks, the reservoir now caters for leisure activities with sailing, water skiing and wakeboarding. Of course nobody was out on the water today, just plenty of walkers and bird watchers.

Pacers
Needing some TLC

At Chasewater Railway we were able to have a quick look around before it all shut up shop for the day, no trains running. Several Pacer trains sat on the lines, presumably recent acquisitions, along with much older rolling stock, some in great need of some TLC.

Oleanna

0 locks, 2.94 miles, 2 lefts, 1 wind, M6, A5, 10th in the queue, 1 appointment, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 curlywurlys, 118 calories, 2.5 hrs shore leave, 2 coal shoots, 4.4 billion litres of water, 1 very windy evening.

Aborted Delivery. 29th January

Brownhills

Being right next to a water point it made sense to get some washing done. Our bedding was first in the machine, followed by a load of clothes.

A block of butter was chopped up and left in a bowl on the proving shelf before breakfast to help soften it. Some baking was on the cards this morning. First a Dorset Apple Cake, this was then going to be followed by a Sundried Tomato and Parmesan Loaf, but a message came through putting that on hold.

Emma and Ted the other day had forgotten to hand over our latest post from my brothers, so they were going to call in on their way south. We’d be about half way so a good pit stop. But their time was going to be limited so no quick lunch just a cuppa and a wee break.

Dorset Apple Cake, yummy!

Then about an hour later my phone rang. Leaving York had taken time and if there were any more hold ups on their journey south they would end up having to pay for the hire car for an extra day, an expense they didn’t want. So could they post our post onto us?

Some thought of where to post it to is needed, my first thought being my brothers! The envelopes were gone through to check for anything time sensitive, nothing urgent it could wait a little. But the biggest shame is not getting to see them again this trip.

As the washing did it’s thing the wind blew the scummy scum outside on the cut back to surround us. A number checker came past. Tilly watched all the geese and moorhens with great interest, following them from window to window. And I got on with sorting costume references for The Garden. One question I have is should I make my own combat trousers as there will be plenty of off cuts when I buy trousers for two of the men?

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 shore leave, 0 post, 4 costume references sorted, 42″ waist, 19.5″ inside leg, 1 alteration of plans, 2 loads of washing, 1 pooh bucket, 1 big cake just for the two of us, what a shame!