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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wending our way to Walsall.

This gives a better idea of last nights mooring, taken from the bridge over the arm.

We had a lovely pizza last night and came back for our pudding after a walk round the retail park. We are moored next to a pub's beer garden that was playing piped music. We expected it to be turned off at 2300 but it carried on playing right through the night until going off promptly at 0630! I don't think it kept me up much, but made it a little more difficult to get back to sleep once a wake. However we didn't wake up until 0800 this morning so may be it did keep me awake. I went and got the Sunday paper and then we were off.

The canal is not very industrialised and remains very green all the way. The cut is restricted by lillys and reeds but seems deep enough. There was a secure off side mooring at Lane Head where a Waterways Key will open the gate but otherwise places to stop where few and far between.

There was a lovely area called Rough Wood Chase that was a mining area in the 19th Century. It would be a great place for kids, but I'm not sure whether they would be allowed these days.

Canal passing round Rough Wood Chase.

The first junction of the day was Sneyd Junction. The Wyrley Branch went straight on and is now closed. Under the bridge is the Walsall Branch of the Wyrley and Essington Canal.

Sneyd Junction.

There is an amenities block here and a few moorings. We stopped for water and had a good chat with some local boaters about where to moor at Walsall. There is a lovely old stable block that is now used by a canoe club.

Sneyd Wharf stable block.

We continued on towards Walsall with a feeling of exploring the Amazon. The next junction came quickly and was Birchills Junction where we passed unto the Walsall Canal. 

Signpost at Birchills Junction.

It was only about half a mile to the top lock of the flight of eight down to Walsall Town Wharf. We decided to stop here rather than go down the locks to come back up in the morning. There is another offside mooring with access via a key so it is nice and safe. The top lock has a Victorian atmosphere about it.

Walsall top lock with toll house next to it. It also shows the usual Birmingham Canal set up of single gates at the top and bottom of the locks rather than two at the bottom that is much more common.

Our mooring. The brick wall on the right has a steel gate that is opened by a Waterways key.

Also next to the lock is the Boatman's Rest. These where built by the Seamen and Boatmens' Friendly Society to give somewhere for the working boatmen. In the Birmingham area the narrow boats were mainly Joeys that had no accommodation on them. If the men weren't close to home they had no where to sleep so these hostels were a Godsend. This one was built in 1900 and the upper floor was the dormitory. This one had been converted to a canal museum but due to lack of funding has closed and the building is suffering.

Boatman's Rest Walsall Top Lock.

An added bonus of our mooring, a bench to read the paper in the evening sun. As I right this there is more music playing. This time it seems to be an electric guitarist practising.

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