Cambrian Wharf made a good base for us to explore Brum visited the BBC and discovered tapas at Bar Estilo by Gas Street Basin which we enjoyed so much we went there twice.
We located Broad Street, New Street and The Bullring with its multitude of markets. Primark was plundered, vegetables and cheese were purchased, Catty-proof Superbolts for the back doors were found as was a 6 foot bungee to hold our mattress folded over, oh and an extending key ring to clip on my belt so our BWB key can always be to hand.
Today we decided to continue our journey to Dudley and visit the Black Country Living Museum. Having left the city centre we took the Old Main Line and wended our way beneath the M5, all went well until we reached Oldbury Junction
[I blame the Nicholsons guide which had a page turn right on the junction and Joy says I should have listened to her] suffice it to say that we made a detour down the Titford Canal up six locks, past a burnt out ‘Maltings’ through the plastic bag and rubbish infested canal to Titford Ponds where we turned with great difficulty in the shallow muddy waters and fought our way back, losing count of the number of times we had to stop and remove bags, old clothes and heaven knows what else, not to mention going back down the six locks! Nice engine house at the top though. Once back on the right canal, it was remarkably clean with water lilies growing and clear enough to see the fish.
Reaching Tipton Junction we made very sure we turned the correct way and soon the mouth of Dudley Tunnel came into view, and there was even a mooring for us, a water point and BW pump out machine which actually worked. We will spend the next couple of nights here and visit the Museum and maybe the Dudley Tunnel, well the complex of limestone workings does include the Wrens Nest Tunnel; we shall report tomorrow.
Completed in 1815 the [Wrens Nest] tunnel served a
series of limestone mines 7/8th’s of a mile
away. The tunnel may be made navigable
once more in the future.
Friday morning was spent, like most of the nation, watching the Royal Wedding and at lunchtime we set off to tackle Atherstone Locks with a refreshment stop halfway at The White Horse, again we had an early finish stopping in open countryside before Polesworth cunningly putting a small hill between ourselves and the railway line.
Saturday we made our way through Alvecote where we bought fuel at Narrowcraft and saw Steam Narrowboat Tixall up the Curdworth flight and through the tunnel to the Visitor Moorings where we met up with our young friends Esther & Jos who hail from Wotton-under-Edge but are currently living in Birmingham. They cleverly met us at The White Horse, avoiding having to help with the locks, then we returned to the boat for a meal; as they are Vegans this exercised our brains for a while but managed to concoct a Vegetable Thai Curry, which they were polite enough to say they enjoyed.
This morning started at 8am and had an easy first part of the journey, apart from encountering a fishing competition, we continued to Salford Junction, which is overshadowed by the motorway as it converges on Spaghetti Junction. We had gritted our teeth at the thought of the 26 locks we had to climb today, but in the event they were not too bad.
Most of the Aston flight were for us after meeting a boat coming down, and all of the Farmers Bridge flight were against us, but we soon developed a system of emptying the next lock as we were filling the one we were in, and as our friend Andy (nb Nutwood) had told us they are really something as they wend their way through, and sometimes under the heartlands of Birmingham you see such a mix of architecture with side ponds often now tucked under the buildings too.
There is quite a brisk wind today which caused a few problems entering locks accurately and on arriving at Cambrian Wharf I feared I would make a fool of myself reversing into the finger pontoon moorings, fortunately the wind dropped long enough for me to make a fair fist of it and so after several long drinks and a sandwich I am collapsed in front of the computer anticipating a pint at The Flapper later and exploring Brum tomorrow.