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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Wolverhampton 21.

Our plans for an early start went array as the shower pump wasn't cooperating. We did get away at 0945 and the hours run to Autherley Junction was uneventful. That was the Shropshire Union completed and a quick turn to starboard and then we came to Aldersley Junction, and a port turn, where the Birmingham Canal Navigation starts.

Sign post at Autherley Junction. We were going towards Stourport, (for a short while).

Bottom Lock of the Wolverhampton 21 and Aldersley Junction.

The flight of locks have only just opened after vandals flooded the second lock up so badly that the sides caved in. It is open but access to the canal is not allowed so they have a young lad stationed there from 0900 to 1800 to work boats through. What a shame! He said that the lock will be fully open next Friday. We were lucky as it was threatening rain all the time and we had most of the locks our way. We only met two boats coming down so had a very good run up and did it in 2hrs 40 mins.

Many of the locks towards the bottom appear to be very rural. The paddle gear is different to the Shropshire Union as it is angled. The locks don't leak much and they are easily worked.

Only this lock has a bridge at the tail though. This normally prevents having to walk round the lock a couple of times.

This canal was opened in 1772 so there must have been major refurbishments in 1862 as a couple of locks still had date stones from around this time.

Railways cross the lock four times on the flight and this bridge was nicely covered in ivy. The water is crystal clear and the tow path was very clean too. It was a shame that there was rubbish floating in the cut though. I got away with nothing on the prop. until coming out of the penultimate lock. I struggled into the top lock and once clear tied up and cleared a fleece jacket from the prop. It came off easily though.

Wolverhampton 21 Top Lock cottages, and the end of the run. It was 2h 40m top to bottom.

After clearing the prop we moved on a little way and pulled into C&RT's Broad Street Basin for a top up of water and dump the rubbish. It is an old Fellows, Morton and Clayton warehouse and was quite atmospheric. We managed a cup of tea and a biscuit before setting off again. 

Broad Street Basin, taking water.

It wasn't long until we came to our next junction, Horseley Fields Junction. It is not one of those photogenic places but marked our trip going 'off piste'. As soon as we were in the Wyrley and Essington Canal it became a different atmosphere. There was more rubbish and more dereliction on the banks. However there was more history as things hadn't been flattened here for re building. There are bridges over old arms into Railway basins and old warehouse with loading doors on the canal. There is more weed, but not in the channel and the water is crystal clear and full of fish of all sizes. There was a mirrored arch over the canal that was a bit of a surprise but a nice one.

Horseley Fields Junction.

Our reflection in the mirrored arch near Deans Road Bridge.

It was only about a mile up the Wyrley and Essington, or 'Curly Wurley' as it is affectionately known, until we came to our last junction of the day. Wednesfield Junction was where the Bentley Canal led off to the Walsall Canal at Darlaston. However only a spur has been left as the rest has been submerged under a retail park. We had a lock but there was nothing on at the cinema that we fancied so we will go for an Italian instead to celebrate getting here.

Wednesfield Junction, and our moorings for the night. The roving bridge is all that is left really of the Bentley Canal. We are right next to a huge car park and a pub and you can see the Cinema multiplex in the photo.

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